Hints on Hinting or just solutions

gusnicklos's picture

I am wrapping up a family and don't want to rely on auto hinting. I'm looking for good resources to learn how to hint or to have someone hint for me. Tips and tricks are welcome suggestions too. I found a few companies to bid on hinting but I haven't heard back from them and have a feeling that they will come in high. You can see a few progress shots at my blog if you are interested.

Future Grid Systems Blog

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Gus

twardoch's picture

Gus,

quality hinting as a service comes at roughly US$5–10 per glyph. A typical 320-glyph font usually includes approx. 200 non-composite glyphs, so the cost per font is US$1000–2000.

gusnicklos's picture

Hey Adam,

Thank you much for the info. I am an independent studio so I am going to have to do it the old fashioned way for now. Thanks again

gargoyle's picture

Gus,

As far as suggestions on hinting, it might help to know more about what kind of typeface you're hinting, which formats you're delivering, and the level of quality you're after. If you want pixel-perfect rendering at 9ppem in Windows XP with font-smoothing turned off, you'll need some advanced TrueType hinting, and Adam's figure is probably in the ballpark (multiplied by however many weights in your family). But even without deep pockets or extensive technical knowledge, it's possible to improve rendering using some combination of autohinting and manual tweaking.

Assuming you're hinting for TrueType (or both PostScript and TT) you can use PostScript hints as a jumping-off point. Adobe's autohinter can—depending on the font style—produce results that rival manual hinting, or at least get you part-way there (provided you're alignment zones and standard stems are accurately set). Then use the PS hints to generate TT instructions in FontLab, per Adam's tutorial: https://docs.google.com/View?id=dhnxc5bs_21ggxfqxft&pli=1

From there you can go into hinting mode and make manual adjustments, fine-tune problematic glyphs, add delta hints, etc. While FontLab's visual hinting tools don't cover the entire set of possible TrueType instructions, it's easier to dive into than something like Microsoft's Visual TrueType, and the Windows version additionally shows previews in grayscale and ClearType (AFAIK Mac FontLab's hinting previews are black and white only).

Beyond the section on TT hinting in the FL manual, I found the info and examples in Jigal van Hemert's "Practical TrueType Hinting" to be particularly educational:
http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/tt_hinting_tutorial.pdf

gusnicklos's picture

Thanks Justin. I will do that. I have spent a great deal of time optically correcting previous fonts. I think I will be ok. I don't really want to put the effort forth for pixel-perfect rendering at 9ppem in XP with font-smoothing off. The way I see it, that the viewer doesn't care anyway. They are happy with Arial and probably use/abuse Comic Sans and Papyrus. Maybe I'm ignorant or maybe I just don't have a full grasp on designing for the web yet. Don't get me wrong, I want the font to be as amazing as possible and I take pride in my design. If I had the cash or to put into it I would. For now your helpful tips will have to tide me over. Thanks again.

gusnicklos's picture

RE: I don't really want to put the effort forth for pixel-perfect rendering at 9ppem in XP with font-smoothing off. The way I see it, that the viewer doesn't care anyway. They are happy with Arial and probably use/abuse Comic Sans and Papyrus. Maybe I'm ignorant or maybe I just don't have a full grasp on designing for the web yet.

Well intended comment. I was feeling a bit surly last night after having a long debate over the merit of ie6&7 compliance with a developer friend over a few beers. My attitude may have carried over into my prior response here. Wow, that makes me sound like a giant nerd. Anyway, thanks again for the links. I really appreciate it. No disrespect intended.

Chris Dean's picture

Or, we could wait for 300 PPI monitors to become the standard and never worry about it again. Think of the time savings! If time = money, type designers stand to make a lot more money. I'd be curious how long it took to hint the entire Meta family…

gusnicklos's picture

That was the other side of my internal argument.

fontdesigner2's picture

Buy the book "Learn Fontlab Fast"

What it will tell you to do is basically:

Do everything in Type 1. Convert all contours to Type 1. Your contours should run the right directions.

Then convert contours and instructions to Truetype.

Use font audit and fix any errors.

Erase all your hinting.

Auto hint everything.

Fix overlapping hints.

Then look at it and write down which glyphs need more hinting work. You'll need to use truetype hinting on them, which is more precise than Type 1 hinting.

Read the fontlab manual about truetype hinting. It's not that difficult to figure out how to do it, but it is a lot of tedious work. Truetype hinting will give you the best results, and you can preview your hinting at different sizes as you work.

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