Using Sketchboard»

The Sketchboard is a new type of window in FontLab VI. The Sketchboard is an infinite sheet of virtual paper, on which you can organize your graphical assets: sketches, scans, bitmap and outline graphics (monochrome or color). The Sketchboard can also be used for multiple Frames of sample texts and sizes using fonts which you are currently developing. In fact, the Frames on the Sketchboard can be converted into Glyph windows, and back — they’re actually the same internally. You can edit glyphs within the frames on the Sketchboard as if you were in the Glyph window.

By default, the Sketchboard window opens every time you start FontLab. You can turn this off in Preferences > General using the Open Sketchboard at startup option.

To open the Sketchboard window if it is closed, select Window > Open Sketchboard. To delete everything from the Sketchboard, select Window > Clear Sketchboard.

Importing Drawings to the Sketchboard»

To import artwork to the Sketchboard, select the File > Import > Artwork command. FontLab allows you to import bitmap images in all major image formats, and drawings in EPS, SVG and AI formats. Select one or several files in the standard File Open dialog box that has opened up and click on Open. Imported images will appear on the Sketchboard each as a separate element. Use commands from the Elements menu to process the images further.

Using the Text Frames on the Sketchboard»

In order to use text frames you must have at least one font open in FontLab. Open an existing font, switch to the Sketchboard window (or tab) and select the Text tool in the main Toolbar and click anywhere in the Sketchboard. The default text frame with the words “Hello world!” will appear using glyphs from the font you have opened.

Type your own text here in the frame using the keyboard or paste text from the clipboard. The text frame has its own toolbar where you can change the text size and font. Surely it exposes only fonts opened in FontLab. Changing the font for your text may be useful if you have the font family opened or when you are comparing two opened fonts.

To remove the text frame, click on the close button in its upper left corner.

As in the Glyph window, you can change text wrapping for the text frames on the Sketchboard. You can view them as a continuous string, a rectangular block or as a table where each character appears in a cell. Use these buttons on the frame toolbar or Text > Wrap menu to switch the text wrapping.

You also can lock/unlock the frame with the Lock button. The text in the locked frame cannot be changed, but you can still change the form of the frame or remove the frame.

The last button on the frame toolbar will convert the frame to a new Glyph window with the same text.

Using the Sketchboard for Editing Glyphs»

Use the Sketchboard to start working on your new font design or to experiment with the drawing tools. There is no need to open a font or to create empty glyphs. Run FontLab and start drawing in the Sketchboard window immediately. Later, you can easily drag-drop your drawings to your font.

On the other hand, if you have your font open you can use the Sketchboard for glyph contours and metrics editing. Just create the text frame as we described earlier, select the Contour tool in the Toolbar, double-click on the glyph you want to edit and zoom in close enough to make your changes.

While you are editing one glyph in the text you can see other glyphs change as well if they share the same elements.

Copying elements from the Sketchboard to font»

The Sketchboard is a good place for working with scanned images. You can import a large image with your handwriting here, trace and split it into smaller parts (elements) and then drag and drop these elements into your new font. You will find all the details about working with images in the Preparing Bitmap Artwork and Importing Artwork sections. Here is the description of the final operation for manually putting glyph elements into the font:

  1. Select the Element tool in the main Toolbar.
  2. Open the Font Map panel and make sure the glyph cells are visible.
  3. Move the mouse pointer over the current element in the Sketchboard and when it shows the small red circle, press the mouse button.
  4. Wait for a second and then drag. You will see the image in a dashed blue rectangle which means you actually are copying the element. You can drop the copy here on the Sketchboard or in the Font Map panel. If you didn’t wait, there will be no blue rectangle and the element will be moved in the Sketchboard.
  5. Drag the element to a cell in the right Font Map panel and release the mouse.
  6. Repeat for other elements in the Sketchboard window.

There are quicker ways to place elements into glyphs. Please see the Importing Artwork section for details.

Exporting the Sketchboard»

To export your Sketchboard drawings, select the File > Export > Window Contents command. FontLab allows you to export in two graphics formats: svg and pdf. Select one of them in the standard File Save dialog box and click on Save. This command exports not only outlines and bitmaps but also hints, guidelines, metrics, zones etc. – everything you have turned on in the View menu.

Saving the Sketchboard»

There is no dedicated menu command to save the Sketchboard content. When you quit FontLab, the current contents of the Sketchboard window are saved automatically.

FontLab saves the Sketchboard in ~/Library/Application Support/FontLab/FontLab VI/sketchboard.vfc on macOS or in ~\AppData\Local\Fontlab\FontLab VI\sketchboard.vfc on Windows.