Extreme variable fonts

Hi all,

I am trying to find out what are the limits of VF configurations that Glyphs (or the format) supports. In this thread, which dates back to Glyphs 2, there is a mention of a limit of 6 axes.

However, in order to spec an upcoming project I would like to know the following:

  1. What is the maximum number of masters that are supported by Glyphs for VF export?
  2. What are the restrictions on how the master setup? (More about this below).

The project is going to have four axes, so with just the extreme points we could get away with 16 masters (2x2x2x2), but we will also need to draw a Regular master in order to control the interpolation better.

So my question is, is there a way to get away with 17 masters in the exported VF or would we need to fill in all the “missing” combinations and have 27 masters (3x2x2x2)?

I am aware that Glyphs handles 5-master combinations like this:

Bold Condensed  ..........o..........  Bold Extended
      .                   .                  .
      .                   .                  .
      o..............  Regular  .............o
      .                   .                  .
      .                   .                  .
Light Condensed  .........o.........  Light Extended

However, in a previous project, when we tried to add an italic axis to double the number of masters to 10, it didn’t work, and we needed to generate all the missing combinations, bringing the number of masters up to 18.

Is the above 5-master configuration the only exception to the rule that masters always have to be setup in a grid-like configuration, or are there others too?


Toshi managed to export 180 masters and 6 axes:

1 Like

You can have an extra Regular as long as it is not the default master. If you need the Regular to be the default, you need a master at each spot where there is a o in your sketch.

Thanks @GeorgSeifert, but this does not seem to work.

Referring back to my sketch, I first tried exporting the VF with 10 masters, 5 for the upright and 5 for the italic styles. Origin was changed to light condensed. Predictably, it did not work correctly.

You wrote:

You can have an extra Regular as long as it is not the default master.

So this would mean that a 9-master setup without the regular-weight italic should export correctly. So I removed the italic master and exported the file, but the glyphs were still showing some weird interpolation effects (e.g. getting larger and smaller when adjusting the weight axis, etc.)

Have I understood you correctly that such a 9-master setup should work? Or am I doing something wrong?

What version do you have?

3.2 Build 3177. Just exported now. I’m not aware that anything relevant has changed in Glyphs since I last worked on the project 6 months ago

Can you send me that file?

Yes, I have just sent you the file with 10 masters and you can try removing the regular-weight italic, change the variable font origin to something other than Regular and see for yourself. Thanks!

Just want to add that, before doing a VF export from the file I sent, you need to do the following

  • Enable extension kerning
  • Change the italic coordinates to 12 (to match the instances).

I didn’t resave the file with these corrections as the current version wanted to change the alignment.

I forgot to say: The rounded characters have brace layers which complicate things even further, so it’s best to just look at the straight glyphs such as “A” when checking if it’s working or not.

It was 4 axes, but yeah Glypohs handled 180 masters like a champ. Most of the export errors were on me.

There was one that I noticed. I had to generate a master whose furthest node x coordinate reaches 34000, and Glyphs failed to export it (All the x coordinates beyond certain values were set to 0). This was partly due to exporting in 4000 UPM for precision, and lowering to 3000 solved the issue. I don’t know how many others will experience the issue, but I’m just mentioning it.