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designing wrt the borders

Ultra
I'm new to this font racket and I have a beginner question. How should I design the glyphs with respect to the borders and guides and stuff? My intent is to have everything touch (but not cross) the baseline. I would have the tallest glyph reach the ascent. Is there any reason why I wouldn't want the left and right borders to hug all glyphs?

The set has the following properties:

  • A fictional runic font
  • Only one case (thus above the baseline)
Don't really know what else to say about it.

Any other advice anyone has for a noob would be appreciated. So far I've figured out how to import a background, do an autotrace and then painstakingly remove 90% of the control points. I'm sure someone can give me a tip about how to speed that up. I'm also wondering if there's any reason for me to use an encoding other than the basic TrueType.

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Re: designing wrt the borders

MMacD
A good start would be to find a book or books on calligraphy
and/or designing type.  Because of the way our eyes work, if you
make a curved edge, the bottom of the O, let's say, just touch
the baseline, it will look raised above it.  To make it look as
though it's resting on the baseline, it actually has to go a bit
below it.  How much "a bit" is, is a function of artistic
judgement.   Similarly, to make characters look evenly spaced,
two Os must be very close together compared to two Ns or Hs.

Get some books on calligraphy and type design.  They'll repay
study because you'll be able to avoid making all the puzzling,
difficult-to-understand mistakes that people with no background
make.

On Wed, 5 Apr 2017 18:14:43 -0700 (MST), you wrote:

>I'm new to this font racket and I have a beginner question. How should I
>design the glyphs with respect to the borders and guides and stuff? My
>intent is to have everything touch (but not cross) the baseline. I would
>have the tallest glyph reach the ascent. Is there any reason why I wouldn't
>want the left and right borders to hug all glyphs?
>The set has the following properties:
>A fictional runic font
>Only one case (thus above the baseline)
>Don't really know what else to say about it.
>Any other advice anyone has for a noob would be appreciated. So far I've
>figured out how to import a background, do an autotrace and then
>painstakingly remove 90% of the control points. I'm sure someone can give me
>a tip about how to speed that up. I'm also wondering if there's any reason
>for me to use an encoding other than the basic TrueType.

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Re: designing wrt the borders

Ultra
Are you sure "calligraphy" is the right term? Because if I Google for "calligraphy type design beginners" I get a lot of talk about how to hold a pen, but nothing about laying points and monkeying with splines. I find only basic talk about borders and guidelines.
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Re: designing wrt the borders

MMacD
On Thu, 6 Apr 2017 10:27:25 -0700 (MST), you wrote:

>Are you sure "calligraphy" is the right term? Because if I Google for
>"calligraphy type design beginners" I get a lot of talk about how to hold a
>pen, but nothing about laying points and monkeying with splines. I find only
>basic talk about borders and guidelines.

What calligraphy will teach you is how to space your chars, how
to make them appear to be the same size and in a line, etc. It'll
teach you the aesthetics of the written word and the page.

For shape manipulation using Bezier curves and splines, you'll
want to look for tutorials on vector graphics and Bezier curves.
If you own a copy of a vector editor such as Corel Draw or Adobe
Illustrator (or Inkscape under FreeBSD), you can teach youreself
how to get them to do what you want them to do.

But I can give you the basics of that right now, as far as
FontForge is concerned:  position your nodes where there's a
change in direction, e.g. the exact top, bottom, leftmost, or
rightmost point on curved segments, and the corners on shapes
made up of lines or where curves join lines.  Use the appropriate
kind of node, since one is designed for gradual change, another
for abrupt change from curve to line or vice versa, and yet
another for corners.  Choosing the right node is another case
where practice brings improvement.

FontForge will get shirty toward you if you don't put your nodes
at the direction-change places, and will, with your permission,
try to fix them for you, often by adding more nodes that you then
have to prune back.  So it's better just to put them in the right
place to begin with.  You can find the right place by zooming in
til the individual pixels become visible, and looking for the
direction changes.

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Re: designing wrt the borders

Ultra
I went to my rinky-dink town's public library and found 4 on the shelf. I thought 2 of them look relevant so I took them out. I think their publish predates 3rd generation computers. Again, the material was always relevant to anyone holding a pen, and any of the information I could get about glyph design was always focused on the Latin alphabet, which makes it difficult to adapt to runic. Can anyone recommend a specific ISBN? I think my needs are too specific for what a few keywords would get me.
The thing about what my challenge w/glyph design is that I already have 2600DPI scans of the fonts I want to make into computer fonts, which means I have all I need for the shapes, relative sizes and orientations of the glyphs. The only thing I need to know is the absolute sizes and the relationship the glyphs should have to their borders.
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Re: designing wrt the borders

David Madden
On 14-Apr-2017 15:13, Ultra wrote:
> The only thing I need to know is the absolute sizes and the
> relationship the glyphs should have to their borders.

