Pen Tool, auto create unnecessary BCPs

I’m very happy with the way Glyphs allows me to edit, in a way thats better than other type design tools. But I’m having this problem while using the Pen Tool recently to draw freehand. This video will show what I mean hopefully. (also note the excess of ‘smart guides’!)

At 00:02 when I’m trying to draw the first BCP, it creates an extra BCP before the first point. I don’t think is necessary as I’m trying to create a corner from a straight line.

At 00:14, I’m trying to create a right angle line, via holding Shift (and I have tried with Shift+Alt) but it still creates a curve with BCPs?

Am I doing something wrong? I tried in Fontlab and it doesn’t give me these extra points or smooth lines where I want straight ones.

I think the Straight Line problem (00:14) might be because the sensitivity is too high so that when I click and the mouse moves a tiny bit, Glyphs recognises I am ‘dragging’ and therefore creates a smooth line. Is there a way to turn that sensitivity down?


Looking at the video, smart guide is picking background nodes as reference (which is an unnecessary behaviour in my opinion), and I think you shouldn’t have to do that to begin with. If you want to modify an outline, copy and paste it in both background and foreground, and start working on it. Also, when you draw an outline, don’t undo it; you can never get it right in the first pass no matter how you are experienced, and it’s much quicker to draw whatever and edit later. Bézier is more like a clay than a pencil.

On a related note, drag-to-click nodes always turn green where it should be blue (the nodes placed around 0:11

For some reason, I couldn’t open the video, but if I understand it right, you are having problems with adding a curved segment after a straight one. Perhaps this step-by-step description helps:

  1. Click and release to set the first on-curve.
  2. Click and release to set the second on-curve. The straight line is finished. Now on to the curved segment.
  3. Move the mouse in the direction of the handle (off-curve) you want to set, but three times as far.
  4. There, click and drag to draw an on-curve with two off-curves, and keep the mouse button down. Glyphs will add the opposing off-curve as well.
  5. While still holding down the mouse button, hold down the space bar and drag the node and handles into position. Now you can release your mouse button, and you’re done.

Sounds complicated, but it really is easy. I made a little screengrab of the process:

A curved segment must always have both handles. AI sometimes pulls one of the two into the adjacent on-curve, which is the main cause for AI’s infamous bad outline quality. This behavior sometimes tricks people into thinking that there are such things as single-handled PostScript curves, but that is not the case.

I checked the video again, tried by myself, and found nothing wrong with the software. The “extra node” is not really extra, it’s just that you need to know when to click and when to drag to get what you want.

BTW when I do click-drag drawing in FontLab, it also creates zero-distance handles, which is nasty. In Glyphs, the handle is always added to the previous point. I hadn’t notice that. This is very clever.

Thanks for the thorough responses here, much appreciated.

@Tosche, I am doing a specific exercise where I am redrawing existing Beziers. Sometimes it has to do with fixing bad truetype conversions where there are a huge excess of points, others for practice.

A link again, with the video made completely public.

I hadn’t used the Space-Hold method before, but it feels unintuitive, as I don’t get to drag the BCP as I like. The extra point isn’t a problem per se, but It’s not necessary especially if I am doing 2 masters and there’s a stray point that doesn’t change the curve.

But it’s a fuss in other situations, for example; I’m trying to draw a curve after a straight line which came after a curve. Please see the video. It’s the extra step of having to delete the extra BCP on the previous point.

I’m still getting the problem of Glyphs App creating curves instead of straight lines due to the sensitivity, I don’t experience this problem in Fontlab or Robofont.

@Tosche again, what is bad about zero-distance handles? Is this what I’m doing in the new video when I delete the extra BCP at the end?

can you post a video how you do that in FontLab or RoboFont? If I try it in FLS, it behaves the same way as in Glyphs.

I just uploaded a new beta version that should behave a bit better. Can you try and give feedback? To get it activate “Show cutting edge versions” in Preferences > Update.

@oneweioranother No, zero-distance (or zero-length) handle is not happening in your video. It’s what Illustrator and FontLab tend to create, which appears to be a single-handled curve. It’s not related to the topic, and I’m sorry for the confusion.

@Georg, Link to Robofont behavior for your reference.

Re new version: this is really great, works exactly as expected (or as I would like it). The snapping is also much better. Also nice to see ‘Clear’ back!

Hi Georg,

Seems that the version I have 1.4.3 (558) is now creating smooth BCPs where it should be a corner.

You deliberately didn’t hold down option when you drew the handles around the top right node. How should the drawing tool tell you wanted a corner there? In other words: What would/should be the difference if you actually wanted a smooth connection?

Interestingly, I couldn’t recreate the smoothness of the left node. It is blue when I draw it.

I see what you mean! I now realised I have to keep holding option to make the corner. Thanks

mekkablue: i also see this happen quite often, that it’s becoming a blue cornerpoint, even if it should be a smooth curve and visa versa.

also when copying shapes from one glyph slot to another, sometimes the points get mixed up. some green get blue and also visa versa.

10.6.8, 10.9; various versions of glyphs, not enough experience w/ the latest beta


The point is, in vector technology, this blue/green difference does not exist. It is just a feature in Glyphs (and other vector apps have similar features) to give you more control while editing. In other words, when pasting vectors, Glyphs must do a hefty deal of guessing what is supposed to be blue and what is supposed to be green.

What works pretty well for me though, is Layers > Tidy Up Paths (Cmd-Opt-Shift-T).

thanks. nice information. i’ll try the tidy upper. normally i don’t use it, since i try to keep the paths as tidy as possible from the beginning on.