Creating new font on Fontographer 5 out of scanned images

richard4625u's picture

I am attempting to build a unique font on Fontographer 5 out of a serious of scanned images of letters cut out of newspapers (think ransom note style), but it doesn't appear to be possible, the best I can see is importing the images as .eps files then tracing them with the program's pen tool.

Does anyone know if this can be done?

Also, if it can be done, does anyone know a way I can upload several different variations of each letter to appear randomly, so as to prevent them repeating in copy?

Any help would be much appreciated!

bojev's picture

Open images in PhotoShop or any image editor- select image area copy it and paste into Glyph Window in Fontographer and Auto Trace ( Read section on this in Fontographer Manual).

richard4625u's picture

Yeah I read that, but is there no way of keeping the original images (and colours etc)? Or will I have to just place the originals one at a time into the InDesign document, rather than creating a whole font.

bojev's picture

Fonts do not do color - you can apply color to them in other programs - screened or dithered grayscale is as close as you can get to your images and they may have too many points when imported and traced to work as fonts. You can make a table of letter scans and then paste them into an InDesign document as you suggest.

Nick Cooke's picture

Is this the kind of thing you're looking for?


twardoch's picture

If you get BitFonter, you'll be able to make photofonts with full colors, which will work in a few applications that are supported through FontLab's plugins (Adobe CS apps), *and* you'll be able to easily export an outline version to the VFB format, and then open it in Fontographer and turn it into an outline-based OpenType font which will be monochrome but will work in all systems and applications.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Richard, you are the ‘victim’ of evolving technology where some of the original features have been lost. In the PostScript 3 format it was absolutely possible what you want, but PS3 is obsolete, eg not working in the modern operating systems. Too bad…

The BitFonter option proposed bu Adam Twardoch is your best chance to get what you want…

twardoch's picture


a small clarification: PostScript 3 is well-alive, it's the most recent (and quite likely, final) incarnation of the PostScript language. What you're referring to were the PostScript Type 3 fonts. They never actually really worked. Glyphs in Type 3 fonts could be constructed using any operators of the PostScript language -- so you could mix strokes, fills, patterns, colors, bitmaps etc. However, for this to work, one needed a full PostScript interpreter.

Except in NeXT (and some high-end Unix implementations), no major operating system implemented Display PostScript. So for example in Mac OS, the Type 3 fonts worked so that on screen, you only saw a crude bitmap preview supplied in the NFNT resources in the font suitcase, and only if you printed the job, the actual result appeared on the PostScript printer. If your printer did not have a PostScript interpreter, your results could vary as well. So there was no real guarantee that you'd get want you wanted. You could not even see what you were getting (WYSIWYG).

The PostScript Type 1 format (and its successor, CFF, which is part of the OpenType PS .otf format) only uses a very limited subset of the operators, which allows in to work in a variety of environments. Adobe Type Manager (ATM) was one software that could produce rasterized images on screen out of the real outline Type 1 fonts. But ATM, even though it was Adobe's, could not render Type 3 fonts properly — because it would then had to include a complete PostScript interpreter.

Of course, later operating systems incorporated the Type 1 format natively, while they dropped the ability to install Type 3 fonts simply because, as I said, they never _really_ worked.

Actually, SVG Fonts are made very similarly to the Type 3 fonts. Their glyphs can be either "simple" (and then only use a small subset of outline drawing commands, comparable to Type 1), or "complex" (and then they use the full repertoire of SVG drawing commands, which is comparable to Type 3: you can do strokes, colors, bitmaps, fills, gradients, transparency etc.).

However, it seems that most web browsers only support the "simple" variant of SVG Fonts, and fail to render the "complex" variant. (And of course, SVG Fonts do not work outside of web browsers, although theoretically they could).

So same history again :)


richard4625u's picture

Thank you Nick and Adam, BitFonter looks like the way to go! Thanks for your help, much appreciated.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Adam, thanks for the clarification. I was ‘speaking’ in the context of type, so the ‘other PS3’ never came to mind to me — shows how Typophile-immersed I have become : )

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