I have used Microsoft Paint to tweak a Gentium Book Type to suit my own publishing needs for a public domain esperanto Bible. I wish to print this on real paper and publish on the web. I was unsatisfied with all other fonts I found available, so I used my artistic flair to shape a new font face.

Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to plug it into FontForge. Esperanto requires some rather spectacular diacritics which just don't work with usual fonts. I suppose when I actually print it, the computer will magically make the diacritic completely reappear, but it does not show up in my text document word processor on my computer, especially for capital letter diacritics. I realize I may not be able to understand you answer, but humor me, if you wish.

What I did was shrink all alphabet letters to a lower height and added legible diacritics of suitable height and sharpness in super-zoom mode. I also disliked some of the numbers, so I fixed those too. Anyone out there care to take a gander at educating me? I have no money to purchase design tools, as I'm still paying for my touch screen computer.

I'm trying to become a professional artist, so I've already created some digital art I like with a strange program called Fresh Paint with really cool background paper. Too bad I can't make my finger vary in thickness or pressure for Chinese calligraphy.

  • 3
    Just out of curiosity, could we see a sample of this font? I would like to see how a font edited in paint looks
    – SaturnsEye
    Aug 1, 2014 at 13:27
  • 3
    If you edited in Paint, you probably turned it into a raster/bitmap image, right? While you can make bitmap fonts, they should be in a vector format. I believe it's possible to import bitmaps into FontForge for you to trace over... fontforge.org/editexample.html#CharCreate
    – Brendan
    Aug 1, 2014 at 13:48
  • Where can we read your book? Aug 3, 2014 at 21:45

2 Answers 2


There is good news and there is bad news...

Bad news: You just created a bitmap. You didn't change the font. So, basically all your work has to be thrown out of the window.

Also, I've not used font-forge, but have used Fontlab, and the UI is a little more helpful there... But it's expensive, so I'm guessing font-forge would be what you'll use. Some things I tell here may not be present as such in font-forge, but there must be an equivalent.

Good news: You will, in the least, start understanding how much technology and work goes behind creating those beautiful shapes you are reading right now. You may also learn how to make your own fonts (which is not so hard, but will require considerable practice initially)...

  1. You'll need to confirm that the font you are going to edit has a license which permits you to edit and redistribute it.
  2. You'll need a program which can edit fonts. Fontforge is a free program, but from what little time I tried it, it seemed very hard for me. But there are some good manuals out there, so you can give some more time to it and you'll become better in a day or two.
  3. So, once you have font-forge, open the font in it. The source ttf file (or otf or whatever), not the image you just edited in MS Paint. That I told you to throw away, so if you haven't yet, do it now.
  4. Now, let me tell you this: Fonts are Vectors, basically a bunch of mathematical equations which govern the shape, curve and thickness of the lines, etc. So if you need to have an Á, first copy the path of a normal A and then you need to scale the A down, and add your accent.
  5. Once opened, you need to go to the specific code-point (or in simple English, the block) where an A with a diacritic is defined. Generally in Unicode, it is U+00C1 for Á, etc. Refer to any online table for this information.
  6. Copy your existing vector from A (U+0041) and paste it in the block for Á (U+00C1), make your modifications to the font outline. (There are a hell of a lot more technicalities involved here, but I don't want to scare you to death... just keep in mind that when you do this, the result may not turn out to be so good... Then you'll have to delve into the technicalities, such as hinting, etc)
  7. Once you are done with all your modifications, you can export your font as a TTF.
  8. Then upload your TTF font in a webfont-generator, such as the one at FontSquirrel or Fontie, which will take your TTF and generate a WOFF and EOT file, which will be used to show text in the different browsers.
  9. Printing should be more straightforward, but you'll need to check if your new symbols actually render correctly in print and on-screen (if the Accent is too fat, it won't be nice, right?)

That's more or less it.



Gentum is under the SIL open font license so you can use potrace to trace your bitmap and import your glyphs in the freeware version of BirdFont or trace the glyphs manualy in Birdfont. Don't throw the images away the hard part is deciding what the glyph should look like tracing it in a font editor is the easy part.

My experience tells me that the diacritical marks used in Esperanto is very easy to draw directly in the font editor but background images is an even better place to start.

I think Gentum already has support for esperanta diacritics like ĝ. It is probably best to use them as they are and add support for Esperanto to a new typeface. Changing the x-height or similar does usually mean that you need to redraw the entire typeface from the beginning; it is much easier to find a font with low x-height and add diacritics.

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