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One font family in one font file.

  • when was the technology launched? who’s behind it?
  • why use variable fonts? what are the advantages?
  • which applications currently support variable fonts?

Variable fonts vs. interpolation, mutator math

Explain the relationship between variable fonts, interpolation and mutator math/superpolation.

Variable fonts brings interpolation from production tools to the end-user font format.

Type designers are familiar with using interpolation in the font editor, for example to create families with several weights and widths. We are also familiar with creating complex interpolation spaces using [Superpolator], or scripting them with [mutatorMath].

Some differences between normal interpolation and mutator math:

  • interpolation: full compatibility required - same character set, same kerning pairs, same groups
  • mutator math: full compatibility not required

The Batch extension solves most of these issues, by inserting ‘repair mutators’

How variable fonts work

Explain the most fundamental aspects of variable font technology.

Neutral + deltas
Variable fonts have a default or neutral master. All other masters in the designspace have to obey this default master. Example: If the glyph A has 39 points in contour 1, then the same glyph A must have 39 points in contour 1 in all the masters.
Missing glyphs
Not every master must have all glyphs. If a glyph is missing, it will be calculated via interpolation. If a glyph is present only in one master, it will have no variations.
Discontinuous variation
This is about the famous dollar.nostroke vs dollar.withstroke

Examples of variable fonts

Collect some good examples of variable fonts to give an overview of what’s possible.

Last edited on 24/01/2018