Any good auto kerning tools?

This question is probably quite naive, but are there any good auto-kern tools? It seems to me that such time consuming yet mechanical process should’ve been automated a long time ago, shouldn’t it? And now we have all of those neural networks, AI and so on. Am I missing something already present?
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  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,016
    https://huertatipografica.github.io/HTLetterspacer/ does metrics, not spacing, but could be extended to kerning
  • Paul MillerPaul Miller Posts: 128
    Font Creator has a very good automatic kerning tool built in !
  • Early stages still, I believe: https://typedrawers.com/discussion/2428/i-trained-a-neural-network-to-kern-a-font-mostly

    Then there is (or was?) iKern

    And Bubble Kern: http://glyphsextensions.com/bubblekern/

    Also, I hope you already know about kerning groups: https://glyphsapp.com/tutorials/kerning

    I don't believe there will ever come a day where kerning can be fully automatized. The reason is that kerning, like spacing and designing outlines, is subject to taste and style. It makes sense to kern one typeface differently then the other, simply because it has a different style, or is intended for different purposes. What I've been thinking for a while though, is that something like Bubble Kern might benefit from a slider from Text to Display, where Text kerns everything loosely, and Display very tight. 


  • DTL KernMaster can generate OK kerning tables if you know how to use it. I've used several times to generate a draft kerning that I can improve later with MetricsMachine.
    Also worth mentioning some foundries are happy with Igino Marini's ikern.com services.
  • What I do in FontCreator is use a Kerning Pair table for testing purposes only, then when I am happy with the changes, I copy/paste the new values to the table that is actually used in the font, or run autokern on the table used by the font. 

    The Autokern feature allows the user to adjust the glyph spacing value to make the kerning tighter or looser. One can do this for the full table, or just for the test table (which is much quicker).



    When I am happy with the glyph spacing factor, I can use that value for the entire font. On my large fonts, it takes a few minutes to run. I have about 72K kerning pairs.


  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,596
    I have about 72K kerning pairs.

    Does FontCreator not support kerning groups?
  • Yes. See the screenshot. 3,679 kerned classes, 73,413 kerning pairs in all. 
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,596
    Can FontCreator export the kerning to UFO or a .fea file?
  • FontCreator only exports/imports text files in its own format:

    script latn {
      feature KerningLatin;
    ...
    }
    class @A_Caps [A Agrave Aacute Acircumflex Atilde Adieresis Aring Amacron Abreve Aogonek Acaron Adieresismacron Adotaccentmacron Aringacute uni0200 uni0202 uni0226 uni1E00 uni1EA0 uni1EA2 uni1EA4 uni1EA6 uni1EA8 uni1EAA uni1EAC uni1EAE uni1EB0 uni1EB2 uni1EB4 uni1EB6 AA];

    feature KerningLatin kern {
      lookup PairAdjustmentLatin;
    }

    lookup PairAdjustmentLatin {
      subtable Subtable_0 {
        pos parenleft @A_Caps <-109> <0>;
    ...
    }
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,153
    FontCreator’s “own format” looks an awful lot like the AFDKO “.fea” format shared by many tools.
  • The OpenType layout feature format used within FontCreator is based on the format used by the now ancient and obsolete OpenType Compiler from Rogier van Dalen. We've further extended it to support more recent innovations like feature parameters.

  • @Erwin Denissen Can the latest FontCreator be installed under Vista? I can't find this information in your website.
  • Yes, our font editor should work just fine on Windows Vista.
  • I will give the FontCreator's autokerning feature a try as soon as I have a little time.

  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 679
    edited October 15
    @Erwin Denissen I can't use FontCreator under Vista because this window message pops up all the time.



  • Erwin DenissenErwin Denissen Posts: 129
    edited October 15
    I'm sorry about the inconvenience. We tested it last year, and it worked just fine. Are you running a minimal version of Vista? I suspect FontCreator requires Vista SP2 + Platform Update or higher. I hope this helps.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,153
    The OpenType layout feature format used within FontCreator is based on the format used by the now ancient and obsolete OpenType Compiler from Rogier van Dalen. We've further extended it to support more recent innovations like feature parameters.

    I suspect that either it is based on the AFDKO “fea” language (which would be quite OK as far as I know), or conceivably vice versa. Not that it is a big deal either way.  :smile:

  • James MontalbanoJames Montalbano Posts: 861
    edited October 16
    I look at a string of glyphs, and I "auto" matically understand which ones to adjust. As soon as I figure out how to "product-tize" this I will let you know.
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