extending the line between Arabic letters

finedesign's picture

I am working with Illustrator and InDesign ME. Coming from a latin perspective, I want to adjust the "kerning" between characters by extending the line or juncture between letterforms. I see this all the time with Arabic text, but I'm not sure if it is a special font that allows it, or if perhaps there is a glyph in each Arabic font that allows me to extend the line.

So for example, the bismillah normally begins:
بسم
but I would like to extend the line between the "ba" and "sin".
ب--سم

I don't see that in the character set. I am using KFGQPC Uthman Taha Naskh. I realize I won't be able to compete with a calligrapher, but I'm trying to replicate what I'm seeing elsewhere.

Khaled Hosny's picture

You should the tatweel character U+0640 "ـ" (Shift+ت on my keyboard layout). But it should be used with care as it is not appropriate between any glyph pair (most users abuse it).

hrant's picture

Khaled, I can usually spot where the tatweel (AKA kasheeda)
is misused, but are there formal rules written down anywhere?

BTW Paul, a more significant use of the tatweel is for line justification.

hhp

Khaled Hosny's picture

There rules are rather aesthetic, and differ slightly from calligraphy master to another, and some styles are more generous in applying tatweel while it is completely prohibited in Ruq‘a for example.

This article on Arabic text justification gives a great insight on kashida rules, with detailed rules for Naskh style. There are also the rules used by (some?) Microsoft applications, though they are simplistic and thus can result in wrong kashidas and the last rule is really bogus.

finedesign's picture

Thank you Khaled! This is exactly what I needed. And thank you hhp for the relevant question. I certainly am concerned about usage of it. The pdf Khaled sent helps so much.

Is this behavior generally out of taste and should be avoided unless necessary? Or is it accepted when used minimally? Should I not use it at all if not for justification? And is a tatweel the same as a kashida? I've never been able to do anything with "Kashida" in any of the Adobe apps, and I have assumed I just don't have the right font.

The issue is I need to type a bismillah, but it needs to match the font of the body text, and there is is no full bismillah glyph in the font. (Sometimes I see a nice one in the character map of the font I'm using.) But I don't want to add a tatweel if it is considered tacky. It just looks so strange to see a bismillah so short without the calligrapher's tatweel! (And I got the first message wrong. It's between "sin" and "mim".)

Also, the swashes that you see in latin fonts, are those available in Arabic fonts too? I've never seen them. What I mean is a long extension that curls above or below the line...like in "fi"
في
if the "yah" extended below the baseline for a longer distance without interrupting the other characters. I realize I'm probably getting into "call the calligrapher" domain here. Tasmeem in InDesign is nice, but I just can't afford the nicer fonts yet, and what I have doesn't seem to give enough variation in the line.

hrant's picture

Proper use of the kasheeda is the height of good taste,
and is certainly not limited to line justification. For one
thing a kasheeda can get ridiculously long, but when it's
right it's awesome.

hhp

Khaled Hosny's picture

Tatweel is an Arabic name of kashida (which I believe is a word of Persian origin, though the word commonly used by Arabic calligraphers as well).

Kashida can be used for many purposes like emphasising, giving room for diacritics in "crowded" situations etc. and when used properly improves the overall appearance of text. Kashida is usually a curvilinear stroke and in traditional fonts too long kasida will look awful when rectangular in shape, yet very few fonts provide curvilinear ones.

For bismillah it is customary to use kashida before the meem, but unless that meem is extended horizontally (unlike most fonts) it will look bad, and I'd not do that my self. Some fonts might include the bismillah ligature ﷽ (U+FDFD) and if present can be a better choice.

As for swashes, some fonts have them with 'swsh' feature, but they are too fancy and shouldn't be used for regular text.

hrant's picture

> For bismillah it is customary to use kashida before the meem

Isn't that part of the "seen" though? I know that in terms of
how glyphs are typically built it would involve a kasheeda,
but maybe the more interesting use of the kasheeda is where
it's not following a long letter (basically a "seen" or "shaa'"),
so in a way it's "optional".

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Isn't that part of the "seen" though?

It is important to understand the kashida as an elongation of a letter, and not as something inserted between letters, although most font technologies have tried to implement kashida in terms of an insertion (and most Arabic justification algorithms sadly presume a flat kashida that can be stretched or multiplied without distortion). As an elongation of the letter, the kashida should affect the positioning of disambiguating dots and other marks.

This is an area of Arabic typography that is still very problematic. We can get manually inserted U+0640 kashida to work correctly using OpenType Layout:

But automatic kashida insertion as applied in all justification I've looked at happens after OTL processing, and hence will break display of any non-flat Arabic typeface.

hrant's picture

> the kashida should affect the positioning
> of disambiguating dots and other marks.

