Released 28th March 2012
Scanahand makes it easy to create Windows TrueType fonts from your handwriting. Print the template, fill it in, run it through Scanahand, and save your font.
There is no limit on the number of fonts that you can make, and though you cannot edit fonts, you can edit your filled-in template with photo-editing software and generate the font again quite easily.
FontCreator will let you edit fonts created by Scanahand to adjust metrics, add kerning pairs, create composites, and so forth.
One of the hardest things to get right is the letter-spacing. Scanahand 4.0 has a new algorithm that will automatically calculate left and right side-bearings. The result should be more evenly spaced fonts. First impressions were good, but this needs rigorous testing on a wide range of type designs to see if it really works well. I suspect that any font with swashes will still prove problematic.
For a Capitals only font, if only capital letters are created, the lowercase letters will be mapped automatically. There is no need to fill in the entire template to avoid blanks.
Further improvements were made to the algorithm that generates the glyphs from the filled in template. On my AMD 64, 3500Hz PC, it took just 65 seconds to generate an ANSI character set font from two template pages. A graphics artist who knows very little about font editing could create a font very quickly with Scanahand, just by filling in a bitmap template with a graphics tablet, or by scanning a printed template filled with a pen. To make a full set of four typefaces, get the Premium edition.
Scanahand Version 3.0 added an enhanced template editor, improved font conversion, and a multilingual interface (English, German, French, or Dutch). The Premium Edition added a new signature template and the option to set the font style to regular, italic, bold, or bold italic to make a matching set of four type styles. Version 3.1 — a free minor update for users of version 3.0 — further improves the font creation algorithm and adds an extreme setting for extra fine or smooth fonts. A default set of diacritical marks can be added automatically too if needed.
Version 2.0 of Scanahand added a template with a second page for extended characters with accents. The extended character set supports the following languages: English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Estonian, Faeroese, Frisian, Irish, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Albanian, and Esperanto.
A template editor lets you make your own custom templates, but please note that you need the Premium Edition to generate fonts out of the custom templates.
Users of the Standard Edition can explore the extra features provided by the template editor to decide if they want to upgrade. Please see the Comparison Chart to see the features included in each edition.
Any custom templates for Scanahand are stored in \My Documents\My Scanahand Templates\
They are simple XML files that can be opened in Notepad or any text editor. They contain the data to define the template, the number of columns and rows in the template grid, the hexidecimal codes of the characters to include, whether it is a symbol font or a Unicode font, and the ratios of the cell guidelines. Below is a sample template for Big Dingbats — a grid of 2 columns x 2 rows is the limit for the largest grid squares. The number of pages in the template will be calculated automatically from the number of cells that will fit on each sheet and how many characters are included — in this case only four characters (A-D) on one sheet. These template files can be share with other Scanahand users.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
The Premium Edition includes a four page Symbol template for symbol fonts, and can generate multilingual fonts using the custom templates created in the Template Editor.
The positions of the template guidelines can be adjust too, making the template more suitable for creating fonts with different font metrics. The position of the baseline, x-height, ascender, and descender lines can all be adjusted.
Step 1: Print out the template, with a yellow guideline for the baseline if you have a colour printer.
Step 2: Fill in the template using a suitable pen, place it on your scanner and scan it into the program.
Step 3: Click on Generate, give your font a name, and your font will be generated in about forty seconds. Save the font and install it.
This is not so easy to do well. Anyone who can write can make a font, but making one worth keeping needs some practice. Don’t spend too long with your first attempt though, you will probably need at least three or four attempts to get a satisfactory result.
If you make a few minor errors you can save the template and edit it later in your favourite photo editing software, and load it again before generating the font.
Here are a few important points to be mindful of:
This is my font after a few trial runs to get to know how the software works. I am not an artist, but with a bit more practice I will get it right.
The baseline is fairly even, and the spacing is OK, but some letters are not very well formed.
If, like me, you haven’t used a pen for years, you will need some practice to learn how to write fluently again.
I tried a few felt-tip pens, but I prefer to use a calligraphic pen, which is just like a fountain pen with a wide nib. It lets you create thick and thin strokes, and gives a nice even black line.
If you drop a few spots of ink on the template or mess up a few letters, never mind, you don’t need to start all over again. Write the spoiled letters again in the margins.
Templates can be saved and edited in photo-editing software to clean up spots, move letters up or down a little to align with the baseline, and cut and paste good letters over spoiled ones.
Letters that are the wrong size can be stretched to match the rest of the font.
Here is the same font regenerated after a bit of touching up in IrfanView.
I moved a few letters down to the baseline, trimmed a bit off the arm of the lowercase “t”, and switched the € and ¢ symbols, which I had written in the wrong squares.
A graphics tablet can also be used to fill in the blank template to avoid the extra step of scanning.
These options are available in both the Standard and Premium editions. By default, a light yellow guideline will be printed on the template to show the baseline on which the letters should be drawn.
Lines can also be added for Ascender, x-height, and Descender. If you use a mono printer, you may get better results by turning these lines off.
If you have drawn your font too small in the grid, you can scale the size on the General tab of the Options dialogue.
Creating fonts is not quite as easy as one thinks it will be. Many users who downloaded the trial version of FontCreator gave up because there was just too much to learn. Scanahand certainly makes the process a lot easier. There is no need to learn about font metrics, glyph mappings, or side-bearings. You just have to learn how to fill in the template.
A few users may still be disappointed. Not because the software cannot do what it claims to do, but because they are not artistic enough to write neatly, nor creative enough to design an attractive font. Most of us can type a lot faster than we can write, and it looks a lot better.
However, those who are patient will soon be creating fonts to be proud of. Perhaps for them Scanahand will be the stepping-stone that they need to start creating professional quality fonts in FontCreator.
Existing users of FontCreator will find that Scanahand is a very quick way to get designs into FontCreator. Several users have asked for graphic tablet support for drawing in FontCreator. Perhaps this is even better — use regular drawing tools, and automatically convert the outlines into a TrueType font. You can, of course, also use a graphics tablet in your photo-editing software to fill in the Scanahand template.
If you want to get fonts made for you for a small fee, visit YourFonts.com