KB JULY 2019 images 35 TIPS & TECHNIQUES Deal with distortion Being mostly clean-edged and geometric, typefaces tend to overly display the natural distortion present in embroidery. Push distortion makes columns get taller or longer and pull distortion makes them get narrower. This means that not only must you compensate to make individual letters stitch correctly, but your compensation has to account for those disparate forces so that the lettering can ‘meet in the middle’ at the proper baseline where vertical strokes and horizontal strokes appear beside each other. Note: Just like in vector fonts for print, rounded letters and strokes should extend beyond the baseline and top of the letters for them to look the same height as the other glyphs; this is for optical balance. These foundational examples of how In this large example of slab serif type, you can see how the integrated serif that runs the same stitch angle as the vertical stroke in the R has become long enough that the stitches are above the maximum stitch length, rendering here as jump stitches. For almost all applications at any significant size, larger serifs should be executed in a similar way to the separated serifs on the right The round mitred corners on the left have very little overlap, making for a less dense finish, but at small sizes the smallest stitches even in this round mitre will have to be filtered out. That said, the capped version on the right will soon suffer from stitches too long to cleanly execute if it isn’t scaled down to create satin-stitch lettering, paired with observation of existing lettering in well-made keyboard fonts, will help you take on custom type with confidence. Erich Campbell is an award-winning digitiser, embroidery columnist and educator, with 18 years’ experience both in production and the management of e-commerce properties. He is the programme manager for the commercial division of BriTon Leap. Knowing the basic dimensions of a satin stitch column that can safely sew on most common garment materials allows you to evaluate the size you can push small lettering to without resorting to finer thread and needles. Thus, it’s easy to see why the smallest letters in 40wt thread are often locked down at 5mm When creating lettering, one cannot simply draw the outer edge and inner counters/holes in a glyph, one must envision the separate strokes as their own elements, assign stitch angles, and then generate the finished stitches from that sequenced, carefully overlapped, set of strokes Notice the inconsistent stitch angles in some of the example glyphs above and the absence of compensated overlap in others, which will lead to natural pull distortion causing gaps in these auto-digitised letters on most fabrics. The manually digitised pieces on the bottom line have much cleaner angles and are properly compensated As can be seen on both sets of text in this picture, even in a straightforward block font, auto-digitising has a very difficult time separating letters into discrete strokes. Though most digitisers can see these flaws in their own work, some stock design sellers and digitisers will use letters this poorly rendered. If a digitised piece or a font you purchase has these odd angles or inconsistent splitting at the joints, it was likely processed automatically and will not run well Select the right serifs Serifs can be either integral to or separated from the strokes. When they are simply a part of the stroke brought to a flared end, a fine-line serif can be achieved on small glyphs. That said, with large text these stitches can become overly long. With larger text, a serif made of its own satin column, running perpendicular to the stroke, often looks better, though each must be nearly 1mm in thickness as stated earlier.