A manifold of fonts

This is intriguing: using maths and computers to meld fonts. http://vecg.cs.ucl.ac.uk/Projects/projects_fonts/projects_fonts.html


  • Nifty, latin type design has been solved. Time to move on to the rest of the world.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,015
    Pretty much what the variable font format does.
    Some copyright issues.

  • Imagine doing it for all your own fonts
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,572
    edited November 2018
    This reminds me of Font Chameleon back in the nineties. Although accomplished completely differently, the results seem similar.

    The idea of blending between different fonts seems like a great idea, but the results you get from blending fonts, while you might get lucky sometimes, are rarely good or useful.

    I think the whole concept makes some weird assumptions about how typeface design works, for instance that the difference between any two corresponding characters from two typefaces applies in a coherent way to all characters in the two fonts. But just because one character in a blended font looks good or acceptable, there’s no reason to expect that to be true for all characters.

    It’s interesting, but I’m not quite sure what real problem is being solved.

    Variable fonts are fundamentally different in that the entire blending space is controlled by the type designer.
  • Also, they claim to have taken their set of fonts from a Windows install after removing foreign language and symbol fonts. In fact, they removed only those foreign language fonts which lacked a roman subset. Since a significant number of the non-roman fonts in windows use either Arial or TNR (or Nimbus Serif) for their roman range, those fonts are going to be rather overrepresented. And of course many CJK fonts have roman sets with metrics and widths which really don’t correspond to normal roman aesthetics.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,441
    Mark, I well remember Font Chameleon, like you, I gave up on it quickly.  It made more of a mess than what it fixed.
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  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,515
    edited November 2018
    I played with Font Chameleon. It was fun, and its approach to blending worked better than some. I liked its approach to abstracting a design as a “font descriptor.”

    I don’t think many people ever got to use the actual FontChameleon editor used to create new descriptors—the descriptors being the fonts you could put into the blender, and blend between multiple descriptors, or adjust their weight, width, x-height, etc.

    I tried the editor, as Adobe had acquired the rights to the tech (used for font compression in printer ROMs for PostScript 3), and thought it had potential as a way to make remarkably quick prototypes of fonts, that could then be worked on afterwards with traditional tools. Some of my Adobe colleagues (at least David Lemon and Robert Slimbach) disagreed, feeling that it blandified the fonts a bit, and perhaps discouraged innovation in details.

    Of course, other tools have gone down that path since. But FontChameleon was one of the first, after MetaFont. (And massively easier to use and more approachable than MetaFont.)
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,441
    There is a difference between a tool and a gadget.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,572
    edited November 2018
    I had the starter version of Font Chameleon (I think) which included a small set of fonts to play with. My opinions are based on that. (Grant Hutchinson has it in his collection now, I believe.)

    FWIW, Font Chameleon could do way more than the research project that is the topic of this discussion. It had sliders to control things like x-height, width, weight, and so on, in addition to being able to blend fonts.
  • Is Prototypo comparable to Font Chameleon?
  • I'm not really familiar with Prototypo, but one obvious difference is that, with Font Chameleon, you couldn't create a new font in it. You had to use existing fonts supplied by the developer.
  • Just think what another twenty or thirty years of development of this technology could do to the jobs of typographers. 

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