I didn't know that!

hhp

Khaled Hosny's picture

Isn't that part of the "seen" though?

Strictly speaking, here it is the "seen" being elongated, but kashida often affects the shape of both sides of it and hardly belongs exclusively to either.

John Hudson's picture

Khaled, I interpret this slightly differently: kashida is an elongation of the first letter but may have an influence on the shape of the second letter because of the way in which the elongation affects the join (or a stylistic influence as in the contextual use of a variant alif in the example I showed above).

finedesign's picture

Thank you for the comments. It's all very helpful.

Just to provide a little visual to the theory, I'm attaching two images.
The first image shows the font desired and the result of adding one and three tatweelat.
The second image is the Emiri font in InDesign Tasmeem. I'm actually surprised it is so flat.

After looking at this, what is the best option? I do think the tatweel are too flat and not helpful in this context.


Khaled Hosny's picture

I interpret this slightly differently

When elongating, say, جر, the kashida is hardly part of the jeem as it does not affect it more than it affect the raa (even the placement of the dot does not change), but your view can off course be true in many other cases.

Khaled Hosny's picture

I think Uthman Taha's kashida-less one is better, Emiri's Allah "ligature" is very poor, I'd never use it if only for that, but as far as kashida is concerned the middle is the best of the three.

froo's picture

I don't see a real need to use kashida here. It is not a basmala, where the word bism is like a base for the rest of the building.
Anyway, that 1 tatweel example seems to be the best, though it is a tad too "mechanic", it's a straight curve; so tou could make it narrower a bit, probably.

finedesign's picture

Thanks so much for the feedback, folks.

hrant's picture

In those docile styles I think a moderate tatweel might be best.
But you do need something after a "seen"/"shaa'" I think.

> tatweelat

Since "tatweel" is masculine I suspect that would be "tataaweel". :-)
Arabic pluralization is awesome.

BTW, you're missing the "hah" in the "alraHeem" in the KFGQPC samples.
And isn't the vertical "a" accent important in "alraHmaan"? Not sure.

hhp

Badr Oraby's picture

When elongating, say, جر, the kashida is hardly part of the jeem as it does not affect it more than it affect the raa

Khalid, I disagree with you because kashida affects on Geem more than raa, because the exit place of kashida changed its position,and the design of Geem changed on both, size and Inclination.

Badr

finedesign's picture

hhp, I totally didn't catch the "hah" in "alraHeem." Thanks for the correction.

Zuhair Albazi's picture

As the discussion is about tatweel, I would like to share the Image of my Naskh Font with calligraphic tatweel and about 20 stylistic sets

hrant's picture

Cool.
(And I didn't know there's supposed to
be a shadda on the "rayn" in "alraHeem".)

hhp

AzizMostafa's picture

Why + how to do extend Where?!
Too puzzling that the 3 fundamental questions remain unanswered?!
Thanks God, I was born with KASHIDA?!

Badr Oraby's picture

Good work, Zuhair
I ask you to enter this link:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.309765395731518.70922.192106934...
you will find multiple forms of writing Basmalah.
At the same time you will find many different rules on the page to write Naskh and you'll see the Characters before and after that affected by adding Kashidas.

GO ON ...

Badr

finedesign's picture

Zuhair, thank you for sharing examples from your font. This is exactly the kind of functionality I wanted. Is the font completed? And does it have multiple weights?

If I understand Aziz and Badr correctly, the tatweelat are incorrect because they do not take into consideration the adjacent letters, yes? This seems to be an inevitable challenge for any Arabic font, unless you are using Tasmeem in InDesign or have a font with an insane number of ligatures. I would like to know if either Aziz or Badr ever use tatweel in other fonts. I know Aziz has been working on his own font(s) with multiple ligatures. Does that mean Aziz only uses his own fonts, never those of others? Or just never tatweelat?

Zuhair Albazi's picture

Thanks to all for appreciating my new Naskh font.

My Naskh font consists of more than 4000 Arabic glyphs. It supports only Arabic language not Persian, Urdu or any other similar language. The tatweel can be inserted at any position in any word up to three levels. So the user will have full control over the tatweel to insert how much tatweel he wants and where he wants. Tatweel works for every character and it will be the user's choice to insert tatweels where he wants, correctly or incorrectly.

