Creating Different Weights in FontForge

cdavidson's picture

Hi there,
I've had this FontForge .sfd file sitting on my computer for months now that I have occasionally pulled out, worked on, and then put away again until I had more time to repeat the cycle.

I am wondering (I am by no means an expert in font creation) whether there is an easy way to create different weights in FontForge?

My typical workflow involves creating a glyph in Illustrator, saving it as an .svg, and then importing each glyph individually into their appropriate character space in FontForge. This is time consuming, but perhaps it is easier to create different weights in Illustrator than FontForge?

I often hear of Multiple Master fonts, but I have no experience with creating them (and I understand they are outdated?)

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Many thanks!

brianskywalker's picture

First of all, you can export all the glyphs in one .svg from illustrator, import them into fontforge, and save a lot of time. Just copy each glyph to the appropriate slot.

I would also recommend you try to work directly in Fontforge. The way you draw things is probably roughly the same. I never use the pen tool in FF - I just select the corner or curve tool and click away. Probably I could become more productive using the pen tool.

Multiple Master isn't exactly outdated; Superpolater works on the same principle of Adobe's MM. Adobe type 3 fonts are, however, deprecated. So you can't release MM fonts very easily. But MM can be great for development. That said, Fontforge's MM implementation seems to be broken, and the only alternatives seem to be either Superpolator or to work for Adobe.

Anyway, here is a thread with some help on bolds:
http://www.typophile.com/node/74895

blank's picture

I am wondering (I am by no means an expert in font creation) whether there is an easy way to create different weights in FontForge?

There is not. If you want to a bold font then start drawing. If you want to create a bold font easily then stop drawing type families and move on to something that interests you more.

Superpolater works on the same principle of Adobe's MM

Only if you are interpolating between only two fonts. Once you go beyond that it does a hell of a lot more. Try extrapolating between three masters on two axes with MM. For that matter, try having an MM font with three masters.

That said, Fontforge's MM implementation seems to be broken, and the only alternatives seem to be either Superpolator or to work for Adobe.

There's also Fontlab, which has semi-functional MM support with an awkward but useful interface. As long as you aren't working with components it will do the job. One can also interpolate between two fonts with Robofab, although that isn't exactly the most user-friendly interface. And the MM system in Glyphs is supposedly wonderful.

brianskywalker's picture

He knows his stuff much better than me. :)

You can interpolate between two interpolatable fonts in Fontforge with Element > Interpolate fonts, and you can select which open font to interpolate with. But that's not usually what people think of when you say MM.

I am going to have to license a copy of Superpolator.

cuttlefish's picture

First, draw your font in FontForge.
Save a copy of your sfd file under a different name.
select the glyphs you want to render in a different weight
From the Element menu, select Style>Change Weight…
Set your parameters in the dialog window and click OK

The results may be a bit messy and require significant tweaking, but it'll give you something to start with.

Once you have a clean version of your font in two weights, with the same number of points, starting points, and path directions in each corresponding glyph, you can interpolate between and even extrapolate beyond them using Element>Interpolate Fonts. This is not the Multiple Master method, but the effect is similar.

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