Question about correct contours

Can someone tell me which one is a correct Typographical contour and why?
Thank you .


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  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,649
    Probably neither. The one on the left is arguably a bit better: the lower four-way intersection isn't quite as bad and the topmost curve is smoother on both top and bottom. But if I had the outlines there are some tweaks I would do, notably to fix the impression that the crossover is offset. Sometimes geometrically correct looks wrong.

    The design of the letter "X" is a similar problem in Latin-based writing systems. Most well-crafted typefaces offset all four parts slightly outwards, which is necessary so they do not *appear* to be offset.

    Similarly, this crossover appears offset: the bottom bit could move slightly left, maybe 4/1000. The lower right horizontal could shift a bit down, maybe 8/1000. Something like that—have to try it and then see when it looks right.

    BUT... some things are hard to judge without context. I remember being unfamiliar of Thai curve-to-straight connection norms and believing there was something dreadfully wrong with a particular Thai font I was looking at. But I didn’t know how Thai type design differs from Latin (English, etc.), and what looked “wrong” to me... was just my ignorance. (Fiona Ross was remarkably gentle with me on this matter.)

    Similarly, Indic writing systems hew closer to their calligraphic underpinnings than Latin-based ones, and do not do optical corrections where a curve sprouts from a horizontal or vertical line. What is right in Devanagari would be “wrong” in English, and vice versa. Not even mentioning the differences in angles of stress....


  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    Thank you Tomas for detailed answer . Yes the one is better on a screen and print .

    I understand different writing systems requires different optical, mathematical as well as legibility adjustments . I would like to understand what technicality governs to make a letter shape crisp and beautiful regardless the writing system? BTW this is Ethiopian writing system. I draw the letters and took it to Fontlab . Is The new Fontlab VI  easier to do this ? 
    Thank you again .  
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,649
    Ah, Ethiopic! Of course, it looked familiar.

    In the long run, learning to draw directly in your font editor will tend to yield best results. But we (font editor vendors) all do our best to accommodate drawing elsewhere and migrating your vectors over. What drawing program are you using?

    FontLab VI may indeed make the process easier than 5. It has some powerful features for reuse of even partial outlines.
  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 146
    edited June 7
    Hello Aleme. I imported your image into FontLab VI and then I 1. converted it to contours; 2. cleaned and fixed nodes; 3. split it in two separated contours; 4. adjusted thickness; 5. normalized angles; 6. harmonized curves; 7. fixed the inflections; and 8. made optical adjust to the two parts cross.

    The FontLab VI tools I used for each operation were 1. Autotrace; 2. FontAudit; 3. Scissors tool; 4. manual adjust with stem measurement active; 5. manual adjust with lengths and angles visible; 6. Tunni lines; 7. FontAudit; and 8. manual editing.

    From this list, items 1, 6, and the measurements visible for items 4 and 5 are not available in previous FontLab version. The FontAudit fixes also exist in FLS5, but are far improved in VI. In the image below, you can see the original traced contours in light blue.

    Of course, my adjusts may be not the best for your overall font project. It is more a generic adjust aiming to demonstrate differences between the two FontLab versions.


  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    @Thomas Phinney Thank you again. 
    I use illustrator to draw my letter forms . I am  familiar and fast with illustrator .

    I really appreciate you at font lab making technicality easier and leave  a room for creativity .  Ethiopic has over 300 characters, it is labor intensive and time consuming design process.  I like many features in Font lab VI from the Videos I saw .   I will get it and use it . I like many features it has. For example harmonizing curves  .

    Thanks again .
  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    @Igor Freiberber
    Igor I can't thank you enough for this nice and detailed explanation . I don't have Fontlab VI , I will get it and use it .  some of the letter forms I want like this example are complicated .
    I see from your example I miss tuning it up and putting the nods in the right place . 

     4. manual adjust with stem measurement active; 5. manual adjust with lengths and angles visible; 6. Tunni lines; might help me a lot . 
    Can this be done for all Glyphs  or has to be done individually ?

