ttfautohint control instruction file guide?

Hey everyone,

So I've been lucky enough in the past to get pretty decent results with the default TTFAutoHint settings.

I'm finishing up a new typeface, and thinking I was in the final stretch, I went and ran my usual "ttfautohint -n" in Terminal, only to find a handful of characters in the heavier weights a total mess. The main ones being the counter/eye of the lowercase "e" completely closing up, as well as the dot on the lowercase "i" and "j" attaching to the rest of the letter.

Funny enough, my TTF files straight out of Fontlab with the Fontlab autohinting doesn't have this problem at all, and actually look fairly decent, except a bit more fuzzy as well is snapping to the x-height and baseline. I was thinking I'd maybe just use Fontlab for hinting then, but I feel like I should be able to resolve this and still use TTFAutoHint. I tried messing with the x-height snapping exceptions, but it only made the "e" worse.

To get to the point of my post... does anyone have any sort of very simple guide for using control instruction files for TTFAutoHint? I have no clue at all how to use a control file, and everywhere I find info online, it is from people who already know what they are doing and it goes over my head. Even if I could understand how to simple write a control file for the lowercase "e" to change the counter/eye filling in, I bet I could figure the rest out myself, but I just don't know where to start...

Any help is greatly appreciated!!!


  • I made two videos that may be able to help you a little. Ignore the advice on settings in the first video.

  • Josh_FinkleaJosh_Finklea Posts: 44
    edited August 2017
    I made two videos that may be able to help you a little. Ignore the advice on settings in the first video.
    Awesome! Thanks for the links Jasper, I really appreciate it.

    On another note, is there any way of pulling the hinting instructions for a specific glyph from one file and applying it to another?

    For example, if a letter is rendering better from the Fontlab hinted file than TTFAutoHint, can I somehow pull the instructions for that glyph in the Fontlab hinted file and place it into the other file?
  • As far as I know that is not possible, at least not within ttfautohint. I also think it would be more work than just making the control instructions, which is not too hard when you get used to it. 
  • it's technically possible to pull hint info from one font and use it in another with ttx. But you have to be careful, and know what you're doing. If the hinting instructions make any reference to either the fpgm or cvt tables, then the hints won't work in another font. (Sorry, I know that's techie talk, but there's nt really a simple way to explain it that I can think of)
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