Your First Font

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Scanahand is software that generates a font out of your handwriting. To be more precise, it allows you to print out a template (one or more pages with a grid). After you've filled out the template, you scan it back into Scanahand, which will then convert all characters into a font that can be used on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

This short introduction explains how to generate a font with Scanahand. Besides a computer running Microsoft Windows you will need a printer, a scanner, and a black marker or felt-tipped pen.

Step 1 - Print and fill out the empty template

We will use the Basic Character Set template to create a font. By default the Basic and Extended Characters template is selected, so make sure you activate the Basic Character Set template. To print the empty template, just click the Print button. A Print Setup dialog will pop-up. Most likely the correct printer is already selected, so just press the Ok button.

Take the printed template from the printer, and fill it out. Use a suitable pen (e.g. a black permanent marker of fine or medium thickness) to draw the characters the way that you normally write. The output of ballpoint pens will be too thin to give a satisfactory result. Make sure you draw your characters into the designated cells and ensure you don't touch the grid lines while drawing the characters.

Note: Only characters that are written down on the template are added to the font, so if you only need a few characters, then only write those down.

All cells (except the signature cell) contain horizontal guidelines (actually four little marks on both left and right side of each cell) that should help you write the characters in the right dimensions, and in the best possible position in each cell. These guidelines, represent Ascender, x-Height, Baseline, and Descender. The image below illustrates how to get the best results (first row) and what you should avoid (second row).

In the first row the characters are drawn with the recommended size and position. As you can see, most characters are placed on the baseline. The small letter "g" goes below the baseline. Capital letters and digits have the same size. Be sure not to draw your characters as shown in the second row. The capital letter "A" is positioned on the descender, the small letter "a" is too large, the small letter "e" has exaggerated connecting strokes, the small letter "f" is too small, the small letter "g" goes outside the cell, small letter "s" is drawn with a large-tip marker, and digit "8" is too small.

To aid in filling out the characters at the right position you can print out a guideline underlay. Place this below your empty template so guidelines shine through the paper. You can print the guideline underlay through the File menu.

Step 2 - Scan in the completed template

When you've drawn all characters you want to include in your font, put the template page as straight as possible on the scanner bed.

Click on the "Completed Template" icon on the left, and then press the Scan button. A Scan Setup dialog is shown. Ensure the correct scanner is selected. A 300 dpi scan resolution is recommended, but if your characters contain details (e.g. thin strokes) you should use a higher resolution. Press the OK button to start the scan process. Click on the "Rotate 180 Degrees" toolbar button if you accidentally placed the filled-in template into the scanner, upside-down.

Step 3 - Generate and install the font

Click on the "Font" icon on the left, and then press the Generate button.

On the Font Setup dialog, fill in the Name and Copyright fields. The Name field is very important, as that name will appear as the font name in all applications. Don't change the advanced settings, as those are set to recommended values. Press the Ok button.

During the font generation process, Scanahand detects the template, and places the characters into your font. Upon completion, you instantly get to preview your finished font. Just type some text to see how it looks. Also include the caret character ^ and you'll see your signature.



Finally click the Install button to make the font available to all applications (Microsoft Word, etc.) on your computer. If you are running Windows Vista (or higher) it will prompt you for permission to allow the installation. Be sure that you allow the installation to continue.