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FontCreator 11.0 • High-Logic

Released 10th May 2017 • Last Updated 8th September 2017

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PDF Version of this review Download PDF 118 K

FontCreator 11.0 is a major upgrade from version 10.1. It adds editing of CFF cubic curves, support for high resolution monitors, and a new set of icons in sizes from sixteen to forty-eight pixels.

Improvements to the glyph overview, Preview Toolbar, more shortcuts and access keys speed up workflow and make it easier to add OpenType features.

Autokerning has improved for those new to class-based kerning. Run it once, then edit the kerning pairs and classes to refine the results. Export and import of OpenType Layout Feature Definition scripts is still the best way to replicate the results in similar fonts or other type styles of the same font.

Updates and bug fixes for Complete Composites to use smaller accents for narrow glyphs, Small Capitals, and Petite Capitals, gives better results for standard typefaces. Additions offer another way of creating mirrored glyphs for Arrows and Geometric Shapes. Design only the unique shapes, complete composites to fill in the mirrored versions, then decompose and run the Font Validation wizard to fix incorrect directions.

Free help is available on the support forum, even for the unregistered 30-day trial version.

The Help File is available online, so anyone can see the features that are available before downloading the free trial version. The trial version is the full Professional Edition, but it doesn’t save fonts. Existing users may like to see which feature requests have been implemented already.

More details

Contents

Video Tutorials

Version 11.0

Conclusions

Version 10.1

SVG Support

Prescaling of Bitmaps

Toggle Tagging Shortcuts

Glyph Transformation Features

Version 9.1

New in the Latest Version

New in Version 9.0

Importing VOLT Projects

New Program Options

Font Properties

Visual OpenType Designer

Preview OpenType Features

Other Recent Improvements

Version 8.0

Improvements to Kerning

Kerning Groups

Autokern Settings

Complex Script Features

Anchor Manager

Version 7.5

Creating Colour Fonts

Earlier Versions

Version 11.0 build 2408

Version 11.0 build 2403

Version 11.0 build 2400

Version 11.0 build 2388

Version 11.0

64-bit Version

Vertical Metrics Support

Cubic Bézier Curves

Workflow Enhancements

High DPI Support

New Glyph Naming Tools

Colour Mode Improvements

Autokern Improvements

OpenType Designer

Conclusions

FontCreator 11.0 improves efficiency when working with kerning classes and OpenType scripts. The new icon set and HiDPI support mean that it is much more practical to use on high resolution monitors. The minimum practical size for the OpenType Designer is about 1024 x 768 pixels at 100% windows scaling, so those who need to use FontCreator on small monitors can manage by careful management of toolbars and palettes, which can be hidden until needed. I do not recommend trying to use it on a monitor smaller than 1366 x 768; my 1920 x 1080 desktop monitor is adequate at 100% Windows scaling. My most recent video tutorials use a window of 1196 x 952 pixels, which is the smallest size that allows all of the docked toolbar to be displayed without scrolling.

If your Operating System is 64-bit it is recommended to install the 64-bit version as it will allow more memory to be used, and operations like Autokern and exporting fonts should be 20% - 30% faster.

The long list of major improvements and workflow enhancements, not to mention several bug fixes, makes this upgrade easy to recommend.

Watch the new tutorial videos, now with voice-over commentary, to preview just some of the new features and to learn how to get started with creating your own fonts.

Version 10.1 (build 2272)

Version 10.1 (build 2257)

Released 8/12/2016

Version 10.1

Released 30/11/2016

PDF Version of this review Download PDF 259 K

Tip: Use this Windows Run command to install FontCreator 10.1 in a new folder.

%UserProfile%\Downloads\FontCreatorSetup.exe /DIR="C:\Program Files (x86)\High-Logic FontCreator 10.1"

Version 10.0.1225

Version 10.0

PDF Version of this review Download PDF 259 K

SVG Support

The new SVG and IGES import features make it easier to use a drawing program like Inkscape to edit glyphs. Import SVG or copy outlines from FontCreator and paste them into drawing programs for editing.

Prescaling of Bitmaps

For generating contours from bitmaps a source image of at least 250 pixels is recommended. If the only available source image is small, the results can be improved by prescaling the bitmap to enlarge it by as much as 400%. If the scale setting is 100% or less, and a small bitmap is selected, a warning will appear, advising you to enlarge the bitmap.

