There are a multitude of new features to make designing type easier. Performance is spectacular. Every function has been re-thought to make your tasks of creating and editing fonts more fun and quicker. Yet keyboard shortcuts from FontLab Studio were kept wherever possible.
Why are we doing an open, free public preview? It is nearly feature-complete, but there are many bugs and issues, and we want your input on both user interface and functionality. The tool is for you, so we want your feedback!
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With our Tunni Lines, you can finally move both handles on a curve in sync, Balance their proportions and tune the curve Tension.
If you like your shapes but not where the nodes are, just Shift+Alt+Slide them to a better position along the curve, or even beyond it, without altering the existing shape.
Some nodes define a stem position, but some are Servants that just follow along when you move others.
With just one move of a node, Ctrl+Alt+Nudge handles or intelligently Power Nudge other nodes. Select and move nodes and handles across contours and multiple glyphs. Link points to Power Guides with Magnet to orchestrate major shape changes quickly and consistently.
Curve tension is a measure of how much a curve deviates from a straight line between two points, from zero to 100%. So for example, Helvetica has more tense curves than Frutiger or Myriad. A smooth outline will have constant tension, or a steady decrease or increase from curve to curve. FontLab VI not only lets you visualize curve tension, but also lets you see it numerically, edit it visually, and even use the “Rapid” tool to draw curves with tension set to your specifications. So if you want to make a font with more squarish curves like Helvetica or Eurostile, FontLab VI can help you draw it that way from the start.
FontLab VI can dynamically Suggest snap locations for nodes, angles and stem distances as you draw, so you’ll get equal distances — even without using our new Guides that snap and measure like no other. See stem thicknesses automatically measured as you draw. Scale, rotate and slant losslessly thanks to FontLab’s fractional drawing precision and live integer rounding.
Harmonize your curves to make them really fluid, or “G2 curvature continuous” in math-speak. Make your node a Genius, which stays fluid even if you move the handles — view the Curvature to prove it.
Curves even stay smooth and true to their form when you Simplify a contour or remove some nodes with Eraser (no software does it better, say the mathematicians).
Our Corner nodes can be clever, too. Create and adjust live rounded corners and ink traps with Smart Corners.
Use Scissors on intersections, and we will recreate overlapping contours, so you can move them independently.
Easily spot odd points and suspicious curves with the revamped FontAudit, our live outline custodian. Its intuitive problem highlighting (a nod to Tal Leming’s Glyph Nanny) and improved fixing algorithms will help you turn your outlines into pro outlines.
Apply the Power Brush to a “skeleton” contour for live, adjustable calligraphic strokes. Control the angle and thickness of the brush, and tweak it even after you’ve drawn. Save Power Brush presets and apply them to other contours across your font.
Our Pencil is a radical new sketching tool. Trim, tweak, modify, smooth, adjust. Nothing gets in the way of creative successive approximation — especially not the usual constraints of wrangling Bézier curves.
Our Rapid tool is a Pen on turbo. Click for a line, double-click for a curve, that’s it. FontLab knows which nodes should be extremes, and automatically makes smooth curves with your chosen node positions. Move the Rapid handles to change the curve segment Tension, or double-click to apply the current font-wide default. Rapid is great for quick drawing of consistent shapes, or for intelligent manual tracing of a scan or background image.
If you like drawing with an industry-standard Bézier pen, FontLab VI has a great Pen tool for you. We’ve combined the best of Fontographer, FontLab Studio, and some other approaches.
(And if you find a traditional Bézier pen hard, you’ll love the rest of our drawing tools.)
Draw open or closed lines and contours. In the areas created by their intersections, use the Fill tool bucket and click to fill and Alt+click to unfill. We’ll do the pathfinding — manually setting path direction is so 1980s.
You’ve made your drawings somewhere else? No problem. Copy-paste glyph outlines or even color vector graphics from Adobe Illustrator, FontLab Studio, or other standard vector drawing or font apps. Import SVG drawings.
Got fonts in another format? FontLab opens it: OpenType, UFO, FontLab VFB, Fontographer, Glyphs, Ikarus, webfonts...
