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Old Jul 19, 2013, 06:50 PM   #1
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Getting ligatures into a program without autoligature support?

(For reference, I'm a relative novice to typography trying to get better at it.) I'm wondering what solutions there are for getting ligatures from an Opentype font with autoligatures into a program that doesn't support autoligatures. Google wasn't being helpful at all, or at least my Google-fu is weak.

Specifically I'm working on lettering in Manga Studio, but apparently even the brand-new, completely-rewritten 5 EX version that was released yesterday still doesn't support Opentype autoligatures. Very disappointing, albeit not surprising, given that it's a port of a Japanese Windows-first app--that there's a Mac version at all is, I suppose, impressive.

Regardless, Blambot's lettering fonts make good use of ligatures, so I'm REALLY hoping to be able to get some on the page without having to go and re-do all the text in another piece of software. (Interesting, somewhat-related aside: Comic Life 2, which is the inverse of Manga Studio in terms of ease of us and Mac-ness vs. power, of course has full autoligature support, but for some bizarre reason I can't figure out it disables autoligatures for text sizes below 17 point, so even it isn't working right in dialogue balloons.)

What's the usual solution to this? Is there one?
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Old Jul 20, 2013, 07:06 AM   #2
Jim Campbell
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I'm a professional letterer and all I can tell you is that there are no letterers working in MangaStudio, and I say that as a HUGE fan of the software.

The lettering tools, sadly, aren't fit for purpose at present. I've contacted their development team to see if we can't make the lettering features better for future releases but, for now, all the letterers I know are sticking with Illustrator.


Last edited by Jim Campbell; Jul 20, 2013 at 07:20 AM. Reason: Fixed typo
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Old Jul 21, 2013, 06:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, Jim.

I had a bad feeling that was going to be the answer, and after experimenting some I realized that the font I was using does a lot of additional adaptive kerning for particular glyph pairs on top of the explicit ligatures, so even if there were a find and replace solution it wouldn't do most of what I wanted it to.

I could have already guessed that no pro in their right mind working in a European character set would use Manga Studio for lettering, though. I know enough about Japanese typography and software development to understand how they ended up the way they are, but Manga Studio's text tools are a ridiculous embarrassment. Heck, through version 4 that entire software package has the worst UI of anything I think I've ever seen, and this coming from someone who writes scientific test bench control software in his day job--I know complexity and bad UI design inside and out.

v5, at least, helps--I can see why the original developers released it as a completely new product in Japan. Shame they couldn't have finally fixed the text tools while they were at it.
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