Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making Titles on the Silhouette: aka using glyphs from OTF Fonts

One of my very favourite things to do is to play with fonts. I spend more time than I care to mention looking at pretty fonts on the internet.  One of my recent fascinations has been the glyphs and alternate letters that come with the OTF fonts.

It all kind of started with Scriptina, and seeing that there's a second ttf file that comes with it with the alternates in it kind of made me swoon.

I'm no graphic artist, so it was news to me when I found out about OTF fonts that, instead of having a second file of alternates, have the glyphs built in. 

Unfortunately, Silhouette Studio does not accommodate the extra feature of OTF fonts. (Update Jan 2019: It has it now in Designer Edition!!!) Sure, I can use the font, but it's just kind of "meh."

The trick is having the right software to access them.  I really wanted to be able to cut out these fonts in Studio without getting new software or doing anything crazy. 

Many times, I tried to do this through Word. I found some pretty good tutorials on the net.  One of my favourites here: . So, I'd end up with something like this...

Pretty cool, right? So, how do I cut this?  First, I tried the easiest thing, which was cutting and pasting to the Studio application. Well, fail. It just came across in Arial Unicode. And if I tried changing the font, I was back to the "meh" version I started with.  Another option was to export a jpg file and trace it in Studio. Ok, that works, but the edges aren't super smooth, and there's a lot of work to clean it up. Plus, you lose the whole advantage of it being vector graphics, and resizable.

I tried Inkscape. Great news... it's free! Bad news... it doesn't have OTF as a feature.

So, I then found my solution with Adobe Illustrator. Bad news.... it's not free. Good news, it works GREAT!

Here are the steps from creating a custom title in Illustrator, though to getting it ready to cut in Silhouette Studio DE:

1. create image in AI

  • file / new / new document / ok (I just want to get to a blank sheet to work on)
  • Click on the Text tool on the left, and start typing. Be sure to change to the correct font, and probably increase the size to 72 or something big so you can see it (right click, or use the "Type" menu item)
  • Now, select Type/Glyphs from the menu. You'll see a ton of characters pop up on the right. 
  • you can narrow it down if you want by highlighting a letter and then clicking the pop down arrow next to "Entire Font" and choosing "Alternates for Current Selection."
  • The only downfall with doing this is that you miss some of the cool characters. For example, there's a character for "LA" and "RI" that I used in this title that I don't see there.
  • Start switching out characters for the glyphs until you end up with something that you love.
  • Now, time to get it ready to export.

2. Outline the text in AI. (Choose the arrow selector tool to select the text first and get the blue box outline, right click, create outlines)

3. Select the text again, then hit D to make it a black outline with white fill

4. Right click and ungroup (this doesn't really make any visible change).

5. File / export / Save as type: dxf. Ok. Save it whereever, just remember where it is. :) It's really easy if you just put it on your desktop because then you can...

6. ... drag the file onto the cutting page in Studio (or Open, but be sure to picke the Files of type DXF).

7. Some welding might be required if there is overlap of the letters. For this file, I had to first be sure that each letter was on the same compound path. For example, I'd select the inside and outside of the "O" and then "make compound path." Likewise with the inside and outside of the "R" flourish. Then I could weld the two together (see the highlighted pic below. See that the "S" isn't welded yet. That won't cut properly.). After all the welding, I'd select the whole thing and "make compound path."

I have the Designer Edition, so I'm not sure whether the importing of DXF files is something you can do with the regular version. 

Check back on Saturday to see this title in action!

1 comment:

  1. Have you tried InDesigh for OTF/TTF glyphs and kern pair adjustments? Even AI is adequate for page layout, though a bit clunky. Just curious. Hope this helps!