Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • 1 year later...

Now that Google Font's new interface allows one to filter to show only variable fonts, we may now be at the beginning of where variable fonts start to gain critical mass. In fact, browser support is now just shy of 90% of worldwide users, according to https://caniuse.com/#feat=variable-fonts.

I'm not quite ready yet to start using them in my web design, but we are a lot closer than I realized. As for layout work, where, unlike web design, I do not need to be concerned of the software support of what other people are using, I suspect I would use them rather heavily in Publisher if it were possible. It certainly is an exciting possibility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
  • 7 months later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I am now switching over to variable fonts on the web, and I realise how valuable it is to use the weight axis (and optical axis, where the font has it) to find the ‘sweet spot‘ for text and headlines in each situation. It‘s frustrating not being able to do the same in print (if I’m using 440 on the web, 400 or 500 are not matches in print). I’m thinking that it may be a matter of moving back to Adobe for a while until Affinity catches up with this. I don‘t want to do this, but it’s becoming a must-have feature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/11/2021 at 4:55 AM, jamessouttar said:

It‘s frustrating not being able to do the same in print (if I’m using 440 on the web, 400 or 500 are not matches in print).

Can you explain to me why this is so important? If I view a document or image in a web browser on my laptop or on my phone I expect a somewhat different experience. The same goes for printed documents. DPI on a screen is different from DPI on a printed page. I am curious what all the fuss is about with variable fonts. I have no experience with them.

Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

Can you explain to me why this is so important?

In the futur, old fonts won't be compatible with new OS.

You can buy a whole family font if, like me, you'd rather use one with more than regular, italic, bold and bold-italic... but buying new fonts and licences for each computer have a cost. Why not, for the same price for this font, not get the variable ones?

You'll have the classical settings, but if you find the condensed one "too condensed", you'll be able to modify it. Without needing to install 90 fonts, but only 1 file.
You want the same "feeling" while reading the print version and the web site, but the settings in the web site need the font to be a little bit larger to better legibility? It'll be easy with the variable font, and people won't notice unless they compare screen and paper (but from experience, not everyone will notice).

 

Another problem: imagine you're working in a team, and this magazine's template original text styles use more than regular and italic for a font. But the archive/package you were given only contain regular and italic of the main font since the document didn't used all the text styles available. You'll have to ask for the needed fonts, or install them or use a third party app for this if you don't use variable fonts, if you need to use text styles with different specificities.
If the package contains a variable font, no problem.

 

Have you ever use a service like Typekit? I tend to only install the specific font and variants I need, to avoid cluttering my computer. But sometimes  I end up needing more variants, or need to select another font if the one I choose first miss them. I wouldn't have this problem with variable fonts.

For now, old fonts are compatible with our systems, but the day we'll have to buy new versions of our fonts, or use services like Typekit/Monotype fonts, it's best to search what are the best options.

 

And on a personal point of view, I read about variable fonts in the 90' when I was a student, and having them existing now, 30 years later is a dream come true! 🤩 (at the time, we were also switching from a technology to another one... it also take nearly a decade and new OS.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks @Wosven for your explanation. I should have been more clear: I know what a variable font is, and I see their use. I have not personally used them, so am curious what the fuss is about them.

29 minutes ago, Wosven said:

In the futur, old fonts won't be compatible with new OS.

I am sure that somebody will make a converter. I imagine they already exist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

I am sure that somebody will make a converter. I imagine they already exist.

But licences specifie you can't modify the files provided. That's why in a professional environment you'll avoid this, if your work go beyond the local area, and you need a lot of licences.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I just started to test Affinity Designer and realized that i can't use my companies font because it's a variable font.
I'm afraid we'll have to stick to Adobe in stead of buying Affinity's Designer, Publisher and Photo.

The first post i found that asked for variable fonts was from august 2018, so i'm afraid we'll never see this in Affinity.
What a pitty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/17/2021 at 7:48 AM, LondonSquirrel said:

I am curious what all the fuss is about with variable fonts

If the only thing people are adjusting is the font weight and possibly slant, then their primary advantage is in the web domain: if your site calls for a specific font to be downloaded, without this feature, you download a light version of the font, a normal-weight version of the font, a bold version of the font, an italic version of the font...  that chews up bandwidth and thus slows down the page load time, plus can be a problem for people on metered connections (where they might pay by the byte).  With a variable font, you download one font and have all of them, so it can reduce page load times (resulting in a faster site) and reduce the burden on those with limited download capacity.

For print, it can save disk space, but beyond that it allows for finer control of the parameters it offers.

