MacDirectory Magazine

Piotr Rusnarczyk

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 157 of 197

Monoline Fonts Weddings, birthdays, showers, graduations, christenings and other celebrations call for communications with a personal touch. What better than a swoopy, doopy, loopy handwriting font? It could be your own handwriting or one of the hundreds of handwriting or calligraphic fonts already created by talented designers. Many of these are monoline fonts – fonts that look like they are written with a pen that has a tip that is always the same width, like a ballpoint pen (as opposed to, say, a broad nib pen where the width of the stroke varies depending on the angle and pressure of the pen). (Figure 1). Monoline fonts are popular in the crafts, especially engraving, embroidery, embossing, and laser/die cutting. They also work well with plotters. In fact a number of these machines will work only with true monoline fonts. And therein lies a problem. In math, a line has no thickness. In the real world, we always see some thickness of a line. The typical digital font formats (Type 1, TrueType, OpenType) were originally designed for printers. They use mathematical curves to describe the outer edges of the glyph shapes — so a line is represented as a rectangle. The outlines are made out of closed contours. It’s impossible to create a true monoline font in these formats. With font editors like FontLab 7, you can design your letters using monoline strokes. In fact, this method is simpler than designing other types of fonts because you can simply draw the glyphs as if writing with a pen rather than having to construct complicated contours. In FontLab 7, just use any drawing tools (Pencil, Pen, Rapid) to draw the skeleton of each letter. (Figure 2.) Each stroke should be an open path. I.e. true monoline. If you want to use your monoline font on the web or in print, just use the Power Brush tool - a live calligraphic stroke that FontLab draws along your skeleton. Then Export Font As › OpenType TT or OpenType PS, install it, and use it. But what if you need to use your monoline font on a plotter, engraver, cutter or sewing machine? One choice is to export the font as an Open Path Font (OPF). FontLab will export the open contours as closed contours. Change the file extension .ttf to .opf — and some apps like Make the Cut, Sure Cuts a Lot or Pazzles InVue will use them as skeleton fonts and ignore the closing line, thus making it look like an open path font . Another choice is to export as a double-contour font. I.e. the outgoing contour is placed exactly on top of the incoming contour. When the engraver/plotter head traces the path it will go over the exact same track in both directions. This is not very efficient because it takes twice as long as necessary to finish the job and sometimes going backwards can mess up materials like foil and delicate fabric. But it works. (Figure 3.) If the software for your machine accepts SVG files, you can turn on the Text tool in FontLab 7 or open Fontlab Pad (free!) and type the text you want to produce. Then export in SVG format. Save the SVG file and import it into the design app that you use to control your output machine and it will cut/plot/engrave/score/perforate/sew or otherwise render your text in a single pass. (Figure 4) The nice thing about this is that in FontLab 7 Text mode or in Fontlab Pad, you can make use of any OpenType features present in the font, so you will have full access to things like swash caps, contextual alternates and correct cursive kerning which many design apps are unable to handle on their own. (Figure 5) If you want to make your message personal a monoline font is a nice way to do it. Not too much work, but looks great in many different media. For more information, visit:

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