Pixelperfect Outline Font Making

hecsedli's picture

Hello Everyone,

I'm new at Typophile, this is my first post, so please excuse me if I'm writing this into the wrong topic, if an admin will change this and put it into the right place, I will be glad.

Anyway: my problem is, that I just want to create a font (I made every glyphs in Illustrator) which is a normal outline font, but it is specialized for the size of 13 pixels on 72DPI (yes, this font is basicaly designed for screen purpose).

I have Fontographer, because I have Lion on my Mac, and because I'm new to font creating. So what I want is, to import all my AI glyphs into my FOG file. The first thing I don't know, is how to calculate UPM size, to be best fitting for my needs. I read a lot of opinions, that UPM does not matter, some said, that this is count when the computer will scale it: I can't decide what is true, and why..

The next thing is when I import as EPS or paste them as AI outlines, they are going to have different sizes ("a" has the same height as "b", etc.) My problem is, I really don't know how to add specific sizes to outline, because on the Outline window the only tool I have is Scale tool, which can only be defined by percentages and not by em units, or pt-s. How to do this? Or I have to set my Illustrator canvas in a different way? I did not find any tutorial or help on Google, Vimeo and Youtube. And the FOG manual did not say anything about this either.

Oh, I almost forget, here are the details I want:
While my font is set to 13pt:

Ascender: 13px
Caps Height: 10px
X-Height: 7px
Baseline: 0px
Descender: -3px

has to be on the screen.
Which means from Ascender to Descender is 16px (because characters like: ÉÁŰÚŐÓÍ — Capitals with accents will be larger than the common 13px)

Any help will be appreciated, or any link will help me.

Thank You very much! And sorry for my bad english..

Jens Kutilek's picture

Use a UPM size that can be divided by 16 (your font height in pixels), for instance 1024. Then one pixel would correspond to 64 font units.

But you would need to set the font at a size of 16 px, not 13, because the nominal font size is the measure from ascender to descender.

hecsedli's picture

It's all done, thank you, as you said, so

UPM: 1024
A: 832
C: 640
X: 448
B: 0
D: -192
LineGap: 0 (what does this mean?)

it seems like a nice set up.

My other problem is still there: how to import the outlines to have the same sizes, or how to change the sizes and positions to a specified one? Or how to set up my Illustrator environment to make it default?


hrant's picture

The classical problem is people might not know what point size
to use to make the pixels "click". This is why there's a point
size convention irrespective of how many pixels tall the design
actually is; and for various reasons that convention is 8 point.

Which means you:
- Use an Em of 1000 (the legacy standard).
- Use a grid of 125.
- Let the pixels freely go outside the Em bounds.

And when you use the font, you have to make sure no anti-aliasing
is being performed. And you can use multiples of 125 for tracking.


hecsedli's picture

Thanks for the helps, again. It just turned out Jens solution is working perfectly.

After few days of desperatly trying pasting Illustrator outlines to FOG, I finally have the solution. I share with you, because I guess a lot of newbies, have this same problem, and can not find any answer on the internet. So here we go:

1.) Create all the glyphs in one file in Illustrator on different layers. This is for the ease, because now you can select every outline from one single file, by hiding or showing the layers.

2.) Create a new layer, and draw two lines on it, the first will be the Ascender and the second will be the Descender. You don't need other lines. Place them to the coordinates you wanted them to be.

3.) Select one glyph plus the A and D lines, and press CMD+C (or Ctrl+C) to copy them.

4.) Select one glyph-place in FOG and open the Outline window. Now paste it. You will see that the ascender line, and the descender line is in its right place, and therefore your glyph too.

5.) Delete the A and D lines, you don't need them any more.

6.) Repeat these steps with all your outlines from Illustrator.

I hope this will be helpful. I now really enjoying spaceing, kerning, and things like that in FOG.


hrant's picture

Question: When somebody else wants to use
your font, how will they know to set it at 16?

Also: An Em of anything other than 1000
will cause problems in some older systems.


Jens Kutilek's picture

Peter, glad to hear it worked out. I don't use Illustrator for glyph drawing, but it's good to know there's a way.

Question: When somebody else wants to use your font, how will they know to set it at 16?

I wonder where that convention of 8 point comes from, has it got something to do with the way points are related to pixels at screen resolutions?

Also: An Em of anything other than 1000 will cause problems in some older systems.

Not if you generate the fonts as TrueType :) Hrant, you certainly know this but for Peter: powers of 2 like 2¹⁰ (= 1024) were commonly used for TrueType fonts because the grid can be divided by two more easily/often (for machines).

hrant's picture

> I wonder where that convention of 8 point comes from

I'm not sure, but I think some of the very early popular
pixelfonts were 8 pt, and when designers found themselves
trying to explain to users ("Me, read the README?!" :-)
how to make the rendering crisp they figured to just use
8pt for everything. I might've chosen 10, but it's too late,
plus one nice thing about 8 is that you can handle Ems that
are a power of 2 in addition to the legacy 1000.

Em of 1000: Peter didn't specify TT, and just to be
safe I recommend 1000, since in TT the worst that
can happen is a very small loss of performance, while
in PS it can cause a... total loss of performance! :-)


hecsedli's picture

Truth to be told: my font is going to be a system font, for a software. So it has a very specific use, and special sizes to be used with.

Altough the GUI is a resolution indepent interface, which means it is vector based OpenGL stuff, that's why I need PS fonts.
It won't cause total loss of performance, because we just made our own graphical system which is optimized for this special usage and for my special design. (we need to done our own framework, so we can easily port our software to any platform, without creating parallely double codes)

If this would be a totaly everyday-used font, I would agree with you, hrant, and the pixels won't be matters to me at all.

Does any of you knows what is the LineGap? I still don't know, and I'm curios.

hrant's picture

If you're your only user, forever, then by all means go for it.


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