MAKING A SIGNATURE FONT
If you are discovering that along with the privilege
of using the mail-merge facility of a word processor,
there is also the responsibility of signing each printed
out letter and when you have 300 or so to sign, you can
foresee that the bank is going to be inviting you in for
another specimen signature if it deteriorates much more,
you may well consider putting your signature on the word
processor before it is printed out.
There are a number of security issues to take into
consideration before you commit to making a signature
font: one of them being the use of the signature by those
who have access to the font; and the other main one is
the use of it by those who receive the document with the
signature on it. With
preventing fraud in mind, it might be useful to make an
alternative signature -- one that is not recognised by
the bank as the one that appears on cheques and other
documents -- so that anybody that is tempted to put it to
unauthorised use, is stopped before any transaction can
Another way of doing it is to make it obvious that the
signature is an electronically placed representation of a
signature and that it could not appear on cheques. One
way of doing this is to write the signature carefully
with a wide pen, spelling out the name so that it is all
completely legible -- something that no real signature is
-- so that any information about pen speed and pressure
is not recorded An alternative to that and possibly
giving better results is to trace over the signature
(that has been written with a normal pen) using a
circular brush on the image processor. Another way is to
pixelise it so that any such information is disguised in
the same way that people's faces are on the television if
their identity is to be concealed for some reason.
Pixelising . . .
So, assuming that you have scanned your "special
signature" into your favourite image processing
program, if you are going to pixelise it, you need to go
through the next two steps. You might need to play around
with the block size you choose to get the best results in
the second stage so save a copy of it just in case.
First of all, pixelise the image. Make a copy of the
image that you can then play around with and then:
- in Micrografx Picture Publisher (MPP), [menu]
Image/ Effects.../ Texture/ Pixelise and then
select a pixel size that looks about right, using
the preview; and,
- in the GIMP, [right-click on the image] Filters/
Blur/ Pixelise.../ and select the pixel width.
Or, Tracing . . .
Clearing a (density) space . . .
You need to go over the signature carefully with a
solid, circular paintbrush with a definite (not
feathered) edge. in order to allow you to see the
signature while you work on it but to hide any parts of
it that you haven't gone over from the rest of the
process, you should first of all move it out of the
density range you are going to use later on so first:
- in MPP, [menu] Map/ Tone Balance.../ and change
the minimum Shadows value to, say, 20%. If you
call up the Tone Balance histogram again, you
will see that there are no longer any tones near
- in the GIMP, [right-click on the image] Image/
Colours/ Levels.../ Output Levels: 50 to 255.
Again, if you select the Levels dialogue box
again, the histogram will show that the images
has been cleared at the bottom end of the density
Painting . . .
MPP, select the paint tool and then zoom in to at
least 400% and then carefully go over the
signature with a circular shape of at least 5
pixels (depending upon the scale of your
signature) -- if you scanned it in with a high
resolution, you might want to increase this to,
say, 20 pixels. Use the colour black which is isolated,
thanks to the fact that we cleared some space in
the density range.
the GIMP, select the paint tool, the brush size
(using a hard edged circle) and the colour black
-- again, blow the image up so that it is
easier to work on.
Doing this will hide the details in the signature that
show speed and pressure. Using black makes the image that
you are generating, separate from the original.
Then . . .
Some font editors will look at the image you have
supplied and allow you to select an image density around
which it will draw the contour but just to make life
simpler, you can do it in the image editor. You need to
turn your image into a black and white image (as opposed
to greyscale) and the way to do this is to use
- In MPP, [menu] Map/ Threshold.../ and with Auto
Preview on, adjust the threshold level until you
get the right selection of pixels to give you a
reasonable looking signature. If you painted your
signature, having changed the minimum shadow
level to 20%, you can just set the level to 81%
and the original image will simply disappear.
- In the GIMP, [right-click on the image] Image/
Colours/ Threshold.../ and adjust the lower range
to get the right selection of pixels as above,
or, if you painted your signature, having changed
the Output Levels to 50 to 255, just set the
Threshold Range to: 50 to 255 and the original
signature will disappear.
Into a Font . . .
Save the image and then load up your font editor: we shall use the
Softy font editor (shareware, [used to be available from http://users.iclway.co.uk/l.emmett/ but now] mirrored here
). Having loaded the image, set the vertical and
horizontal limits along with the baseline and created the
new font details, select [menu] Glyph/ Outline template
and the program will create the glyph for you, not only
creating the outline but also the holes in it. If you
haven't used the threshold function to create your image,
you can select the level at which this automated process
decides whether a pixel is on the inside or on the
outside of the glyph.
If there are any parts that need altering, you can
change the position of the nodes or, if you need to add
any new contours, you can do that as well, remembering
that the outside of a shape goes clockwise and the inside
goes anticlockwise (otherwise, your holes will not
Save the glyph and map it to (for argument's sake) the
letter "A" (65), save a space (32) and save the
Install it into the Windows/Fonts directory or install
it on Linux and you can then use it in your documents.
All you need to do is
to type the letter "A" and with the letter
highlighted, change the font to the signature font.
Increase the font size to 72 or so and that is it.
The jbsiga.ttf is on