Sort out and tidy up your bitmaps. They should all be monochrome and
ideally the same height. If you have more than 233, you will need to make more
than one font to hold them all.
Start Softy. Select Font Type / Bitmap. When the Bitmap Font editing
window appears, click its File / New menu item.
A dialog box appears for entering the Font Header details. You must enter
a Name (up to 16 characters) and Ascent and Descent values appropriate to the
required size of the font and the resolution of the device (screen, printer)
on which it will be used. Each pixel in a font bitmap represents a pixel that
will be displayed or printed, so a font which is quite legible on a 72 dots
per inch (dpi) VGA screen could be totally unreadable on a 300dpi printer.
Windows does scale bitmap fonts up when there is no alternative, but the
results are not attractive. The Resolution boxes in the dialog should be
completed for the target device.
Other boxes are best completed at this stage. The character set should be
identified. If the font is to contain the normal selection of upper and lower
case letters and numbers, it should be set to ANSI. If it is to contain a
collection of pictures, symbols etc, it should be set to Symbol. If the font
is a monospaced font to be used in a DOS command prompt Window, it should be
set to OEM.
Click on OK to set the font header values. If any need to be changed, this
can be done at any time.
Characters in the font now have to be defined. The character list to the
left of the editing window contains a number of blank boxes at this stage.
Each of these represent an empty (as yet) character. The first one is for the
character number defined as the 'First Character' in the header dialog
(normally 32), and the last being for the character number defined as the
'Last Character'. Double clicking on any of these boxes causes it to be
selected for editing. Its number and width will appear in the status bar at
the bottom of the window. The widths will all be zero.
The first character to be set should be character 32 - the space
character. Click on the first box in the list, and check that the character
number really is 32. Then set the width of the space for your font by either
clicking on the Width / Widen menu item or press Ctrl+W until the required
width is displayed on the status bar. If the font is to be monospaced, the
space should be the same width as all the other characters.
The other characters can now be created from the bitmaps. If the font is
to have the ANSI or OEM character set, character 33 should be the exclamation
mark '!'. For Symbol fonts, there is no preferred order. If you are using a
symbol font where character 33 is a picture of a duck, and you enter an
exclamation mark on the keyboard, you should get a duck character... To see
the numbers for other characters in an ANSI font, look at an existing example.
Windows still has a few around, even in these days of TrueType.
The easiest way to turn your bitmap into a character is to double click on
the blank entry for the character. This brings the empty character into the
editing window ready for updating. Use a separate bitmap editing program such
as Windows Paint to load the bitmap file, then select it (or the required part
of it) and Edit / Copy it. This places it on the Clipboard. Back to Softy, and
click on Edit / Paste. If the Paste item is grayed out, this is probably
because you haven't yet double clicked on a character to update. You may get a
message saying that the bitmap is wider than the font cell width, and do you
want to make the cell wider? The answer depends on a number of things. If the
font is monospaced, the font width should already have been set when the width
of the space was set, so 'No' is probably the right answer. For proportional
fonts, the answer is probably 'Yes'. Try it and see what happens!
When the bitmap has been pasted into the editing window, it can be changed
if required. Click on a pixel in the grid with the left mouse button to set
it. Use the right mouse button to clear it. The character can be made wider or
narrower using the Width menu items or the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+W and
Ctrl+R. The bitmap can be moved up or down, from side to side, or slices taken
out of the middle, using the Column and Row menu items.
When the character has been edited, click on the Edit / Update menu item.
The character should appear in the list on the left. Until this has been done,
no permanent changes have been made to the font, and the original empty
character can be restored by double clicking on its box in the list.
When all required characters have been created, the font can be saved. In
fact its a good idea to save it at various stages along the way. Like all
software packages, Softy has bugs which can cause it to crash. Any work done
since the last Save (if any!) is lost if this happens. To save the file the
first time, use the File / Save As menu item. This brings up a standard
Windows dialog allowing you to select the directory in which to save the file.
The 'Save as file type' box should already be set to show Windows font (*.FON)
as the file type to Save As. Type in the file name you want to use (leave out
the .FON), and press Ok. You will then get another dialog box showing the
details of the .FON file that Softy is about to create. Click Ok to confirm.
When the file has been created for the first time, subsequent updates can
be made using the Save command. This brings up the Softy dialog showing the
details of the .FON file. The only difference is that the updated file will be
shown as replacing the existing one, rather than being used to create a new
When you finally get to the end of this fairly tedious job, you have to
install the font before you can use it. First make sure that a .FON file
containing a font whose name clashes with the name of your font is not already
installed (possible as a previous version of your font). The names that matter
are the Font Names of the individual fonts in a .FON, as shown in the Font
Header dialog. Use Windows Control Panel, click the Fonts icon, then select
Add or Install New font. Select the directory in which you have created the
.FON file. You should then see your font listed. Highlight it, and click Ok.
Try it out! The first thing is to use the Windows Font Viewer. Find the
.FON file in a file listing (use My Computer, File Manager etc), then double
click on the entry for the .FON file. You should see a few details and a
sample of the characters.