FontForge Curves Rendering

Hello guys! :smile:
I am new to the type design; for about 7 months now I've been using FontForge for the function at its affordability.

However, I was always bugged with its curves rendering. 
Here below, I attached a picture comparing the example n rendered in both FF and Glyphs.

As you can see, FF renders the right side of counters almost as a square, while Glyphs' render is overall much cleaner and truthful to the actual shape (or is it?)...

Actually, I'm not missing many functions in FF (yet) and I only installed a Glyphs trial to try that rendering.
It seems the problem is FF, everywhere else it renders nicely so my main question is:
Have some of you also ran into this issue? Is there a solution within FF?

I drew this letter quickly for the example and I may see a bit of unbalance in that critical part; also in big scale. 
But in practice the FF rendering always forces me to ease the curvatures that lead to very circular shapes I don't want.

Also, my second guess is—isn't Glyphs artificially beautifying the render and isn't FF actually telling me in this weird way there's something wrong with my curves? (as it probably is in this example as mentioned in previous sentence)

Thank you guys for any input on this :smile:


  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,965
    The solution is to use a 5k iMac with software that supports it. 
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,648
    It probably has to do with the fact that Glyphs uses native Quartz rendering and Fontforge runs in X11, which is an older UNIX-based windowing system. The routines they use to draw stuff on the screen are completely different. 
  • I don't think Glyphs is «artificially beautifying» the curves. When I still worked with FF in the early days, I remember that glyphs tended to change their visual character when you scaled the preview window in FF, since the rather coarse rendering was redrawn for every scaling. In Glyphs, the appearance of a glyph is stable under scaling, so I would assume it is a more faithful rendition of the glyph.

    Also, DO SWITCH TO GLYPHS. The rendering is only the tip of the iceberg. The workflow, intuitive interface, automated OpenType programming, and super-powerful curve editing tools are much more important. It's worth every penny ten times over.
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 720
    Frode, what are you thinking of? (In fact, I'm not sure what you mean by "automated workflow".)

    I've described Glyphs in the past as the most extensible program I have seen of any kind. Generally I've found that if you can't do something with it, it's not particularly difficult to make it happen yourself (or get another programmer to make it happen).
  • Thank you all, guys :smile:
    You know, I never really considered updating to an app with better UI, because I found out the challenging FF interface actually keeps me more focused, the lack of curvature percentage feature forces me to calculate Bezier handles manually (then I better understand my shapes, or at least I have the feeling :smiley:)

    But yeah, I guess I'll have to reconsider Glyphs.
    Christian, can you tell me briefly which curve-editing tools did you have on mind?

    Thanks :wink:

  • Christian, can you tell me briefly which curve-editing tools did you have on mind?
    Just all the many useful things Glyphs lets you do to Béziers... Check out the tutorials, and try them out on your demo version. RMX Tools are extremely useful too.

    It sounds to me that you're trying to rationalize your hardship with FF into something positive, but I suspect it's just the natural resistance against having to change your workflow. All that energy you're currently spending on overcoming obstacles will be free for more creativity, you'll see.

    I'm not sure what Frode is referring to... I also sometimes run into trouble trying to get Glyphs to do while exporting fonts, but that's entirely due to my use of custom scripts and extreme lack of Python skills. :wink: If I was working with FF, though, I couldn't use those scripts in the first place, and I'd have to export my spin-off fonts by hand every time. Glad I get to dodge that bullet!
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,389
    edited July 2016
    In the preview window on the View menu there is an option to turn off autohinting; I suspect that is what is flattening the rendering. 

    Also I'm glad to hear you are loving FontForge! I put a lot of time and money into making it better 2012 - 2015 but then put a lot less time in because all the 'low hanging fruit' was solved, so the pattern seems to be that it is totally adequate for doing type design, and gives beginners as much road as they want to travel, but inevitably people do what Christian did and move on to Glyphs (almost always; very rarely do they move on to Robofont, because all the scripting that is possible with Robofont is also possible with Glyphs, but Robofont lacks many many features.)

    In 2015 one of the core FontForge developers, @Adrien Tétar, started the project to make a new font editor that is fully libre, like FontForge, based on the core libraries of Robofont, but using all the latest technologies (Python 3 instead of 2, UFO 3 instead of 2, and fontmake instead of Adobe FDK.) I encourage you to play with and contribute to TruFont, as it will eventually replace FontForge as the go-to libre font editor :) 

    You can read more about this history in

    Also, there are also some web based projects (Metapolator, Glyphr Studio) but these are even more experimental than TruFont at the moment.  

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