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3 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in. Individually making letters is not the same as being variable, those are just more letters.

Nobody said it is. It was a response to the single static font "Gutenberg" nonsense.

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5 minutes ago, AffinityMakesMeSmile said:

Hmmm… I don’t get it - if you buy a commercial pro font (static), it has thousands of crafted kerning-pair for ‘optical correction’…

It shouldn’t be any difference between a static and a variable font concerning readability/kerning/tracking…

What @DamienG is referring to are not individual kern pairs, but optical sizing: The practice of adjusting a glyph's geometry (in all they ways they mention above) to account for how it is displayed at different sizes.  This actually is available with some static cuts of usually expensive digital typefaces which will specify their pt size in the name of the cut, eg: "Helvetica Bold 72pt", however variable fonts offer a much better workflow for this and more specificity.  As far as I've seen most foundries have now opted for variable fonts when integrating optical sizing features.  Inter v4.0 includes an opsz axis and you can see what it looks like here.

---

As I have also mentioned before, those on this forum are not the arbiters of the workflows of others.  If you don't feel the need to make use of the advantages that variable fonts offer that's great, don't use them.  As a response to my first post in this thread, an employee from Serif indicated that they'd also like to see them integrated and given that they don't share their roadmap publicly as far as I'm concerned that's pretty much the end of this thread?  They'll probably be implemented eventually?  I'd also love to see them sooner rather than later but given my experiences developing software it's likely going to be an "it will happen when it happens" kinda thing.  100 points from me if it happens in a 2.x release! ;)

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17 minutes ago, DamienG said:

They literally tweaked every glyph in the days of metal type - serif sizes, width, contrast, overshoot, ink trap sizes, crossbar height etc. per point size.

That isn't available in a static font although the concept of hinting came close but that was only practically used for small sizes and most OS's ignore hints now anyway.

What do you mean with “hinting” and “hints”?

I’m Swedish, and hint for me hasn’t nothing to do with typographics, or?

 

Happy amateur that playing around with the Affinity Suite - really love typograhics, photographing, colors & forms, AND, Synthesizers!

Macbook Pro 16” M1 2021, iPad Pro 12.9” M1 2021, iPad Pro 10.5” A10X 2017, iMac 27” 5K/i7 late 2015…

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38 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

I refer to what YOU wrote about being technically wrong. Variable fonts do not exist in letterpress for obvious reasons. If you want different weights, those are different pieces of metal not the same pieces hammered into a different shape.

Technically wrong in that Gutenberg did not get on with "static fonts".

24 minutes ago, AffinityMakesMeSmile said:

What do you mean with “hinting” and “hints”?

I’m Swedish, and hint for me hasn’t nothing to do with typographics, or?

Fonts can contain additional instructions/information about how to adjust the points of a glyph before rasterising to pixels. In the case of TrueType fonts it is a stack-based language that allows the points to be snapped/aligned at a general level and even specifically adjusted for individual ppi (point size) levels known as delta hints. There was some early experimentation on re-using this technology to use this for optical sizing but it gave way to the superior mechanisms available in optical fonts.

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On 4/23/2023 at 7:41 AM, AffinityMakesMeSmile said:

As I said - people have been doing incredible things with computers for more then 30 years without Variable Fonts, so, what some is thinking here on the forum that they can't work with Affinity because they not supporting these fonts...

People were getting along just fine doing graphics and publishing work for decades prior to personal computers showing up in the 1980's. 🙄

Variable Fonts are a technological improvement that provide a lot more flexibility to certain kinds of design tasks. They make certain results much easier to achieve or far better in visual quality. In the sign industry people like me frequently have to fit type elements into constrained spaces, such as an odd-shaped replacement face in a building sign cabinet. A type family with only a few styles will work only so well. Lots of hacks in this field simply don't care. They have the knee-jerk habit of styling a type object in Arial or some other commonly used default and then artificially squeezing or stretching it to fit. The results look horrible and very unprofessional. But like I said they don't care. A type "super family" with many weights and widths will provide more latitude for type objects to fit certain spaces better. A variable font with weight and width axes can allow someone to use axis sliders to fine tune the appearance of the type objects even better than the best static super families. The result is type that fits the layout perfectly with stroke proportions that still look natural. I can do other tricks with variable fonts, such as make natural looking large-capital/small-capital type treatments even if the typeface has no native small cap character set. All you have to do is use the weight slider to balance the thickness of the letter strokes. Lately most of the commercial font packages I've been buying have included variable fonts.

