It's been a while since I've updated the log. I've been busy adjusting to my new job (actually, the same company I was working for, before, but it a different capacity), so I've put Scooter Graphics on hold for a while. At my job I work with several different copiers. As an experiment to find out which ones produced the best copies, I typed up a few lines of type on a typewriter and proceeded to enlarge them by 110% 14 times. The results were interesting, to say the least. Most surprising was to learn that 110% on one machine does not equal 110% percent on another!
The very best output, of course, was from Xerox' Document Centre 265 DC. This machine is a next generation copier. Rather than using a photographic lens system, the 265 DC uses newer digital scanning to create superb copies. The digital process has many advantages over the older system, one of the best being the fact that you can scan in a job before you copy it.
Let's say that you have to create a report and half the pages can run through the document handler, while the other half has to be placed directly on the glass. Let's also say that you have to have 100 sets of the report. In the old way of doing things, you would run all the feedable stuff first and then run each individual hand placed page next. After all the copies were produced, you would then have to hand collate them into 100 sets. This is a sorry state of affairs!
With the 265's "build job" function, all you have to do is scan in all the pages - using the feeder where you can, and then using the glass for the other pages - select 100 copies and press start. Bingo. You've got exactly what you need, and there was no collating involved.
Of the assorted analog copiers, the Kodak 110 did the best job. Not so surprisingly, the Kodak Ektaprint 90 did the worst.
After I did all this copying, I decided to make fonts from the last generation copy from each machine. I just finished the Super Zoomer-Bold.
I think that this project is unique in that I am not trying to emulate the appearance of differing models of typewriters, but instead I am creating the family using different models of copiers! So this will be my obligatory distorted typewriter font family (every foundry needs one, apparently :-), but I believe that the project is worthwhile in that it takes a different approach to the typical variations of typewriter faces.
For example, I was a bit shocked to notice that the Super Zoomer stretched out the copy a bit - so the letters are actually taller than they should be, while taking up the same amount of horizontal space. The other copiers also produced interesting variations. It's hard to believe that they all started out with the same original! A copier's a copier, right? Wrong! :-)
Nu Serif is nearly complete. I finished off the numbers and punctuation. Now I just have some miscellaneous characters and accented characters to take care of.
I finished hinting the Nu Serif lowercase!
I finished hinting the uppercase and completed hinting a, b, c. Still a lot of work to go!
Worked on Nu Serif off and on today. I've finished hinting A-P, T-V, i, n and o. I'm off to a good start! I hope to finish the uppercase tomorrow and make a dent on the lowercase. It's slow going, but the results are worth it. Here's a peek at the "B"
Pretty neat, huh?
I'm now working on Nu Serif in Microsoft's Visual TrueType program. This is the hinting stage, where I hand edit the hinting instructions of the font to achieve great on-screen readability. I had some initial problems with FontLab (good thing I use Font Validator on FontLab's output). I'm still getting "multiple component glyph scaling flags set" error messages (which will really crash your system hard if they are installed) in every other generation of fonts from FontLab. I have no explanation for this - without changing any settings, I got good results the next time. Weird. Hopefully they'll nail down the problem in the next release.
I've already hinted the uppercase control characters (H, I, O, V) and I was surprised by how easy the process was. In fact, the serifs don't create much of a problem. The trick is to always do them the same way. That way you can build up speed while achieving consistent results in the font. I'm also finally getting the hang of the "stroke" function (this is the one that works with characters that have diagonal elements, like "V" or "W". At first, this function was giving me a stroke! But I've got a pretty easy rule of thumb: first and third points must have horizontal and vertical control, second and fourth must have either horizontal or vertical control, but not both. The reason for this approach is that in order for the stroke function to do its job, it needs freedom to move in either direction on half the points. If that all sounds complicated, believe me, it isn't once you've got the hang of the program :-)
Tomorrow, I help my friend Daisy move furniture. She formerly had her boyfriend (who she hasn't talked to in 3 months - she doesn't think that they are going out anymore :-) help her move stuff. I was the guy she went to movies with. Marty = Movie, Boyfriend = Moving. So maybe this is a step up for me? Who knows?
