Layers and Masters»


In FontLab VI, all drawings, metrics, kerning are stored per layer. This is different from how layers worked in FontLab Studio 5. All the sections in this manual refer to “Glyphs” — but that should be understood to mean “Glyph Layers”.

Again unlike FontLab Studio 5, you can create as many layers as you wish. You can name layers and change their properties, as well as change their order in the glyph layout.

Different glyphs may have different numbers of layers. When you create a new glyph, only the outline layer for the style name is created for that glyph. So for example, if the style name for the font is Bold Italic, that is also the name given to the layer. The style name layer is the main layer where you draw your glyphs. You can add more layers to one glyph, to several selected glyphs or to all glyphs in your font.

You can also add a single Global Mask, or individual Mask layers to each of your main layers, if you wish. Mask layers (including the Global Mask) have the service layer attribute, and therefore are not rendered in the Font Window or the Preview panel. They also do not participate in the interpolation process and are not exported in the final font formats.

Note that glyphs on different layers could have different metrics and be kerned with other glyphs differently. You can think about layers as separate font faces, each having its own width or weight or other attributes.

To learn about how to use layers, see Working with Layers. The Layers and Masters panel is used to manage them in a font.


A Master is a layer that may be exported, and is intended to take part in Variations interpolation if there are multiple Masters. The Layers and Masters panel and Variations panel are used to manage them in a font. (To learn about how to use layers, see Working with Layers.)

A master that is not at either end of an axis is referred to as an intermediate master. For example, a variable font with a weight axis might have an extra-light master, a bold master, and a black master. The bold master, not being at either extreme, is an intermediate master.

A Master layer is not required to be present in every glyph in the font. A Master that is present in all glyphs is called a Font Master, while one that is present in one or few, but not all glyphs is called a Glyph Master. A master that is not present in a given glyph does not affect the interpolation of that glyph. For example, a font with a weight axis might have an Extra Light master for all glyphs, an Ultra Black master for all glyphs, and a Bold master for just some glyphs.