Dingbat Scripts Project
Dingbat fonts are digital type where each character is a small graphic or icon. There are numerous free dingbat fonts available on the internet, and although these are often licensed for personal use only, I have been exploring some of their possible uses in Corel Painter.
• Being presented with a blank canvas can sometimes be a little unnerving, so by adding an image element can be a kick start to creating something unique.
• Applied OpenType and TrueType dingbat characters are readily scalable, stretchable and movable (whilst in text layer format), without the pixellation associated with bitmap imagery. This makes experimenting with shapes and composition quite effortless.
• Assessing readability and dynamics of the form at different character sizes.
• In Painter, colour, opacity and composite method can be selected for individual font characters on their respective layers. There is even a blur option in the Text palette, which can produce a shadow effect.
• Overlapping and repositioning characters can generate new shapes for further development and inspiration.
• The possibility of adding dingbat based resources to a Painter Patterns, Selections, Image Portfolio library, or creating Image Hose Nozzles.
Installing a Dingbat Font
A Google search for free fonts or dingbats can turn up some useful resources, but please remember to check and abide by any licensing restrictions. I found iconian.com to have a particularly nice selection.
After downloading a font, and unzipping etc. if required, the font file needs to be installed where Painter can find them. I am unfamiliar with Windows installations, but please see the fonts.com help page if you are unsure.
As an example in Mac OSX Leopard, after unzipping the ActionMen dingbats folder, double click on the font file (actionmen.ttf). This should then bring up a dialog box (as depicted above), where we can click the Install Font button. It may be necessary to restart Painter in order for the new font to appear in Painter’s Font Selection menu dropdown.
Which Key do I Press?
Depending on the font selected in Painter’s Text Tool Property Bar or Text palette, in most cases, pressing the ABC keys, with the Shift key determining whether the resulting typed character will be upper or lower case, will produce the same characters in the image. How do we know which keys to press for these dingbat characters though?
The answer to the above question is that we either need what is called a character map – essentially a table which identifies the keystroke(s) associated with a given character, or a software utility such as PopChar (available in both Mac version and PC version). I am currently using the older Mac version 3.4 of PopChar X, which is demonstrated in the screenshot above.
A character map for the Action Men dingbat can be found at the download link here; the Latin keyboard character shown faintly (along with the Unicode decimal number) above each character. For example, to insert the first character depicted on the font download page by keystrokes would require Shift + A (uppercase A), which would also be the Unicode decimal 65. In the above screenshot, this information is shown bottom left of the PopChar dialog, which for the enlarged character would be the keyboard number 6 (Unicode decimal #54).
Inserting a Character Using PopChar
Although I have not tested this with the Windows version of PopChar, the method should hopefully be very similar to that used in the Mac version outlined below.
1. Select the Text tool (T) icon in the Toolbox palette.
2. With the Action Men font already installed, select it from the Font Selector dropdown menu either in the Property Bar or Text palette (Painter 11 Mac version shown).
3. Ensuring that the Text tool is still selected, click on a point in the image or on the canvas where you would like the text (dingbat) character to appear. You should now see a vertical flashing line within a border.
4. Bring up the PopChar dialog and select the Action Men font from the Font List. If this is not already visible, choose Show Font List from the Recently used fonts dropdown menu in the PopChar dialog.
5. Click on your chosen character in the PopChar dialog to insert it in the image. For multiple character insertions, it will probably be better to have each on a new text layer. In this case, with the Text tool still selected, click again in the image to create a new Text layer/ insertion point for each new character prior to clicking in the PopChar dialog.
6. Select the Layer Adjuster tool (top right icon in the Toolbox palette) to resize and reposition the character on the Text layer of the Painter document. To constrain the proportions whilst resizing, hold down the Shift key whilst dragging a corner box around the image. For multiple characters on separate layers, it may be an idea to check the Auto Select Layer box in the Property Bar.
7. As well as changing the colour of the characters, additional options are available in the Text palette (Window menu > Text), and in the Property Bar when the Text tool is selected.
I have discovered in practice that it is not always possible to insert every font character into the Painter document. Referring back to the PopChar dialog, I didn’t appear to have a problem with characters in the Basic Latin section, but other characters in say the Latin-1 Supplement area did not display correctly in Painter. The PopChar documentation states that some applications have limited or missing Unicode support, which may explain this behaviour. Fortunately, the majority of Dingbat characters I have seen, are incorporated in the Basic Latin section.
Character Insertion by Script
Whilst experimenting with recording a Painter script I discovered that the String Data number in the Type Text Character section of the script is identical to the Unicode decimal number for that character. By editing the String Data value in the Set Number dialog, and using copy and paste functions in the Scripts palette menu, it is possible to create scripts to automatically insert font characters into a Painter document.
It is not possible to automatically select the actual font via. the script playback however, so this must first be done manually using the Font Selector dropdown menu either in the Property Bar or Text palette. The advantage of using a pre-recorded script to apply a font character is that additional instructions may be added, such as automatic selection of the Text and Layer Adjuster tools, and a pre-determined insertion point for the character.
The above paragraph is for information only, just to give you some insight into the making and workings of the script resources which I will be sharing at the end of this project.
