Problems with letters below the base line in Fontographer

goldy2006's picture

I created most of a pixel font (A-Z, a-g) and everything works fine except for the fact that the "g" does not show up below the descender line.

the "Ascent" is 1125
the "Descent" is 250
the "Em Square" is 1000

I am a begginer so any advice is appreciated


Mark Simonson's picture

Other than the fact that ascent + decent should (normally) = em square, I'm not sure why it's not working for you. Are you perhaps using the descent line as the baseline? If that's the case, just move everything up 250 units.

goldy2006's picture

only the lowercase "g" rests below the baseline.

I've experimented with changing the em square but that hasn't helped.

If anyone wants to take a look

GBE42442.TTF (9.5 k)

goldy2006's picture

if you want to view it, change the ".unk" extension to ".ttf"

twardoch's picture

The font has pretty strange font metrics. The descender line is at -3, the x-height is at -1, the ascender and the caps height are at 1000.

I assume you're using FontLab? Either unlock the Vertical Metrics layer and drag the ascender, descender, caps height and x-height lines to their appropriate positions, or go to File / Font Info / Metrics and Dimensions / Key dimensions, and enter the appropriate values here.


twardoch's picture

Sorry, I only just now read the subject line of the thread where you indicate that you're using Fontographer. Some 10 years ago, I would have probably known how to change it in Fontographer but this is distant past now.


goldy2006's picture

thanks for telling me about the metrics, I'll look into it...

speter's picture

Element > Font Info (> General [on PC]) is where the metrics are set in Fontographer.

Mark Simonson's picture

A couple of things:

The em square should normally be the sum of the ascent and descent values. As it is, they add up to much more than 1000. It doesn't have to be 1000. In the font you posted it would be 1125 + 375 = 1500. 1500 is not the typical figure, but it will work fine.

To do this, just go to the Font Info window and check both "Retain path coordinates when changing em square" and "Automatically compute em square from ascent + descent". Click OK and everything should work a lot better.

goldy2006's picture

I changed the em square to 1500. Unfortunately, all this did was change the font size at different sizes, but I appreciate the advice. I still feel like something is wrong with the metrics, but I'm not sure what.

Mark Simonson's picture

>I changed the em square to 1500. Unfortunately, all this did was change the font size at different sizes,

Yes, it would have that effect. The problem (or at least part of the problem) is that you are drawing the characters far outside the boundaries of your font. The ascent and descent lines are where the topmost and bottommost parts of your characters should normally stop. If you extend parts of characters beyond those limits, they will get clipped off when you use the font in most programs.

I would suggest spending some time with the Fontographer manual, go through the tutorials, etc.

jim_rimmer's picture

I have always done my outlines in Ikarus, and for the kerning pairs and weight generation I use Fontographer.

I find that if I generate a Mac or PC font from the Ikarus data, the results are accurate and for the greatest part I get exactly what I want from the outlines.

Once I open up the Mac font into Fontographer, all kinds of ugly things happen.

Point types are changed from say a curve to an angle, and angles to inflection points (the type where a straignt goes into a curve).

I have long ago misplaced my manual, and I am stumped as to how I can change a point type to any other point type.

Can any of you FOG wizards tell me how to do this?


Jim Rimmer

jim_rimmer's picture

After trying every botton on the keyboard, I discovered a prompt up in the header that tells me to hit command, 8,9, or 0. This seems to give me the proper point type substitute, but the curve point still looks like a corner point and behaves that way if I drag it. By holding down the option key ands puling on the handles, it behaves like a curve point, but how terribly awkward!

I hope Fontlab is not so clumbsy, since I am planning to switch to it soon.

On the othert hand I could be doing this all butt-backwards. Any suggestions?

Jim Rimmer

goldy2006's picture

The problem (or at least part of the problem) is that you are drawing the characters far outside the boundaries of your font. The ascent and descent lines are where the topmost and bottommost parts of your characters should normally stop. If you extend parts of characters beyond those limits, they will get clipped off when you use the font in most programs.

Neither the ascent lines nor descent lines touch any character of my font. They are above and below each character respectively.

Mark Simonson's picture

Matt, is it possible for you to post the Fontographer font file here? (Not the generated TrueType of PostScript font) There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the way you've set up the font.

Jim, FontLab uses a different system for curve/line transition points which may make more sense to you. These points can be designated as smooth or not smooth. Smooth gives the same effect as a tangent point in Fontographer when a line a curve meet. The control point of the curve is aligned to the angle of the incoming line keeping the transition between the curve and the line smooth. When the point is set to not smooth, the control point is unconstrained allowing the transition to form a sharp corner. The smooth/not smooth thing works with the transition between curves as well except that it keeps the control points on either side aligned, again creating a smooth transition. This is the same as a "curve point" in Fontographer.

