Tag Archives: fontforge

Installing Fontforge in Snow Leopard

League Gothic Open Source font available from: http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/

As you can see, I am finally killing the old typeforge website and updating it to the blog format which is simpler to maintain. One of the reasons is that I’ve recently acquired a MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard (Mac OSX 10.6.2) and I am trying to get back into Type Design…

Which brings us to this topic, installing Fontforge correctly on Snow Leopard. The old mac step-by-step on typeforge is very incomplete… although it’s still very simple to get fontforge running (just download and install), one of the tricky things I’ve ran into in the past is getting the libray dependencies to work correctly (specially the SVG and PNG to import images and vectors).

Before continue reading you might want to check this post: http://www.typeforge.net/blog/2011/05/23/fontforge-binaries/

Wait, library what?… that’s the usual question Mac owner students ask. These are necessary files that fontforge needs in order to handle background image import, vector import from illustrator, etc…

The thing is, when installing in Cygwin/Windows, the installer took care of it, but on the Mac, these libraries have to be installed manually. There goes the theory of Macintosh being simpler… So, if you have a Mac and you want to have Fontforge up-and-running smoothly, this is my attempt to shed some light into George Williams (very complete) install tutorial:

  1. Make sure you have the latest X11 and XCode installed – pick up your install DVDs and check the packages;
  2. Point your browser to http://www.macports.org/. Download and install it;
  3. Then browse Fontforge’s dependencies page: http://fontforge.sourceforge.net/source-build.html#Dependencies. Choose the ones you need (I’ve actually installed more than I needed). But how? (Continue reading);
  4. Start X11. Xterm should start automatically (that white command line window).
  5. Type the following command for each library you need – “port search potrace” – (to search for potrace, for example). Caution: not all libraries have the same name as in the fontforge dependencies page… So, try the following – libpng, tiff, libungif, jpeg, libxml2, freetype, cairo and pango;
  6. If the search command returns the desired results, then, for each one, run the following command – “sudo port install potrace” – for Potrace for example. Repeat for each library package… freetype, pango and cairo took a while…
  7. And that’s it. Now run Fontforge from the applications menu, or type the command “fontforge” in the Xterm command line window. Alternatively you can customize the X11 Applications menu under “customize”.

Hope this works for you as it is working for me…

Typeforge Project Description

This project focuses on the development of complete fonts using Fontforge, and Type Design Documents on how to design fonts from scratch to an advanced level.
It aims that everyone involved can and will learn more about typography and type developing in a collaborative method. It will provide the fonts and the font files regularly to users, developers and anyone with an interest in type.
What are you waiting for? Get involved! Register now!

It is also a good provider of general type related information and news as well as an excelent links resource. Check out the Links Section.

Get Involved!

Typeforge Collaboration Scheme

We are in constant need of collaboration – Type Design, Font Testers, Critics and Document Writers. Your collaboration is precious. Why don´t you Get Involved? Register an account to start participating and start enjoying all the bennefits!

To find out how you can help out or get the most out of this project, pedamado [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • Type Design – Someone who can use Fontforge (or wants to learn to use this or other program like Fontlab) and works with our font files improving, redrawing and/or questioning our designs.
  • Font Testers – Someone who wants to tryout our fonts, create type specimens sheets our use it in odd jobs.
  • Critics – “Everyone is a critic!” Not interely true, but… someone who is interested in type design and who can produce construtive critic about our designs, website or just do general type critic.
  • Document Writers – Last but not least. Document Writers (almost everyone who will join the project) is someone who can add some kind of contribuition to the website. Discover new links to the Links Section, Create How-to Documents, Create Design Tips… etc. If you have something usefull to say about type design it should be here!


The main goal of this project is to design usable typefaces in the most professional way using open source software (Fontforge) an learn how to design type professionally in the making. The secondary objective is to make all this happen in a collaborative way. So what are you waiting for? Get Involved – Register now.