Creating a Custom Palette for the Scripts
Although it is possible to give each script a unique icon and select and run each script via. the Scripts palette Playback button, it is much more convenient and efficient to create a custom palette for this purpose. In this way, providing the associated font has been pre-selected in the Property bar or Text palette, selection and insertion of a chosen character becomes a single click operation. It is not even necessary to select the Text tool in the Toolbox, each time a character is inserted.
In order for scripts to load and playback via. a custom palette, there are two vital steps;
1. For the script library to auto-load (i.e. if another script library is currently open when the icon of a script from a different script library is clicked in the custom palette), then the location of the custom script library is critical (see below).
2. Immediately after creating a new script-based custom palette, and without clicking any of the icons in the custom palette, close/ quit Painter and restart the application. This only needs to be done once, the first time the custom palette is created, but failure to complete this step is very likely to cause Painter to crash the first time an associated icon is clicked in the custom palette. Note that in Painter 7, the associated script library must be manually loaded via. the Scripts palette menu Load Library option, prior to clicking the script icons in the custom palette.
In more recent Painter versions (Painter X and above), as custom palettes are workspace specific, both the script library and associated custom palette (or custom palette data) must be located in the same User workspace folder.
Custom Script library file locations;
PC (Windows 2000 and XP): Local Disk (C)\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Corel\Painter 11\Default [or custom workspace folder name]\
PC (Windows Vista): Local Disk (C)\Users [User Name] \AppData\Roaming\Corel\Painter 11\Default [or custom workspace folder name]\
Mac: Users [Username]/Library/Application Support/Corel/Painter 11/Default [or custom workspace folder name]/
PC (Windows 2000 and XP): Local Disk (C)\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Corel\Painter X\Default [or custom workspace folder name]\
PC (Windows Vista): Local Disk (C)\Users [User Name] \AppData\Roaming\Corel\Painter X\Default [or custom workspace folder name]\
Mac: Users [Username]/Library/Application Support/Corel/Painter X/Default [or custom workspace folder name]/
PC (Windows 2000 and XP): Local Disk (C)\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Corel\Painter IX\
PC (Windows Vista): Local Disk (C)\Users [User Name] \AppData\Roaming\Corel\Painter IX\
Mac: Users [Username]/Library/Application Support/Corel/Painter IX/
Painter 8.1 (this must be the 8.1 patched version to support custom palettes)
PC: Local Disk (C)\Program Files\Corel\Painter 8\
Mac: Applications/ Painter 8/
PC: Local Disk (C)\Program Files\Corel\Painter 7\
Mac: Applications/ Painter 7/
After installing the custom scripts library file to the correct location, If the Scripts palette is not visible on the desktop, choose Scripts or Show Scripts from the Window menu. Click on the Scripts Selector window and choose Load Library from the Scripts list flyout menu.
With the Action Men script library loaded, click on the Script Selector window in the Scripts palette, and drag each icon in turn (the first onto the desktop in order to create a new custom palette, then subsequent icons onto the newly created custom palette). Don’t forget to quit and relaunch Painter before using the new custom palette for the first time. It is not necessary to have every character available in the palette, and if space is limited, you could just have your favorites, and additional characters can always be inserted by selecting the script in the Scripts palette and using the Play button from there.
The Completed Custom Palette
The resulting custom palette is shown at reduced size in both an extended and collapsed state, (toggled using the triangle icon to the left of the palette name Action Men Dingbats).
Note that the associated dingbat font (Action Men) must be selected in Painter, prior to running a script via the custom palette, otherwise an incorrect font character will be inserted. Use the Window menu> Custom Palette> Organizer dialog to rename and export the custom palette. As previously mentioned, it is not necessary to select the Text tool prior to running one of the dingbat scripts.
In order for the characters to appear after running the script, I would recommend the original canvas size being a minimum of around 500 pixels square, and initially select a font size which will make the character easily visible in the image.
Download the Resources
Although creating these scripts is very time consuming and repetitive, at the time of posting, I have created three such script libraries for Painter 7 and above, but hope to add more in the future.
The following download links are to zipped folders containing a script library for Corel Painter 7 and above. Both Mac and PC versions are available (the PC versions have a .ssd file extension). There is also a link to the associated dingbat download page for each resource. Note that the fonts are compatible with both Mac and PC, and are copyright of their respective owners.
Dingbat font download page at dafont.com.
Download pc_actionmen.zip (105 kb) script library for the PC Windows platform.
Download mac_actionmen.zip (105 kb) script library for the Mac platform.
Dingbat font download page at dafont.com.
Download pc_famous_spaceships.zip (77 kb) script library for the PC Windows platform.
Download mac_famous_spaceships.zip (77 kb) script library for the Mac platform.
DJ Horses 1
Dingbat font download page at dafont.com.
Download pc-dj_horses1.zip (48 kb) script library for the PC Windows platform.
Download mac_dj_horses1.zip (48 kb) script library for the Mac platform.
N.B. If you discover any dingbat fonts which you would like to insert into your Painter images via. the script/ custom palette method, then please let me know, using the contact form on this site. I can’t promise anything definite, but your request will certainly be considered.