Love relationship between Illustrator and FontLab broken with CS5

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 in adobe, type | 6 Comments

In the article Using Illustrator to draw fonts for importing into FontLab, which I wrote several years ago, I describe how nice it is to use Illustrator and FontLab together. This is especially nice for those who have made sketches for a font in Illustrator and need to move it into FontLab. For others it’s helpful to be able to move one or more glyphs from FontLab for easy fixing and then paste it back to the exact position.

This beautiful relationship has come to an end in Illustrator CS5. What is broken now, is that when copying a glyph from FontLab and using Paste in Front in Illustrator the pasting no longer fits the exact position in Illustrator. Rather, the glyph is positioned on the center of the Artboard.

I have no idea why this had to change or if this will be fixed later. I rather doubt it.

The only workaround I can think of so far is to make little box (let’s say 10×10 pt) within the glyph slot along with the glyph, position it on the 0.0 point corner and copy it over to Illustrator along with the glyph. Then you drag the box (moving the glyph too) to the 0.0 point on the baseline to position.

To copy back from Illustrator CS5 to FontLab 5 you will have to do this:

Select your glyph or the layers content.

Use Move (by double-clicking on the black arrow or Shift+Command+M) and type 1000 pt in the vertical field.

The glyph has now moved so the baseline is sitting on the top edge of the artboard.

While it’s still selected, copy and paste into FontLab Studio.

If you happen to have Illustrator CS4 or older keep it on your computer just for the purpose of using it with FontLab. It’s a way faster to continue using it with FontLab.



  1. Sveinn Davíðsson

    Illustrator CS5 to FontLab doesn’t work the same for me anymore, if I change the ruler zero point to the bottom left corner it still behaves like it’s in the default upper left corner when I paste into FontLab…

    I guess this has something to do with it

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  4. Juan Ignacio

    Gracias por post muy útil !!!

  5. webworks

    to continue drawing fonts in illustrator and paste them into FontLab, we must draw them above the artboard, above the top-left 0,0

    and also … 1 ruler unit in FontLab = 2.05 pt in illustrator CS 5

  6. webworks

    actually I wrote it wrong in my previous post
    update: 1 pt in Illustrator CS 5 = 2.05 ruler Unit in FontLab
    Ex: an Ascender of 1400 = 682.9 pt in illustrator CS 5
    is not an exact match but .. we can live with it

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