Anchors and Pins»
Anchors are a special type of point, represented by default as a red rhombus with their name attached to it, that can be used to attach glyphs to each other at specified positions. The most common use of anchors is to attach or position diacritics to base characters. They can be added, removed, moved or renamed.
All the anchors you add in a font can be viewed and managed in the Anchors and Pins panel. Anchors work on glyphs, while Pins work similarly, but on Elements. When an anchor is selected, you can see its properties not only in the Anchors and Pins panel, but also in the Property bar of the Glyph Window.
To add an anchor, use one of the following methods:
Choose the option Add Anchor from the Glyph menu;
Ctrl-click anywhere in the empty space of the editing field and select the Add Anchor command from the context popup menu;
Select the Guides tool (G key) and then Ctrl-click anywhere in the drawing area to create an anchor.
If you create anchors using the first two methods above, FontLab will automatically name the first four anchors you create as “top”, “bottom”, “left”, “right” and place them accordingly in the glyph advance width. Any anchors you create after this will be placed in the middle of the glyph advance width and be named a5, a6 and so on. On the other hand if you use the Guides tool, the default name of the anchor will depend on where you Ctrl-click in the glyph advance width. Based on location, the anchor will be called “top”, “bottom”, “left”, “right” and “centre,” with numbers appended to the name if you add more than one anchor in a particular location.
To rename an anchor, click on its name, type a new name and hit the Enter key to complete. Notice that on mouse hover, an underline appears below the anchor’s name. An anchor can also be renamed by selecting it in the Anchors and Pins panel and typing into the Name field.
To remove an anchor, click on it to select it and press Backspace or Del on your keyboard. You can also remove an anchor through the Anchors and Pins panel: select the anchor in the panel and click on the – button.
Activated anchors are used in generating composite glyphs, auto glyphs and the
mkmk OpenType features, while deactivated anchors are not used for these purposes. To activate/deactivate an anchor, click on the rhombus icon to the left of its name in the Anchors and Pins panel. Activated anchors are shown with their icons filled, while deactivated ones are outline only. To activate/deactivate all anchors for the current glyph, go to the corresponding list and use the buttons in the panel’s local toolbar.
Using Anchors to Build Composites»
The main purpose of anchors is to show FontLab how to generate composite glyphs and the mark/mkmk OpenType features.
You can define a composite glyph using Element > Add Element Reference at any time, but that operation creates “fixed” composites and you would need to perform it manually for every composite glyph you want to create. For composites that consist of a base glyph and one or more “accent” glyphs this operation may take a lot of time. In contrast, with anchors you can create “virtual” composites, which can be converted to the fixed state at any time with the Glyph > Generate Glyphs command.
To define a virtual composite, you need to define pairs of anchors in the base and the accent glyph. Each pair of anchor names must match by the “underscore rule”: for each base anchor, there must be a corresponding accent anchor with the same name except that it starts with an underscore. So if there is a base anchor named “top” in the base glyph, there must be an accent anchor named “_top” in the accent glyph. FontLab will now be able to match these two anchors and create a virtual composite by snapping them to each other.
In our example, we have called the anchors “top”, “_top”, “bottom” and “_bottom”, but other names can be used, provided that they match by the underscore rule (e.g. “ogonek” and “_ogonek”). Remember that in in each pair of anchor names, the base anchor always has the name without the underscore, while the name of the accent anchor always starts with the underscore.
To create a virtual composite:
- First, open the base glyph, e.g. “o”:
Insert the base anchors in this glyph. To add anchor points, use the Glyph > Add Anchor menu command or Add Anchor command from the Glyph window context menu, and set the names of the anchors accordingly. In our example, we create one base anchor “top”, to which the accent anchor “_top” will be linked, and one base anchor “bottom”, to which the accent anchor “_bottom” will be linked.
- Now add matching anchors in the accent glyphs. Open one of the accent glyphs. Add the accent anchor “_top” where it connects to the “top” base anchor:
Add an accent anchor named “_bottom” at the point in the accent glyph where it will be linked to the “bottom” base anchor in the base glyph.
- Use the Glyph > Generate Glyphs command to convert to fixed state.
Make sure the relative position of the corresponding anchors is consistent because they need to snap to each other to create the composite. Also, it doesn’t always make sense to place all types of anchors to all glyphs – it really depends on the desired character set of your font.
Viewing the Anchor Cloud»
FontLab can display all the matching diacritical marks to the anchors in a base glyph, in the form of an anchor cloud. Use View > Anchor Cloud or the View panel to show/side the anchor cloud.
Pins are a special type of point, represented by default as a blue circle with their name attached to it, that can be used to attach Elements to each other at specified positions. Pins work the same way for Element references that anchors work for glyphs. Like Anchors, Pins can be added, removed, moved or renamed.
All the pins you add in a font can be viewed and managed in the Anchors and Pins panel. When a pin is selected, you can see its properties not only in the Anchors and Pins panel, but also in the Property bar of the Glyph Window.
To add a pin, use one of the following methods:
Select an element and use the Element > New Pin menu;
Select the Guides tool (G key) and then Alt-click anywhere in the drawing area to create a pin.
A new pin will be created and placed in the middle of the element bounding box. By default, the first pin will be named “p1.”
To rename a pin, click on its name, type a new name and hit the Enter key to complete. Notice that on mouse hover, an underline appears below the pin’s name. An anchor can also be renamed by selecting it in the Anchors and Pins panel and typing into the Name field.
To move a pin, select the Contour or Element tool and then drag the pin to the location of your choice. Note that when the mouse cursor approaches a pin, it becomes highlighted.
To remove a pin, click on it to select it and press Backspace or Del on your keyboard. You can also remove a pin through the Anchors and Pins panel: select the pin in the panel and click on the – button.
Activated Pins are used for positioning Element references in a glyph, while deactivated pins are not. In such a case the reference is placed at its default position. To activate/deactivate a pin, click on the circle icon to the left of its name in the Anchors and Pins panel. Activated pins are shown with their icons filled, while deactivated ones are outline only. To activate/deactivate all pins for the current glyph, go to the corresponding list and use the buttons in the panel’s local toolbar.