Phase One
– A working type specimen

  • Uppercase hinted “skeleton” to test proportions;
  • Get it right to use on screen and to serve as central “light weight” hinted guidelines;

Phase Two – A full working typeface

  • Numerals;
  • Diacritics;
  • Hints;
  • Lowercase;
  • Hints;

Phase Three – A full working font

  • First Multiplemaster Axis – weight;
  • Produce an Uppercase, Lowercase, Numerals and Diacritcs hinted “skeleton” to test proportions – this should be relatively easy if the central “light weight” arg. 1.1 works well;
  • Get the hints right (by now this should be easy);

Phase Three
– Completing the font

  • Second Multiplemaster Axis – Width;
  • Produce an Uppercase, Lowercase, Numerals and Diacritcs hinted “skeleton” to test proportions;
  • Get the hints right;

Phase Four
– Getting the familly toghether for dinner!

  • 2 Axis Multiplemaster – blend it and hope everything works out;
  • Generate 5×5 Opentype matrix font(s).
  • Repeat it all over and over again until there is a solid knowledge on type design and use of Fontforge. Maybe this thay will come in under 2 years time?

Phase Five – Expanding the familly.

  • Create new typefaces (Historical or New)
  • Repeat it all over and over again until there is a solid knowledge on type design.


Right now the project is Administered only by me (Pedro Amado). Nevertheless we accept all collaborations. So what are you waiting for? Get Involved!

This is a project that “evolved” from the old website – LiveType Project (Sourceforge). But, in order to avoid legal issues, we had to change it’s name to Typeforge and update the website structure to support multi-collaborations and an upcoming forum.

Project Admins:
Pedro Amado [PT]
pedamado [at] gmail [dot] com

(Originally published on 2005-11-08)

Changing Fontforge background color

How to change Fontforge’s application window background color.
It’s more or less easy, but in the end you can preview your Type Designs against a better contrast background.
For me at least, I like to see the resuts better against a white background.

First you need to create a file called .Xdefaults on your home directory

Then, edit it with the following line:
Gdraw.Background: #FFFFFF

This will change the Background to (Hex) RGB White.

Then open Fontforge. Navigate to Menu File: Preferences and edit the ResourceFile field pointing it to your .Xdefaults file
Eg. /home/Pedro Amado/.Xdefaults

Restart Fontforge and that’s it! White Background Windows

(Originally published on 2006-04-22)


Sometimes you boot Cygwin, try to start-up X by invoking the “$ startx” command and you get this annoying message:

This problem is probably due to using incompatible versions of the cygwin DLL. Search for cygwin1.dll using the Windows Start->Find/Search facility and delete all but the most recent version.  The most recent version *should* reside in x:\cygwin\bin, where ‘x’ is the drive on which you have installed the cygwin distribution.  Rebooting is also suggested if you are unable to find another cygwin DLL.

cygwin1.dll error - incompatible versions of the cygwin DLL

You look for a duplicate cygwin1.dll and nothing shows up!… (hurray for windows search…)
Here’s my quickfix:
First of all you really have a duplicate cygwin1.dll.

One in the right place:

And another in the wrong place…

Don’t worry if actually don’t see the dll inside the system32 folder, THAT IS the problem (I faked things a bit to do the printscreens)

First, navigate to your computer drive into th System32 folder inside the Windows folder:


Then turn on the option to see invisible files. It should appear.
If it doesn’t work (like it happened to me) use a file manager from another program like Filezilla (the FTP manager) and turn on the option to see invisible files.

Filezilla see invisible files

Navigate to that folder and then locate the duplicate and delete it from the System32 folder:

Filezilla navigate to system32 folder inside Windows system

Remove the cygwin1.dll from the system32 folder using Filezilla file manager:

Remove the cygwin1.dll from the system32 folder using Filezilla file manager

(Originally published on 2007-09-14, updated on 2007-11-08)

Installing Fontforge on Linux (Fedora Core 3)

There’s nothing to it.
Just follow the most simple steps described below.

  1. Just download the .rpm from Fedora Core Server (Official Stable Package):


  2. Double-click it and let the file roller install it.

  3. Go to your Applications panel > Graphics > Fontforge.

  4. Run it! It’s the easiest way. Even simpler than on the Mac!

(Originally published on 2005-11-02, updated on 2006-02-07)