Drag-drop or copy-paste pixel images in most formats, with mono, grayscale, full color and transparency support. Split and autotrace or draw over your images. Rotate and scale imported graphics, crop, blur, remove noise and background.
FontLab has a new interpolation engine based on MutatorMath, the industry-standard open source code created by Erik van Blokland at LettError. With FontLab VI you can have arbitrary master designs anywhere in your design space, masters that only affect certain glyph(s), and more. On top of that we have new interpolation intelligence; glyphs don’t have the same rigid compatibility constraints they did in FontLab Studio 5.
FontLab VI also uses intelligent interpolation in many other areas, including the rewind feature, power nudge, and servant points.
The Sketchboard allows you to draw and experiment outside of any glyph, and to type text—which is still made of live, editable glyphs. And you can still work in a single-glyph window if you prefer.
Everything is color-enabled. Draw multi-color contours, bring in full-color outlines and images, and create emoji or chromatic fonts for all Color OpenType-enabled platforms: Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Firefox and Windows 8+.
Easily switch between glyph input, drawing and spacing without changing your workspace. Adjust metrics with intuitive keyboard shortcuts and a minimal UI. Or dive into details using slanted sidebearings and the enhanced Measurement line.
Want the O sidebearing to always be 60% of H? Link metrics and set up complex spacing relationships with our live math expressions engine. Lock the sidebearings and they will remain constant—even when you change the outline.
Class kerning is now true group kerning (without key glyphs, and always conflict-free). Preview the Kerning Group clouds as you kern and compare your decisions with live autokerning suggestions. Export KLTF-optimized OpenType kerning that never breaks or overflows.
Position anchors manually or link their positions to other anchors or guides with math expressions. FontLab will display all matching diacritical marks in a Pin Cloud, and will use your anchors to generate composite glyphs and the mark/mkmk OpenType features.
FontLab now has a full layers model with as many layers as you need. The “Mask” layer can still be used with its familiar keyboard shortcuts, but it is just a special case of a layer with a known name and some quicker shortcuts.
Instead of forcing you to define a glyph in order to reference the whole thing as a component, FontLab has the notion of shared Shapes. You can edit the Shape anywhere it appears and it affects all instances, or disconnect it to make a custom variant. FontLab takes care of the production issues specific to each output format, whether it’s creating TrueType components or CFF subroutines.
Sort glyphs by the color flags (marks), and organize your glyphs with tags: assign multiple labels to your glyphs, then assign the same tags to font guidelines, stems and zones, and they’ll only appear in the tagged glyphs. Virtual tags for lowercase or overshoot glyphs are assigned automatically. All tags form groups (classes) and can be viewed with the new Groups panel.
Just type. We can find glyphs by glyph name, Unicode character name, script, codepage, encoding, range… you name it. FontLab also has friendly alternatives to standard glyph names built in. Use friendly names for development but export industry-standard fonts, with no added effort.
Test your OpenType features with the built-in HarfBuzz OpenType Layout engine with complete complex-script support.
Search for glyphs based on Unicode character names and Unicode scripts.
FontLab VI stays up-to-date with the latest Unicode and OpenType standards.
Trying to duplicate a bunch of preference settings to output a specific font or project could be painful. With FontLab VI we have introduced Profiles for font generation.
Each profile is a group of settings for generating output fonts in a particular format. FontLab VI has a set of default profiles for all our standard output formats, and you can easily create new profiles to meet your particular needs.
Type designers use various tools and workflows. FontLab VI does not lock you into a proprietary file format, but allows easy file exchange with other apps that use .vfb, .fog, .ufo, .glyphs, .otf, .ttf, .svg, .png or .jpg.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, FontLab VI uses the industry’s best solutions: Adobe FDK, HarfBuzz, MutatorMath, ttfAutohint, the KLTF kerning optimizer, and a RoboFab-compatible Python API.
We apologize for taking away your coffee break.
FontLab VI is very fast, being written in C++ and optimized for speed. Most operations are instantaneous. In some places we reduced the lag from minutes to milliseconds. Combined with a more efficient user interface, and more powerful and intuitive tools, the new FontLab will help you work faster than ever. Maybe you won’t even miss the coffee break.