I think that gets into "artistic judgment" territory, which is why
people are saying to look for calligraphy books.

Since you already have scans of characters that you like, why not import
them and trace a few, then use those to set some text in a word
processor?  You can start out with characters filling "most" of the box,
and see if they look too crowded in text.

The horizontal guidelines mean (when doing Roman fonts) the heights of
lower case letters, upper case letters, descenders, etc., because you
want those to be more-or-less even along a line of text.  The vertical
lines indicate the widths of characters, which sets the place the next
character will go in text.  You can also adjust the spacing between
pairs of characters, so that (for example) "A" and "V" can go closer
together than "W" and "M".

I think most fonts are designed using a 1000 height, with the tallest
capitals going up ~700 from the baseline.  But that's just a convention;
the characters will be resized anyway based on what font size you use in
your word processor, what DPI your printer is, and so forth.

HTH,
--
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Small Business, Startup and Intellectual Property Law
9600 SW Oak Street · Suite 500 · Tigard, Oregon 97223


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Re: designing wrt the borders

MMacD
In reply to this post by Ultra
On Fri, 14 Apr 2017 15:13:37 -0700 (MST), you wrote:

>I went to my rinky-dink town's public library and found 4 on the shelf. I
>thought 2 of them look relevant so I took them out. I think their publish
>predates 3rd generation computers. Again, the material was always relevant
>to anyone holding a pen, and any of the information I could get about glyph
>design was always focused on the Latin alphabet, which makes it difficult to
>adapt to runic. Can anyone recommend a specific ISBN? I think my needs are
>too specific for what a few keywords would get me.
>The thing about what my challenge w/glyph design is that I already have
>2600DPI scans of the fonts I want to make into computer fonts, which means I
>have all I need for the shapes, relative sizes and orientations of the
>glyphs. The only thing I need to know is the absolute sizes and the
>relationship the glyphs should have to their borders.

Well, as David suggests, your next step should probably be to
have a go at creating a scratch font with as many of the runes as
you like.

Are you adapting roundworld runes?  Elder Futhark, Anglo-Frisian
Futhark, or Younger Futhark?  If you are, then you're already all
set except for the tedium involved.

Recall that just about all the surviving examples were scratched
into stone.  They're not subtle!  They're made up of straight
lines with VERY few curves, no ascenders or decenders (e.g. h or
y) and the examples I've looked at (you may have seen others) are
written in PACKED form, something like mediaeval blackletter
(what non-scribes like to call "olde Englishe") only more so.
They are packed together -- tall and skinny in appearance, and
they're "set solid" in modern type terms, meaning that they have
no spacing between lines.  At most they have a horizontal scratch
dividing one line from the next.  Any lengthy inscription gives
the impression of lines filled with vertical scratches separated
by long horizontal ones.

If you follow that model, at worst it'll look authentic even if
not elegant.

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Re: designing wrt the borders

Ultra
It's a fan alphabet, largely gleaned from the Hobbit. You can see two such alphabets I'm thinking of doing.
I'm not surprised to hear that the descenders would be irrelevant, since there is only a single case, but why not the ascenders? I would think that the ascenders and the baselines would be the only relevant horizontal guide.
So the left and the right borders dictate the entire horizontal spacing between the letters (at the software's discretion)?
How about I show you a sample of another fanboy's rendering and you can give me an opinion on how correct he was? I found the subtleties given in the books I was looking at suggest that I don't really have an eye for this sort of thing.
A quick brown fox sample of the alphabet I'm trying to do
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Re: designing wrt the borders

Anton Sherwood
On 2017-4-16 09:08, [hidden email] wrote:
 > Are you adapting roundworld runes?  Elder Futhark, Anglo-Frisian
 > Futhark, or Younger Futhark?

On 2017-4-16 16:23, Ultra wrote:
> It's a fan alphabet, largely gleaned from the Hobbit.

The runes on the map of the Lonely Mountain are Futhark; I don't know
which subspecies.
(The runes on Balin's tomb in Moria, and in Appendix E, are unrelated.)

> I'm not surprised to hear that the descenders would be irrelevant, since
> there is only a single case, but why not the ascenders?

