12 August 2013

New FontGeek resources: PaintFont & FontPunk

The developers of MyScriptFont have branched out into a couple new ventures.

PaintFont is sort of MyScriptFont on steroids-- several improvements here. First is the printable template: instead of the same template for each project (which was noticeably lacking in a few important punctuation marks) it's now customisable by character set. You specify what language you're planning to type in and it adds the necessary characters to the template. You can also manually add characters to the template by pressing keys on your keyboard. When you're done adding characters, print the template and start drawing.
Another noticeable difference with the template is that the cells are larger with marks for the cap height, baseline, and descent. The larger cells mean less distortion when the server-side application generates the font, plus the obvious physical space factor which allows you to draw more complex lettering or dingbats.
The quality of the generated font has also gone up. MSF had a tendency to run strokes together if they were too close. In comparison, my pen was running short of ink when I filled in the PaintFont template and the imperfections in the strokes showed right up in the final product! Also notable is the auto-correcting feature-- if you accidentally mark outside the boundary box or if your printer didn't print the template straight on and everything has a bit of a slant to it, the generator fixes the problems automatically. Gone are the days of having to edit baselines in Type!
One problem I've found is that the website's tutorial page gives you the wrong information in regards to scanner resolution. It suggests 300 dpi, but none of the templates I scanned at that resolution were able to be read by the generator. As soon as I put it up to 400 dpi, that corrected the problem. In terms of what format to scan to, I've had good results with PDF. MyScriptFont wouldn't even look at PDFs, so that's a saved step if your scanner only outputs to that format. No more converting.

Next is a tool called FontPunk. Basically what it is is an effects generator. It doesn't make new designs, it only alters existing ones. It has a number of features to make fonts more flashy, such as outlines and shadows; or more practical, such as line thickness and slanting. However, it has no way of differentiating between fonts you make yourself and fonts by a professional type foundry, meaning that every effect it can apply to your own font, it can apply to any other font on your computer. Purely in the name of scientific research, I was able to make an italicised version of Inspira Small Caps with this tool. So, it's on the honour system-- whether you observe it or not is up to you. Either way, it's another fine tool to add to the list of FontGeek resources.