A new era of type-design control and power for graphic & web designers from FontLab

by Fred Showker

23rd annual fonts fest FontLab is an extraordinary font creation tool -- and now, FontLab VI for Mac and Windows represents a major advancement in professional font editing. Rewritten from scratch, FontLab VI offers a modern platform not just for established type designers and font engineers, but also for graphic designers and illustrators who wish to customize existing fonts or create their own type designs — including color fonts and variable fonts. Folks, you cannot do this with any other software!

FontLab VI is a comprehensive solution that allows users to create, open, modify, draw, space, kern, hint and export desktop, web, color and variable OpenType fonts. The app also supports data interchange with other font editing tools, making it easy to integrate into existing professional workflows. Users can create and edit fonts for any Unicode writing system, from Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, to Arabic, Hebrew and Indic — even Chinese, Japanese, emoji, symbols and icons.


FontLab VI allows users to achieve their desired design results faster, with more consistency and increased precision. It adds the ability to draw and edit across glyph boundaries, so users can work on entire words or phrases at once. The app improves traditional curve drawing tools such as Pen and Pencil, and introduces brand-new glyph prototyping tools: Power Brush for calligraphic strokes, and the Rapid tool that creates smooth curves and perfect point placement with the fewest imaginable clicks.

In addition, FontLab VI introduces groundbreaking innovations in responsive vector outline editing:

  • With the Power Nudge mode and Genius and Servant nodes, users make adjustments only to a few key outline elements, and the app automatically reflects these design intentions on the rest of the glyph shape.
  • Tunni Lines let users quickly adjust the curve tension and decide if they prefer a more “round” or “squarish” look of their letterforms.
  • With non-destructive filters for complex fills, ink traps or rounded corners, designers can maintain parallel control over the glyph skeleton and the contour details, without having to sacrifice one for the other.

The new FontLab VI has been in public preview for two years, and during this time, numerous type design professionals have embraced it as their font editor of choice. Early adopters praise the app’s innovative and intuitive glyph drawing and spacing tools as well as extensive support for the latest font technologies.

Rapid tool creates smooth curves

But don't take our word for it:

ParaType’s Head of Design Alexandra Korolkova (winner of the ATypI Prix Charles Peignot 2013, and designer of PT Sans) said,

Quoting  begins I switched to FontLab VI about a year ago. It took me a month or less to feel that I definitely prefer working in it. It looks new and fresh, the interface is nice and precise. You use one window for everything — from glyph editing to testing the font in a long text — just by zooming and switching modes. What I like most is that you can link the metrics of glyphs to any other glyphs. It helps a lot when you design Cyrillic or Greek or make another style of the same font. It has handy tools for variations, and needs just a name of the typeface and style to generate working fonts! I’m so used to working in VI that it just seems natural. Quoting  ends

Type designer Jeremy Tankard (FF Disturbance, Corbel) said,

Quoting  begins There are a host of drawing tools in FontLab VI [...] that all offer different ways to get an outline started. Once a basic outline is in; editing it is intuitive. Power Nudge cleverly adjusts locally related nodes in harmony to the one you’re editing. Features such as Tunni Lines and Smart Corners allow fluid control over the outline, whereas Make Overlap and Unlink Corners let you chop and change a shape easily. The flexibility of the drawing tools continues to impress. Quoting  ends

FontLab VI not only offers easy font-drawing fundamentals, but also supports hot font trends: color fonts and variable fonts.

Adam Twardoch, Director of Products at FontLab tells us

Quoting  begins When the OpenType font format was introduced 20 years ago, it allowed type designers and font makers to add more language support and typographic sophistication to their font offerings, and FontLab was the first font editor to support the new standard. In the last decade, we’ve seen an unparalleled growth and competition in traditional black-and-white type design.
      So we looked for ways to open up new opportunities for type designers. The screen is today’s dominant typographic medium, and it supports animation and color. So together with Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, we’ve extended OpenType by adding the ability to create fonts that are variable and colorful. And we reengineered FontLab VI from the ground up, so font makers can explore these new possibilities and expand their creative reachQuoting  ends

FontLab VI supports creation of vector- and bitmap-based color fonts, for both emoji and text characters. This release adds functionality formerly in the separate ScanFont app, which helps users turn vector graphics and scanned images into characters. There is even optical character recognition to help get letters in the right slots.

FontLab VI also makes the design and production of variable fonts and of extensive font families easy. Users can create font masters that smoothly morph from light weight to black, from condensed to extended, or any combination, including intermediate master designs. The app now makes quick work of the formerly tedious and tricky process of matching outlines across font masters, and allows to simultaneously modify portions of glyphs across multiple master designs.

fontlab_F FontLab VI


FontLab CEO Thomas Phinney said of the new release:

Quoting Thomas Phinney begins Most of the world’s commercial fonts were made in previous versions of FontLab. I used FontLab for 20 years myself before I joined the company. I am thrilled that we once again offer the most versatile, powerful and flexible tool for anyone who wants to create or edit fonts . . . We appreciate the patience of our long-term customers who have wanted to see new features, and we believe by including these most up-to-date features, it was worth the wait. Quoting Thomas Phinney ends

GO Docs » FontLab VI User Guide
GO Download FontLab VI Mac installer (OS X 10.10 – 10.13)
GO Download FontLab VI Win installer (Win 7, 8, 10)

click here for History of typography FontLab VI is available now for $689 USD. Upgrades are $199 from FontLab Studio 5, $344 from Fontographer 4.7÷5, and $649 from TypeTool.
      FontLab was formed as Pyrus NA in the early 1990s to make the first versions of the eponymous font-editing tool available to designers worldwide. Lead developer Yuri Yarmola teamed with doctor/entrepreneur Ted Harrison to create the company. In 2002 the company incorporated in Panama as FontLab Ltd., Inc. In 2014 FontLab brought on Thomas Phinney (now CEO), a veteran font guru and software developer with 16 years experience from Adobe and Extensis. Harrison remains President and Chairman of the Board. FontLab has been a “distributed company” from the beginning, long before such things were commonplace. The company now has staff and contractors in seven different countries, from the Americas to Europe (including Russia) and India.


The original edition of this article is at http://www.graphic-design.com/Type/fontlab/index.html

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