Just to repeat what I said earlier, more of Affinity Designer's rivals are supporting variable fonts and even SVG color fonts. Adobe Illustrator offers the best support of both formats. CorelDRAW has supported variable fonts in its past couple or so versions. Inkscape supports variable fonts. VectorStyler (similar in price to Affinity Designer) supports variable fonts and color fonts. Serif needs to be doing a little bit of "keeping up with the Joneses" in this category.

20 years ago I was hearing similar "nobody needs that" arguments regarding the advanced features of OpenType. Today anyone creating and selling commercial font packages has to include numerous OTF features otherwise the fonts aren't going to sell. We're not in the 1990's anymore.

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As we speaking about fonts/typefaces, what font/fonts is your favorite? Also, which variable fonts is most awesome?

My favorites is Scala, Pitagon, Officina and Literata… Use to like Bookman in the past…

Happy amateur that playing around with the Affinity Suite - really love typograhics, photographing, colors & forms, AND, Synthesizers!

Macbook Pro 16” M1 2021, iPad Pro 12.9” M1 2021, iPad Pro 10.5” A10X 2017, iMac 27” 5K/i7 late 2015…

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I have a hard time singling out any favorite typefaces. So many of them fit different specific themes or purposes. But there are certain type families I find to be frequently useful. They work in a greater variety of situations.

One example is Heading Now from Zetafonts. It's a fairly neutral looking sans face. The package has 160 static OTF files and two variable fonts (upright and italic). The variable fonts have weight and width axes. They can span any variation between thin to very heavy as well as very compressed to wide. The typeface can fit in a lot of spaces and serve a lot of purposes.

Helvetica in its various forms is a staple typeface for sign design. Like them or not, the 1957 cuts and the greatly expanded 1983 "neue" family are very useful (far more useful than crummy Arial). There's lots of Helveti-clones out there, such as Nimbus Sans or Swiss 721. I had grown pretty tired of Helvetica over the years, but Monotype got me liking it again with Helvetica Now. The display range of fonts has a certain grace to them; the '57 cut seems crude by comparison. The 2019 static package was really good, but the 2021 variable version has been much more useful. It has weight, width and optical size axes. Helvetica Now has a variety of alternate characters, a bunch of different number sets and other useful features. The only thing I don't like about the variable package is the width axis only goes from normal to compressed. I'm guessing Monotype will release another version of Helvetica Now that goes from normal to wide.

Futura Now, Obviously, Proxima Vara, Coco Sharp and TT Supermolot Neue are a few other commercially sold variable fonts I like. Out of freely available fonts I think Roboto Serif and Roboto Flex are pretty impressive variable fonts.

Speaking of Bookman, I really like Mark Simonson's version of it, Bookmania. I have it synced through Adobe Fonts. Each font file has over 3100 glyphs. There are hundreds of swash characters, ligatures, native small caps and lots of other stuff not found in previous versions of Bookman.

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  • 3 weeks later...
36 minutes ago, mkey said:

Any ideas about viable alternatives to Affinity Designer that come with variable font support? This missing feature just created a day of misery at my end.

What are you wanting to achieve using variable fonts, i.e., what is the end product or output for your artwork?

Affinity Designer 2.4.2 | Affinity Photo 2.4.2 | Affinity Publisher 2.4.2
Affinity Designer 1.7.3 | Affinity Photo 1.7.3 | Affinity Publisher 1.10.8
MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Monterey 12.6.8, Magic Mouse

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3 hours ago, mkey said:

Any ideas about viable alternatives to Affinity Designer that come with variable font support? This missing feature just created a day of misery at my end.

