Strange printer spacing results

I'm printing out specimens to test font spacing. The font is OTF and autohinted using Glyphs, the specimens are assembled in SILE (which is Harfbuzz under the hood) and I'm printing them out with a FujiXerox ApeosPort-V C4476, quite a decent laser printer. But the spacing is looking very different on the page and on the screen. I sort of don't know who to trust any more!

Here's a photo of the screen:

The l is nicely centered.

Here's a photo of the printout:

 It looks to me like the "l" has shifted over to the left on printing and is no longer centered.

This is with an A4 printout of the specimen at 12pt. The effect is not as pronounced when the specimen is printed double size. (magnified to A3 size)

What's going on? Bad printer rasteriser? Bad hinting? Something else?

Comments

  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    Another example, same printer. (Have a look at the "no"):
  • Do export the font without hinting and let us know how that prints.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 654
    Even though some people say PS hinting is essentially dead, I find that even very reputable, true Adobe PS3, hi-res laser printers give variable results with spacing like this at text sizes depending upon hinting settings. It can be very unnerving and frustrating.

    Make sure that you’ve set at least two good values for StemSnapV — one for lowercase straight stem and one for uppercase straight stem.

    Also, Erwin’s suggestion is a good one, for frame of reference. No hinting is sometimes better than bad hinting. Spacing may tend to be more reliable, but you may find stems varying.

  • Nina StössingerNina Stössinger Posts: 150
    edited April 12
    Just looked up the specs of that first printer you mentioned, are you sure you are not printing in 600×600 mode? I have found that color laser printers can be dubious when it comes to proofing type.
    And this may be a long shot, but your point structures are set up correctly, yes? I’ve seen some instances where odd rendering of spacing in printouts at least appeared to correlate with missing extreme points on the verticals in question, though I haven’t investigated this in depth. (Not sure how that would work for that “l”, but maybe a question for the rounds/arches)

  • Simon, the printout image is darker in areas which seem to correspond to overlaps. And its overall black is quite gray to a regular laser printout. This is strange and may indicate other issues with the printer setup or the path between font creation > send to print.

    Back to "l" question, I also had similar problems in past and they were caused by lack of proper PS hinting.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 235
    Does the problem repro if you print from other applications? In cases like this the application's micro-adjustments to maintain WYSIWYG between screen and print are usually the culprit.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,472
    Kent Lew said:
    Even though some people say PS hinting is essentially dead, I find that even very reputable, true Adobe PS3, hi-res laser printers give variable results with spacing like this at text sizes depending upon hinting settings. It can be very unnerving and frustrating.
    I’ve always had the same problems with light type. I proof anything lighter than a 1:10 cap height/stem weight ratio at 18 points or more.

    Postscript is listed as “optional” for the printer you’re using. Before you do anything else make sure that you don’t need to install something extra to get Postscript support. You might be getting errors from a format conversion.
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    edited April 12
    Thanks all for the comments. Si, I was printing a PDF with Preview. I think that should be OK...

    I have printed a waterfall sample of both autohinted and unhinted text, with the printer set to "normal" quality and "best" quality. Here's a photo (quite large, right click and open image in new tab for full resolution):


    I now can't see a problem, which is either my eyes not being good enough, or something even more strange happening. :/ I'm sure there was one before - wasn't there?
  • Thanks all for the comments. Si, I was printing a PDF with Preview. I think that should be OK...

    Uhhh … I was under the impression that Preview rasterized text and printed it as an image, rather than sending the text to the printer & having the printer-driver do that. Do you get different results when you print from Adobe Reader?
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 654
    Simon — Unfortunately, I don’t think jpg’d photos are enough for any of us to be able to definitively diagnose such problems. Plus, you’ve got a lot of variables; I think PDF may be adding another layer of potential complexity.

    Ain’t font technology fun?! ;-)
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