Putting Italic and Upright in the Same Master

I’m curious to read how others are dealing with this issue, it’s fine to put different styles in the same file until you start kerning – in cases where there is a real italic as opposed to an oblique as the kerning groups will not be consistent and Glyphs defines kerning groups across a whole font.

What I like about Glyphs a lot is that you can keep multiple masters in the same file and interface and switch between masters without a lot of friction and the sample text stays consistent – very hand for comparison.

When I split upright and italic into 2 masters files, it gets harder to keep track of things and I find myself being inconsistent.

I wonder if there’s a solution to keep different masters with different kerning groups somehow?.. I wouldn’t suggest having to edit kerning groups for every master, but maybe master-groups? Would be very handy.

Thanks for reading

I recommend that you only keep Upright and Italic in the same file at an early design stage, if at all. By the time you edit kerning (typically very late in the production process), you should have split them into separate files. You can drag it out a little longer if you split the italics into .italic glyphs, but I really don’t advice that. The logistical differences are simply to big at one point (besides kerning, there is also differences in feature sets, etc.), and the problems outweigh the advantages.

You mean two files, not masters, right?

There are better ways for keeping Uprights and Italics in sync than to keep them in the same file until the production stage. There are lots of scripts and plugins, and there is Compare Fonts. What are the problems you run into?

To me, this sounds like unnecessarily overcomplicating things. And it poses a lot of new problems: What should happen if you interpolate between group X and group Y? How would you track down problems?

I would rather discuss this in the scope of file format changes for the next major version. Better Upright/Italic integration out of the box is on our list.

We have been doing this and really all I can think of is kerning, and feature set differences (which generally I’d try to keep the same feature using the ssXX numbers across styles too), what else is there? I’d say the advantages so far outweigh problems we have and the extra work of trying to ensure consistency across 2 masters is the problem.

When I’m proofing spacing and kerning and need to make a change across the entire family, I would do it in the upright, then the italic – and switch back and forth to check for consistency. So now have a script to make sure the viewport zoom and position is synced, and then every time I edit text in a tab I’d manually update it in the other file (though I could make a script I think). It’s the flipping back and forth that’s helping me compare. But it’s not as simple and switching masters.

Also when I find drawing/design problems that are consistent across the family and would need to edit in both files or keep track of it in a log – but things fall through easier this way.

I (and other designers I know) already start off with two separate groups of masters in a single file, and I don’t interpolate them because they’re not interpolatable, i.e. set on a different axis?

I am not saying the Italic consistency is not an issue. I am saying that enabling kerning discrepancies is not the way to solve it, because it would be a Pyrrhic victory at best because of the additional problems that occur. So I believe we should better discuss what a future UI or file format could look like, rather than risking breaking the app by shoehorning a workflow hack into it.

Compound structures, glyph set, alternates, alternate sets of accents, different smart glyphs, exporting/non-exporting of glyphs, vertical sizes, zones, zone structure, pretty much anything you would find in Font Info > Masters. The point of a Glyphs file the way it is now is to facilitate interpolation or layering. And also the kerning group discrepancy would rather be a reason to keep it in separate files, not to find a way around it.

These problems remain the same if you keep the masters in a single file.

My question was, what should happen if an instance is placed, intentional or not, between two masters that do have different kerning group structures? The point of only being able to assign a single kerning group per glyph side: it prevents kern class conflicts, which have been a massive support problem in the time before Glyphs.

I agree with Rainer!

I never tried to bring upright and italic together in one glyphs file.
But I often search for a nice UI for comparing and syncing several properties within families.

For me, the biggest advantage of the single file approach is that you can have upright and italic next to each other in Edit view. Good for comparing colour. There are some plug-ins in Plugin Manager that can show a different font in Edit view. I could extend that and redraw all the glyphs in Edit view with their Italic counterpart. But what is hard is transferring metrics with a View menu plug-in. I’ll see what I can do about that.

Ok, I look forward to a UI that solves this issue. Perhaps a synced text tab that is the same across all open fonts then?

Do you mean a glyph next to a glyph from another master, where you manually switch a glyph right? Yes it’s a good feature!

I once worked on a roman with an oblique including adding a slant axis. This also enabled to (automatically) make a counter-oblique :slight_smile: