At what point of the design process do you start digitising your drawings?



  • Hi Avi,
    Drawing by hand, at least when it is small, doesn't offer the crisp lines that digital design does, so it is more difficult to add subtle details like corners in curves and that stuff.
    I think that this purely relies on the drawing skills of the type designer. The cover below is from a publication by Gerrit Noordzij on type designs by Dutch art-school students that dates from 1983. The size of the booklet is A4 and Gerrit used my letters 1:1 for the cover. These letters were made completely freehand, except for the straight lines.

    And, of course, Gerrit Noordzij’s own type designs, which he applied on book jackets, were made by hand: he used brush and paint on polyester film. I think these letters are pretty subtle and crisp.

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,378
    edited June 2017
    I recall Hermann Zapf talking about the difference in the nature of his drawings for different type manufacturing processes. Drawings for mechanical production processes needed to be very precise, since they would be reproduced very directly. During the hot metal era, when machine punches or matrices would be cut on a pantograph, precise scale technical drawings were required: hence the drawing offices at Monotype and other companies that would have the job of producing these drawings. Similarly, in photomechanical processes, the typical model was e.g. for rubilith cutters to work from precise drawings and reproduce them accurately. This is quite different from Zapf's description of the earlier period of his work, having punches but by hand, in which drawings were less precise and the punchcutter was expected to interpret the drawings in the making of the punch, rather than reproducing them exactly.

    I've long taken the view that manipulating bezier curves is more like cutting a punch than making a technical drawing for mechanical manufacture. If I draw, I draw fairly roughly, often at very small size, to help me figure out how to 'cut' the shape of the digital glyph.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,077
    I think what happens with each passing generation of type designers, is we not only lose the common vernacular but the training and years with the tools of the day.  I wonder if soon enough, the young designers will have evolved so differently than we old farts did, that we will be unable to describe our way of working to each other in a truly meaningful way?
  • It's weird, but I never use a hand drawing as a direct source for the digital artwork. In fact I only scan them just to have a digital record somewhere. My hand drawings are primarily for brainstorming and quick testing.

    It's great to read about the various working methods posted here though, it's given me some new perspectives on the process.
  • Talking about IKARUS: in 2013 together with Adobe I published Digital Typography & Artificial Intelligence in the context of the Dr. Peter Karow Award for Font Technology & Digital Typography. This award is presented once per five years to a person who makes an exceptional and innovative contribution to the development of digital type and typography related technology. In 2013 the PKA was presented to Dr. Donald E. Knuth .

    Preparations for the PKA 2018 have started and therefore Digital Typography & Artificial Intelligence is available as PDF now.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 452
    Actually I think that the job itself defines what the best tool is.
    The more I think about this, the righter it sounds. I think certain forms, like brush-style letters, are very difficult to do convincingly if you don't start from analog. Forms made with a single stroke of the fingers have a warmth and organic unity very hard to produce when you're tugging nodes into position one by one.

    And as Morag Myerscough says, computers are slow. I can sketch an a in a few seconds that has the rhythms and proportions I want, but it takes a few minutes for me to produce one on screen that has any resemblance to my idea. And I've been using béziers for 30 years.

    For what little it's worth, I work both ways, and it's all down to what sort of letter I need to make.

    Meanwhile, we're apparently not the only profession having this discussion.

Sign In or Register to comment.