Tim Ahrens of Font Remix Tools fame has just released Kern On. Kern On
is a tool that allows designers to set model pairs for how a font should be kerned and used them to generate kerning for an entire font. I think that it’s going to save me lots of time in the future.
However, I’m curious whether setting up the models, “debating” with the computer and then making sure it has kerned everything correctly and/or correcting the result could be more time consuming than old-fashionly running through a carefully made kerning list manually?
Let's say it a serif with MyFonts minimum set LINK.
This tool wont kern for you.. it will generate reports and customized blocks of text so you can evaluate your own kerning.
It was a bit complicated to use, since various steps where needed.. 1) stack the kerning from your font using a macro 2) uploading the kerning file to the server 3) editing the source code etc.. and you need to do it all again in your next kerning round iteraction.
A pain in the ass.. but the resulting pages where so good in helping you realice the "global" efect of kerning individuals pairs that all the trouble was tolerated.
The main idea is that when you are kerning you tend to focus to much on individual pairs.. and most of the times the pairs dont work well with the spacing cadence of the typeface.. and this tool lets you make shure that your kerned pairs are "invisible" in the general context of the typeface spacing. Basically it lets you make shure that you are not "overkerning" so your kerned pairs wont look like aliens when they are in the context of not kerned pairs (just spaced).
Some stonecutter master once told their student that you can only set good spacing when you have a least 3 letters.. since the spacing from 1 to 2 should be similar to the space from 2 to 3. That means for us that the letter pair that uses kerning need to play nice with the next letter. Since we are kerning words, not just pairs.
Too many times in to many typefaces the kerned pairs ends up looking like a bad cluster inside a longer word.
This tool let you preview the results and the quality of your spacing and kerning decisions as you go. It makes it super easy to spot and correct problems.
It shifts the focus from the pairs and lets you see how the whole thing.
You get a birds eye view.
The tool source code is on githup.. you may not be able to run it.. but please have a look at the screenshots included in the description.. you will see the tool output and you will quickly understand the idea.
If there is anything you find usefull in you tool, please fell free to copy the ideas.
Some of the screenshots of the tool in use:
And just for fun.. it lets you compare what pairs have you kerned against another typeface.
Good for learning spacing strategies.. but also good for comparing diferent versions of the same font.. for example when you update your own fonts
I will love to see this tool developed for glyphsapp! are you interested?
It can work as a complement to fine-tune, test, review and improve the results of what the user have done when they use of your awesome kerning tool. Its the perfect complement!
First review is testing pages of random text, looking for patterns of things that might be wrong. The nice thing about using a tool like KO is that any errors in the kerning are going to be systemic, which means if I spot an error in one pair I can anticipate and check where else it might occur. I reported an issue to Tim a couple of days ago regarding a particular Ethiopic shape that KO was consistently kerning too tightly. It makes more sense to report kerning errors as KO bugs than to fix myself: the ultimate goal is to be able to trust KO.
Second review is stepping through the kern pairs in context in FL7’s kerning window. This is fairly rapid, even for a huge kern set, because all I am looking for is significant changes in spatial frequency in the middle of the context.