Glyph Collector

During the first semester of the current school year, KABK-LetterStudio student Gábor Kerekes programmed a small nifty tool in the context of the ‘1001 ways to digitize type’ module, named Glyph Collector. The tool is meant for collecting multiple representations of glyphs from a scanned page, and for subsequently generating an average image.

How does it work? One has to select one glyph of each character that has to be converted, and to save the image to a folder. Next Glyph Collector will gather all characters for which it finds a reference and will put these per character in a folder. This makes it a great tool for researching historic prints IMHO. On top of that it optionally will generate average glyphs per character, based on all distilled variants. These glyphs can be used for further processing in an auto-tracing tool, for instance as a starting point for the development of a revival.

Glyph Collector is a standalone application for Mac OS X.9–10. For its inner workings, it relies on OpenCV (an open-source computer vision library) and it has all dependencies on board. It can be downloaded for free from this website, which also provides further information on the tool.



  • Congrats Gábor and Frank! Very interesting tool.
  • Paul van der LaanPaul van der Laan Posts: 204
    edited May 2015
    Interesting tool indeed. Also thanks to Just van Rossum!
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 520
    edited May 2015
    By the way Frank, are you aware of the PaRadiit project and the "Agora" & "Centro" tools?
    You may want to have a look, maybe you can join forces, or do some collaboration.
  • Pablo, thanks for the links! I just had a brief look at the PaRADIIT project-tool and there is a very clear overlap in functionality. The starting point differs a bit though; Retro seems to focus on analysis, and GlyphCollector (the latest version has the word space removed) is above all meant as a designer’s tool. Hence the generation of the average glyphs plus the planned incorporated auto-tracing and direct conversion to a font. And GlyphCollector is available for Mac OS X, of course.

    That being said, the way things are organized in Retro is actually quite nice. And it certainly makes sense if Gábor contacts the people behind the PaRADIIT project, I reckon.
  • Thank you guys. And Pablo, thanks for suggesting PaRadiit. Their tools look way more sophisticated than what GlyphCollector does, but as Frank has said, they are also meant for different purposes.  The mechanism they use would be an overkill for the tasks that GlyphCollector aims to achieve. 

    Their way of visualizing the character clusters however, looks just like what I had in mind for a future release. It would be nice to have an interface that would show all instances of characters that were found in the supplied source scans, and would also allow one to exclude some of them from the calculation of averages ( some of the characters that get collected are way too distorted ). 

    Let me know if you guys have any suggestions for what further features would be useful to add.

  • Yes, the PaRadiit's tools are very complex and overkill for us.
    I love that your tools is super easy to use. Great work Gábor!
  • The link to GlyphCollector that I provided above seems to be broken. This one should work though. Currently Gábor is working on a new, enhanced, and more sophisticated version of GC.
  • Interesting! This may be a dumb question but can it cope with glyphs having different proportions? I'm working on digitising some designs but some of the glyphs are condensed and others expanded.
  • Hi Simon!
    I have not tested this use case, but I think it should be able to deal with it, as long as you supply references to match for both variants.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 520
    edited April 2017
    Currently Gábor is working on a new, enhanced, and more sophisticated version of GC.
    That looks pretty awesome!!! Would love to give it a try.
  • Thanks Gábor and Frank for this amazing tool. I spent a whole night to collect character [a] from only one page of a book (which means looking for the character, cropping, making 1000  layers in photoshop and aligning the results  :-(  ), now I'm using this tool which amazingly speeds up the process. Specially the fact that it generates an average image is just awesome. I didn't know life can be much easier. Thanks guys./
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