Where do you see 'scenders either way?

--
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Re: designing wrt the borders

Anton Sherwood
In reply to this post by David Madden
On 2017-4-14 16:28, David Madden wrote:
> I think most fonts are designed using a 1000 height, with the tallest
> capitals going up ~700 from the baseline.  But that's just a convention;

I've always assumed that, although the editor may internally deal with
fractional coordinates, what goes into the final font is integers (and
therefore I'd use the biggest scale available).  Is that wrong?

--
*\\*  Anton Sherwood  *\\*  www.bendwavy.org

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Re: designing wrt the borders

MMacD
In reply to this post by Ultra
On Sun, 16 Apr 2017 16:23:52 -0700 (MST), you wrote:

>It's a fan alphabet, largely gleaned from the Hobbit.  You can see two such
>alphabets I'm thinking of doing
><http://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Runic_Alphabet>  .
>I'm not surprised to hear that the descenders would be irrelevant, since
>there is only a single case, but why not the ascenders? I would think that
>the ascenders and the baselines would be the only relevant horizontal guide.
>So the left and the right borders dictate the entire horizontal spacing
>between the letters (at the software's discretion)?
>How about I show you a sample of another fanboy's rendering and you can give
>me an opinion on how correct he was? I found the subtleties given in the
>books I was looking at suggest that I don't really have an eye for this sort
>of thing.
><http://fontforge.10959.n7.nabble.com/file/n15462/quick_brown_runes.png>

"Ascender" refers to a stroke that goes up further than the other
strokes in the character, so h has an ascender, as does b, f, l,
etc., because, in general, most lower-case letters are shorter.
They're called ascenders because they rise above the general
height.

Most alphabets want "air" at the sides, the rule for Latin- and
Kyrillic-based charsets being that the space between letters
should be about the same as the space inside them.  Blackletter
came about in part because parchment (the prepared skin of a
sheep or lamb) and vellum (ditto of a cow or calf, sometimes even
a calf foetus) was, and is, *expensive*, and so to get the most
out of each skin, the scribes gradually compressed the letters
til there were no more curves at all, just angles.  Which is what
runic writers did too.  They wrote with the barest minimum of air
between the chars and between the lines.   The other reason for
the compression is that it's decorative--it creates a visual mass
that's pattern-like.

So in fontforge, if you want to be traditional (you might not --
Tolkien wasn't, in the texts accompanying his Middle Earth
stories), out of your nominal 1000 pixel height try leaving 5
pixels air at the top, and maybe 20 at the bottom, with a
horizontal 1-pixel line at 10 from the bottom.  And leave maybe
10 pixels at the sides.  Do 3 or 4 runes and try them out at
various point sizes, see whether, when printing at the smallest
readable size (8 to 12 points, depending on the readers) the air
you've left is enough to be easily visible but not "wasteful". If
you want to be fancier, put a line at top and bottom, and leave
maybe 20 pixels under the bottom line to create stripes of runes.

The ones at that nabble.com url look like they're meant to be
brush-written (the pointy trail-offs give it away).  Probably not
a lot of runes were ever written with a brush in real life.  They
tended to be incised because runes were important and not to be
used trivially.  

For the few documents they ever created,  they used pretty much
the same reed pen as other scribes did at the time, sometimes cut
but probably more often just mashed a little to act like a very
blunt brush and produce a stroke of even weight regardless of
direction (that's what the Egyptians did, too).   By the time
their culture had changed such that portable records were needed,
Scandinavian-Latin charsets were used, not runes.

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Re: designing wrt the borders

MMacD
In reply to this post by Ultra
On Sun, 16 Apr 2017 16:23:52 -0700 (MST), you wrote:

>It's a fan alphabet, largely gleaned from the Hobbit.  You can see two such
>alphabets I'm thinking of doing
><http://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Runic_Alphabet>  .
>I'm not surprised to hear that the descenders would be irrelevant, since
>there is only a single case, but why not the ascenders? I would think that
>the ascenders and the baselines would be the only relevant horizontal guide.
>So the left and the right borders dictate the entire horizontal spacing
>between the letters (at the software's discretion)?
>How about I show you a sample of another fanboy's rendering and you can give
>me an opinion on how correct he was? I found the subtleties given in the
>books I was looking at suggest that I don't really have an eye for this sort
>of thing.
><http://fontforge.10959.n7.nabble.com/file/n15462/quick_brown_runes.png>

Oh, and the screenshot at the ultimacodex site that shows what's
meant to be a metallic (gold?) plaque with  thick-and-thin,
square-serifed  runes?  That's just embarrassingly wrong.

