MacDirectory Magazine

Lightstorm Entertainment

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 109 of 147

Family Matters Most fonts have family—the Bold brother, the Italic sister, and sometimes the unisex sibling, Bold Italic. But rarely do you see the uncles, cousins, and in-laws. These extended family members, such as Black, Narrow, Ultra Wide and others visit only on special occasions. You may forget that they exist (or can exist) at all. So why not invite them to your next layout party? Extended font family members have unique talents. Mainly they can fit where their brethren can't. Do you have the perfect headline that's just a smidge too long for the space available? Instead of settling for a smaller font, you could just make/use a condensed version. Does your ad copy cry out for a bold that's bolder than bold? Instead of using a different display font, consider Ultra Bold. A font family consists of designs that follow a similar concept but vary in stroke weight, glyph width, in contrast between thin and thick elements of the letter, in slope, serif length, in letter proportions and in many other aspects (variation axes). In FontLab 7, you can design font families with an unlimited number of variation axes, and export them as traditional "static" fonts or the new-style variable OpenType fonts that give the power of variation to the font end- user (in apps that support them). Variation is achieved through interpolation between glyph masters. A "master" is a set of contours that describes the shape of the glyph using Bézier curves (you will know them from PostScript, PDF, SVG and other vector graphics). The "a" would have its Regular shape in one master, and would have a Bold "a" master as well. The number of components, contours and nodes in all masters of a glyph must be the same (this means: they match), but their positions may be different. Interpolation makes the points and components "travel" between these positions. FontLab 7 uses the same interpolation algorithm inside the app as the variable OpenType fonts will use when exported, so the way the designer sees the design change when interpolation is used is exactly the same as what the end-user of a variable font will see. And if you design a Regular and a Bold, you can interpolate in- between fonts (Medium, Semibold) and even extrapolate Light and Black. This sounds more difficult than it really is. Let's quickly make a condensed font. First open a Regular font in FontLab 7. Choose Add Variations from the Font menu, type Condensed (figure 1), and click OK. You now have a Width variation axis and two identical masters. To actually condense the Condensed master, select some glyphs in the Font window, choose Actions from the Tools menu, and from the Adjust section, choose Change width. Move the sliders to get the right result (figure 2), click OK. Select all glyphs and choose Match Masters from the Glyph menu. You have your first variation! Choose Generate Instance from the Font menu, use the slider to choose an interpolated instance. Add it. Go to Font Info in the File menu, and in the Instances list, give your instances names (figure 3). Finally save and Export your new font. If you export it as a Variable TT font, you can actually change the width of your text while in a variation-capable app (like Adobe InDesign 2020) to make it fit absolutely perfectly in the space you want without having to go through a lot of trial-and- error. Or export OpenType PS instances to get a family of traditional, "static" fonts that work everywhere (figure 4). Not bad, Eh! Making new friends of extended family members can be both a fun and rewarding experience. For more information, visit:

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