February '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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5 6 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 NATIVE FONTS, STITCH FILES, AND CONVERSION T hough even the most humble edit- ing and compositing software will include tools for laying out type to be used alone or composited with existing designs, font selection and procurement can also be a sore spot with new users of digitizing software, particularly in the light of the assumed possibility of customiza- tion. Embroidery fonts are, like working files, only usable in the software suite in which they were created, with none of the interoperability print fonts have con- ditioned us to expect. Each letter is like a design unto itself, often composed of sev- eral objects in sequence and specifically created to be scalable for embroidery. The intense amount of labor necessary to create an embroidery font and the lock-in to a single platform means that there is nowhere near the astronomical number of choices and free options that you can find in the world of print. Digitizers, often in the craft world, also sell fonts consisting of stitch files for each character. These fonts are either used by importing and aligning each character's file or by using specialty embroidery font- mapping software to assign files to key- board input. Even so, mapped stitch file fonts cannot be easily sized unless your software can recalculate stitch files, and the stitch-file glyphs cannot be separated into editable objects, but are rather in- tended to be used at the digitized scale. Some suites convert true type glyphs into working-file shapes, but the results are mixed and often require editing to be as consistent or attractive as a profes- sionally-produced native font. Aside from personalization or original creations, most customers have existing logo art and will not tolerate even closely matched fonts. You are better off treating the glyphs in logotypes as any other shapes, digitizing them manually. DIGITIZING BASICS Above is a direct TrueType conversion, below is a digitized sample of the same lettering. In the above, there are fairly major flaws in the way columns overlap and how stitch angles are handled. In several places, there are uncompensated seams that will show the base fabric at junctions, satin columns drawing to tiny points in the middle of a glyph, or strange inconsistent stitch angles, even when dealing with a simple sans-serif typeface. Clockwise from top left: Inputting a curve with spline tools is extremely simple, but can take a great deal of points to arrive at a shape. The shapes can be somewhat inefficient, but for novice digi- tizers or non-designers, it can make the process less difficult than learning to use Bezier curves. ¶ On the left you see the bare vector-like drawn shapes that make up each object with the nodes. In the center, we can see stitch-specific signifiers and handles. On the right is the processed stitches creat- ed by these objects. ¶ At the top you'll see a spline-entry curve. Each point shown is a curve point and the curve approximates a smooth path that intersects all the points. On the bottom is a Bezier curve, which could have been drawn with fewer points. ¶ The side-to-side inputs of this satin column input create not only the outline shapes, but the initial perpendicular stitch angles needed to create a radi- ally turning satin stitch, but leave the ends as open, flat lines to denote the first and final stitch angles.

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