Fonts are fun. (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Robert Bixby
Thanks to TrueType and a handful of software products, fonts are finally becoming as much fun as other aspects of desktop publishing. How can you get in on the action? Take a look at these products: Bitstream TrueType Font Pack for Microsoft Windows 3.1 (Bitstream, 215 First Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142; 800-522-3668), AllType (Atech Software, 5964 La Place Court, Suite 125, Carlsbad, California 92008; 800-786-3668), and MakeUp (also from Bitstream).
The story I've heard is that Microsoft approached Adobe about bundling a type manager and a collection of Postscript fonts with Windows. Adobe refused. Then Microsoft and Apple got together to create a competing fonts standard that was easy to use. TrueType was the result. All you have to do is tell the Fonts program under the Control Panel to install the fonts. As soon as the installation program works its magic, your fonts are pure enjoyment.
So where do you get your fonts? You could buy a font package. Fonts can cost between $10 and $100 each, but if you're in a hurry to get a collection of handsome display and body faces, get the Bitstream TrueType Font Pack. It features several families of fonts such as Imperial (which resembles Times Roman), Revival (Palatino), and Geometric and Humanist sans-serif fonts. In all, there are 40 fonts, but don't be confused by this. In type designer parlance, the roman style of a typeface is one font, the italic style is another, and so on. There are 5 families of body faces and 16 families of display faces. The price of the collection is $79 (a collection of 20 more fonts is also available for $39), or less than $2 per font. If you install all 40 fonts, they take up about 1.5MB, but you can install them as you need them. There's no reason to install them all unless you intend to use them all.
What if you already have a collection of fonts but they aren't TrueType? For example, you might have purchased GeoWorks or one of the inexpensive font packs that is compatible with GeoWorks. You can convert typefaces easily from one format to another with AllType from Atech. AllType is a DOS program that converts fonts easily among the following formats: Adobe Postscript Type 1 or Type 3, CorelDRAW! WFN format, Nimbus Q, GeoWorks, Intellifont, an Atech standard called FastFont, and TrueType. You can convert Bitstream Fontware (not the same as TrueType) into any of the other formats, but you can't convert other formats into Fontware. Remember that Fontware is different from TrueType. That means you can convert the TrueType fonts discussed in the previous paragraph into other font formats.
Not only can AllType convert your fonts from format to format, but it can also create variations on fonts, making them bold, italic, hollow, condensed, expanded, and so forth. It's a powerful utility for the desktop publisher, and it only costs $79.95.
Atech also sells FastFont fonts in collections of two for $29.95. If you buy FastFonts, however, you'll need to purchase either Atech's Publisher's PowerPak or AllType in order to use the fonts with most applications.
One of the things you can do with fonts in a drawing program is to manipulate the individual letters as graphic elements. Most drawing programs have this capability now, along with warping and extruding options that allow you to manipulate groups of objects in systematic ways. This is a little hard to imagine unless you've tried it yourself, but the closest analogy I can think of is pressing a glob of Silly Putty against a newspaper headline. The ink used by newspapers comes off on the putty. You can then stretch the putty to distort the text. These are the kinds of tricks you can perform with a new group of dedicated text manipulation programs. And you don't even have to put the putty back in the egg afterward.
Using MakeUp ($149), you can make your fonts do gymnastics and appear with shadows, perspective, and other effects. You can match colors, export to 20 graphics file formats, and lots more. Makeup even comes with five fonts to get you started. Fonts have always been beautiful design elements. Now you can enjoy them, create effective designs, and avoid incompatibility headaches.