Now click on the top ruler of the Illustrator document window and drag out a guideline. Position it at the height that has the same (positive) value as the (negative) descender of your font (e.g. 263 in our example). From the left ruler, drag a guideline and position it at 0. Click on at the top left corner of the Illustrator document window (where the top ruler and the left ruler meet) and drag out the origin point to where the two guidelines cross. Finally, click on the top ruler and drag guidelines to the positions of your ascender, x-height, and caps height.
You can draw your letters. Remember to assign some kind of fill to all your Illustrator drawings and avoid drawing letters that exceed the bottom or the top of the document size. If you have already drawn some letters before, copy them to the newly created document, place and re-scale so that they fit between the guidelines you have drawn. Remember that all points of your letters should snap to the grid (otherwise TypeTool will round their position => That's where TypeBridge comes in!).
At this point, you would normally choose your method of bringing your letter into FontLab / TypeTool ( I use copy and paste.) However, It is true, as noted by FontLab, that if you import or paste into FontLab letters with any anchors that are non-integers, your characters will be rendered incorrectly. For example, If any of your anchors have an x or y coordinate value like 187.21, then that character will not import correctly into FontLab or TypeBridge. If you're working in Illustrator with a workflow that is close to normal and human, then this is very likely to be the case.
You can avoid most of those inconsistencies by following the instructions above and snapping all your points the the grid / points. But what if you want to apply an effect or rounded corners to your characters? What if you've already drawn your characters and the task of going and redrawing everything would repel you from completing your typeface (which had become the case for me)? What if you have a grungy effect that you want to apply to all your characters? It is for all these reasons, and many more, that I decided to create TypeBridge.
TypeBridge closes this gap between those who are comfortable creating in Illustrator and the FontLab software. Once you've drawn your characters in Illustrator, you simply select your characters, run the script, and all of your anchors are automatically (and carefully) nudged to the closest whole integer. Then x and y coordinates are rounded either up or down, whichever is closest, and therefore causes the least change to the integrity of your characters. If you're using a standard setup of 1000 UPM, then the changes to your characters are extremely minimal. You won't even notice them unless you zoom in extremely close. If you're using a larger UPM for more control and precision in your font, then the nudging will be even less noticable, if noticable at all. What you will notice is that when you take your characters into FontLab or TypeTool, they look the way they're supposed to.
So before we do our importing, we're going to set up and run FontBridge to ensure that we know exactly what will be imported.
This really couldn't be any easier. It's as simple as selecting your characters, selecting the script from the menu, and watching your characters be transformed into perfectly formed, exportable vectors. But a little more explanation is in order.
TypeBridge comes in two flavors, hence the two options under TypeBridge in the Scripts menu:
*I haven't figured an exact scenario where this would make a huge difference, but I'm sure that it will be important to some.
So how do you run the script? Simply select the characters you want to clean up, and then click File / Scripts / TypeBridge / [your choice of script]. TypeBridge does its math and rounding, and your character is transformed before your eyes. Anything that is selected will be affected by the script, whether that's one character or ten. That's really all there is to it.
To make the adjustments necessary, TypeBridge has to run a number of mathematical operations, so logically the more anchors your selection contains, the longer the script will take to run. If you're creating a relatively simple font, (something like Helvetica) you can experiment with running the script on as many characters as you want, up to the entire alphabet at once, depending on your computer's memory and many other variables. However, if you're creating a grungy typeface with 5000 anchors on each character, I wouldn't recommend running the script on the entire alphabet at once unless you have a monster computer. Otherwise, your machine just might explode!
If you have questions, have a project you'd like help with, want to see my design and type work, or have an issue with the script, visit derekweathersbee.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I may or may not respond, depending upon my workload. If you feel you have a corrupted product, please let your Subject be exactly "Corruped TypeBridge."