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would it be possible to create our own greek letters in black board style from the Minion family using Metafont? It is just a matter of adding a vertical bar somewhere... Thanks

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

bev explained what to do if you have the mf file. Even if there isn't, you don't actually have to start from scratch. What you should have is a tfm file that contains the font metrics and a pfb file containing the actual glyphs (I'm assuming you have postscript type 1 fonts). You can just copy the original tfm file to blackboard.tfm; no change in the font metrics. Working with the pfb is more involved. I did this once and will try to recollect what you need.

First of all, you need to translate the pfb into something human readable. I did this with t1utils, e.g.

t1disasm minion.pfb > blackboard.raw

In the raw file you'll find the glyph descriptions, and they contain lots of stuff like vhcurveto, rrcurveto and so on. The latter describes a bezier curve, as far as I recollect. You can just experiment with these things to get the hang of it. Make a few edits, and make a new pfb file with

t1asm blackboard.raw > blackboard.pfb

Then put the tfm file into texmf/fonts/tfm/blackboard/ and the pfb file into texmf/fonts/type1/blackboard/. Now I'm stumbling: You also need to create a font description in an fd file and a font map entry in a map file. At the moment I don't find what I did there; I hope someone else can help out.

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:) The last (not) described step seems challenging! the blackboard.raw is a vector or raster format? Thanks – pluton Nov 23 '10 at 13:27
@pluton: It's some postscript type vector format. When I find time I might find out how the last step works. – Hendrik Vogt Nov 23 '10 at 13:37
Isn't .pfa the ascii format (corresponding to the binary .pfb)? I fought with fonts once. They won. – TH. Nov 23 '10 at 14:20
@TH.: pfa is ascii, but not human readable (unless you're capable of disassembling assembler code using just a hex editor). – Hendrik Vogt Nov 23 '10 at 14:40
@Hendrik - thanks for correcting my too hasty assertion. I don't really play with fonts anymore, so I bow to your superior know-how. But this has made me want to dig out my years-ago attempt to metafont-ize non-mf fonts. And for all those horror-stricken good-citizens out there, I'm also a good-citizen too and wasn't trying to steal proprietary fonts. Not my thing. – bev Nov 23 '10 at 19:38

Sure, although it would be difficult if the minion family (which I'm not familiar with) isn't done in metafont (i.e. doesn't already have an 'mf' file.)

If it does have an 'mf' file, you would just have to get the minion 'mf' file, copy it over to 'blackboard.mf' (or whatever) and edit it putting your changes in for each glyph. Then you would compile it, install it, and use it like any other font.

Metafont has a bad rep, but it's actually kinda fun. I made a letterhead logo in metafont once that I still use.

It's a little more work (actually a lot more work) if there is not minion.mf. Then you'd have to start from scratch in metafont. This would involve taking each minion glyph, projecting it somehow onto a grid, and use the metafont functions to draw the glyph using the grid/glyph templet as a guide. Then do the compile/install etc. stuff.

You could also write a program to do that for you, which I started to do once, but got busy on other stuff.

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The only metrics that I have or .otf, I think but I can try to play between formats. As for metafont, the created font is in a vector or raster format? That's my fear. Thanks. What about using fontforge? – pluton Nov 23 '10 at 13:26
Well, the answer is sorta both. MF is basically a mathematical description of how to move a pen (of your description also) to draw things. So the mf file is scalable. But when compiled and installed they are bitmaps. You draw one description for each glyph, then tell it what size you want your compiled fontset to be. – bev Nov 23 '10 at 19:29
Actually, now that I think about it, I recall that there may be some parameters that change with scaling, i.e. some parts of some glyphs look better in 14.4 pt if the base is relatively thicker, etc. – bev Nov 23 '10 at 19:30
@bev: I think that what you wrote in your first comment is only half of the truth. More than a decade ago it was standard that you compiled mf files to bitmaps, but nowadays it's not really desired anymore to use bitmap fonts. Somehow they managed to make postscript fonts out of the mf files, but I don't know the details. – Hendrik Vogt Nov 24 '10 at 10:38
@pluton: If you have otf files, then these sourceforge tools might help you to produce pfb files; from those you can also extract the tfm, I think. – Hendrik Vogt Nov 24 '10 at 14:18

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