This tutorial was written by Howard Penner and is published here with his permission.
It was a little more than a year ago that a close friend pointed me to Vector Magic. A very short e-mail. The subject was “Have U Seen” and the content was a link to the once existing Vector Magic site at Stanford. My friend knew I had been playing with vector generation/tracing applications for over 15 years. Both of us had yet to find one that provided a tracing quality that actually saved time as compared to hand tracing using the pen tool. When I saw the term “rotational invariance” on the web site I smiled. I then saw the examples and I knew good things were coming.
At first it was only a web application and very limited in the size of the image that could be uploaded and processed. I put together a set of 20 images of all types and uploaded them to the server, one at a time, over and over, making sure to try each of the settings. These were a varied set of bitmap images of flat color logos, line drawings, litho and intaglio prints, photos, watercolors, and oil paintings. All of the vector output that I downloaded was exceptional.
It has changed the way I work and has greatly enlarged the volume of work I am able to do in the same amount of time. Do not let your clients know that you use this, or how much it helps you to respond to their potentially peripetia prone preferences.
Using the desktop version of Vector Magic, as well as Photoshop, Illustrator and Fontographer, or their equivalents, this tutorial will show you how to take a scan of an alphabet (a page from a 100-year-old book on font design) and convert it to a usable, if not fully set-up, TrueType font. If you do not have Fontographer, you can still use this procedure to generate vectors from imagery other than letter shapes. The individual letters will still need to be hand kerned at final layout to get optimum results. However, when used for headlines, banners, and short lists, this can be a real time saver and allows access to custom and ancient fonts with reasonable processing and editing time. This tutorial presupposes a familiarity with the computer desktop and basic usage of graphics applications.
It is my hope that you will find this tutorial to be enjoyable and, possibly, informative.
— Howard Penner, Free-Lance Graphicist
This tutorial describes how to create a truetype font from a bitmap image or scan of a printed alphabet of the font.
The source material for this tutorial is an old book of decorative fonts, but it can apply just as easily to any scan or bitmap of a font. This tutorial describes the entire process, from scanning, to vectorizing to creating the font itself.
Unlike our other tutorials on this site, this tutorial is in the form of a PDF document. There are also a several other downloads associated with this tutorial. They are:
Your image had transparency in it, so it has been flattened on a white background.
The Desktop Edition has full transparency support.
Your image was very large, so it has been shrunk to a reasonable size.
You can configure Pre-Crop in the Settings dialog.
The Desktop Edition does not have this limitation.
While the online editor is a very powerful tool, don't overdo it. If you need to do massive edits, it's probably better to work in a vector editor.
You can do a maximum of 1,000 edits. Further edits will be lost.
Select a color above, then use the eye-dropper on the image to change it.
Scan or drawing?
Spots between edges?
Extremely jagged edges?
Detail level Instructions
The purpose of this page is to let you manually correct segmentation mistakes made by Vector Magic. The segmentation is the crude partitioning of the image into pieces that are then smoothed to produce the final vector art.
Flip between the original bitmap, the segmentation and the vectorized result to see where there are errors.
Sometimes the finer details are not recovered automatically and you get a pinching effect in the result. The Finder can help point out some of these tricky areas - you need to edit the pixels so that the region you are interested in has a clear path.
Sometimes there are remnants of anti-aliasing left in the segmentation. The Zap tool helps you here by splitting a segment into pieces and merging these with the neighboring segments.
Try it out! You can always undo or reset your edits.
Edits made are saved to the server when you hit Next. Edits will be lost if you leave or reload this page before saving.
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error analyzing your image:
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error vectorizing your image:
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error fetching your image's segmentation.
This should be temporary, please try again in a few seconds.