How to properly create different versions of a font?

Hi there,

I started this font in 2021, and am now getting back into it, but after doing some research on Masters, I think I set the font up completely wrong. I can’t export as an .otf without setting up axes, and I cant export as a variable font because it says my characters aren’t compatible. My goal is to create a font that has options for it like: Regular, Split Bar, Slab Serif, and Slab Serif Split Bar.

Ideally, I imagined that when someone used the font in adobe illustrator, for example, they would begin to type with the Regular version of the font. If they wanted to change the font into Split Bar, they could go up to the character styles drop down and click “Split Bar” similar to how you can choose Bold, Italic, etc.

I’m relatively new at all this and am having a hard time figuring out how to complete this when there are more/different nodes in these other Masters than there are in the Regular Masters.

Basically, am I completely lost? Are different Masters not how I would go about making this happen? Is this even possible? Is this considered a variable font? Ideally in the future, I’d like to make handwritten fonts that have options like “Regular” and “Stroke Texture” so that users can choose if they’d like texture on their font or not.

Unfortunately I can only upload one image, but any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Based on how you think the font should work, make individual fonts. At any rate, making a variable font is not possible when Masters do not have compatible outlines. It doesn’t sound like making them compatible in this case would be easily done, if at all possible.

You can achieve having the styles all neatly grouped into one family. They won’t work as a variable font, of course, as you have completely different outlines. You can do one of two things:

  1. Draw every style in a new file. Set the family name (Font Info > Font > Family Name) to the same for all fonts. In each file, add one export to the Exports tab, and give it the name you want the style to have.
  2. Draw all styles in the same file, and ignore the compatibility warnings (add the custom parameter in Font Info > Font called Enforce Compatibility Check and deactivate it). Add exports for each style, name them accordingly. Set up axes for your masters and exports. You could have one axis called Serif (axis tag needs to be something like SERF, upper case, as it is a custom axis name), and one called Split Bar SPLT.
    You can thus export static fonts which will all have the same family name, and all styles grouped together in text menus. It will not work as a variable font, but I don’t think that’s your goal anyway.

If you need more help understanding how to set up your axes, don’t hesitate to ask.