I've finished the final preparation for Nu Serif. Basically, I added in a few missing characters to complete the font. The next step is to go through each character in FontLab using the "Font Audit" function to make sure all my points are in order. Then I'll export it as TrueType and begin manually hinting Nu Serif in Microsoft's Visual TrueType program. I have a feeling that this font will be harder to do that Nu Sans because of the serifs - but I could be wrong.
In other news, I'm going to put the font packs together this weekend as separate products with separate web pages. Rather than giving a short preview of each font, I'll go into a little more detail as to what the pack is about and provide registered users with a single package to download, rather than having to go to each web page individually.
Released Nu Sans 9.2. Now I can go to bed...
I had three revelations about Cynthia: the 12 pt bitmap matched up with the 11 pt outline (yikes! Good thing it's easy enough to reduce it--the only problem being that I basically threw away 6 hours of hand editing the hints), a few characters needed to be completely redone to be more in line with the bitmap and the font needed to better simulate the quasi-monospaced nature of Sydnie. So here's the new picture:
I still have a little tweaking do do on the character shapes - making the font quasi-monospaced required stretching some letters and shrinking others. I see that the "f" needs to be a bit longer so that it doesn't produce a big gap; same goes for the "t". I'm thinking I'll put this one on the back burner for a while so that I can work on the TrueType hinting of Nu Sans-Bold (which is about 20% done at the moment). One of the neat things about Nu Sans-Bold is that it will encompass a much larger character set - it will have all the characters that are present in Apple's system fonts (this will be a boon to non-English systems). Unicode makes it all possible.
I noticed an interesting technote on Apple's web site today. It deals with an issue that I've figured out on my own a long time ago :-). Basically, the technote implies that anti-aliasing (or font smoothing, if you prefer) looks best at 18 pt and above.
Well I did it in just one day - I created the basic character outlines for the Cynthia typeface in under 10 hours. Tomorrow I'm moving on to the hinting so that I can release a demo version ASAP. Basically, Cynthia is a TrueType font that emulates the appearance of Apple's Sydnie bitmap font at all different sizes. So what, you as is Sydnie? It's a font that's embedded in Apple's QuickTime Player 4.0. It's the cool little font that appears when you press the copyright button, or connect to a streaming server. Basically, it's what I'd call quasi-monospaced. Most of the characters fit into a 6 pixel width, but some of them (like "i" and "l" as well as most of the punctuation) is proportional - making it only appear to be monospaced. I have no idea why Apple would want to do this, but hey, it's their show, right? Anyway, here's a screenshot:
I went to the premier of Star Wars: Episode I last night. I won't ruin it for you, but it was very cool - go see it! I also got my internet connection straightened out with @Home. I have a ton of e-mail to sort through - please be patient :-)
Nu Sans-Bold is shaping together nicely. I finally figured out a way to include all the characters that are found in the Mac system fonts (a ton of international characters and special symbols used by the Mac OS to display in menus). A tool called AAT Font Tool adds the proper cmaps so that the system will be able to access the characters it needs. I've also finished up the preliminary hinting (no deltas - just a rough first pass) on A-Z and a-n. I'm using Microsoft's Visual TrueType 4.2 to do this manual hinting. This new version is really a lot faster to work with than the previous one.
In other news: @Home cut off my service on the 12th. A guy came out and put a filter on my cable. It turns out that I wasn't being billed for my internet access. I called tech support 5 times: first they said that the cable wasn't actually disconnected, it was just a soft disconnect done from their office. Then they said that I wasn't disconnected at all - the problem was with my modem - they were able to bill my credit card on the 12th. Finally, I called on Saturday and the tech on the line said that he needed to send out a tech to fix the problem. So far, @Home has admitted no blame (I'm sure that the techs are ordered not to do that). Oh well, I can't really access the internet more than a few minutes a day until Tuesday. What a pain!
I worked a bit more on Tiny. The regular weight is all done; I've polished up the letters A-O so that they will look good when printed. I've also been working on some issues with Nu Sans-Bold. It turns out that the cmap needed a little tweaking. I expect to release an updated version on Monday - hopefully I'll have the font packs ready by then, too (The font packs are groups of fonts released together at a discounted rate).