    Again thank you so much Igor .
    Aleme

  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 146
    edited June 7
    No, these operations need to be made individually for each glyph. But you can apply other adjusts to multiple glyphs and then reduce the amount of individual editing: fix FontAudit errors, Balance, Harmonize, Clean Up, Simplify, and Nodes at Extremes.

    Let me also suggest a first step: try to identify the parts that are repeated among several glyphs and create each one as an element. I am not familiar with Ethiopic, but this example should help:


    At a first glance, La's legs could be two repeating parts. But the left leg is not always shared, as in Laa and Lwa. So, the better approach is to create three elements (the different colors in La) and build the others glyphs with them. Similarly, the bottom semicircle of Lee seems to be repeated in Le, but flipped. If this is true, you can design it once and use it flipped to build Le.

    Of course, this may be not always possible. But if you identify these "Lego" blocks and create them as elements in FontLab VI, you will save much time later. This becomes huge if your font also includes other weights: you change the weight, for example, of the red part of La and all other references of it are changed accordingly.

    You can check FontLab VI forum to see other solutions and common questions. It will be a pleasure to help.

  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    Thanks Igor Again , 

    Here is a quick image how Le family is written traditionally. I am trying to keep the tradition and  principles  while making a modern typeface.   My font (on the top) is the one I am working on . Below is Nyala Font  (Designed by John Hudson)
    BTW Nyala Type face is the most loved in Ethiopia John did a very good job.

    If you see in my font I used same elements as much as I could. But the trick in designing Ethiopic is every letter form is a little bit different from each other while it maintains liking and legibility of the group, reusing too many forms will make it mechanical like the font you showed me above which people don't care much about it .
    You can see clearly in Nyala font .

    John treated each letter separately while the set is beautiful together .  For example  5,6, and the 7 characters having different rings .
     I think White space is very important in Ethiopic than any other writing system .

    Back to my Question :- 
    You mean I  Can create a form and store it as  Element and reuse it in Fontlab VI?
    I usually use find and replace . 

    Thanks Igor .

    Last night I was reading font lab VI Manual (help ) Font audit section . You want to check the last paragraph 
       
  • I am not sure I understand the problem here. Not being familiar with the letter forms of Ethiopian I don’t get if Aleme was just asking opinion/insight on the curves harmony, or on that letter overall balance (both quite different things).
  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 146
    You mean I can create a form and store it as Element and reuse it in Fontlab VI?
    I usually use find and replace.
    Exactly! In FLS5 I also used find and replace (and it is still available in FLVI). But Elements are more powerful.

    Thank you very much for the info about Ethiopian script! The font I used in the sample is Noto Sans from IBM. Good to know it is not a reference. After I started to know more about Ethiopian history and culture (like this), I liked the idea to work with its script. But this is for the future.

    By the way, all that John Hudson makes is great.

  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    Yes , John Hudson is smart and he has great personality . He has respect for the culture and really understood the writing system . I myself used it to publish two books .
    Noto Sans is the opposite . 
    This summer I am busy . I will get Fontlab VI and use it .
    Igor can I get your e mail? or my email is [email protected]

    Thanks  
  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    ; Claudio Piccinini
    Claudio , I was asking about overall about the quality of the contour . how to improve it then the discussion expanded .

    Thanks  
  • ; Claudio Piccinini
    Claudio , I was asking about overall about the quality of the contour . how to improve it then the discussion expanded .

    Thanks  
    Ah, so points/handles placement et al. then. Hard to judge the overall harmony of curves without knowing the alphabet, though.

