Tips for creating small caps in FontLab

Hey all,

I've only fairly recently started hands on type design. My first fully fledged typeface is slowly taking shape, and I have been wondering about including small caps. In terms of design and imagined use for my typeface I see small caps as a good addition. Unlike adding for example additional scripts, I figured adding small caps might be rather straight forward in terms of design time investment.

With all my capitals designed, how should I go about creating the small caps in an efficient way? Do you have some favourite scripts you use to help you generate raw small caps from the capitals, or maybe use some FontLab specific feature or action to help you with it?

And as a (maybe obvious) side question... Do you usually include small caps for italic versions as well?

Any help is appreciated. Also pointing out obvious things is more than welcome, I am rather new to this after all.


  • Ramiro Espinoza
    Ramiro Espinoza Posts: 839
    edited November 2015
    Beside of scaling down capitals and then making them bolder and a bit expanded using your favorite method, there is little I can say if you are using FL alone. What I frequently do is to draw  2 Light - Bold compatible masters with no small capitals, generate UFO files and then use UFOstrecht to generate the small caps I need. However, you will always have to tweak their contours to get a good and balanced set of small caps.
  • Chris Lozos
    Chris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    edited November 2015
    If you are making multiple weights, you can use my method.  Create the lightest master and the boldest master without smcp at first. Interpolate between them selecting the proper weight that will scale down to your small cap size.  Repeat this for interim masters adjusting weight to fit each time.  The heaviest weight is the only one you will need to draw.

  • James Puckett
    Use KLTF glyph tweaker to scale, widen, and fix the weight. Then clean them up manually.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
    Four global variables are:

    - height
    - weight
    - horizontal scale
    - spacing

    These are all attributes that can be adjusted fairly accurately in InDesign or Quark, by applying values to the basic capitals.

    So I would suggest that you play around with variants of these values, examining text settings, until you come up with something that looks good to you, before doing anything in FontLab.

    One other thing to consider is the “x-height” of old style figures (if you have them in the font), and how it relates to small cap height.