TypeFacet Autokern: A Free & Open Source Auto-Kerning tool. Would appreciate feedback.

charlesmchen's picture

Hi there,

I'm working on an auto-kerning tool. It's free and open source. If you're interested in taking a look, I'd love to hear your feedback.

TypeFacet Autokern Project Pages

As a demonstration, I've used Autokern to re-kern two popular open source fonts: League Gothic and Linden Hill (both from the League of Type). Here are direct links to before-and-after comparisons:

League Gothic

Linden Hill

I took the fonts' original kerning as a point of departure when configuring Autokern.

blokland's picture

Nick: ‘There is a lot more to spacing than even-stem intervals and uniform white space [...]

Yes, you are right: I forgot to mention the influence of the inferior conjunction of the moon at a certain moment during the creation of type, the humidity in general and in the working space of the type designer in particular, and the undefinable relation between Voodoo and type design. But for the rest I was spot-on, I reckon.

Nick: ‘I would like to see a comparison of your auto-kerning for two of my “manually kerned” types—Scotch Modern and Richler […]

Basically I would like to go further than kerning alone additional to your spacing, by also applying auto-spacing on another example. It is in my opinion more interesting to use a ‘translation’ and an ‘expansion’ typeface from your œuvre. The two typefaces you mention are basically from the latter category. Shall we say that we both select one?

Charles: ‘We've reached the logical positivist argument for kerning. Might be fun in theory, but 'tools' implies use.

I have not the faintest idea what you mean here, but I assume that the nature of this message is positive.

Charles (after an edit): ‘I'm with Nick. The test would be interesting.

The test was my idea, wasn’t it?

FEB

Nick Shinn's picture

I forgot to mention the influence of the inferior conjunction of the moon at a certain moment during the creation of type, the humidity in general and in the working space of the type designer in particular, and the undefinable relation between Voodoo and type design.

Also what I had for lunch, whatever meds I might be taking, and last month’s font sales.

The two typefaces you mention are basically from the latter category.

They do both have vertical stress, but their spacing strategies are quite different, which is why I thought they’d both be interesting to compare with automated kerning.

Scotch Modern
Richler
Goodchild

For a “translation” face, might I recommend my Jenson (Goodchild)?
There are other Jensons to compare it with (and even perhaps Goudy’s Italian Oldstyle), which might be revealing.
Bitstream’s DeVinne would be good to compare with Scotch Modern, on account of the former’s interesting deployment of negative sidebearings on /v etc.

vernon adams's picture

DTL's KernMaster does seem extraordinarily good at calculating kerning values. Everyone should should have a look at it. Impressive.

ps . I would pay good money to see a live 'kern off' between Nick (on meds or not) and KernMaster.

blokland's picture

Vernon: ‘I would pay good money to see a live 'kern off' between Nick (on meds or not) and KernMaster.

Unless Nick is family of The Flash and shares some dna with this superhero, my bet is that KernMaster is faster.

FEB

riccard0's picture

Kern Tennis! ;-)

vernon adams's picture

FEB:

I strongly believe that most of the type design process can be automatized/parametrized. If one can describe the matter, it can be programmed –that is, if enough resources are available.

Well, i've found Typefacet pretty handy this week, using it as a quick way to space the ufo files of a new face, 'on the fly', as i work on them in Robofont & Prepolator; tweak, shape, autospace, look .... tweak & shape more, autospace again... etc. Ok so it's probably a forgiving face for an autospacer, but i have been impressed by the spacing Typefacet gives (see below).





I can throw a whole ufo at Typefacet and it will return workable spacing across all glyphs (unlike the autospacers in fontog, fontlab or fontforge). Also, equally balanced glyphs (e.g. 'o', 'A', 'H', 'M', etc) get equally balanced side bearings, and unequally balanced glyphs get the 'correct' ratio of side bearing values. Other autospacers aren't allways that sensible. It's not the final spacing, and i will manually adjust some values, but it's doing a pretty good job, and the optical values of 'the usual' kerning pairs look ready for kerning later (auto and/or manual). I would say it's saving me lots of time and compensating for my usually not so great attention span for spacing ;)

snow is nigh's picture

Anybody here had a look at the work of the author of Crimson Text and his approach to find kerning values automatically?

http://aldusleaf.org/rhea.php

Nick Shinn's picture

I had a look at it, but briefly, because I quit immediately I came across the philosophical proposition that the technocrats are wont to argue: …that’s all the brain is: a machine.

There are many arguments against this, but the one I will mention here is that, from an historiographical perspective, culture can be seen to evolve as a progressive dialectic between the tendencies of art and science, with whatever the one creates being questioned by the other.

Art says: OK, science, technology and capitalism, you’ve standardized and commodified That, but we decline to use your tools as you intended—so suck on This!
And Science says: Shape up, you wayward Mess of biology and culture; we are on the threshold of discovering your hidden mechanism and Making It Work.

And so it goes, so it goes, so it goes, and where it’s going no one knows.

Té Rowan's picture

Wasn't it D.E. Knuth that said: "Science is everything we understand well enough to put into a computer"?

charles ellertson's picture

I actually know Don Knuth. There is room in his life for a lot of things.

Instead, try Rudolph Carnap. Everything is, in principle, physics.

riccard0's picture

“Science is anything you can get away with”.

hrant's picture

{To Follow}

PabloImpallari's picture

I've have released my little spacing macro
http://www.impallari.com/projects/overview/spacing-macro

15' Screencast:
https://vimeo.com/45648496

Play around, and let me know how it can be improved.
And maybe some of this can be integrated into TypeFacet Autokern (for example, the way you tweak and play the macro each time to get quick visual feedback).

hrant's picture

Pablo, good stuff.

Would it make sense to make the sans/serif variable something more sophisticated than just zero or one?

BTW the best feature is of course the baby sounds! Let me guess: 2 months?

hhp

PabloImpallari's picture

Thanks hrant,

> Would it make sense to make the sans/serif variable
> something more sophisticated than just zero or one?
Like what? example?

> BTW the best feature is of course the baby sounds!
> Let me guess: 2 months?
Ja ja ja.. That's Sofía. 1 month and 4 days.

hrant's picture

Wow, she's so mature! ;-)

I think at the very least you'll need an intermediate value for flare serifs, and maybe a higher-than-normal value for slab serifs. But I don't know how your code is written to use that variable.

hhp

PabloImpallari's picture

For slabs you can use "serif" settings, and for flare serifs you can use "sans" settings, and play with the "global adjust" value.

jafo's picture

I seem to have this installed (Python is the new DLL Hell), but I can't get it to recognize that tfs is part of its distro. Anybody else have this problem?

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