I sure hope there are other people familiar with Fontographer to help answer some of these Fontographer questions. I switched to FontLab cold turkey over a year ago and would rather forget about Fontographer and all the stupid little tricks you have to learn to use it effectively. FontLab is way better.

And Matt, as it seems you are just starting to learn about making fonts, I would suggest using something like FontLab's TypeTool. It's cheap and easier than FontLab, and you won't be learning to use an obsolete and virtually unsupported program (Fontographer was last updated in 1996!). Plus, you can upgrade to FontLab later if you decide you like this sort of thing. Just a friendly suggestion.

jim_rimmer's picture


Thank you for the information on Fog and Fontlab.

I have to look into getting the latter.

I am told that Fontlab will some time (but not soon) be making it possible to convert Ikarus outlines directly into FL avoiding the strange things that happen when making an Ikarus file into a computer font and then bringing it into Fontographer.

Jim Rimmer

Mark Simonson's picture

Maybe Adam is eavesdropping and can answer that question.

twardoch's picture


we are currently betatesting the Ikarus import info FontLab Studio 5. All Ikarus users, please kindly send in sample .ik files to adam at fontlab dot com so we can test the import. There are many version of the software that produces .ik files (Old mainframe Ikarus, Ikarus M, Ikarus for Windows, DTL IkarusMaster etc. etc.) and we would like to make sure the import function works with them all.

Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

Nick Shinn's picture

Jim, select the point(s) you wish to change, then use the pull-down menu "Points" at the top of your screen to select the kind of point you want it changed to.

goldy2006's picture

Sorry I haven't checked this post in a while...
But I do have the fontographer file if you would still care to look at it.

application/octet-streamFontographer File
GBE42testtest.fog (38.9 k)

Mark Simonson's picture

It's really simple:

With the font window open, select "Font Info..." from the "Element" menu. The dialog box will have these fields:


Notice that your Ascent and Descent add up to more than the Em Square. This is what is causing your problem.

In the dialog box, check the box where it says "Automatically compute...etc." like this:


Notice how it automatically forces the Em Square to add up to the other two numbers. Click okay an all will be well.

jordy's picture

Fontographer set a default value of 800 for ascent and 200 for descent, so obviously if your font goes beyond this default setting you have to do what Mark has shown you. If you did not comply with the default settings, then the program was a bit unforgiving, causing you to have to check the "automatically compute em square ..." as Mark shows.

By the way, I use Type Tool 2 and find it excellent and you can upgrade if you like to FontLab as was pointed out. Further, there are a lot of things about Fontographer that are annoying, lousy manual, etc., but one of the most irritating is what is referred to as "grid spacing." If you do not select all of the points and then select the "Align Points to Grid" command, you get points without integral numbers; in other words, instead of 120, 66 horizontal and vertical measurements, you will get fractional hundredths, like 120.223, 65.97 (from the manual) measurements. This might sound silly, but it can be problematic. Type Tool automatically does away with decimal percentages like this and effectively snaps to a grid. Mind you, Fontographer was the choice of most for years, so I shouldn't complain too loudly. And, just to add one more thing, "auto spacing," and "auto kerning" were never a good idea because the results were always lousy. Not to say that I didn't try.

jordy's picture

Matt, Jim, et al
I opened your file to look. Just a note - as there is some overlapping of forms in a couple of the glyphs of the font, first select all of the points in that particular glyph, then go to the Elements drop down menu, and then select "remove overlap." This happens when the points actually are directly on top of each other, not when the forms overlap but the points of the forms of the glyph are in different places. Anyway, have fun with this. Font creation is always an adventure.

goldy2006's picture

Mark - I checked automatically compute emsquare.It added up to 1375. All seemed to be going well, but after I exported it as a truetype the "g" does not display properly!

I checked all the settings, the emsquare added up to the ascent and the descent, yet it is still not working.

Thanks for your help though - I'll attach the new .fog file

application/octet-streamFontographer file (em square =ascent +descent)
thickfont.fog (39.9 k)

again,you might have to change the .unk to .fog

Mark Simonson's picture

Hmm. From what you say, it sounds like you're running OS X. There are some issues that affect font developers having to do with the system font cache in OS X. Try giving the font a different font name when you generate the font. It could be that the system has cached a copy of the earlier version and is not showing the new one.

There is also a utility called Font Finagler which will clear out your font cache if you don't want to change the name. Changing the name is easier, though, since clearing the font cache requires restarting or logging out and back in.

I don't know for sure that this is what's going on, but it seems likely.

jordy's picture

I checked out the font you posted "thickfont.fog" to Mark. I generated it in FT as truetype, generated a pdf file from Quark and I could not see the problem of display, the lc g looked ok to me. I also opened it in Type Tool and it appears to be as you made it. Attached is a pdf of the file I made. Hope this helps.

application/pdfMatt Gold font
goldy.pdf (6.3 k)

goldy2006's picture


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