How do you guys create your fonts, what is the best software you know?
I have FontCreator, Fontlab Studio5, and ScanFont 3.13, and I use ScanFont almost exclusively. Unfortunately, FontLab isn't selling ScanFont 3.13 anymore, (ScanFont 5, the new version, is a pluging for Studio 5), but there are copies floating around on p2p and torrents.
These are the advantages of ScanFont 3.13, from my perspective:
1) It allows for direct importing of monochrome bitmap source images, (this can also be done on FontCreator).
2) It allows for variable size to glyphs. This is the most important factor for me, because of the type of fonts I make, but this is not a concern for most people. ScanFont allows for a large variety to the widths of glyphs, but the height for all glyphs within a font must be identical, or white space will be added at the top of any glyphs that are shorter than the tallest one. Glyphs from different fonts do not need to have the same height.
3) Editing glyphs with ScanFont 3.13 is much easier than in FontCreator, because the maximum magnification factor is much larger. This also make it much easier to properly adjust the side, top, and bottom bearings when there are both white and black sections of the glyph touching the edges of the glyph window, (this is more relevant with dingbats than with alphabet fonts).
4) With the proper viewing settings enabled, ScanFont 3.13 will show three different types of vector node, (blue, red, and green), each of which can be manipulated in different ways. For example, a line between two red nodes will be straight. A line between two green nodes can be pulled to create, increase, or decrease a curve. The colour of nodes can be changed to some extent, (red nodes and blue nodes can be converted to green). Dragging a red node will leave the original node in its' place, but will create another red node, which can be useful in areas of fine detail. All font making programs should allow for deleting of nodes. Deleting nodes can smooth or straighten a line which would otherwise be curved or bumpy.
5) It isn't necessary to have additional graphics programs installed, in addition to your font making program. I make all of my source graphics with MS Paint, which is a standard program on every version of Windows. With Windows 2000 or earlier, however, only bitmap images can be opened with Paint.
6) In some but not all glyphs, guidelines can be enabled to do very precise editing. When a line is off by a fraction of a millimeter, the error can be very noticeable when the font is generated. Often there are both horizontal and vertical guidelines, so it can be much easier to be spot on when doing precise editing.
7) ScanFont 3.13 project files are compatible with other Fontlab applications, so if you have both apps installed, you can use Studio5 to edit a font made with ScanFont.
8) ScanFont 3.13 is very easy to use. Everything necessary to know can be learned in a few minutes, and everything else can be learned if you read the several hundred page manual.
Disadvantages of ScanFont 3.13
1) The size of the glyphs in the font are reduced to about 93% of the size of the imported graphics, which can lead to distortion.
2) ScanFont 3.13 cannot create or open Open Type fonts.
3) ScanFont 3.13 is no longer for sale.
4) Properly adjusting ascenders and descenders in ScanFont can be more difficult than in other fonts.
How I make fonts:
1) I find pictures on the Internet that I think would look good in a font, and save them in bitmap form.
2) I convert the colours of the pixels in the bitmap to monochrome, (ie" exclusively black and white), and save the picture as a monochrome bitmap file type.
3) I open ScanFont, create a new font file, and complete the font info section, adding font family, font name and menu name, copyright and version information, etc.)
4) I import the bitmaps, and assign the corresponding ASCII code number.
5) I save the font after importing one or more graphics, (certain editing functions can only be done if the font project has been saved after the glyphs were added).
6) In magnified mode, I adjust the side, top and bottom bearings, and save again.
7) Any adjustments to the vector nodes would be the next step.
(I didn't do steps 6 and 7 in my 2007 and 2008 fonts).
8) Save the final version of the font project.
9) Save the font as .ttf or type 1. If I want to create an .otf version, I open the Type 1 .pfb file with Studio5, and generate the font in .otf format.
I would want to stress that I'm probably the only one here who is using this procedure. Most font authors are creating their glyphs from scratch, either in a graphics program, or with the drawing tools within their font making program. I'm also primarily a dingbat fontmaker, so precison in adjusting the bearings is much more important, but I don't have to deal with things like ascenders, descenders, and kerning.
I'm certainly interested in knowing how other people make their fonts.
All times are CEST. The time is now 23:10