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Editing the space between pairs of glyphs

Franz avatar
Written by Franz
Updated over a week ago

⚠️ First, MAKE SURE TO SPENT MOST EFFORTS ON SPACING to avoid having to create too many kerning pairs.

Once you've properly spaced your characters, it's time to optimize the spacing around specific pairs of characters. Click on the buttons Advanced and Kerning.

The Advanced Kerning view

The view includes 3 different parts:

  • The Kerning Pad - an editable text preview at the top where you can also interactively edit kerning values

  • The Live Preview - an editable text preview at the bottom - to see the impact of your changes on a set of predefined common kerning pairs.

  • The Table of Kerning Values - on the right - to edit all the glyphs' kerning pairs. This part can also display a list of Kerning Groups.

Smart Kerning, the fast track 😎 

Since version 3.5, Fontself Maker lets you kern your entire font in one click with the Smart Kerning. Here is what you get when you click on Smart in the tool bar:

Depending on what you need, Fontself Maker lets you automatically:

  • Groups your glyphs into Kerning Groups

  • Identify and calculate all needed Kerning Pairs

  • Do both by once

You can run Smart Kerning on your entire font, or if you want, only a glyph subset (Uppercase, Lowercase,...) or even just on the glyphs you typed in the Kerning Pad.

Manual Kerning 101

As some pairs of letters remain inharmonious as you space your glyphs, you must manually fix each pair. One approach to solve this task is to look at a common kerning pairs along with a couple other glyphs that serve a control characters to define the rhythm you want to match: like nnav for lowercase, HHAV  for uppercase.

  • In the Kerning Pad, scroll through the list of the most common kerning pairs, click on the last letter of each word and adjust the space, so that the volume of space between the last two characters visually matches the volume of space between nn  or HH.

  • On this screen, just mind to NOT adjust kerning between the control characters.

To create and modify kerning pairs, you can interactively move glyphs (the quick way) or edit table values (the precise way).

Quick kerning

First, search for visual misplacements in the left side preview text. 

Once you've found a specific pair of letters that requires custom spacing, type some text in the Kerning Pad to display the kerning pairs you want to adjust visually (you can also copy/paste specific words from the bottom left preview). 

Then click on the second glyph of the pair that needs adjustment and modifiy their relative spacing (the kerning value):

  • You can either click & drag the vertical bar

  • or you can press Left/Right arrow keys on your keyboard (using the Shift + Letf/Right keys will increment values by 10)

This will automatically create or edit the kerning pair and update it to the bottom right kerning table.

Precise kerning

To enter specific kerning values or create a new kerning pair without having to manually interact with a glyph, simply enter the exact characters and values in the kerning table.

All changes will automatically be updated in all previews. 

Just remember to save these changes by reexporting your font (note that it's always worth keeping backup files of different font file versions). 

Quick tip: need to edit a specific kerning pair? Don't scroll the table to find it: just enter the first character in the Filter text field at the bottom right.

Kerning alternates

To adjust the values of any specific alternate, you can either click on a glyph in the Kerning Pad and pick a variant for a visual adjustment, or just enter any character in the Kerning table and pick from the alternates list. 

For alternates that feature similar shapes (like color variants), it is recommended to leverage kerning groups so all the alternates' kerning values are automatically set to match their parent's glyph. 

Kerning import

You can now bring all the kerning pairs & groups from another font file into your current typeface. More details in this article.

Potential kerning issues

Kerning pairs are missing or not showing up

Preview issue when kerning alternates

Due to a bug in Chromium (which runs extensions on Adobe's apps), kerning applied to alternate glyphs will not show up in the main preview. In the Advanced views, the kerning will however show up ok as we developed our own text rendering engine for this part of the UI, and the kerning will also be ok when used in other apps.

Editing kerning is slow, freezes or keeps spinning?

Next step: work at light-speed with Kerning Groups 

Once you're ready to optimize the space around your characters, click the button Groups to step further into Kerning Groups.

Special thanks to Robert Bell for allowing us to showcase his Chromage bold font in the sample screenshots.

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