Another exciting day! I received two pieces of software today. The first (and probably most important to visitors of this site :-) is the Macintosh FontLab 3.0. This is a very sophisticated program; just a casual trial today proves that there is a lot of power under the hood. While I probably won't completely give up Fontographer, I'm going to start migrating all of my final output to FontLab.
The other software arrived in the mail from Sweden. ReBirth RB-338 - an analog synthesizer and drum machine in one. Here's another program with a lot of power under the hood. I was especially impressed by the fact that I can route the audio output of ReBirth into my Cubase sequencer - and it's digital the whole way!
In more font related news: I'm finishing up the long-awaited demo of Nu Sans 9.0. I just have a few characters to get straightened out and then I'll upload it to Info-Mac before the end of the month. I'm still debating whether I should put it on my web page before it gets posted on Info-Mac.
I've had a pretty busy and (somewhat) productive day. I tried increasing the icon sizes from the main page from 32 pixels square to 48 pixels square. That worked OK, but everything else needed to be increased as well. Unfortunately, even at the highest resolution on my iMac, the whole page doesn't display without having to scroll - back to the drawing board, I guess. I might be able to keep the bigger icons and then just modify the rest so that it doesn't take up so much space.
I also put in a lot more work on Tiny. I've created an outline font to be used as a base for the fully hinted TrueType font. My goal is to have something that looks great on screen at those tiny point sizes, but can also be used for display purposes. So I spent a few hours adjusting side bearings and trying out different stem weights.
I'm trying to keep this page updated daily, as Scooter Graphics is my only job. That's right, I've done the proverbial worst thing in the shareware world; I've quit my day job :-). I've found that I can make just as much money working 4 hours a day at home as I could working 8 hours a day 20 miles from home. Less wear and tear on my truck and my kitty gets to see me more. It's the best of both worlds!
Well, I decided to make Receipt just a plain ole' TrueType/PostScript font. A demo version is now available. I'm currently filling out the character set which should make it easier to use in non-US systems. (Of course, accented characters are not really a possibility!)
From the receipt of one of my favorite diners comes the inspiration for "Receipt" (clever name, huh :-). Receipt is a two weight font. Right now it's just a bitmap font, but I intend to create a MM font of each weight to simulate the wear and tear of the ribbon. Why? Because I can!
I again worked on the Future Sans bitmap fonts. I Straightened out some of the curves and created an italic for the 18 pt font. It's starting to look like the future :-)
I worked on the Future Sans bitmap fonts some more. This time, I came up with a regular weight at 18 pt (double 9 pt Espy Sans - which was supposed to be the default font view under Copland). The result is OK, but needs some more polishing:
I'm thinking of eliminating some of the curves. At 18 pt, they don't really add much readability and they tend to close up the letters. I'll post the results later...
As I was working on Tiny (a new bitmap font at 6, 7, and 8 pt, available in regular and bold), I got to thinking in the other direction; as monitors and video cards start supporting higher and higher resolution, the problem of the very fonts we use to navigate the system become more accurate. Most Mac monitors are set to 72 ppi by default. Imagine the effect of doubling the ppi (to 144 ppi - about half the resolution of a 1st generation laser printer). Everything is now half as big as it used to be. Heck, I need to put my glasses on when I'm running 1024x768 right now on my iMac!
So I came up with a solution: Future Sans. This is another bitmap font (I've got bitmaps on the mind these days!) that is meant to be used as a system font at 24 pt. My goal was to take the 12 pt Espy Sans and interpolate it up to 24 pt. As I was working on this, I discovered that the result was a bit different than 24 pt Nu Sans (my scalable version of Espy Sans). Looking at other fonts (such as Charcoal, Helvetica Bold, etc.), I found that most fonts are not optimized for 24 pt display.
Now maybe you don't think that this is much of a problem - after all, there's anti-aliasing, right? The problem with anti-aliasing is that it "fuzzes" the edges of the letters to achieve an effective doubling of the resolution. My studies have shown that fuzzy text is harder to read at text sizes than non-fuzzy text.
So here's an example of how I see Future Sans being used as a system font:
I've just released an important upgrade to Nu Sans. Version 8.5 adds the Euro symbol and is now compatible with Mac OS 8.5. A Windows version will be available shortly, but for now, this is a Macintosh exclusive release. Check it out!
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