The size of the generated contours can also be changed by modifying the multiplier on the Glyph tab of the dialogue. Enable the “Use as default” checkbox to reuse the settings for future imports.

When drawing an ellipse or circle with the ellipse tool a contour with 12 points is created (4 on-curve, and 8 off-curve points). If drawing a contour larger than the em square, 20 points will be used (4 on-curve, and 16 off-curve points) to give a nearly perfect result.

Toggle Tagging Shortcuts

The tagging shortcuts (Ctrl 1-5) now act as toggles, and also function in the Glyph Edit Window. This makes it very easy to work through a font, fixing issues and tagging or clearing the tags of glyphs that have been processed. The Tabs on the Tab bar (as well as the glyph captions in the overview) now also have a coloured line to indicate which tag has been applied. The tags can be renamed.

Glyph Transformation Features

The transform feature “Override Range by Glyph Name(s)” was added to “Override Range by Codepoint(s)” to allow the selection of unmapped glyphs prior to performing other transform operations. If combined with the new Inverse feature, for example, one can write a script to transform the figures to white on a black background.

The “Optimize” feature, which is also available on the context menu for selected contours in the Glyph Edit window, will reduce the number of points needed to create smooth contours.


Version 9.1 Download PDF 259 K

New in the Latest Version

New in Version 9.0

Fixed Bugs

Importing VOLT Projects

If a font contains data from a VOLT project, FontCreator Professional Edition will offer to convert it to a FontCreator Project.

I have no experience with VOLT (Microsoft’s Visual OpenType Layout Tool), but those who do may find this feature very useful for working with projects developed with it.

If FontCreator is unable to process the VOLT project data, the binary GSUB and GPOS tables will be used instead. In FontCreator Professional, the OpenType Designer and OpenType Layout Feature Editor can also import Microsoft VOLT project (*.vtp) files. There is a new option on the Advanced Options dialogue, which is enabled by default, to warn if VOLT data is detected on opening a font.

New Program Options

Preview text strings can be added and modified in the Program Options dialogue, instead of having to edit files in the %AppData% folder. The Personalize tab (formerly the Naming tab) of the Options dialogue adds fields for Embedding Licensing Rights, Vendor ID, and Vendor where defaults can be set for creating new font projects.

FontCreator Advanced Options

Font Properties

Font Smoothing was moved from the Font menu to a new tab on the Font Properties dialogue. The Metrics Calculate button now defaults to Maximum instead of Default to prevent clipping of any glyphs, which may happen if any contours exceed the WinAscent and WinDescent boundaries. The Custom Tab replaces the Naming dialogue from earlier versions of FontCreator. Use this to add custom naming fields for Regular, Italic, Bold, and Bolt Italic styles in languages other than English.

Visual OpenType Designer

The previous OpenType Layout Feature Editor has been merged with the OpenType Designer. The code editor is still available for those who need it, but a visual representation of OpenType features and lookups aims to make the editing process more intuitive for those not familiar with editing code.

On opening the OpenType Designer for a font with OpenType features, one will see a window with the scripts, features, and lookups on the left. One can also import scripts to add OpenType features. Selecting a Glyph Substitution feature like AlternativeFractions (afrc) will display visually the input and output for each substitution in the lookup in the pane on the right.

The input for the selected lookup is “one slash one six,” and the output is the glyph named “onesixteenth.afrc.” If the user types 1/16 in an OpenType aware application and if the Alternative Fraction feature is enabled, the stacking fraction in the right-hand preview pane will be the result. The text is still 1/16, but the OpenType feature replaces it with the alternative fraction glyph. If the feature is disabled, or the font is changed to one without that feature, then the text will be shown as 1/16.

The Code Editor can be used to edit the script manually and verify it. Right-click to copy the output.

Preview OpenType Features

The Preview Toolbar supports kerning using OpenType GPOS. It also displays other OpenType features. Select any features from the panel on the left, or select Stylistic sets from the spin wheel control. The side panel can be resized or hidden. Enter “/newline” to start a new line of text.

The Comparison Toolbar in the Glyph Edit Window will also use OpenType features and kerning if Kerning or Default features are enabled.

