Drawing S in Fontlab

Typogruffer's picture

Hey,

I very strongly remember someone asking a question about drawing the character S in fontlab. I tried for an hour and i was reduced to quasi tears and all i had was a image of a dragon drawn by a 2 year old in my 'S' glyph cell. Can anyone direct me to it.(I wasted 30 minutes trying to find that question here). If i is not there can anyone share their method to draw the perfect S.

Regards
T

hrant's picture

There is no perfect.

hhp

Typogruffer's picture

There is no perfect.

Not at all helping my current situation, Hrant, Not at all :(

hrant's picture

I've noticed you're a pretty negative person. In fact not very Tamil Nadu at all.

You really think we all draw an "S" the same way? You want The Answer? Come on.

But if you want a cheap shortcut: make a smooth single curve, and auto-expand it. But even that would only be a very modest start towards something you think is good.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Get some professional help…

http://thetypestudio.com/

Bendy's picture

I find with troublesome letters it can be massively easier to draw on paper first, large size, tweak then scan, adjust in FontLab, print, trace, tweak, repeat repeat, until it all comes together.

oldnick's picture

I find that it can be massively easier to get one-on-one instruction from someone who knows what the hell she is doing…as Ilene Strizver did for me, when I was just starting out. Unfortunately—for you, I suppose—ITC paid Ilene for her assistance…

John Hudson's picture

This is what I do, step by step. First I define the top and bottom parts of the letter, ignoring the middle section. I judge by eye where I think the upper left and lower right inner and outer curves should be, and place extrema points here.

http://www.tiro.com/John/S1.gif

Then I am ready to define the middle section. I do this by moving just the vertical control handles from the extrema points, until the bend of the S is the height I want it and the distance at the middle is appropriate to the weight of the typeface.

http://www.tiro.com/John/S2.gif

Then I draw guidelines between the opposite control handles of the inner and outer curves, noting where these cross the outline.

http://www.tiro.com/John/S3.gif

Then I place nodes at these positions on the outline, and do constained movements of the control handles coming off these nodes in order to adjust the weight through the bend towards the extrema.

http://www.tiro.com/John/S4.gif

That's it.

You will find, if you are eventually going to make a TrueType font, that the structure resulting from this approach gives you everything you need to use the interpolate hint instruction to control the middle of the bend.

http://www.tiro.com/John/S5.gif

Typogruffer's picture

@john while doing the bottom and top parts of S, do you do it in a linear fashion(Do the top part first, then middle(not bothering how it turns out) and bottom and then join them(or vice versa)) or do the bottom part and top part differently and then join them?

John Hudson's picture

It hardly matters. Usually, I have already done the uppercase C, so I begin the S by copying the top terminal of the C and using that as a basis for the upper right part of the S. Once I've done the top part so that it looks good, I'll usually copy it, rotate it 180 degrees, and use it as a basis for creating the bottom part. Obviously a lot of editing takes place to adjust the width, size and angle of terminal, etc.. Then I join the two segments and proceed as described in my previous post.

As Hrant says, there is no one 'correct' way to design an S. This is just the process I have found fastest and most reliable, and which has the benefit of producting an outline structure that lends itself to hinting.

Typogruffer's picture

@hrant: i finally made an S which looks okay. I drew the bottom and top parts and then joined them.Your method was a life saver. To make sure the width remains constant through out i made gauge balls and tweaked the BCPs (i wanted it that way). I still have a lot to do but it is mostly little tweaking to get the curves properly

hrant's picture

Uh, you must mean John. I'm the guy you dissed because I warned you about The One Path To Perfection.

BTW, let's see this puppy (preferably in context). Which BTW would've been a more direct way to get advice in the first place.

hhp

Typogruffer's picture

@hrant( this time it is for you): I did try to upload the picture but i got a 407 error. I am still getting it. So here is a link to it. http://postimage.org/image/adhcrru8h/ Still a lot of tweaking has to be done, but hey at least i have something on my cards now.( I finished the uppercase and I kept S for the last). Thanks in advance for the feedback which you are going to give.
Update: I have posted my work in progress here: http://typophile.com/node/97034
please give your feedback

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Typogruffer, I think you still need to develop your very feeling of shapes. Independently from the matter of mastering curve handling in FL.

Typogruffer's picture

@Andreas:

I think you still need to develop your very feeling of shapes. Independently from the matter of mastering curve handling in FL.

Can you please tell me what this means?
Thanks

Nick Cooke's picture

Draw them better. That is keep practising until they aren't lumpy.

oldnick's picture

Nick—

Excellent advice" right now, I am seeing lumpy gravy.

OTOH, I am also seeing Emma Watson without WHAT? It kinda looks like she's got panties on, but that might be a Photoshop trick…

Andreas Stötzner's picture

> Can you please tell me what this means?

One needs to train one’s eyes. The eye tells the hand how to draw. Be it with a pen or a mouse, in any case.
If you master curve handling in the glyph window, this does, however, not enlighten you about *how an S-shape ought to be*.
I’d suggest a little experiment to you: print out a single letter S of a classical typeface at 400p. Take a second sheet of paper, ink and a pointed brush. Try to copy that letterform as exactly as you can, by eyesight only …

Btw., for training I recommend to start rather with I, L, T, P… and not S. S is one of the hardest to draw, right next to O.

Nick Job's picture

John, that's electric. Thank you.
N

dumpling's picture

Why not just write SUFFERING SUCCOTASH (write with a pen, I mean) and digitize that? You then have three S's to choose from.
Or make an infinity symbol (for the amount of trouble this is causing you), turn it sideways, and delete a couple segments so you get your S.

Bendy's picture

John, I too tried out your method, it really worked :)
Here's the result.
Thanks!

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