Handwriting Input And Recognition (Part 2)

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If you have installed a graphics tablet, the Ink pane in System Preferences gives rapid access to automatic conversion of handwritten characters into text. If that pane doesn’t appear, download and install the latest driver for your tablet. Test conversion by connecting your tablet, opening a word or text editor, and turning on recognition in the Ink pane. Place your stylus on the tablet and start printing words - that is, writing normally formed but separated characters in upper and lower case. Adjust spacing as necessary, try different ways of forming characters to improve accuracy, and note supported gestures.

MyScript for Livescribe

MyScript for Livescribe

To convert Livescribe digital pen writing to text, buy MyScript for Livescribe ($30 inc VAT, with free demo available, from Once installed, select pages downloaded from your Livescribe pen, in Livescribe Desktop, and click on the MyScript tool to launch the conversion application. Working offline, getting the best out of MyScript conversion is less direct. Try paragraphs containing at least 100 words each using different handwrit­ing styles, including printing with separated characters and flowing cursive. If you form certain characters in unconventional ways, you may find recognition remains reliable, or you may find it better to alter your style.

Although you can correct converted text directly into MyScript, it may be better to copy and paste that text straight into your preferred word or text pro­cessor. In that case, in Livescribe Desktop, drag the pages from which the text has been generated and drop them onto Computer, to import them as pages in a PDF file for reference.

From text to strokes

If you’re acquiring your hand­written characters on your Mac, iPhone or iPad, you may wish to use those to create a font showing your ‘Sunday best’ handwriting. This could be particularly useful if you make your own comics or cartoon strips, where this lettering adds a personal touch. The quickest way to do this is via one of the online services, such as or, costing less than $10. On iOS devices, iFontMaker can generate a first-cut TrueType font suitable for a proper font editor.

Fontographer 5 ($450 inc VAT from the App Store) can work from a font created online, or vector graphics derived from tablet input or a scan. Make all the characters a similar size to avoid having to scale them later. Using your favorite graphics editor, select each charac­ter in turn, copy it to the Clipboard and paste it into the Outline window of the associated glyph in Fontographer. Normally, it will be fitted to the UPM size, but hold Alt- Shift to have it automatically scaled to fit between the ascender and baseline if you prefer.

Fontographer 5

Fontographer 5

Size and position the outline, and while you’re in the Outline layer, select the Auto Trace com­mand from the Element menu. Experiment with different auto ­trace settings for tightness of curve fit, or switch to Advanced Trace if you prefer. Once you’re happy with the trace, select the background image in the Template later and delete it.

FontLab Studio (£404 - sold in US dollars at $649 - from is ideal for adding profes­sional features to fonts that have been created in Fontographer, but can also be used to create new fonts based on handwriting. These are best produced as sketches of indi­vidual glyphs based on scanned or tablet input. For instance, you can paste from Adobe Illustrator or import EPS files for each glyph.

Write here, right now

With a supported tablet connected, the Ink pane in System Preferences lets you handwrite words into its floating window, converting them to text

Stroke of genius

MyScript is an add-on to Livescribe’s free Desktop software, which performs accurate offline conversion to text alongside your original script

Gyph hanger

You can use Fontographer’s own sketching, drawing and other tools to generate glyphs, and construct your own personal handwritten fonts

Raise a family

Fontlab Studio ver. 5.00 Retail

Fontlab Studio ver. 5.00 Retail

For really professional results, use Fontographer or FontLab Studio to create different weights and styles, to build a complete family

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