Other Recent Improvements

Editing Data Files

Version 8.0

Released 5th June 2014 • Updated 21st July 2014

PDF Version of this review Download PDF 259 K

The Kerning dialogue has been replaced with the “OpenType Designer” to support the use of glyph positioning data for kerning. If a font with only the old style KERN data is opened in FontCreator, it is converted to GPOS data, which can be edited in the new dialogue. The OpenType Designer (on the Font menu) opens a dialogue for modifying kerning adjustment pairs, as well as other OpenType GPOS features. This change required a change to the Project file format. Projects edited in the latest version may lose data if opened in the previous version. Copy your project files to a new folder, and edit the copies while learning the new version. Then, if you should encounter problems, you can revert to the previous version by opening your previous project files.

On exporting a project for the first time you will need to select the options in the Font Export Settings. Browse to choose a path for the font, enter the filename, choose the Outline format from TrueType or CFF (Postscript), select the kerning tables to include, and select from the Hinting options.

To export a Web Font, select the options for that. When ready to export the font, select the export type from the File menu or use the shortcuts Shift+Ctrl+E (TTF/OTF), Shift+Ctrl+R (CFF), Shift+Ctrl+W (WOFF), or Shift+Ctrl+A for All.

To check or change the export settings before exporting, use the Export As menu options. The appropriate dialogue tab will open where the settings can be changed before continuing the export. Any changes to the export settings made on exporting via this route will become the new defaults for the current project. Don’t save the project again at this point if you don’t wish to update the export settings.

To include OpenType features, select Default or Custom Script. See the online help for writing custom scripts for OpenType Features.

Improvements to Kerning

Adjustment PairsFontCrator 8.0 Wat is New?

Kerning large fonts is a tedious task as they may need thousands of kerning pairs. Kerning groups (classes in FontCreator 9.0) greatly reduce the workload for adding and editing kerning values.

For example, if one adds a group for variants of Capital T and another for variants of Capital A, one only needs to create a single pair adjustment value. Scroll through the pairs to check that the kerning distance is right by selecting the drop lists for the First and Second pairs, then use the cursor keys.

When creating groups, consider the shape of the glyph outlines to decide whether they belong in that group. For example, lowercase ä or ã may need a different adjustment with Capital T than lowercase a or á, in which case you may need two different groups for accented forms of lowercase a — those with accents below or narrow accents above, and those with wide accents above.

FontCreator can automatically build groups if a font contains kerning pairs, or groups in one font can be exported as an OpenType layout definition file (a plain text file with the extension *.otldf), then imported into another style of the same font, or another font.

Using Autokern to modify the adjustment pairs to suit the Bold, Italic, or other styles is a simple task after the script has been imported.

Kerning Groups

The Group Manager makes it easy to add glyphs to the group later by hiding all glyphs already in the group, and removing a glyph is as easy as pressing the delete button. It pays to give some careful thought to how many groups will be needed, and which glyphs can share the same group. Will a glyph only ever be used as the second of a pair, or might it occur in either position? Will accents clash with ascenders or descenders?

Autogroup on the context menu will generate groups if you don’t wish to do it manually. Glyphs will be grouped based on the kerning pair values.

Having added the groups, right-click on the lookup table for pair adjustments in the dialogue, and select Autokern (or use the toolbar button), to have FontCreator calculate appropriate values based on the white space between pairs. Trim… can be used to remove any values that are too low to be useful.

The selected lookup can be exported as a text file. Type the filename, and let FontCreator add the *.otldf extension (OpenType Layout Feature Definition) for you. Associate these files with a text editor like Notepad if you want to edit them externally.

Autokern Settings

The Auto Kern Settings dialogue allows the white space between characters to be adjusted to give tighter or looser kerning.

Positive values may be appropriate for some fonts, e.g. to avoid a class between Th, or fh when they occur together. In my fonts, I use glyph substitutions to replace these problematic pairs, but others may prefer to use positive kerning.

Harmonize values will adjust the calculated values within the specified range so that they can be used to create larger groups when the Autogroup feature is used.

The process is almost instant, even for a large font with many adjustment pairs.

However, do check for rogue pairs like C-, which are absurd, and either manually correct them, or delete the adjustment pair to avoid them getting overlooked.

