Another Typical Example of Free Fonts in Use
Everything has limits and that includes font data. Each individual letter or character is known a glyph. The shape of this glyph is controlled by, um, control points. They also control shape: curves and angles. The common term for today’s digital fonts is vector type—lines and points. here’s part of where quality and design integrity enters the discussion.
You can use the auto-trace feature in a software program to capture the shapes of letters. I’ve done this with many fonts. Sometimes you start with hand-drawn originals using pen and ink(!). The example above may have been done that way. The typical problem that is created by this method is two-fold. First, the auto-trace may create too many independent shapes within the character. This means lots of extra control points for the the layout program to keep track of. The more points, the more information that has to be sent to the printing device. This is where the limits mentioned above come into play. If you exceed those limits, the document will either look “funny” on the screen or not print at all. The other issue that will undoubtedly pop up is design integrity. Auto-tracing that many points will likely yield some “open paths.” With vector fonts, it’s critical that all the paths/outlines defined by the control points must be closed/completed/connected. If they’re not, you’ll experience more unpleasant results.
To give you a little background, this font was actually chosen for use on a display board for my 9-year old grandson for a science fair project. He downloaded it from daFont.com, known for a lot of variety in both styles and quality. As the resident Font Maven, I sometimes wonder if it would be easier being a plumber or a lawyer, but I had a reputation to uphold so I decided I would get this font working properly no matter what. Step one was to open it in Fontographer, which confirmed my suspicions. There were just too many control points on every letter/charcter for the layout software to keep track of.
The quickest solution was to try a global simplify paths command. This removes any extra control points while usually retaining the basic shapes. It worked and the font began to display properly—or as well as it could) considering the initial design. The next step would have been to go through the alphabet one character at a time to check for missing points (which create broken paths). That would have been tedious. I ended up finding a few of the more obvious ones and after regenerating the font file, everything functioned satisfactorily.
Next time: Sources for free fonts (that work).