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Font-level axis in variable fonts are great. However it seems limiting the possibilities font-designers want to see in fonts now that they know what design-space can do in variable fonts. Indeed, so far axis affect the whole font’s design space and choosing a point in the font design-space affects the whole glyphs-set.
I would like to open a discussion about new possibilities and ideas that were fostered by TypoLabs2018. I am thinking of talks by speakers of the conference and also discussions I had the chance to have there.
Im particularly thinking it would be a step forward to have a mechanism enabling actual ‘smart-components’ and ‘kashida-glyphs’ (local glyph variations) or even non-linear interpolations in OpenType fonts.
I am now thinking of a few things that could enable the new possibilities that were talked about:
- Super Axis (or super-sliders) that would affect relative positions of defined defined axis, and Master Axis (or master-sliders) that would affect absolute positions of defined defined axis >>> enabling non-linear interpolations along curves (cf.
- Selection of postions in the font's design space that would affect only some defined glyphs >>> enabling efficient use of kashida-glyphs, or GEXT axis (cf.
- Local design-spaces at the glyph level with axis that could be shared amongst one or a few glyphs only, but not the whole font >>> enabling actual smart-components at font level. Say for example you have a Chinese radical component with width and weight axis making it usable and customizable in many glyphs depending on its context (smart component) and that component would also possibly be interpolated along the weight axis of the font itself. Meaning the local design space of that glyph would also have positions in the weight axis of the font.
The mechanisms of these ideas must be elaborated and defined more precisely. And this thread could to gather inputs on how they could take shape and how could they possibly be integrated into OpenType specifications in the future.