Monday, July 15, 2013

Single line fonts - the options

A large amount of digital fonts is available for free on the web. One challenge with these fonts using a plotter is that the standard font formats (True Type .ttf and Open Type .otf) are defined by its outline. These outline paths are closed paths and the format require closed paths. When I use my plotter for writing text I will typically prefer to draw the centerline (single line) not the outline. The centerline is typically an open path and are therefore not accepted by the ttf/otf format.
Here I have tried to list the options that I have found on the web when trying to overcome this problem.

Single line, open path fonts with a temporary closing

To make an open path, single line font available in the .ttf/.otf the paths can be closed temporarely. Then the paths just need to be opened before plotted. have written a series on the topic single line fonts. She links to Rhinoceros where these fonts can be downloaded (go to paragraph #2). This image from Cut Two Pieces also demonstrate the difference between the temporary closed paths (before) and the open paths (after).

The opening of the path can be done in Inkscape with a simple extension. I wrote the unclosePath extension and later discovered that a closeoff_v47 extension already existed sligtly different. I have written a simple tutorial for this. From the same site with the closeoff extension there is a single line closed font available, the SD Stroke.
SD Stroke avilable from

I also found one such font at McNeel Wiki. This MecSoft font-1 is shown below.
Temporary closed font from McNeel Wiki
I have also a tutorial on how to make your own single line fonts and you can download one of mine single line fonts.

The developers of Make-the-Cut software has come up with the workaround for open path fonts. For the temporary closed single line font of .ttf format, the extension could be changed to .opf (Open Path Font). The MTC software recognize these fonts by their extension and knows not to close the paths when rendered.

I do not have the MTC software, but this is how I am able to use these fonts using Inkscape:

  • Change the extension (.opf) back to .ttf and install the font
  • Use the Inkscape-extension described above to re-open the paths.
Lettering Delights have a lot of these .opf fonts available. Beautiful fonts, but not for free. Under a Cherry Tree have an inspiring post on how to use these fonts with th MTC software. With the Inkscape extensions described above I can do the same with my Silhouette Studio in combination with Inkscape. also have a few .opf fonts available. Neither these are for free. The letters a-d can be downloaded for trial before purchase to see that it is working with your software.

Hershey fonts

Hershey fonts are a collection of vector fonts developed by Dr. A.V. Hershey in the 60's. The fonts are free to use, but the font format is not accepted by most softwares. You can use the fonts in Inkscape through this extension. Only two 1-stroke (single line) fonts are available.

Stick fonts

The stick fonts are fonts having an overlapping outline and thus look like single line. The plotter will draw all glyphs twice (forth and back). This will take more time and might cause the pens to last shorter(?) If these fonts should be used with rhinestones the glyphs will have to be manually edited to make the path single. Cut Two Pieces show in a video how she solves this. I'm thinking about writing an Inkscape extension for this to automate that process.

A set of 9 fonts called CamBam Stick Fonts are available for free. The image below show the three fonts from this set that I like (i.e. the script fonts).
The CamBam Stick Fonts #5,6 and 8.
Searching for hairline, handwritten or single line fonts on webpages like or might give you fonts that could work pretty well for gel pens. Cleversomeday have tested some of these fonts here.

Single line alphas

Alphas are single character graphics (in this case vector graphics). To create text these has to be combined glyph by glyph graphically not by typing text from your keyboard like for a font. I have a tutorial on how to convert these alphas to a font. 

Here is an alpha from Paper Pulse. She has used the RapidResizer to convert from raster to vector graphics. This online tool is able to search the centerline instead of the outline. This is a function that is missing in Inkscape.

An alpha from paper Pulse.

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