However, the technology can allow the fonts to be customized in ways other than just weight and slant if the font is designed to allow for it.  The problem right now is that there are few apps taking them seriously enough for the font vendors to put much effort into offering other parameters that could have provided a much more rich set of ways to customize the shape of the fonts.  Currently the focus seems to be on weight and slant - but more would be possible if the technology were actually being taken seriously outside of its primary benefits for the web.

 

Here is a site with demos of a number of such fonts: https://v-fonts.com

A few of the fonts offer a "width" option to create narrow/wide flavorings.

At least one of them (Belarius Var) has an option to control serifs, allowing one font to morph between being a serif font and being a sans-serif font.

Another (Whirly Birdie & Whirlybats) has an "Animation" parameter that you can drag back and forth to animate the characters of the font (not useful for that purpose in print, but still shows some creativity and demonstrates that there is potential to do a lot more with this technology than most people currently seem to realize).

There are one or two others with some creative parameters as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, fde101 said:

Currently the focus seems to be on weight and slant

I think this is where my 'curiosity' has come from. I've seen a few examples of altered weight and slant and sort of said to myself: And? So?

Sure, altering weight and slant can be useful. And custom fonts can be interesting. But I was a bit underwhelmed with what I saw. Perhaps if I saw something really impressive with variable fonts that could not reasonably be replicated in many cases using 'ordinary' fonts I would change my opinion. 

To be clear, I am not saying variable fonts are not useful. No doubt other people who have spent a bit more time with them have opinions which are worth more than mine.

1 hour ago, fde101 said:

For print, it can save disk space

I don't see that being a problem these days. Meanwhile Affinity, for example, installs universal binaries which waste gigs of space. That's worth a few thousands of fonts. 😁

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 10/17/2021 at 8:35 AM, LondonSquirrel said:

Thanks @Wosven for your explanation. I should have been more clear: I know what a variable font is, and I see their use. I have not personally used them, so am curious what the fuss is about them.

I am sure that somebody will make a converter. I imagine they already exist.

I don't think your 'imagination' is quite accurate.  I have not seen any 'converters'.  Probably because the technologies are very different.  Better to stay with one technology, best if you use the currently most useful.

RickyO
APhADe and APu user
New User as of Mar, 2018
(Still stumbling along given too many directions at any given moment)
Windows10 platform

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/28/2021 at 6:10 AM, LondonSquirrel said:

I think this is where my 'curiosity' has come from. I've seen a few examples of altered weight and slant and sort of said to myself: And? So?

Sure, altering weight and slant can be useful. And custom fonts can be interesting. But I was a bit underwhelmed with what I saw. Perhaps if I saw something really impressive with variable fonts that could not reasonably be replicated in many cases using 'ordinary' fonts I would change my opinion. 

To be clear, I am not saying variable fonts are not useful. No doubt other people who have spent a bit more time with them have opinions which are worth more than mine.

I don't see that being a problem these days. Meanwhile Affinity, for example, installs universal binaries which waste gigs of space. That's worth a few thousands of fonts. 😁

Review: 

 

RickyO
APhADe and APu user
New User as of Mar, 2018
(Still stumbling along given too many directions at any given moment)
Windows10 platform

Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, RickyO said:

Probably because the technologies are very different.

Variable fonts are an extension of OpenType fonts, are they not? It seems that FontLab can do this: 'https://help.fontlab.com/fontlab/7/manual/Creating-a-Variable-Font-(example)/'. If FontLab can do it, no doubt other software can too. It doesn't matter if the technologies are different - that is the point of a converter. It's how you can take in a JPG and export a TIFF.

I had a quick look at the video you sent. It's too long for me to watch all of it. Sure I can see that variable fonts have their uses, but at the same time I didn't see anything which could not be achieved with existing fonts. If they are this magic new thing, show me some magic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately it’s not as simply as converting a JPG to a TIFF. You can’t export/convert the variations within a variable font to new fonts (otf, ttf) without the original source files (ufo, glyphs, etc).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

Unfortunately it’s not as simply as converting a JPG to a TIFF. You can’t export/convert the variations within a variable font to new fonts (otf, ttf) without the original source files (ufo, glyphs, etc).

Did you follow the FontLab link? FontLab seem to have other ideas. Quote: 'Creating Variations from a Set of Fonts. To create a font with multiple font masters from a set of existing single-master fonts, open all the single-master fonts in FontLab and do one of the following:'

This is not some kind of weird magic. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Please note there is currently a delay in replying to some post. See pinned thread in the Questions forum. These are the Terms of Use you will be asked to agree to if you join the forum. | Privacy Policy | Guidelines | We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.