Making masters interpolation-compatible: what is your workflow?

I've tried Prepolator and it works but I frequently found difficult to select certain contours or to arrange orders when there are several contours involved (for example in an AE with many overlapping contours). In such cases it is a pain and I tried to solve the problems natively in FontLab but the rutine of using scripts for im/exporting UFO is also a pain and rather slow. I recently bought Glyphs to see if I can find a better way to make masters compatible dealing directly with UFO files (my main interpolation software is Superpolator). So, I am curious about what is the workflow / tools you use for dealing with interpolation masters...

Comments

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,351
    edited September 2013
    I draw everything in Glyphs and just keep the masters compatible when I draw them. But this only works if you limit yourself to weight and width axes.
  • Actually I don’t recognise the problems you describe about using Prepolator. The “auto contour order” function is usually a good start, and using cmd-up / down works well to do tweak the order manually. I wish all my software had been designed this elegantly, and I can’t imagine living without it anymore.
  • edited September 2013
    I’ve had issues like this when migrating from FLS to Glyphs (correct path direction couldn’t always get the order right with multiple contours), and found you can cut and paste the contours to change their order.

    Edit: Completely unrelated, but ouch! Jackson really needs to do something about that fl ligature in Alright Sans.
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited September 2013
    Yea, the automatic correction tools are pretty great. Also you can go back and forth between Robofont and Prepolator, adding or subtracting nodes with the drawing tools if you need to. Maybe you can also do that on the fly in Glyphs, I don't know.
  • Glyphs can work with UFO files while other apps access the files just like most UFO apps.
  • @Paul: When you try to equalize 3 or more masters, the automatic functions don't always work fine and (at least in the Prepolator version I tried) selecting small objects can be very difficult. I always end up doing some tasks in Fontlab. But, yes, about 98% of the work is done by Prepolator, the problem for me is how to deal with the other 2%...
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited September 2013
    It sounds like your problem is that it is cumbersome going back and forth between the UFO based world, and Font Lab. So your solution is Robofont or Glyphs, which are UFO based. I think the strength of UFO-based specialty programs, namely Metrics Machine, Superpolator and Prepolator is pushing people away from Font Lab, because of exactly the workflow problems you are having. They are switching to Glyphs or Robofont, which are UFO based, for better workflow. Maybe this will all change when they finish the new version of Font Lab, but that seems to be where it is now. A problem with the UFO world is that when you add up all the programs, it gets expensive, compared to Font Lab.
  • You don't like my Futura-inspired fl?
    (It's on my list of things to possibly change.)
  • @William: Yes, and that's the reason I chose Glyphs over Robofont. Robofont looks attractive but I don't like its metrics/kerning interface (and I don't want to spend another 500 bucks on MetricMachine...)
  • All you have to do is draw all the masters using the same number of points in the same order.
  • but the rutine of using scripts for import/exporting UFO is also a pain and rather slow
    You don't have to import/export your entire fonts every time.
    There are also FL scripts to import/export:
    1) only the selected glyphs in the current font, or
    2) the selected glyphs in all open fonts

    So if you tweak a particular glyph, you can only export that one, and it only takes a fraction of a second.
  • All you have to do is draw all the masters using the same number of points in the same order.
    + that means in the same direction (arrow icon, sorry just trying to clarify)
    + with the same contour order
  • but the rutine of using scripts for import/exporting UFO is also a pain and rather slow
    The currently version of UFO Central is annoyingly fast. I miss being able to take a 1-20 minute break while importing/exporting. What's more disruptive is that it forces to you to move outside of the fontlab proprietary ecosystem, a move that should provoke you to take more ownership of your design (but it doesn't necessarily require that).
  • + that means in the same direction (arrow icon, sorry just trying to clarify)
    + with the same contour order
    Yes, same contour order, same number of points on each contour.
    I find the "Set Startpoints" command in Fontlab very helpful in this regard.
    /Option/Command/t also at: Contour/Paths/Set Startpoints
  • @James: fine, but don't you tell me that after the final corrections/tweakings you don't end up with several glyphs incompatible. And I should also say I don't usually use "MM-style" (2 extremes) interpolations but "Superpolator-style" (3 or more masters), so at the end a tool like Prepolator, although not perfect, is a real time saver.
  • I never wind up with any incompatible glyphs.
    I also never, ever use "Blend Fonts" to make any Interpolatable Data in Fontlab. I have always been a "Mask to Master" fellow.

    I like my work-flow, clearly you like yours.
  • I do as much outline compatibility work up front in FontLab. If I am then going to be using a UFO tool such as UFOstretch, I will use Prepolator to check that the outlines are compatible in terms expected by those tools. Sometimes I find that Prepolator flags as issues things that I know are compatible in my FL source. I don't know whether this is just Prepolator being overly scrupulous, or due to errors in the FL-to-UFO conversion. In any case, I don't worry too much, because down the road the interpolated instances fro UFOstretch will usually have more outline work done on them in FL.
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited September 2013
    James, a lot of folks seem to find Metrics Machine and Superpolator hands down better than the font lab capacities for kerning and interpolation. That seems to be what's behind a lot of people moving to UFO. Prepolator is an aid to Superpolator, but my impression is that it's really Superpolator and MM which are driving things in the UFO direction, so far as I can see. I don't know whether it's true that they are actually better because I've never tried Font Lab for those purposes. If you're happy with FontLab, great, because you make amazing fonts with it. But I think the only way to assess what's going on with the rationality of people's choice of tools is with a head-to-head comparison. I'm not the one to do it, but maybe others will.
  • Sometimes I find that Prepolator flags as issues things that I know are compatible in my FL source. I don't know whether this is just Prepolator being overly scrupulous, or due to errors in the FL-to-UFO conversion
    I ran into the same problem many times with Prepolator and never could figure out what was going on. Specifically, after saving a UFO in FontLab some point structures would change in Prepolator. I don’t know if this is a problem for people working with Robofont.
  • @Jackson Alright is quite alright. Although a ligature that draws attention to itself has all the right to do so, it certainly would be alright if it were to reside in the discretionary ligature feature instead of the ligature feature. (All rights reserved.)
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited September 2013
    When Prepolator flags a pair as bad, it won't interpolate properly. But some things it flags as questionable actually do work. Tal Leming confirmed this to me. You can just look in the window that shows the interpolation, though, and see whether it works or not. So you can't tell just from the 'questionable' color in the list, but have to highlight it and see the interpolation. I don't know about the question of round trips to Font Lab.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 503
    edited September 2013
    Note on the side: I discovered you can open an UFO with Glyphs and copy-paste contours to Fontlab. Great! much easier and faster than using macros.
  • I discovered you can open an UFO with Glyphs and copy-paste contours to Fontlab.
    That's interesting, because it implies that Glyphs is not only translating UFO XML into some standard bezier representation for display, but also caching that representation in a way that makes it available to the clipboard.
  • How much of that is just part of the Apple OS?
  • That's interesting, because it implies that Glyphs is not only translating UFO XML into some standard bezier representation for display, but also caching that representation in a way that makes it available to the clipboard.
    Fontlab and Illustrator put a simple eps representation of the outline in the clipboard. That was quite easy to reproduce.
  • Bahman EslamiBahman Eslami Posts: 35
    edited January 2016
    In Robofont you can add some shortkeys to "Set Start Point" and "Auto Contour Order". I also open the Interpolation Matrix extension window to see the problems. That works okay for me.
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