How To Create A Dingbat In Fontographer

This tutorial will show you how to create one designer frame character in Fontographer by copying and pasting an image that you've already created in your graphics program of choice.

Directions for Creating Your Frame

1. Set your background to white and your foreground to black.
2. Create a new image, white, 16 million colors, size 750X500 (approximately).
3. Add a new layer.
4. Draw your frame with either your line tool or shapes tool on your new layer. Make sure your lines are nice and thick, approximately size 9-10. Make sure "antialias" is checked for all circles and ellipses. I leave antialias unchecked for straight lines or rectangles and squares. You can add as many layers as you wish as you should keep your shapes and lines each on a separate layer for easier adjustments. Tip: I usually draw one half of the frame and then copy and mirror or flip and paste to complete the frame.
5. After your frame is completed, you should merge all layers and decrease your colors to 2 bit (black and white). The edges will appear ragged, but that's okay. Crop your image. Tip: The more white space you leave at the top of your frame, the smaller it will be when generated. You may need to experiment with this.

Here is the frame that I made (I reduced it for the sake of this tutorial, but the size should be approximately 650X350) Just make sure the frame width is much higher than the height.

Image 1

Now your image is ready for pasting into Fontographer.

1. Open Fontographer and click on "File" "New Font".
2. Click on "Element" "Font Info" and make sure "General" is checked. Under "Family Name" you can type the name of your font. Under "Notice" you can type your copyright information if you wish. I use the default settings for everything else in that window.
3. Double click on the letter "a" so your "Outline Window" opens. Click on the window to open it full screen.
4. Go back to your graphics program and copy your frame. Paste this image into the letter "a" by clicking on "Edit" and "Paste". You will now see a gray image.
5. Now you can adjust the right guideline by dragging it with your mouse so that the right edge rests just next to the right side of the frame.
6. Now you are ready to trace your image. This is the hardest part as there are so many variations of settings and adjustments you might need to make. For the purpose of this tutorial we will try using the Easy Trace. You can also use the Advanced trace but you will need to play with your settings. You can click "Edit" and "Undo" as many times as you need. So click on "Elements" and "Auto Trace". Make sure "Easy" is selected and set your "Curve Fit" setting to "9". Click "Trace". Your image should now look like this:

Image 2

The lines you see around the gray areas should closely resemble the actual frame you have drawn. Take notice if the circles look like true circles. If the trace setting looks awful, click "Edit" "Undo" and try a different trace setting. The higher the number, the tighter the trace will be. Sometimes you may need to try a bunch of different settings in the "Advanced" mode in order to get it to trace properly. Once it's traced the way you think it should be you can move onto the next step.

7. Click on "Element" and "Correct Path Direction".
8. Click on "Element" and "Remove Overlap". If you have a design that uses a lot of detail you might not want to use this option as it could get rid of some important areas of your graphic.
9. Click on "Element" and "Clean Up Paths" with the "Insert Points at Extremas" enabled. Sometimes you might wish to also enable the "Simplify Paths" option but it all depends. Try it out and if you see the points moving where you don't want them to, just undo.
10. Save your font (you may need to browse to save the font in a certain folder). I save my fonts frequently so I don't lose any work.

11. Now we need to delete the gray frame that is underneath the trace. Click on "Templates" in your "Layers Menu" as shown:

Image 3

12. With your "template" selected, click on "Edit" "Select All". This will put a box around your frame. Now click on "Edit" and "Clear". Your image will now look like this:

Image 4

13. Now take notice that my circles don't look as perfect as I would like. This can be fixed! Click on your "outline" layer again and choose your "pointer tool".

Image 5
Image 6

Then click on one of your points in your circle and move it. You can adjust the edges of the points by pulling on your adjustment nodes. Play around until you get the circles looking just how you want them. After you are completely done editing this character, you will need to repeats steps 7, 8, and 9 again. Continue creating as many characters as you wish to have in your font. When you have all of them done, you are ready to generate your font. Tip: I usually create 3 or 4 characters and then generate the font to test them out and make the necessary changes. If you have Windows, you do not need to install the font to test it out. Simply generate the font, open the .ttf file, and it should show up in your graphics program.

14. Click on "File" and "Generate Font Files". You do not need to put the bitmap sizes in. Under "Where to Output the fonts" is where you would select the folder you wish to place them in. I use these settings:

Image 7

15. Now you can copy the font and paste it into your "Windows" "Fonts" folder and test it out.

Additional tips:

1. You can click on "Edit" and "Select all" from your main Fontographer window. This will highlight all your characters. Click on "Metrics" "Equalize Sidebearings". This will center your characters within the guidelines.
2. When adjusting your points, keep your eyes on the coordinates at the top of your screen so you can make the top of the circle the same size as the bottom etc.
3. You can adjust the thickness of your font by clicking on "Element" and "Change Weight". Make sure "Correct Path Direction First" is enabled. You can adjust the weight with a positive or a negative number.
4. You can click on "View" and "Preview" at anytime to see what your font will look like. Sometimes I clean up my paths and make point adjustments with this turned on as it's easier to see what my shapes will look like.
5. You can delete a point by clicking on it with your "Pointer Tool" (refer to step 13) and hitting your delete key. Sometimes there will be two points really close to each other so I'll delete one and then move the other one over and adjust it.


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This tutorial was written on May 3, 2000.
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