ave you ever had
that feeling, constant and overwhelming, that someone has been somewhere before
you and thought about everything you might need, and seen that it's there and
that it works. Your mother maybe did it sometimes, if you're lucky, your lover
too maybe. When I experience it, it makes me cry. There are a few software programmes
that have done it: ClarisWorks 4, InDesign and Final Cut Pro; and now the suite
of FontLab and ScanFont have done it too.
lay undeveloped for nearly ten years until the FontLab people bought it up and
revamped it to work under Mac OS X, and if it does what you want that's great.
Stas - Sasha
P - Alex S - Cyril - Yuri - Oleg
In the meantime
Yuri Yarmola and his extraordinary team in St. Petersburg had produced a suite
of alternatives under the flagship name 'FontLab', now marketed under the leadership
of Ted Harrison and with guru Adam Twardoch answering for support
and marketing and contact with the world and vision and goodness-knows what
I first went to
explore what they'd done with Fontographer, and concluded that I was as well
off using my old version under the Mac Classic OS: but then my attention was
caught by the alternatives - FontLab, TypeTool and ScanFont - and after a week
found that I couldn't live without them, they're a reason for waking up in the
morning, they're so empowering that I get new ideas for fonts all the time and
simply couldn't wait to get my hands on them.
- truly cross-platform,
and other built-in fail-safe gadgets warn you about all kinds of problems
you might not have thought about, like
open contours on 'generate font'
support - quick, effective
- autotrace in
ScanFont+FontLab = 350 times quicker than Fontographer: Fontographer
takes 7 steps per glyph x [say] 100 glyphs; ScanFont = 2 steps all told
little grey cells',
not quite what Poirot means, but the way the font window is already filled
in with light grey glyphs as a kind of background template, so you can easily
see what's done and what's yet to do
- some have said
it's excessively technical, but I didn't react like that:
sure, it has a vast number of tools, functions, commands, and variables: but
Yuri & Co have made them as neatly manageable as they could be, and the
interface generally is as friendly and you could want
- some have experienced
a steep learning curve; I didn't, and would say that FontLab
people have done a *lot* more to make their programmes, accessible than Macromedia
did with Fontographer; there are tutorial movies, which are nearly as good
as someone showing you how they use it, and there's a friendly 'Learn
FontLab Fast' which gets you started in FontLab, TypeTool and ScanFont
for only $25, 160 pages, clear and simple, you can read it for pure enjoyment
in your favourite place, it tells you everything you need to get going and
any more-detailed points you can check in the manual on-screen.
- 900 page manual;
on-screen PDF or print on
- metrics window,
SO many possibilities ;-)
produce a usable result, even if tweaking is needed to get it really right:
one designer and calligrapher I work with commented specially on how exciting,
creative, empowering it was that I could straight away produce a prototype
of a font from his sketches, so he could see where he needed to refine and
polish for production
- the demo
versions do everything for as long as you want, but only save half
the glyphs in a database file and put a disfiguring logo in half the characters;
not as friendly as a one-month fully functioning trial, but a whole lot better
than what was offered before, something that was enabled for three days (!),
which put it outside the realms of reality for me.
wonderful that they've thought in such detail about the user's practical needs
that, alongside the field where you can enter URLs for a designer site and
a vendor site, they've given buttons to launch each site so you can check
that the address you've given is right and works.
Of course, this is the real world, you don't love everything your mother or
your lover does: but these few minor 'cons' feel OK because it's evident that
the FontLab team is genuinely open to suggestions for making things better,
and constantly working on doing just that.
- it's hard to
find your way in a 920-page manual on screen; you can get
an 'on-demand' printed copy for $70: for anyone who's concerned that it would
be out of date with the next version of the programme, CEO Ted Harrison writes
- "- very little goes
out of date. Virtually everything that was in FontLab 4 stayed in FontLab
4.5, 4.6 and 5. So the only real differences in the manuals is that we
keep adding stuff."
out of date and Win-only
we need the functions 'fix everything for selected glyph's, 'fix everything
for this font'
have commented on the price tags, and I can share that reaction:
but then, you *are* paying for quality. And getting it. There are consumer versions
at prices which don't involve making a budget and saving up; unfortunately,
although I'm don't make real money from my media work, as a creative artist
I find the various consumer-level alternatives of the (iBook, iMac, iMovie,
Express, iPhoto etc.) simply frustrating: that's a stumper. But for anyone who
qualifies for educational pricing, it all becomes affordable.
and designer Richard Bradley writes:
I really do rejoice
in your very good experiences with the Font Software folk.
Could you please
share with them how apparently easy it was for us to produce Ricks Relaxed
I find that quite
exciting and creative to be able just to write and then move on so relatively
easily to type. It would be good for them to know this as we have already done
it between us!
- I sat and
wrote for an hour or so.
- Scanned then
sent to you.
and worked on for about 90 mins in FontLab or similar by yourself.
- Then having
a sound model for a working font ready to use and allowing more refining
and polishing for production.
- Surely not
possible without calligrapher, font creator, and excellent working software
all working together.