VectorStyler is in a similar price range as Affinity Designer. It supports Variable Fonts as well as SVG color fonts. Inkscape supports Variable Fonts, but it only works in RGB color space (not a great option for print-based work).

Of course Variable Fonts and Color Fonts have been fully supported for the past several years in Adobe Illustrator. CorelDRAW added Variable Font support in 2020. More and more commercially sold type families are including variable versions; some are even variable only. Google had added a decent number of variable fonts to its Google Fonts site. It seems Variable Fonts are here to stay (unlike Type 1 Multiple Master fonts in the 1990's).

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A number of open source apps such as LibreOffice and Inkscape currently support named instances of variable fonts (the preset configurations stored as part of the font itself) but do not currently allow you to adjust the individual axis values.

Seems it will be coming at some point, though.

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In the case of Inkscape, the application does indeed allow manual or numerical adjustment of variable font axis values in the Text and Font panel. But it does not provide live previews of the changes. The "apply" button has to be pressed in order to see updated changes. The panel also behaves a bit wonky (in version 1.2.2).

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2 hours ago, Bobby Henderson said:

Google had added a decent number of variable fonts to its Google Fonts site.

If you select the Show only variable fonts box on the Google Fonts (GF) website you can see the current number of variable fonts they offer over on the left side.
https://fonts.google.com/?vfonly=true
Current Number: 312

And they are adding several more variable fonts every month.
Now including some variable color fonts too (currently 4).

When they started this several years ago, one of the GF leaders said at a conference that they "want to make variable fonts matter" - which they have certainly done.

That coupled with advanced font editors now using the multiple-masters method to develop font families - variable fonts are definitely here to stay.

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Some of the variable font families available on the Google Fonts site are pretty impressive, such as Recursive, Roboto Serif and Roboto Flex. Roboto Flex has a whopping 12 variable axes.

Within Google's fonts browsing page they recently added listings for the number of axes a variable font family contains. Most have just one axis (usually weight). It seems like more of the recent additions have 2 or more axes.

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23 minutes ago, Bobby Henderson said:

Roboto Flex has a whopping 12 variable axes.

I wonder what is going to happen with "What Font is this?" questions once these have been out in the wild for a while. Will those questions actually be definitively answerable?

Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 12.7.4 
Affinity Designer 2.4.1 | Affinity Photo 2.4.1 | Affinity Publisher 2.4.1 | Beta versions as they appear.

I have never mastered color management, period, so I cannot help with that.

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1 hour ago, Old Bruce said:

I wonder what is going to happen with "What Font is this?" questions once these have been out in the wild for a while. Will those questions actually be definitively answerable?

I think it depends on the typeface. Most variable typefaces retain much of their style DNA regardless of what variable instance is chosen. Roboto Flex is neutral enough that it can get disguised pretty heavily with certain axis combinations.

As it stands, so many people abuse standard static fonts by artificially squeezing and stretching them out of their normal proportions. That will throw off online font ID tools like MyFonts' What the Font utility. I have an intense dislike of such manual squeezing and stretching of fonts, particularly default fonts like Arial, because I see so much of it in the sign industry. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard. Another bad one is Gotham (now that so many people have gotten hold of it). The Gotham typeface itself is a great design, but it looks downright horrible when distorted. The carefully balanced monotone strokes are no longer uniform. The whole thing takes on a fun house mirror appearance. The practice of crudely distorting fonts will make any graphics layout take on an air of amateur quality.

Variable fonts that sport both weight and width axes come overcome much of that nonsense if the "designers" will go through the effort of actually using the features. I have some variable typefaces whose width axis will allow it to go from ultra compressed to very wide yet still keep the horizontal and vertical stroke thicknesses naturally balanced.

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3 hours ago, Bobby Henderson said:

Roboto Flex has a whopping 12 variable axes.

