Control handles in illustrator

matt's picture

I'm very new to type design so bear with me if this is a dumb question. In Illustrator is there a way to have more control over the control handles than just the "click and drag" method? Can you specify the distance or location, similar to how you can move points in the "transform" panel? Thanks!

Conxt's picture

Press ctrl+alt+; (cmd+opt+;) or select View->Guides->Lock Guides to unlock them.
Then you can select a guide and enter its coordinates in the Transform panel.

Q: Are you going to design a typeface in Illustrator?

matt's picture

Thanks for your reply Andriy. I'm talking about the bezier handles, directional points, BCP's, whatever you call them. Do you mean I could set up precise guides that I could snap the handles to? That does work, but I'd rather transform the bezier handles themselves. With my little experience with Fontlab, it looks like you can do what I want to do - in the node properties and the BCP checkbox. So far I've been creating the glyphs in illustrator and pasting them into fontlab, because i'm a little a more familiar with Illustrator. Is that bad practice?

Conxt's picture

Oops, I misunderstood your question (sorry, my English in not perfect). I think that FontLab makes drawing glyphs easier because there you can see the coordinates of all the points (including BCPs) and thus control them precisely. Also, all the coordinates are integers there, so there is no chance to be 'a little inaccurate'

dezcom's picture

Matt,
I also started out drawing glyphs in AI but quickly gave it up. The way FontLab curves spring out instead of collapse in (like AI) makes glyph drawing much easier. You can also select a control handle in FontLab and use the up-down and left-right arrows of the keyboard to nudge the handles in exact units. If you add the option key, the nudge is 10 units instead of 1. If I were you I would jump into drawing in FontLab and abandon AI as a font drawing program. You will quickly grasp the nuances of FontLab and soon be glad you made the switch. I have also noticed that AI nodes and joins sometimes behave strangely when pasted into FontLab. This can cause peculiarities when making transformations. AI is a great drawing tool and I use it every day but it is not the best glyph drawing program. Fear not, jump in; the water is warm :-)

ChrisL

matt's picture

Thanks for the input guys. I'll give Fontlab a try. Looks good from what I've seen so far...

twardoch's picture

Matt,

I recomend checking out Leslie Cabarga's book "Learn FontLab Fast" (http://www.logofontandlettering.com ), esp. pages 50-57. On these four spreads, Leslie managed to pack the essentials of glyph drawing in FontLab in a highly informative, concise and yet very understandable manner.

Even though I was technical editor for the book, I still keep learning from it every time I re-read or re-browse it. :-)

Adam

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