Multiple Masters - Type Design

Is anyone here a knowledgable typographer? I’ve got a question stemming from a previous client project about the technical side of the art form. I hate to say it but the founders and designers of leading type development software make some horrible tutorial videos. Soundcheccckk. Ironic that typography is so much of a backbone to leading and effective design, but yet… Anywho - I would like to start a dialogue with a master type developer if their are any on this forum. Thanks!

I wouldn’t call myself a “master type developer,” but I know a few things about it. What’s on your mind?

One one hand - The client wanted a hybrid font developed between shorthand cursive and print. She wanted certain letters to connect, but then connect differently in other instances. I don’t know Opentype - yet, but even then it wouldn’t be effected to have so many alternates to use it as a working font in that way. I took the payment for the time, sent her all the work to pass on and surrendered the project. I’m sure I wasn’t the first designer either. I was curious whether it could actually be done.

Also, I’m searching for tutorials that go deep into development ( my university definitely didn’t offer ). On the first day of my type class, I knew and had produced more on the subject than the professor and head of graphics department. It wasn’t her thing.

Also, as a fellow typographer - Do you see any future in TrueType, or do you think it’s strictly Opentype and web based now?

Well, it would certainly be possible using OpenType features to construct a font with as many alternate sets as might be needed. I think you already knew that, though, so I’m not sure I’m understanding your question.

Are you looking for information on designing type or building fonts, which are sort of two different things. The main professional-level applications for font creation (and design, I suppose) are FontLab, RoboFont and Glyphs. Out of the three I’d recommend Glyphs as being the most approachable and easy-to-use. Lynda.com also has a couple of very good tutorials on learning Glyphs.

There’s really not a whole lot of difference between TrueType and OpenType, but TrueType hinting can be a bit better (and more difficult) for those developers who choose to dive into it.

Honestly though, with higher-resolution displays and printers being the norm now, I don’t see it really being an issue except in some instances. The auto-hinting algorithms in the main font development apps do a reasonably good job on their own without designer intervention. There are pros and cons to each format, but they’re often arguments over what seem to me to be irrelevant details at this point.

Well admittedly type has been on the back burner. I had to check back to the manual FL was still on my phone! I’m thinking it was class kerning, and then moving into mm s that I wanted more guidance in. I don’t have a subscription to Lynda.com. But definitely development more-so than design. Font development is definitely a unique field with hard to find resources.

I switched over to Glyphs from FontLab this past year when the new FontLab VI was released. It was buggy (crashing at least once every 30 minutes). I also found FL6 awkward to use — probably doubling the time it took to do anything. I love Glyphs, though, and it’s considerably cheaper besides.

Kerning classes are very easy to set up in both Glyphs and FontLab. I’m curious why you’re interested in Multiple Masters, though. It’s largely a dead font format, but the technology has been readapted for interpolating intermediate variations (width, weight, italics, etc.) in both .otf, ttf and variable fonts.

For the past few months, for example, I’ve been working on a 42-font family that only has four masters to interpolate width and weight (well, eight including the italics). It works perfectly.

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