Prior to the my talk about the (possible) automation of type design processes at the coming ATypI TypeTech Forum (FM Track) in St. Petersburg, I have made the latest preliminary edition of the DTL LetterModeller available for (free) download from: http://www.fontmaster.nl/english/demo.html
The downloads for Mac OS X and Windows also include the PDF of my presentation. This document gives some hints on how to proceed with the further design of the generated glyphs and subsequently reveals some of the planned functionality for DTL LetterModeller.
The development of the application is partly the result of my PhD research at Leiden University, in which harmonic systems in scripts and music play a central role. The ideas behind the application, which are described in the PDF, are based on my program and experiments as Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague over the past 21 years. Basically the models are supplementary to writing with the broad nib and the pointed pen and the subsequent letter drawing (and vice versa). I actually believe that the application can also be of use at a much earlier stage of education, like at the elementary school.
Some of my former students showed some of my models on the web over time, like:
http://www.letterlabor.de/frank.php and this lead to discussions like at: http://typographica.org/000756.php.
Basically (the current status of) my theory is that Scripts are represented by Harmonic Systems, (for instance Capitals, Textletters and Cursives), which contain one or more Harmonic Models, which also can be shared between the Systems. Harmonic Models can contain one or more Proportional Models, which reflect in the Rhythmic Model (texture and spacing), and one Relational Model (pen width vs. x-height, i.e. weight).
The current edition of the DTL LetterModeller focusses only on the Textletters. This Harmonic System can be explored and modified using a range of parameters. The outcome can be exported in BE (Bezier) format, and these glyphs can be further edited in DTL FontMaster (Light) and subsequently exported as a font.
The application has some rough edges and a few loose ends still. For instance the ‘Pen thickness’ currently only works for the diagonals in the ‘a’ and ‘e’. Furthermore there is room for improvement for construction of the ‘k’ and ‘v-z’ range and the ‘s’ is missing. Flattening of the curves is not possible yet, so Gothic variants have to wait for the moment.
The programming of the DTL LetterModeller is done by Dr. Juergen Willrodt and Axel Stoltenberg at URW++.
Frank E. Blokland