extraneous nodes question in Fontlab

I'm new to Fontlab and type design software in general. I am working on a font intended for motion design. a primary function is to create outlines of the letterforms and have an ability to transform and distort easily using the nodes. The font was intentionally designed on a 16x9 letterbox size and a thirds grid with very straight sides and exact radius corners for this reason. however, the letters contain way more nodes than the original artwork that was created. Since I am so new to this software, I am certain this is user error, but I can't find a solution scouring the web. Can you all point me in a direction of what I am doing wrong?

All letterforms are built from the same root shapes and have minimal nodes such as the S below: this is how it looked in Adobe Illustrator originally.

However, this is how it looks after being converted from text using 'create outlines' in Adobe Illustrator.

I am trying to figure out where all these extra nodes are coming from?!? thoughts?


  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,746
    edited February 25
    You aren’t showing the off-curve points in FontLab, nor the outlines in FontLab, but I would guess you are using FontLab’s default cubic Bézier curves (PostScript style outlines) instead of quadratic (TrueType style outlines).

    When you export from FontLab, what font format are you using? TrueType, I suspect.

    If so, the contours get converted to quadratic, which is an approximation and often uses more on-curve points. Converting from font to outlines in Illustrator converts the contours BACK to cubic, which is ~ lossless, but unless done with extra cleverness does not result in any simplification: you still have all the extra points from the initial conversion to TrueType quadratics.

    This is just a suspicion, but it is a common enough problem and totally matches the symptoms you are showing. (This general problem is not specific to any particular font editor, btw.)

    So, if that is indeed what is happening, if you export OpenType CFF (.otf, with PostScript style outlines) you would avoid that problem. 
  • Side note: I am confused by your reference to “exact radius corners,” due to the inconsistencies in your inner versus outer radii, which make the curved sections bolder than the straight sections. Is that what you are aiming for, for some reason? If the outer curve’s control points were directly across from the inner, you could avoid that.
  • samangsamang Posts: 9
    @Thomas Phinney thank you very much. apologies for being very green on the topic. I exported in .otf format and it is perfect. This will perform exactly how I want for animation and motion graphics. However, can I ask am I giving up any flexibility in capability or usability, cross-platform, etc???

  • samangsamang Posts: 9
    @Thomas Phinney i understand what you mean with the weight of the stroke and visual inconsistency from straight to curved sections. what I mean by that phrase is that they are exact circles, not ellipses or calligraphic. there is an identifiable center point of every corner that the letter can rotate around or scale / animate from, etc. that corner point is important but the size of the radius is not as important. the weight of stroke can be adjusted to accommodate a better optical weight if you advise?! I am not sure if I am at a good point for a formal critique, but I am more than willing to take advice from experts if you think I should share it. More than happy to put online if you think I am not wasting anyone's time. I have U&lc, numerals, punctuation and some special characters formalized.
  • There are some rare and mostly VERY old environments or browsers or whatnot that don’t like OpenType CFF and will only work with TrueType... TrueType first came out in 1991, while the OpenType spec including CFF was in 1997, with the first real release of OpenType CFF fonts in 2000 IIRC. But nowadays it would be a rare thing to not support OpenType CFF.
  • samangsamang Posts: 9
  • Also, you might want to consider various optical adjustments relating to how people perceive letterforms, as opposed to pure math.

    One of the most notable being that your horizontal strokes need to be a tad thinner than your vertical strokes, to appear to be the same thickness.
  • samangsamang Posts: 9
    I appreciate that thought. I am a graphic designer and studied typography so I do understand much of the fundamentals of letterforms and readability, however there are aspects I am trying to achieve in this font specifically for motion and animation that go in direct contrast with those fundamental principles. perhaps it's just not a good idea to make a font like what I am attempting. I'm thinking of putting the whole design on here to get feedback at that level - just, should this even be made?
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