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Optical Kerning


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I love the Affinity concept and made the switch from Adobe a few months ago. I bought all three programs (but have only installed Photo so far... guess I should have waited and bought the 2.0 bundle instead).

The only thing that is a real problem for me is the lack of optical kerning.
It might appear as a small thing to some, but this really makes text designs unnecessarily time consuming. And no, it's not just poor fonts that benefit from this.

I kept going with 1.0 because I wanted to give it an honest chance. Also, I was really hoping that this basic feature would be implemented in 2.0. Unfortunately it apparently wasn't a priority. This is the only reason why I am in doubt about updating - and consider switching back to a company I don't even like. Just because I the current workflow is too slow and uninspiring.

I'm crossing my fingers that this will be included in an update very soon (Photo, Designer and Publisher).

I would love to be able to become a long time Affinity user and supporter.
So many things are great with this company.

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  • 1 month later...

Affinity Store (MSI/EXE): Affinity Suite (ADe, APh, APu) 2.3.1.2217
Dell OptiPlex 7060, i5-8500 3.00 GHz, 16 GB, Intel UHD Graphics 630, Dell P2417H 1920 x 1080, Windows 11 Pro, Version 23H2, Build 22631.2506.
Dell Latitude E5570, i5-6440HQ 2.60 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics 530, 1920 x 1080, Windows 11 Pro, Version 23H2, Build 22631.2506.
Intel NUC5PGYH, Pentium N3700 2.40 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics, EIZO EV2456 1920 x 1200, Windows 10 Pro, Version 21H1, Build 19043.2130.

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  • 1 month later...
57 minutes ago, Tony Pritchard said:

The number 1 in text always has too much space around it as numbers were designed to sit one under the other and 1 is narrow so it has more space.

Most text fonts targeted at the "office" market have tabular lining figures as the default figures. But many of these fonts also include proportional lining figures as a OpenType feature - where the spacing on the one for example is more appropriate - and that option can be selected in the Typography panel. Some (better) fonts put a foot on the tabular lining one so it looks better optically. But in most running text the more appropriate choice is old style figures - which are proportional by default.

Better text fonts do not need optical kerning to look good.

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7 hours ago, kenmcd said:

Most text fonts targeted at the "office" market have tabular lining figures as the default figures. But many of these fonts also include proportional lining figures as a OpenType feature - where the spacing on the one for example is more appropriate - and that option can be selected in the Typography panel. Some (better) fonts put a foot on the tabular lining one so it looks better optically. But in most running text the more appropriate choice is old style figures - which are proportional by default.

Better text fonts do not need optical kerning to look good.

As true as that may be, clearly we are many who find it very useful (including Adobe).
I miss it a lot. But I dislike Adobe even more, so I will remain loyal and hope for the best.

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9 hours ago, HenrikF said:

As true as that may be, clearly we are many who find it very useful (including Adobe).
I miss it a lot. But I dislike Adobe even more, so I will remain loyal and hope for the best.

I agree with you HenrikF. I decided to move away from Adobe on principle when I retired as indeed so did my tutor. I think Affinity should get optical kerning back on their radar. There is an interesting thread with suggestions here (if you go to the end of the thread there is relevant discussion and tests to look at): 

 

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Yes, after years now I do not use Publisher (and by association the other Affinity products) for any serious work because of this.

Yeah, you can use only the best and most expensive well-kerned fonts after extensively validating that they will work for you, but that often isn't cost effective and eliminates the vast majority of fonts that exist in the world today, because everyone just omits the work of properly kerning a font because "InDesign will just do it for them lol!"

Please, for the love of dog, give us modern rocket-science AI automatic "optical" kerning. It's the ONLY thing that stops a lot of people from using your products.

I just want to set beautiful type. Today type looks like rubbish much of the time simply because of this.

Charge me another $100 for it, I don't care. I would be happy to pay.

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I had to do a test again. From an old discussion in the Adobe forum, I found this example in Gill Sans, considered particularly odd. First one is Affinity Publisher 1 with default spacing (that should be "font metrics"), the second one Publisher with no spacing control. The third one is InDesign CS6 with metrics kerning, the fourth one InDesign with optical kerning.

Surprising how Publisher's "no spacing" resembles to InDesign's "optical kerning".

 

image.thumb.png.13978565c8d6ee5448edeb6cea9476f6.png

 

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16 hours ago, Zoot said:

Yes, after years now I do not use Publisher (and by association the other Affinity products) for any serious work because of this.

Yeah, you can use only the best and most expensive well-kerned fonts after extensively validating that they will work for you, but that often isn't cost effective and eliminates the vast majority of fonts that exist in the world today, because everyone just omits the work of properly kerning a font because "InDesign will just do it for them lol!"

Please, for the love of dog, give us modern rocket-science AI automatic "optical" kerning. It's the ONLY thing that stops a lot of people from using your products.

I just want to set beautiful type. Today type looks like rubbish much of the time simply because of this.

Charge me another $100 for it, I don't care. I would be happy to pay.