Amstelvar, by the same designer, also has 12 variable axes (incl. parametric).
It has been commissioned to be finished so a serif font with features similar to Roboto Flex will be available eventually.
https://github.com/googlefonts/amstelvar

He also made Decovar as a sort of technology demo for variable fonts.
It has 15 axes, including many which are decorative (hence the Devovar name).
https://github.com/googlefonts/decovar
 

3 hours ago, Bobby Henderson said:

It seems like more of the recent additions have 2 or more axes.

Google Fonts Axis Registry has all the axes they have in the fonts they serve.
Their web fonts API needs that Axis Registry info to serve the fonts properly.
So it can also be used to see what axes are available in their variable fonts.

2023-05-12 - 37 axes
bounce
casual
cursive
edge_highlight
element_grid
element_shape
extrusion_depth
fill
flare
grade
hyper_expansion
informality
italic
monospace
morph
optical_size
roundness
sharpness
slant
softness
spacing
volume
weight
width
wonky
x_opaque
x_rotation
x_transparent
x_transparent_figures
y_opaque
y_rotation
y_transparent_ascender
y_transparent_descender
y_transparent_figures
y_transparent_lowercase
y_transparent_uppercase
year

So all of those 37 axes are available now. And more are coming.

I now have over 70 axes in the list I have compiled.

 

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Thanks, ended up using Inkscape instead (after wasting multiple hours on unsuccessfully converting the variable font into multiple static ones)

Had to use Bahnschrift in semi-condensed bold and light variations. Just having access to these predefined variations in Affinity Designer would go a long way.

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8 hours ago, mkey said:

Had to use Bahnschrift in semi-condensed bold and light variations. Just having access to these predefined variations in Affinity Designer would go a long way.

The MS Cloud fonts include static versions of most of the Bahnschrift pre-defined instances (those two are included). If you have Office 365 it is possible to get those static cloud fonts.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/11/2022 at 12:24 PM, wonderings said:

I can count the number of times I have used or seen variable fonts used on 1 hand. I work in print and design so get a lot of work from designer houses (not people with photoshop who call themselves designers). I think they are a great idea, but not something that drastically changes how people work in these field. Many fonts already have the gamut from light to ultra which I would think suits the vast majority of the world. Again I think variable fonts are a great idea and nice to always have options, not sure I would make such a big deal about the variable fonts not being in V2 myself. 

It would be nice, as would color fonts, but tagged PDFs for accessibility is WAY more important.

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On 4/23/2023 at 9:18 AM, AffinityMakesMeSmile said:

A little OT, but, what marketplace is best to buy high quality Variable/static Fonts with great kerning/ligatures?

I subscribe to the MyFonts newsletter, which often has sales, and also get a lot of good free fonts at FontSquirrel.

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I haven't seen any free variable fonts at the Font Squirrel web site. But the Google Fonts web site has a pretty good collection of free, open source variable fonts.

Out of commercial sites, I like checking the MyFonts site every few days to see what is newly released as well as what else is on sale. Most of the variable fonts I've bought over the past few years were purchased when the fonts were newly released and heavily discounted. Even with the discounts they still can be kind of expensive. For instance the introductory price for Helvetica Now Variable was $199. That's for two font files. When the static version of Helvetica Now was introduced in 2019 it had a bunch of font files (in Display, Text and Micro sub-families); introductory price for that was around $100.

6 hours ago, SallijaneG said:

It would be nice, as would color fonts, but tagged PDFs for accessibility is WAY more important.

If I had a choice between either feature I would take variable fonts capability over tagging PDFs. There is a variety of third party PDF editors that can modify PDFs after creation. Variable font capability is a pretty basic thing affecting the creative front end of the application.

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That's great news! Unfortunately the step by step guides I found online do not seem to work anymore? Under C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\FontCache\4\CloudFonts\ I could find quite nummerous ones, but Bahnschrift is not one of them (despite being able to use that font in O365). Any Ideas?

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