Random glyph variation to mimic handwritten font

Hi

I want to create a font from handwritten characters (not physically connected to each other) and include slight variations of every character to mimic real handwritten imperfections. I know it can be done with OpenType alternates, but this still requires some manual work in Indesign when setting the text (choosing which variation of which character to use). Instead I would like to have the computer pick a variation randomly. Can this be done (on font level, Indesign (scripting) level, other software,...)?

Thanx
F

Comments

  • It can be done at the font level, as shown here:

    The font mentioned at that forum topic has a slightly different intention, but the logic behind the OpenType feature code should get you started.

    Besides this approach there is also a rand feature, as discussed here:

  • Fons Dams said:
    Hi

    I know it can be done with OpenType alternates, but this still requires some manual work in Indesign when setting the text (choosing which variation of which character to use).

    Thanx
    F
    There shouldn’t be any need to do this if the font is well designed and the correct features are activated, ie, contextual alternates, ligatures, discretionary ligatures etc. 
  • I found this TYPOLabs 2018 talk extremely helpful in knowing what’s possible for semi-random handwriting font technology, what software limitations are out there when it comes to OpenType features, and what things you might try you might not have considered:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eCviu05n_XA
  • kenlundekenlunde Posts: 2
    For those who were not aware, Adobe Photoshop 2020 and Adobe Photoshop 2021 support the 'rand' OpenType feature as long as the World-ready Layout option is enabled. Interestingly, there is no UI element to disable this, other than to turn off World-Ready Layout. The lack of a UI element to disable this feature makes me suspect that support for this feature was not intentional.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,561
    I don’t know how the <rand> supporting layout apps work to do that, but I doubt it has the effect which we desire, which is the non-repetition of identical glyphs for the same character, in close proximity. .

    A true random feature would often double the same glyph, just as one may randomly throw “heads” several times in a row.
  • kenlundekenlunde Posts: 2
    As my original tweet suggested, my guess is that this is an unexpected side-effect of incorporating HarfBuzz, so I would expect the behavior to follow HarfBuzz's implementation of this particular feature. Whether it is truly random is a separate issue.
  • The Caveat fonts do what you want. There are 3 or 4 versions of each letter and it tries to automatically include as much variation of shapes as it is possible.
    https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Caveat#standard-styles

    Source code for the Glyphs app is available and you can have a look inside the Open Type code at https://github.com/googlefonts/caveat
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