Making EPS files of the Zapfino font
September 12, 2004 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Fonts in Mac OS 10.3 question: I want to make vector-based images of some of Zapfino's beautiful characters, but Adobe Illustrator 10 doesn't talk with Zapfino very well -- it only gives you the basic character set, with none of the ligatures or alternate characters. It used to be that you could at least use the Character Palette to insert alternate characters into compatible (i.e. Apple-written) programs like Stickies or Textedit, but even that functionality seems gone now because Character Palette is restricted to non-alphabetic characters. The new Font Book's "repertoire" mode shows me the letters, but I can't select them for copying/pasting, and even if I could, I'm sure it would put them in Illustrator. What can I do to make EPS files of some of these letters?
posted by blueshammer to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
my version of Illustrator (11 I guess, from CS?) has a 'glyphs' window you get at from the Type menu. For Zapfino it seems to have all the cool extra things, including the glyph for what happens when you type the word 'Zapfino' (awesome, awesome.) If you double click on a glyph it inserts it into your document and I imagine from there you're all set. Is this what you're talking about? [not a type person]
posted by neustile at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2004

I only realize now that you have Illustrator 10. I apologize. Perhaps you can find someone with 11 or upgrade?
posted by neustile at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2004

Can't you access the full charset with option-key combinations? In examining the Repertoire view, perhaps I am mistaken, as 354 chars may be more than can easily be parsed via option-key.

I noticed a greyed-out menu choice in AI 10 - "glyph options." Perhaps through that?
posted by mwhybark at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2004

Welcome to round two of the font wars.

What you're experiencing is called "glyph substitution." Open up TextEdit and pick the Zapfino font, and type the word "affinity" very slowly. The first "f" is a giant swash glyph, but when you type the second "f", it changes to a single "ff" ligature of two connected "f"s. Adding the "i" changes it further into an "ffi" ligature. It's the same thing you see when you type "Zapfino" and get one giant hand-drawn ligature for the entire seven-character run.

The thing most people miss, though, is that it's not just limited to ligatures. Switch to Hoefler Text Italic and type the same word, slowly, but this time watch the "t". By default, you get a swash "t" that stretches out to the right, but as soon as you type the "y", it switches back to a non-swash "t". There is no "ty" ligature involved - the font has swash and non-swash variants for many letters, and the font's default settings are to choose swash characters for the ends of words. Try typing words with "z" or "n" as well to see it (like "fizzbin"). In the Typography palette, this feature is called "Smart Swashes."

These are all features in the font, and they work for any font that uses them - provided the program in question calls upon Mac OS X's ATSUI text rendering to draw the text. It's a descendant of QuickDraw GX line layout, and it is by no means new - Apple gave the font specifications to developers more than a decade ago, and the drawing routines have been in the Mac OS as an optional install since 1994, and in all versions since at least 1997. They're the default for all Cocoa applications in Mac OS X, and more and more Carbon applications use them as well.

The key is that the fonts are smart, and the OS uses the font's intelligence to draw what the font designer specifies. When Apple released this specification, Adobe and Microsoft responded with "OpenType," which is like Apple's specification with a lobotomy. OpenType fonts include a lot of extra glyphs and variants and such, but they do not include the instructions from the font designer that say "use this swash 'n' instead of the regular 'n' if it ends a word," or "use this hand-drawn 'Zapfino' glyph instead of glyphs for those seven characters." Without the smarts inside the font, making good line layout from an OpenType font inside a program takes a lot of engineering resources - such as those available at Adobe and Microsoft, but not elsewhere. Go figure.

That's why you have problems. Adobe would prefer that Apple-enabled fonts don't exist, and Adobe's applications do nothing special with them except recognize that they have extra glyphs. If you want to use them in an Adobe application, you'll have to find the glyphs in a glyph palette and insert them manually where you want them. You can't get any Adobe application to use automatic glyph substitution on Apple fonts, and OpenType fonts don't offer "smart swashes" or other font-determined features.

If you're working solely on Mac OS X, set the text you want in TextEdit and print to PDF, then import the PDF into Illustrator. You'll get glyphs that way, and can resave as EPS. As long as the politics of advanced typography remain unchanged, though, this is the best you'll get.

(Microsoft Word 2004 uses ATSUI to draw text, but it doesn't allow advanced font features because it places every glyph itself for exact compatibility with Windows versions of Word. Mac OS X "Tiger" is supposed to have more OpenType support in ATSUI, but OpenType fonts don't have all the right smarts, and that's the opposite direction of what you want - it won't put more ATSUI smarts into Adobe applications. Sorry.)
posted by mdeatherage at 11:33 AM on September 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

Matt, great explanation! That resolves nearly every little thing that's been making me scratch my head about fonts lately.
posted by mwhybark at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2004

What a beautiful typeface! I had never thought to try it in TextEdit (why would you, if you didn't know about the reasoning behind it all?) At smaller point sizes it is nice but nothing special, but larger point sizes suddenly have really beautiful details that magically appear. Type the word "suggestion" and watch those g's dance before your eyes.

Great explanation.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:08 PM on September 12, 2004

Apple's ATSUI/AAT is more advanced than OpenType, but OpenType fonts can have context sensitive glyphs. For example, in the Warnock Pro Regular face with swash selected in the OpenType options (in an app with real OT support) the lowercase m will have swash stroke on the right side of the letter if it is at the end of a word. The string "ppp" in Caflisch Script Pro with contextual alternates turned on uses three different glyphs for p, selected by the position in the word. Similarly, OpenType fonts can define strings of characters beyond the standard ligatures to get replaced by a custom glyph.

OpenType is far from perfect, but we're stuck with it and there are some nice faces using OpenType features.
posted by D.C. at 8:51 PM on September 12, 2004

Response by poster: mdeath, thanks for the knowledge and the advice. I hadn't ever realized that bringing a PDF into Illustrator would allow you to do that.
posted by blueshammer at 6:29 AM on September 13, 2004

Thanks to md for the explanation. I wonder if this gets at a similar problem I've had in, well, all apps that I've tried (Word, TextEdit, Illustrator). I've been using the postscript Stone fonts (among others) for years, well since before OS X. I know that these contain glyphs that I want to use, such as = (greater than or equal to), but I can't get them to show up. Text Edit semi-helpfully switches me to Lucida Grande, but then leaves me there.

Any bright ideas?
posted by adamrice at 11:46 AM on September 13, 2004

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