Complex Script Features

Users who are familiar with Microsoft’s Visual OpenType Layout Tool (VOLT) should have little difficulty adding scripts and lookups for other features such as cursive positioning.

New users will need a lot more help, but the dialogues make this complex task easier by offering sensible defaults and a drop list of standard features.

Unlike the legacy kern tables, OpenType kerning tables can be language specific. On the Preview Toolbar, as well as a Checkbox to enable kerning, you will now find another check­box for RTL (Right to Left scripts) and two drop lists for Script and Language.

Some fonts (e.g. Gentium) use the same kerning tables for all supported languages, while others (Linotype Palatino) have two or more different kerning tables for different scripts or languages.

The Latin (latn) script (A B C) is used not only by Italians, but is common to many European languages, while Cyrillic script (А Б В) is used in Russia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, etc. The appropriate kerning table will be used in the Preview and Comparison Toolbars when the Script and Language are selected from the drop lists.

Anchor Manager

Anchors can be used to position diacritical marks relative to base glyphs using the mark positioning (mark), or relative to other diacritical marks using mark to mark positioning (mkmk). The anchors are hidden and locked by default. Unlock them to change their position. Anchors can be added after creating a feature that uses them in the OpenType Designer. Enable the Anchors palette from the Toolbar Context menu, or from View, Toolbars. Select an anchor to edit its co-ordinates, or disable Lock Anchors on the Grid toolbar, zoom in, and drag it to the new position.

Open the Anchor Manager to see a full list of defined anchors, or to rename them.

In the OpenType Designer, select a feature that uses anchors, such as mark to base, or mark to mark to preview the results with different first and second glyphs as in the screen shot below.

Creating Indic, Hebrew, or Arabic fonts is beyond my experience so I won’t go into any more detail. Please ask on the High-Logic support forum or read the PDF manual or Tutorial threads to learn more.


Version 7.5

Released 2nd August 2013

FontCreator 7.5 Review.pdfPDF Version of this review

FontCreator 7.5 is the first Font Editor to provide colour support for OpenType fonts. Although you can create colour fonts even on Windows XP you will need Windows 8.1 to support them in applications, so it may be some time before they are adopted, but they may be popular on mobile devices.

Firefox 32, released in September 2014, added support for colour fonts, so it now possible to embed fonts with colour glyphs on web pages. Here’s a test page for National Flags from Bablestone, and here’s a test page of my own Colour fonts (illustrated below). Vivaldi, IE11, and Edge browsers also support Colour fonts.

Creating Colour Fonts

There’s a fairly short learning curve to creating colour fonts. Single colour glyphs are easy enough, just show the colour palette from the View menu or right-click on a toolbar to show the toolbars menu, then right-click in the glyph edit window to colorize the glyph. It will become blue. Then select any other colour from the palette.

Use the Colour mode icon on the Drawing toolbar to switch to and from colour mode. Glyphs that are not coloured will disappear in colour mode. If you want to colorize them, right-click and select colorize.

Not all glyphs in a colour font have to be coloured. Most likely one would create a normal black font with some coloured emoticons or symbols.

Multi-coloured glyphs need some fore-thought. They are somewhat like Composite glyphs, but Colour glyph members must share the same metrics and must be positioned to overlap in the right order. The outer members in the Preview illustrated are slightly fatter than the inner members that are below them in the glyph member order.

To create the outer contour members for the screen shots I just copied the capital letter glyphs to new empty glyphs, and ran a bold transform script to make them slightly bolder without resizing or moving them at all. It might have been better to run a Thin transform script on the inner contours instead so that the coloured glyphs are not too tightly spaced.

Coloured glyphs can also be kerned, as shown in the Preview toolbar above.

To change a colour glyph back to monochrome, delete all of the glyph members from the Members palette. Don’t worry that the glyph disappears. It will still be there when you exit colour mode.

Earlier Versions

7.01 June 20136.5 November 20116.0 June 20095.6 July 20075.5 May 2006

Download PDF reviews of previous versions.


Page last updated on 12 September 2017


Video Tutorials

Go to Vimeo to see more of my videos

What’s New in FontCreator 11.0?

Getting Started FontCreator 11.0

Drawing Contours FontCreator 11.0