Runes didn't ever have serifs (which came about as a way to trim
up the ragged ends of incised lines, a task performed by the long
horizontal lines in runic writing), and, using a chisel pen, it's
not possible to get thick-and-thin strokes in one part of a
letter but not another.  People in 19th century Britain were
enchanted by everything mediaeval, but they no longer knew about
chisel pens.  So they drew the outlines of the letters and filled
them in.  Which, since with a crow-quill pen you can do any
shapes you like, led to some *very* strange-looking letterforms,
like the ones on that "plaque".

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Re: designing wrt the borders

David Madden
In reply to this post by Anton Sherwood
On 16-Apr-2017 21:55, Anton Sherwood wrote:
> I've always assumed that, although the editor may internally deal with
> fractional coordinates, what goes into the final font is integers (and
> therefore I'd use the biggest scale available).  Is that wrong?

I think you're correct.  I haven't fiddled with the guts of fonts since
early PostScript days, but it makes sense to do things with integers
since you eventually have to end up with a repeatable, yes/no decision
for each pixel: is this pixel on or off?  (Glossing over antialiasing
concerns.)

It looks like FontForge has dropdown selections for 1000, 1024, 2048 and
4096 points, and you can type in an arbitrary larger number, but I doubt
it buys you much to work at larger numbers -- you wouldn't be able to
see the difference in the printout anyway.

Since you can apparently rescale things automagically, you can always
increase the resolution if you find you need it for some reason.

Regards,
--
Mersenne Law  ·  www.mersenne.com  ·  +1-503-679-1671
Small Business, Startup and Intellectual Property Law
9600 SW Oak Street · Suite 500 · Tigard, Oregon 97223

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Re: designing wrt the borders

David Madden
In reply to this post by Ultra
On 16-Apr-2017 16:23, Ultra wrote:
> How about I show you a sample of another fanboy's rendering and you can give
> me an opinion on how correct he was? I found the subtleties given in the
> books I was looking at suggest that I don't really have an eye for this sort
> of thing.
> <http://fontforge.10959.n7.nabble.com/file/n15462/quick_brown_runes.png>

I am in no way claiming to have a good eye for this stuff, but I look at
a lot of (English) text, and I'm interested in fonts, so:

The text sample in your link looks unbalanced to me.  In particular, the
third word in the first line ("BRENT") looks like the baseline is
uneven.  The character spacing on the second word in the first line, and
the last word in the second line looks off (too tight around the "I" and
too loose around the "Y").

I'm sure part of it is the nature of the runes, which look like you're
supposed to be able to carve them out of rough wood or
something...they're not the elegant letterforms you'd chisel carefully
out of stone if you had time and skill.

A lot of it probably depends on what you want to use the font for.  If
you want to be able to reproduce a canon example exactly (and fanboys
would ridicule you for any discrepancies) then you're going to do
something different than if you want to set long paragraphs that are
attractive and easy to read.  That's my main use of English (I'm a
lawyer) so that's what I focus on.  If you were an advertising designer,
you'd be more interested in other characteristics.  And if you're a
hobbit, who knows?

Regards,
--
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Small Business, Startup and Intellectual Property Law
9600 SW Oak Street · Suite 500 · Tigard, Oregon 97223


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Re: designing wrt the borders

Ultra
I had the idea that the ascender was a horizontal border that was not crossed, as a rule of thumb, not an area. I forget the horizontal rule that governs the height of lower case characters, but I don't need to, because I won't be using it.

David Madden wrote
On 16-Apr-2017 16:23, Ultra wrote:
> How about I show you a sample of another fanboy's rendering and you can give
> me an opinion on how correct he was? I found the subtleties given in the
> books I was looking at suggest that I don't really have an eye for this sort
> of thing.
> <http://fontforge.10959.n7.nabble.com/file/n15462/quick_brown_runes.png> 

I am in no way claiming to have a good eye for this stuff, but I look at
a lot of (English) text, and I'm interested in fonts, so:

The text sample in your link looks unbalanced to me.  In particular, the
third word in the first line ("BRENT") looks like the baseline is
uneven.  The character spacing on the second word in the first line, and
the last word in the second line looks off (too tight around the "I" and
too loose around the "Y").
Now that you mention it, I always found letters like the 'L' (first letter of the last word on the 2nd line) and the 'I' (2nd letter of the 2nd word) looked too run together and harder to read in smaller fonts. I can also see the unevenness about the baseline in what you called "BRENT" (which is actually "BROWN") especially between the 'B' and the 'R', but I don't know if there's much I can do about that, since I want to keep the proportions among the glyphs authentic according to the guide provided--all I can do is change the positions and spacing.

