Colour layer confusion

I started working on a design that is essentially the plain character shapes, plus a “gloss” on top (bright spots on the plain shapes).

What’s the current recommended practice for this? I am confused because there are several techniques, and the tutorials don’t clearly state which of them is the way to go.

During the design of the typeface, I think the system in Glyphs should be technology-agnostic. Without deciding how I will finally export the font when the design is finished, I just want something that helps me design a layered font in Glyphs, and to be able to proof it.

Here is a list of my requirements:

  • I want to be able to switch off (i.e. don’t display) the gloss while I work on the plain shapes. To be clear: I don’t want to see the outlines, I don’t want to see it rendered in the other glyphs in the edit area, and I don’t want to see it in the preview bar. I want to be able to switch the gloss layer on and off globally (i.e. not going through all glyphs in the edit area).

  • I want to try different options for the gloss: top-right gloss and top-left gloss, to see which one works better. Of course, I only want one of the two gloss layers to be visible at a time, and de-activate the other. Globally, of course.

  • Data duplication is an absolute NO GO. At least during the design phase.

  • I want to be able to export CPAL during the design phase (for proofing in the browser), and also single-layer individual fonts, ideally.

Are there any official recommendations how to set up the font?

For now, I am using Color Palette layers. What I find strange is that color-vs-not-color display is controlled by the currently selected layer in the current glyph. This only affects the edit area, though, and on the preview bar it triggers the individual glyph. On the other hand, the little eyes seem to be per-glyph, and the glyphs remember this setting (while in the edit view). I keep the regular layer empty (as duplication is out of the question), and it seems impossible to only edit the plain shape without seeing the gloss. When I activate a Color Palette layer it is still shown as empty, huh? Oh wait, if I press the space bar then it shows the shape (but all colour layers). But not if the main layer is active. And, if I want to see the colour layers in the preview bar I need to go through all the glyphs in the edit view and click on a Color Paletter layer, individually. Quite confusing and a bit frustrating.

I tried some hacks such as setting the gloss colour to 0% opacity, which does not work, it is rendered as white. Oh wait, if I use 1% then opacity does work! And it is practically imperceptible. Strange.

Still, I think it would be more natural if you could really disable a layer in the UI, as a core concept, without hacks. Plus, the other oddities and problems remain.

  • I can select paths on a non-active layer but I cannot edit them. Oh, wait, if everything is selected then I can. Oh, wait, it’s even weirder: If only some is selected then I cannot edit this by dragging with the mouse but keyboard nudge still works. But I cannot copy it (so as to paste into a different glyph). What? It took me a while to find out why copy & paste did not work.

  • The layer that is below the other in the palette is rendered on top of the other (yes, I have seen this mentioned in the tutorial but it feels wrong).

  • If the text cursor is placed after the last glyph then only the currently selected layer for each glyph is rendered, in black. Never mind.

  • If any export is selected in the preview bar then nothing is shown at all (which also means I cannot preview different colour palettes using the “Color Palette for CPAL” custom parameter).

I would use masters with “Master Color” parameters. I just tried this and needed to fix a few small things.
This is a file with the setup.
ColorLayers.glyphs (3.6 KB)

Switch what “gloss” you see by switching the eyes in the layer panel.

And it only works properly in the next version.

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