Learning to hint properly

I’m experimenting with the (manual) hinting possibilities that Glyphs offers.
I know what hinting is and how it works (globally) but I see some gaps in my knowledge. Is there some good explanation:

  1. about the difference between .otf and .ttf hinting?
  2. about all steps that should be followed to make a professional hinted font? (I think I don’t know all the possibilities, but I want to learn before I publish fonts…)

See my thread here about PostScript (CFF) hinting

Here are the best links generally about the difference between TrueType and PostScript hinting:
Font hinting
The Benefits Of OpenType/CFF Over TrueType
Font Hinting Explained By A Font Design Master
A Closer Look At Font Rendering
Why some fonts suck on Windows? Rendering and “hinting”

There’s some discussion on using ttfautohint on TypeDrawers and Google Font Forums you should check out too.

Beat Stamm’s very detailed book on rendering:

Unfortunately I can’t help you on how to do hinting though since I’m new to it too—good luck!

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You are aware of these tutorials?

@oneweioranother: Thanks, some sources I didn’t know, I will go trough them.

@mekkablue: I think I have read every single tutorial on the site :wink:
(And the tutorials are very clear and understandable, not discussing that.)
But my question goes further than only ‘how do we do it?’ I want to know ‘why is it done this way?’

I will explain as good as I can:

In “Digital Typography & Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Peter Karow; 2013; Adobe & The Dutch Type Library” there is an image with 17 different kinds of hints.
They make a distinction between stems, bars, bows, arches, serifs, counters, etc. etc. Conclusion: this is a totally different approach/technique and although we speak over several decennia ago, it is interesting. Technology has to evolve, but why makes OpenType only horizontal/vertical hints? Is it not necessary anymore to make more kinds of distinctions like was done in the past?

So I am a little lost in this evolution as I don’t know why they have made the switch from 17 to 2 kinds of hints, and if it is better (which I presume, but I also don’t know for sure.)

So my question in other words:
Are the tutorials explaining the whole hinting-process (for the .otf file format)? Is this the way professionals are doing it in contemporary typefaces? Or is there more we should know about?

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  1. Test in InDesign, using the Adobe Fonts folder:

  2. 90% of your job is to set up font-wide hinting (zones and standard stems) and activate autohinting:
    This is why:

  3. Then, in the glyphs that still look weird, you insert manual hints: https://www.glyphsapp.com/tutorials/hinting-manual-postscript-hinting
    There is one difference in Glyphs 2.0: It now supports Hint Replacement, so you can have overlapping hints.

  4. Or you fix paths. Path order and path direction are important. Usually, Cmd-Shift-R will do.

Number one mistake I see: too many standard stems.

Know what to expect of PS hinting. Its job is to make the zones crisper, and the stems consistent in low resolution pixel renderings. Its job is not to preserve your shapes, which is impossible anyway at low resolutions.

And: different renderers will render differently. Your font will not look the same in different environments, sometimes thinner, sometimes bolder. In other words, hinting cannot preserve color across browsers, operating systems, etc.

PS renderers are not expected to pixel-snap the glyph width. Thus, five times the same letter after each other can give you five different renderings, depending on how the outline falls onto the pixel grid each time.



I don’t know what they are referencing to. I never heard of those things, neither in Postscript or TrueType.

And OpenType uses the same hints that where available in old Postscript Type 1 fonts.

Those are likely coming from Ikarus, given that the document was by Peter Karow.

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This helps a lot, thanks!
It is indeed from Ikarus, which aimed to make fonts better. They did mention postscript & truetype For this image…
But I understand this technique is not relevant anymore. Many thanks for the explanation!