A lot of it probably depends on what you want to use the font for.  If
you want to be able to reproduce a canon example exactly (and fanboys
would ridicule you for any discrepancies) then you're going to do
something different than if you want to set long paragraphs that are
attractive and easy to read.  That's my main use of English (I'm a
lawyer) so that's what I focus on.  If you were an advertising designer,
you'd be more interested in other characteristics.  And if you're a
hobbit, who knows?
What I want is to produce a font to be used for any purpose that anyone wants. Whether it's for carvings, posters or banner advertisements trailing a bi-plane is up to the user. I suppose the authority on spacing would be actual texts, but those aren't very many, and I don't know if I have the wherewithal or the dedication to get it so that it looks good *and* proper. Maybe what I should do, is just design the whole font, then come back here and offer samples, take note of the critiques and then go back and hope I can figure out how to efficiently scale the stuff so that I won't have to undo/redo a lot of my work. Does that sound feasible?
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Re: designing wrt the borders

David Madden
On 17-Apr-2017 10:37, Ultra wrote:
> Maybe what I should do, is just design the whole font, then come back here
> and offer samples, take note of the critiques and then go back and hope I
> can figure out how to efficiently scale the stuff so that I won't have to
> undo/redo a lot of my work. Does that sound feasible?

Sure, get your outlines in to begin with, then print out a bunch of
sample texts and see what looks "off."  You can move the outlines around
in the character cell, and change the whole character width, very easily.

It's more work to change the outlines themselves (if you decide a
crossbar needs to be thicker, or positioned at a different angle or
something) but for positioning one character relative to another, that's
all just moving the whole thing around within the character box.

Regards,
--
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Small Business, Startup and Intellectual Property Law
9600 SW Oak Street · Suite 500 · Tigard, Oregon 97223


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Re: designing wrt the borders

Anton Sherwood
In reply to this post by MMacD
On 2017-4-17 05:51, [hidden email] wrote:
> Oh, and the screenshot at the ultimacodex site that shows what's
> meant to be a metallic (gold?) plaque with  thick-and-thin,
> square-serifed  runes?  That's just embarrassingly wrong.
>
> Runes didn't ever have serifs

But one can suppose a culture that progressed from scratching runes in
stone to more forgiving media, and decorated styles, without changing
the skeleta.

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*\\*  Anton Sherwood  *\\*  www.bendwavy.org

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Re: designing wrt the borders

Ultra
In reply to this post by David Madden
So I'm about half-way through. I'll deal w/the spacing once I've laid all the control points. I guess the only thing I'll want to know first is where should I put the glyph in between the vertical borders. Is there any reason I shouldn't just push it far to the left and just adjust the right border or should I put it in the centre?
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Re: designing wrt the borders

Anton Sherwood
On 2017-4-21 17:06, Ultra wrote:
> So I'm about half-way through. I'll deal w/the spacing once I've laid all the
> control points. I guess the only thing I'll want to know first is where
> should I put the glyph in between the vertical borders. Is there any reason
> I shouldn't just push it far to the left and just adjust the right border or
> should I put it in the centre?

Well, if you're setting a line of type that's centred or
right-justified, seems to me you'll want the right and left leadings to
match.

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*\\*  Anton Sherwood  *\\*  www.bendwavy.org

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Re: designing wrt the borders

Dave Crossland
In reply to this post by Ultra
Hi

I hope www.designwithfontforge.com can help you

On Apr 5, 2017 9:14 PM, "Ultra" <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'm new to this font racket and I have a beginner question. How should I design the glyphs with respect to the borders and guides and stuff? My intent is to have everything touch (but not cross) the baseline. I would have the tallest glyph reach the ascent. Is there any reason why I wouldn't want the left and right borders to hug all glyphs?

The set has the following properties:

  • A fictional runic font
  • Only one case (thus above the baseline)
Don't really know what else to say about it.

Any other advice anyone has for a noob would be appreciated. So far I've figured out how to import a background, do an autotrace and then painstakingly remove 90% of the control points. I'm sure someone can give me a tip about how to speed that up. I'm also wondering if there's any reason for me to use an encoding other than the basic TrueType.



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