    If the question was where I would have more or less placed the points and handles to achieve a good result, here’s a quick retracing of both versions as I would do it (surely can be improved):


  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    @ Claudio Piccinini
    Thank you so much. I like the second one better . I can see the infliction points .
  • @ Claudio Piccinini
    Thank you so much. I like the second one better . I can see the infliction points .
    Curves can be improved, but beware not to get lost in the details. :-)
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,649
    I like the top of the first one and the bottom of the second one.
  • I like the top of the first one and the bottom of the second one.
    I have no clue of what the proportions of that letter are. The second (aside from the slight formal differences) looks a bit extended (or vice-versa)… :-)
  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    I like the top of the first one and the bottom of the second one.
    I have no clue of what the proportions of that letter are. The second (aside from the slight formal differences) looks a bit extended (or vice-versa)… :-)
    I am going to use the second one (the extended one ) it looks taller , but works much better for over all Harmony . The trick in designing Ethiopic is making each letter form 
    legible and beautiful while optically harmonizing  with other letter forms . 

    as in the calligraphy example above we have one basic form with six variations. some of the forms are complicated . They contain forms with in the form. Traditional scribes
    pay a lot of attention to "Hiwa " a lot . In loose translation White space .

    At this point I am worried about the quality of the contours which I am thankful for your help. 
    Aleme    
  • Traditional scribes pay a lot of attention to "Hiwa " a lot . In loose translation White space .

    At this point I am worried about the quality of the contours which I am thankful for your help.
    Aleme    
    White space is essential, part of the design. I believe this goes for every alphabet. :)
    You’re welcome, if you want the outline I saved it in a Fontlab file, or I can send you an Illustrator file.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,552
    Aleme Tadesse said:
    Traditional scribes pay a lot of attention to "Hiwa " a lot . In loose translation White space .
    Good to know that word! (I might just start using it in English. :-)

    There is however a limit to how much one can respect the white while painting the black.
  • Actually, Aleme was not talking about white space. In Ethiopian script, the word space is not a blank area, but a character: uni1361.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,552
    Actually, Aleme was not talking about white space. In Ethiopian script, the word space is not a blank area, but a character: uni1361.
    Interesting.
    Is that because it needs to act/look very different than the Latin one?

    But in terms of "hiwa", are you sure? "They contain forms with in the form" seems to mean something besides the space between words.
  • @ Igor @ Hrant
    Igor the word space uni 1361 is two dots to separate a words .

    By white space I mean negative space within the letter . 
    A better “ Hiwa” is insured by setting rules how to write each letter . 

    Rule number one is when  a letter form is written one has to start from left to the right . 

    For example if you write upper case Latin “H” you have to start from left vertical stroke and then the horizontal bar and then
    Finish it by adding the right horizontal stroke on the right  (right is as you see the screen). Only 3 strokes .

    as you can see on the image after the first stroke it is easier to see where to put the next stroke in proportion . 

    Another rule is no letter form shouldn’t have continuous lines for example if you write the letter “O” it has to have two half circles joined .

    Hrant BTW “Hiwa”sometimes spelled
     “ Hewa” means space or usable vacuum 
    You can see the use of Hiwa better on Ethiopian crosses like this painting of mine .
    Or google Ethiopian old crosses .

    How to translate all this in typography design is my life long passion. :)





     
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,552
    @Aleme Tadesse How is hiwa/hewa spelled in actual Ethiopian?
  • Hrant this is how is written.
    Let me know what ever you write about it .
  • @ Hrant 
    it is always hard to spell Ethiopian word in English in consonant and 
    Vowels situation. It is approximate representation. 
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,552
    @Aleme Tadesse I want to start using it in English to mean "the white inside a letter". Check back in about ten years to see if anybody else has picked it up.  :-)

    BTW could you provide that as actual text too?
  • Aleme TadesseAleme Tadesse Posts: 22
    edited June 12
    @Hrant ;
    I believe someone will pick it up in less than ten years may be in different name and credit . 
    It will be best explained in Ethiopian crosses, but tomorrow will post an example .
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,552
    So I got it:
    ሕዋ

    But I'm having trouble with pronouncing and transcribing the first syllable, and not just the vowel: is that "h" pronounced like the Arabic ح?
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