Textured Type

I would like to add some texture to some of my existing brush fonts. I'm wondering how designers deal with the beziers in this case. It's a lot of points and finding things like overlaps and twists is almost impossible. The file size is also a big issue. Looking at some of the highly detailed and textured fonts that have been recently released, makes me wonder if these fonts might cause issues like crashing software, printer problems. Also, what's the best way to autotrace? Any tips or opinions? Thanks for any help!
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  • Here's an example of what I'm working on. This is a close up of the points. What I've noticed is points on top of each other, shapes with only two points (I think 3 is the minimum isn't it?) and just outright wrong.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 604
    edited January 17
    You might have more luck working everything out at an extremely high UPM, doing whatever cleanup you need to do and scaling it back down to your target UPM. Trying to clean it up at a low UPM can be frustrating because you have to fight with the low resolution. When you're dealing with grunge details in low resolution, Bezier handles pop to unwanted angles or disappear. Close points overlap and general anger occurs. You'll still have to clean it up manually after scaling back down but it's not as bad.

    If you run the FontLab simplify filter on low resolution grunge, it can cause more problems that it solves. If you scale it up large enough, that cleanup filter can save you a lot of low-res bezier wrestling.

    As for the specks: beware of those 2 point shapes. You can't even leave one of those in your font or bad juju will occur.

    Specks are a pain and I'll often manually remove them but sometimes they're necessary. Sometimes I copy everything to the mask layer. Select everything that's not a speck, invert selection and delete. I create a couple of generic tiny circles, making sure that they're constructed in a way that allows them to be converted to TT curves with simple, single point curves. I use the mask layer as a guide and copy/paste hundreds of little round specks.

    Then there's the nuclear option: convert everything to straight lines and remove overlaps. This can work with textures that look harsh and crunchy like spraypaint or charcoal. Here's what I use at UPM 1000

    Add nodes: segment length 15, convert curve segments to straight lines
    remove overlap
    optimize: process normally, do not align
    remove overlap
    optimize: tolerant, do not align
    remove overlap
    contour direction PS or TT

    It tends to ruin things but with certain textures it can really pay off. You'll still have to inspect the resulting mess but at least you're not going to have any bad curves to deal with. OTF and TTF have different breaking points. OTF is tolerant of bad curves but hates massive numbers of points and TTF is the opposite.
  • Converting curves to straight lines might just work with what I'm working on. What I've decided to do is create an art brush with texture in illustrator. Shape the texture around the letters, then expand and minus front. I could create the brushes with straight lines only and weed out any 2 point shapes to begin with. Beziers with no arms would probably have less bytes, maybe? Thanks Ray! Oh! I saw your color font experiment, it's exciting!
  • Jess LathamJess Latham Posts: 15
    Just curious if anyone knows at what kb does a font file become too large and start to become buggy for TT or OT? I read something about a Chinese character font that crashes the browser when it's used. What's the tipping point number? Thanks for any help!
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 737
    It isn't some set size in kb, and the breakpoints depend on the rasterizer and its available memory, and how that implementation deals with things.

    I seem to remember in the early days of OpenType seeing some issues testing one or two of the more complex Adobe OT fonts on one or two really old PostScript output devices with very low amounts of RAM. If I recall correctly, in the end there wasn't much we could do about it and we put some note in the readme.
  • @Jess Latham I could help you texturize all your fonts in no time for a very reasonable price. If you are interested, come and find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kateliev) send me a message and we could discuss it.
  • Jess LathamJess Latham Posts: 15
    @Thomas Phinney Thanks for the tip! I guess I will just put my font to the test and see how it holds up.
    @Vassil Kateliev I'm having too much fun to let anyone else do it, but thanks for the offer, hehe.
  • Since I find the matter very interesting, I might steal the topic a little:

    How much time do you guys spend making a textured typeface and what is your usual workflow - for example TypeDesign program >copy> Illustrator >copy> TypeDesign program or TypeDesign program + Import Bitmap Texture + Autotrace and etc. Are you satisfied with your workflow or you find the work tedious? How long does it take you developing (lest say) a 500 character typeface, presuming that 1/2 of it is composite characters.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 604
    edited May 9
    Assuming the bitmaps are ready to go in Photoshop, I run everything through Scanfont 3.13 which autotraces the entire font in a few seconds. Then I spend an hour or two rearranging and aligning with the original non-textured typeface on the mask layer. Manual inspection and cleanup can take from a day to a week.

    Mochon took about an hour to go from Photoshop to font and about 3 days of manual cleanup and testing. I'm not including spacing. classes, kerning and OpenType coding.

    Uchiyama was about a 5 day cleanup job. It's not really textured though. It was mainly as matter of trying to get proper curves and extrema and getting rid of nasty bits.

    Ebenezer probably took 3 hours to go from Photoshop to completed font. The character set is much smaller so speed things up.

    The cleanup part is tedious. FontLab's cleanup filters weren't designed for cleaning up grunge.
  • Jess LathamJess Latham Posts: 15
    In the early punk days (lol) I always just autoscanned and thought nothing else about it. It was freeware and if it didn't work, well, so what. When I finish my latest textured font I'll give a run down of the process and how long it takes me.
  • Beau WilliamsonBeau Williamson Posts: 40
    edited May 12
    There is a good script for removing points on top of each other in Illustrator. (Remove Redundant Points). You should use that before moving your shapes. I used to keep a copy of CS2 on my machine specifically for expanding brushes etc. because it did such a better job than all later versions (including CC). When you hit the shape with 'unite' in the Illustrator pathfinder, that gets rid of overlaps.
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