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Software Review: SigMaker 3 From FontLab Ltd.

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SigMaker 3 is a very interesting product that also very unique. With very little effort you can take an image; say a signature, logo, or digital photo, and incorporate it into a font that you can then include in any document with just a single keystroke. Furthermore, it only takes six steps to complete.

The requirements to run SigMaker 3 are, for Mac, a Power PC or Intel Based Mac with Mac OS X v 10.2 or later installed (10.4 is recommended). For Windows, a PC that can run Windows 98 or later (including Vista). You will need at least 20 MB of free space on the hard drive, and 64 MB of RAM. You may need more to open larger fonts.

SigMaker 3 will allow you to make single-glyph fonts (also called fontlets). It will also allow you to add glyphs to existing TrueType and OpenType fonts that are installed on your system. There is no special font expertise or background need to use this package, nor does it require any special knowledge.

Image courtesy FontLabA little background may make this process clearer. Each computer font consists of graphical characters called glyphs. These glyphs are tied to your keyboard by codes. When I type the letter 'E', I send a code from my keyboard that tells the system I just pressed the letter 'E', and that 'E' appears in my document. When I select a font, say Times New Roman and press the 'E' it has a certain look to it. If I change the font to Wingdings and press the letter 'E' I now get a symbol. That is because a new character is mapped to my letter 'E'. When you use SigMaker, that is exactly what you will be doing, mapping your signature or image to a keystroke.

When you open SigMaker you are presented with the six steps to create your glyph. Step one, Select the source font. This is an optional step. If you select say "Times New Roman", it will open up the font and you can select the character that you would like to replace. Or you can skip this step and you will create a single-glyph font that you drop into your font folder, and select it as you would any other font.

Image courtesy T. Michael TestiStep two is to open up your image; whether it is a signature, photo, or other image, into the work area. You can then crop, rotate, or make other changes to it. Step three is to select the character code that will be used for your glyph. I used an image of George Washington's signature that was scanned from old yellowing parchment to create the glyph on the right and still it came out remarkably clear. I mapped it to my tilde key '~'.

Step four is to adjust the dimensions and positions of the image to fit with the other glyphs in the font. Step five is to name the font or define a glyphlet. Finally, step six is to select the output format; TrueType, OpenType, or SING; Adobe InDesign- compatible, and save it to the disk.

Image courtesy FontLabSigMaker 3 will import PNG, JPEG,GIF,TIFF,EPS,AI,BMP(Windows only), PICT(Mac Only), PDF(Mac Only) images and OpenType PS, OpenType TT/TrueType, Mac TrueType (Mac Only).

If you want to see more, you can watch a video tutorial (requires QuickTime) that shows the use of SigMaker 3 or you can review the manuals or take a demo test drive. While SigMaker 3 targets a specific need, it is incredibly easy to use and inexpensive making useful to everyone.

SigMaker 3 is available at the FontLab online store for $29.95.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.