I take your point. There would have been a time that Adobe didn't have optical kerning. It's a nice refinement. Typesetting during photo-setting and letterpress would have its flaws but would have been acceptable of its time. We possibly have become spoiled and we expect the best from our software producers. I still think Affinity should upgrade to better and what might now be seen as an industry standard for typesetting. There is the technical side of the argument and then the socio-economic political / ethical aspect. On principle I have decided not to continue with Adobe. I am a retired designer and design teacher. I supported Adobe as they grew. They are now THE dominant and monopolistic force within design education. My tutor has also rejected Adobe on principle. On balance I will accept a slightly less quality setting and go with Affinity as I would like to support them. The Modernist designers of post WW2 in the UK had to use what ever was available in terms of typesetting. It might not have been their desired font of choice but they accepted the constraints. I'm almost applying those constraints to myself now. They are the constraints of economics and what can be afforded by all the parties involved. When I create the colophon I will credit the software; typeface; paper; etc. people will be able to make their own judgments.

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11 hours ago, PaoloT said:

I had to do a test again. From an old discussion in the Adobe forum, I found this example in Gill Sans, considered particularly odd. First one is Affinity Publisher 1 with no "optical alignment", the second one the same with metric alignment. The third one is InDesign CS6 with metrics kerning, the fourth one the same with optical kerning.

 

image.thumb.png.6f4e1e93f6f2206c7e19a13c7dbb5a92.png

 

Thanks for these. I usually think of the optical alignment as to how the left edge looks eg the A and W might outdent more than the uprights for optical reasons. Oddly your fourth version using InDesign Optical Kerning doesn't stand out as the best. If you look at 'Way' the 'ay' seems to snuck under the 'W' better in the first three

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BTW I am writing and designing a book set in the mid 20th century. There is a great occurrence of dates starting 19. The kerning before the 1 and between the 1 and 9 is the most problematic of most kerning pairs. I kerned before and after the 1 and then copy and pasted the 19 throughout the chapter I was working on. 

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7 hours ago, Tony Pritchard said:

I usually think of the optical alignment as to how the left edge looks eg the A and W might outdent more than the uprights for optical reasons.

In the second example (Publisher with metrics alignment) the first W indeed comes a bit out of the left margin. I aligned it with the other examples to emphasize the internal kerning. Unless I misunderstand it, there is a single parameter controlling both features in Publisher.

EDIT: Apologies – no: kerning is controlled, in Publisher, by the Text > Spacing parameter. I'll fix the examples above.

Paolo

 

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22 hours ago, PaoloT said:

Surprising how Publisher's "no spacing" resembles to InDesign's "optical kerning".

The Gill Sans which comes with macOS or Windows is a bit odd - and not a good test case for kerning.
First, it has very odd negative kerning on the space character, which is why when you turn-off kerning in APub it looks more like the optical kerning.
Second, it only has 201 kerning pairs - so very minimal kerning.
These are antiquated fonts which are mainly around for compatibility sake.
They have virtually no features and are often a poor choice.
Optical kerning for these fonts is like the proverbial "lipstick on a pig."

Gill Sans MT Pro does not have this odd space character kerning quirk, and has 14,909 kerning pairs, and the word spacing looks more like the optical kerning but you still have Wa, We, Wo, and WA, etc. with proper kerning.

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1 hour ago, kenmcd said:

Gill Sans MT Pro does not have this odd space character kerning quirk, and has 14,909 kerning pairs, and the word spacing looks more like the optical kerning but you still have Wa, We, Wo, and WA, etc. with proper kerning.

Yes, the Monotype version of the font is indeed a lot more airy and harmonious, without that negative kerning after each white space. This is how a well designed font looks like!

Paolo

 

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Just to continue checking how Publisher does with the different fonts, here are other examples. The first one is Apple's Gills Sans with metric kerning, the second one Gill Sans MT Pro with metric kerning; then, Apple's Gills Sans with no kerning, and Gill Sans MT Pro with no kerning.

 

image.thumb.png.d44e730d75de1ede90216af8343dc66a.png

 

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31 minutes ago, Tony Pritchard said:

In terms of kerning the only option I see is Auto. I don't see metric – where is this?

"Auto" = metric
"0 ‰" = off

MacBookAir 15": MacOS Ventura > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // MacBookPro 15" mid-2012: MacOS El Capitan > Affinity v1 / MacOS Catalina > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // iPad 8th: iPadOS 16 > Affinity v2

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5 minutes ago, Tony Pritchard said:

Auto / metrics on definitely looks better

Of course. This is the standard.
(Unless you're still using Type 1 PostScript fonts from the last millenium, then metrics would actually be ignored as far as I recall.)

MacBookAir 15": MacOS Ventura > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // MacBookPro 15" mid-2012: MacOS El Capitan > Affinity v1 / MacOS Catalina > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // iPad 8th: iPadOS 16 > Affinity v2

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/19/2023 at 6:11 AM, Tony Pritchard said:

BTW I am writing and designing a book set in the mid 20th century. There is a great occurrence of dates starting 19. The kerning before the 1 and between the 1 and 9 is the most problematic of most kerning pairs. I kerned before and after the 1 and then copy and pasted the 19 throughout the chapter I was working on. 

7 hours ago, Tony Pritchard said:

I am doing a 300pp book and kerning manually as I go. The 1s are pretty bad. Under different circumstances not having optical kerning would be a deal breaker.

As Ken suggested, you should use a font that has OpenType proportional spacing for numerals. Apple's Gill Sans does not have these features.

If you use a font with these features then you could select Typography > Figure Width > Proportional and all your numbers would look great without manual kerning.

1103648077_Screenshot2023-04-17at3_36_19PM.png.304dd738d68f05d429a875bd6c237ccb.png

Download a free manual for Publisher 2.4 from this forum - expanded 300-page PDF

My system: Affinity 2.4.0 for macOS Sonoma 14.3.1, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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