Author Topic: Working with Illustrator and FontLab Studio (updated for Illustrator CS5)  (Read 16418 times)

Adam Twardoch (FontLab)

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Below are some notes regarding working with Adobe Illustrator (including version CS5) and FontLab Studio or TypeTool.

First, you need to set up your Illustrator to work optimally with FontLab Studio. Make sure the Illustrator settings are as follows:
1. Preferences / Units: General and Stroke are set to "Points". One pt (point) in Illustrator will correspond to one UPM font unit in FontLab Studio.
2. Preferences / Guides & Grid: Gridline every 10 pt, Subdivisions 1.
3. Preferences / File Handling & Clipboard: make sure AICB is enabled and Preserve Paths is selected.
4. Set your document size to something like 1000 x 1000 pt.
5. Enable View / Rulers / Show Rulers and View / Rulers / Change to Global Rulers. The last option is necessary so that the placement of the shape in Illustrator CS4 and CS5 correspond to the placement in FontLab Studio.
6. Draw a horizontal guideline where the baseline of your glyph should be.
7. Move the ruler origin to the intersection of the left artboard boundary and that guideline. (Click on the small rectangle at the top-left corner of the rulers and drag the cross to that intersection). This will make the coordinates of your drawing correspond to the coordinates in FontLab Studio.

Then, you need to set up your FontLab Studio or TypeTool to work optimally with Illustrator:
8. Preferences / General Options / EPS and bitmap background: Choose Keep size (1 EPS pt = 1 UPM unit)
9. Preferences / FontAudit / Optimize: set your desired settings that will control FontLab Studio's curve optimization (simplification) algorithm.

Once this is done, draw your shapes in Illustrator.
10. Remember that the size of your Illustrator drawing in points (pt) will correspond to the size of the glyph in UPM font units. Typically, the flat lowercase letters such as "H" are around 700 UPM units tall, so they should be around 700 pt tall in Illustrator. If you've made a drawing of different size, rescale it in Illustrator. Remember that Illustrator allows fractional point coordinates so scaling up and down will not affect your curves. FontLab Studio on the other hand always snaps point to the UPM grid, so scaling the glyph in FontLab Studio down and then up again will result in rounding differences!
11. If you used any of the "modern" Illustrator drawing tools such as the stroke widths or the Width Tool, after you've finished, select your drawing and choose Object / Expand Appearance.
12. If you're unhappy with the number of outline points Illustrator has produced, choose Object / Path / Simplify. Enable Preview and choose the Curve Precision value somewhere between 70 and 95%. Observe the preview to determine your desired setting, and click OK.
13. Select your drawing in Illustrator.
14. Choose Edit / Copy.

Now it is time to move to FontLab Studio or TypeTool.
15. Switch to FontLab Studio and open the glyph cell where you want your drawing pasted.
16. Choose Edit / Paste. Your drawing should appear in FontLab Studio's glyph window.
17. To further clean up the shape and move the outline points to the extrema, choose Contour / Optimize. If you only want to add points at extrema, choose Contour / Nodes at Extremes.
18. Your glyph is now in FontLab Studio. Set the sidebearings as intended and repeat the steps 10–18 with more glyphs.
« Last Edit: 2010-05-18, 14:23:06 by Adam Twardoch (FontLab) »
Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.