Can anyone help me to find Documentation on creating variable font in Fontlab 7 step by step

Can anyone help me to find Documentation on creating variable font in Fontlab 7
The help that come with Fontlab doesn't help me but instead confuse me a lot
Because it isn't written in step by step instructions and the help contained no dialogbox or menus steps
Since I just installed Fontlab and trying to learn creating variable font, I can't find even the section it referred 
in the HELP or get to them because there are so many menus or buttons to click. It is so hard.
I tried checking Youtube and all assumed you know Fontlab very well, which I am not
So, no video please, I want to read step by step instructions with dialogbox/menus clicks and go from there.
I am only using Fontlab to create variable font and not for creating regular font.
I use Fontforge to create fonts, but unfortunately there is no support for variable font
Thus, I am coming here to get help


  • A good question because there is a significant gap in the knowledge base between begginer and advanced levels (not just for FL but for type design in general). I don't believe there is a step-by-step guide, though it definitely should be. Especially because it would not be a too long tutorial.

    It is easier than it sounds (it can be tricky in the design aspect, to meet the conditions for smooth interpolation, but is simple in the software aspect).

    Guess this is not the form and level of detail you need, but it comes down to defining the variation axis in the font info dialogue. Recommend starting with one axis to grasp the process. For example Weight axis.

    Then you define masters on that axis. Recommend starting with the two most extreme points on the axis. For example Thin as the smallest value (which is usually 100) and Black as the biggest value (which is usually 900). So the axis exists in the range of 100–900. 

    And then in each glyph, you will see two layers "Thin" and "Black". You put the lightest version of the glyph in Thin layer, most heavier in the "Black" layer. If they are compatible for interpolation then an additional layer will automatically appear named "Instance".

    Then you open "Variation" panel (from Window>Panels>Variation) and there you will see a slider labeled by your axis name (Weight in this case). While you have the Instance layer selected move the slider and it should reflect the interpolation on the screen. 

    That should be a very rough overview which would hopefully give you an idea of where to dig on FL help (for example, "how to define axis").

    Then later you would probably need to define instances, here and there add an intermediate glyph master (master that exists only for a particular glyph somewhere in the middle of the axis), check the Matchmaker tool, or to troubleshoot why interpolation doesn't work if all the conditions are met (like the order of elements in Elements panel).

    All in all, maybe it would be a good idea to spend some time in FL and learn the basics and quirks of its environment because you might need to edit the glyph here and there or spacing (which is also interpolated as well as contours).

    In addition, it's more comfortable to design masters while regularly checking interpolation, than to design masters independently first and then later setup variable font. That's because in the former case you can see how Regular weight looks while you making decisions on masters etc. Let's call it a "variation-first" approach, like "mobile-first" for web design :)

  • WAY KYIWAY KYI Posts: 128
    edited March 2022
    k_l said:
    k_l said:
    k_l said:
    Should have REPLY button under each comment, so I do not need to quote the whole comment again. Anyway, thank you for pointing out for me which I have went thru all of them and still not clear especially on Fontlab Help. Videos are not played well in part of world where I live. Thanks
  • WAY KYIWAY KYI Posts: 128
    Saurabh Sharma,

    Thank you very much for the write-up the whole thing step by step.
    It is really nice of you. Thank you, thank you for taking
    times to help the beginner like me. This definitely
    will help me get started. The power here where I live is not
    always ON. So, bear with me and I will try and update you
    about my progress. Thanks

    Igor Petrovic,

    Thank you for your Guidance where you touched on the 
    concept and important parts to focus on. For that and for 
    your time, thank you.
  • You're welcome.  :)
  • WAY KYIWAY KYI Posts: 128
    You're welcome.  :)
    I tried as per your instructions, I was able to get it for object created in Fontlab, but not for the object I copy/paste from Coreldraw. That weight-slider is not there or the glyph seem no affect on playing weight slider. And pasted object appeared as image ( look like glyph is inside white rectangle ). Do I need to trace it to become a glyph? Drawing inside Fontlab is hard for me and I still need to learn basic editing tools like make bigger, cut out something and other tasks. Which I could not find where these features are in Fontlab and thus I use copy/paste. May be SVG file import could work?

    I have other question is that I have fonts ( regular & Bold ). Fontlab has about 2 pages instruction HELP ( one for single file and other for 2 files ) and I could not follow thru to the end successfully even for single file. The HELP is too short and luck detail on dialogboxes and menu clicks. If you have already written or point me to the document on the web, I would appreciate you so much for it. Thanks
  • "And pasted object appeared as image ( look like glyph is inside white rectangle )"

    What you see might be "Element Frame". It's turned on by default, and you can toggle it by Ctrl+Shift+R.

    In addition, if you go to Edit>Preferences [CTRL+,] there's a section "Paste and Duplicate" which might be helpful for possible pasting problems. 
  • As @Igor Petrovic mentioned, it might be an Element Frame. You can confirm that by looking at the frame type. See below picture:

    If it were a raster image, upon hiding the frame (CTRL + Shift + R), you would see the frame corners, as shown below:

    Copy/Paste from Illustrator works fine, but not sure about Corel Draw. Make sure the copied object is a vector. Or try File > Import > Artwork. In this option you can choose eps, svg or any other vector format for importing the artwork.

    Regarding the interpolation, that may still not work if there is any mismatch in the number of nodes, contours and their direction. Sometimes you may also need ungrouping, decomposing, or cut paste composites to get the correct order of placement.
  • WAY KYIWAY KYI Posts: 128
    Thank you very much to you two again with the help. I will study more with Fontlab and it's so many features. Thanks
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