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Scanahand 5.0 • High-Logic

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Released 12th April 2016

Scanahand makes it easy to create 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.

The Premium Edition will allow you to create a full set of font styles and generate fonts with a wider range of glyphs to support different languages.

If you need more power, FontCreator will let you edit fonts to add kerning pairs, create composites, add OpenType features, and so forth. Existing FontCreator users will find Scanahand useful to import an entire alphabet at once. Scanahand with FontCreator Standard Edition is only $10 more than FontCreator Professional. Unless you need to copy glyph outlines as vector data to the clipboard or edit VOLT projects that would be a good value combination.

Contents

New Features

Recent Features

Standard Edition

Premium Edition

Filling in the Template

Extended Template

XML Files

Improving Results

Editing Templates

Regenerating the Font

Scanahand Options

Adjusting Metrics

Template Options

Conclusions

YourFonts.com

New Features

Recent Features

Standard 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.

Extended Templates

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 from 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.

XML Files

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"?>

<DATA>

  <Template>

      <Name>Big Dingbats</Name>

      <Columns>2</Columns>

      <Rows>2</Rows>

      <Characters>$41-$44</Characters>

      <IsSymbol>TRUE</IsSymbol>

      <PageRatioTopHeader>0</PageRatioTopHeader>

      <PageRatioHeaderBottom>15</PageRatioHeaderBottom>

      <CellRatioTopHeader>1</CellRatioTopHeader>

      <CellRatioHeaderAscender>0</CellRatioHeaderAscender>

      <CellRatioAscenderxHeight>0</CellRatioAscenderxHeight>

      <CellRatioxHeightBaseline>11</CellRatioxHeightBaseline>

      <CellRatioBaselineDescender>0</CellRatioBaselineDescender>

      <CellRatioDescenderBottom>0</CellRatioDescenderBottom>

  </Template>

</DATA>

Here is a much larger template for the Adobe Latin 3 character set: Adobe Latin 3.xml

Premium Edition

Template Grid Cell RatiosThe 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.

Getting Started

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.


Filling in the Template

Filled-in Scanahand Template

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:

Improving Results

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.

Preview of generated font

Editing Templates

Different width nibs

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.

Regenerating 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.

Preview of regenerated font

Scanahand Options

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.

Adjusting Metrics

This powerful feature, new to Scanahand (both Standard and Premium editions) is found only in the Professional Edition of FontCreator. The glyph spacing value can be adjusted to improve the character spacing. Press the Update button to update the preview text. Type any text that you want to replace the default “Preview Text.” The maximum is 19 characters to ensure that updating the preview is fast.

Set character width for digits to Tabular figures or Proportional figures to suit your font, then click on OK to generate the bearings. If you selected Tabular figures, an average advance width will be calculated and all digits will be given the same advance width so that figures line up when used in Tables. Currency and Maths symbols are not included.

Scanahand will calculate the left and right side-bearings by examining the shape of each glyph. This process may take several minutes as heavy processing is involved. For a font of 220 glyphs it took about eight to nine minutes on my PC using a high resolution 600 dpi template. It’s faster with a 300 dpi template, of course, but the results are not quite as impressive. You could use a lower resolution until you’re satisfied that everything is complete, then use a high resolution scan. Scan at 1200 dpi, and downsample to 600 and 300 dpi. Scanahand doesn’t work with higher resolution scans; 600 dpi is the recommended resolution for creating quality fonts. Hand-written felt-tip pen fonts may not benefit as much from 600 dpi scans as those drawn with a calligraphic pen or in a drawing application.

Conclusions

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.

YourFonts.com

If you want to get fonts made for you for a small fee, visit YourFonts.com


Page last updated on 18 July 2016