Fontself as an alternative to ScanFont

Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,601
edited March 2017 in Type Design Software
I have only vaguely followed the development of Fontself, seeing it mainly as something for dabblers and novice type designers. It lets you make a font directly from Illustrator or Photoshop. I'm only going to discuss the Illustrator part here.

I quit trying to use Illustrator to draw font artwork long ago, and, really, a font editor is the way to go if you want to be productive. It's optimized specifically for making fonts, whereas Illustrator is a general purpose tool. I thought, this is interesting and I would have loved this back in the nineties. I know better now and didn't think I had any use for it.

But sometimes I do need to get something from Illustrator into a font. Copy/paste works, but is slow and tedious if it's more than a few characters. In the past, I have used ScanFont to quickly move Illustrator artwork or images (auto traced) into FontLab. Unfortunately, it hasn't been very well supported on Macs since the ability to run PPC software went away. You basically have to run the Windows version somehow. Technically, this works, but kind of sucks, and some things (kind of important things) don't work properly in the WINE version that FontLab offers for Mac users and it doesn't look like it will be fixed.

This morning I noticed Fontself mentioned in another discussion. I took a closer look at it and realized that it can do everything that I was using ScanFont for, and works directly from Illustrator. It exports to OTF, which can be opened in your favorite font editor.

I don't think I would ever use Fontself by itself to make a font, but it looks like a pretty good alternative to ScanFont for Mac users. Maybe everybody already knows this, but I don't think I've seen it mentioned before.


  • Thanks for the info. At the moment I use Inkscape and FontForge on Linux (Kubuntu) and that works cool with cut and paste between the two apps. Do you think ot Fontself works with Wine on Linux ?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,601
    edited March 2017
    Not sure. It's two plugins, one for Illustrator and one for Photoshop.
  • IIRC, the ScanFont utility has been integrated into the new FLVI app.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,601
    Right, which is why ScanFont development has stopped.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,585
    IIRC, the ScanFont utility has been integrated into the new FLVI app.

    That is correct. It has not been well documented or hammered on by users much, so it is not well worked out, yet. But the initial integration is done.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,601
    I checked it out there a bit, but couldn't figure out how to get past the "separate and trace" stage (starting from a TIFF). Looks promising, though.
  • Mmm… very few chance I could try it. I abandoned Adobe software a long time ago.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,585
    Mark, I will see what I can do for you there.
  • Thinking about UFO export/import. Is it possible?
  • FontLab VI has since shipped with integrated ScanFont capabilities, and UFO export/import. Now UFO 3, even.
  • I mean from/to illustrator
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