As far as the Tasmeem for Indesign is concerned that is a software while it is a font but I have worked hard to make it more powerful and more flexible than Tasmeem and to provide the Arabic users and publishers an easy way to use most of the possibilities of Arabic Calligraphy just by using a font like tatweel up to three levels, alternate shapes of reh and zeh in every word, alternate shapes of Alef, alternate shapes of jeem, alternate shapes for meem, alternate shapes for kaf, swashes for all possible words, alternate shapes for diacritical marks, alternate space between words etc. etc.

For example the word "AR-Rehmaan" in the Basmala. In my font it has 256 or even more possible shapes along with tatweels, swashes, alternate reh and alternate alef etc. I have not counted mark placement in these 256 shapes. Similarly most of the words has several possible shapes.

I hope this font will be one of its own kind, more like a software. Only some kerning work is remaining and I hope that I will complete it very soon Insha-Allah with two weights Regular and Bold.

AzizMostafa's picture

@ Finedesign, … Or just never tatweelat?

So far, All typesetting tools built by M$,Adobe+WinSoft are not SMART enough to handle TATWEEL even for their own linear fonts?! They randomly+indiscriminately distribute TATWEEL beautifying some words and spoiling others. So, TATWEEL is virtually useless.

So, think of building a SMART Arabic Font by:
1. Freeing it of any INSANE Kashida.
2. Killing the right side bearings of ALL Glyphs.
3. Adjusting SPACE between 222 + 277 points,
4. Spacing the left side bearings as follows:
_ for Aif + D and their likes = ½ Space Width,
_ for WAW = Zero (0)
_ for R and the likes = Between (-) ¼ + (-) ½ Space Width,then
5. VOLTing R-Kern.

When typesetting, do SWM (Space Width Modulation) as follows:
1. Double the Spaces following the words that end with Aif, WAW + D and the likes,
2. Tripple the Spaces following the words that end with R and the likes>

That's how I build + test my fonts, as I suggested in 2006 here:
http://typophile.com/node/19348
And today, thanks to MaryamSoft Arabic Calligrapher + QalamBarter, I am doing Fine Designs.

Good Luck with FineDesign!

Badr Oraby's picture

I think that what we seek here is to get the best of what we can of aesthetic form of Arabic Calligraphy, but must take into account the technical aspects of the aesthetic for the font before you start, including:
= What methods invented by calligraphers to improve the format fonts?
= Kashidas you could put in any place, or a base?

= Calligraphers invented more than one way to increase the beauty of the
font and written texts, including:
- Making different ligatures, some of which extend and some are reduced (ligature alternates).
- Making various alternates of the same character, some of which extend
and some are reduced (character alternates).
- Overlay on top of each letter and gathered together in the form of beautiful (forms).
- The invention of kashidas. :)

= Kashidas is the recent use of it is less beautiful than all of the above, as it is just a plus lengthening between the characters, but to use it must follow certain rules, including:
- May be placed kashidas between certain characters, and may not be between certain characters.
- Kashidas have specific lengths, at least not more than.
- Kashidas affected by the length, the more in length, the greater the concavity and depth.
- Kashidas often affect the preceding character in it, as well as the next character to it.

Zuhair, You did a good job and wonderful, and I wish to continue, but I hope to take into account the technical aspects in addition kashidas, and do not fall in the problems of software that allows everything possible in the font like KALK or TASMEEM; because the average user has no ability to choose artistic combinations correct harmonious with each other.

Khaled Hosny's picture

... do not fall in the problems of software that allows everything possible in the font like KALK or TASMEEM; because the average user has no ability to choose artistic combinations correct harmonious with each other.

+1

One can build a very powerful system but 99% of users will just spoil it with insanely bad choices, so a less powerful system that does The Right Thing™ most of the time is far more beneficial for most common use cases.

Badr Oraby's picture

finedesign,

Yet, I do not use technical kashidas in my fonts, and rely on methods such as the above-mentioned ligatures and forms of longed letters (Al-Morsalah).
Once, I rely on some artistic additions that change the length of the word, such as the use of various forms of Teethed letters (ب ، ت ، ث ، ن ، يـ ، ئـ), as in the example:

Kashidas - from a technical perspective - need alternatives to a variety of characters preceding and following it; so I whole rules and put it in the form of a table, and then start working.

Greetings
Badr

Badr Oraby's picture

One can build a very powerful system but 99% of users will just spoil it with insanely bad choices, so a less powerful system that does The Right Thing™ most of the time is far more beneficial for most common use cases.

+

This is what should be in the computer fonts, which work directly on the systems and programs without need to special engine running.

Badr

AzizMostafa's picture

@ Badr Oraby, This is what should be in the computer fonts, which work directly on the systems and programs without need to special engine running.

1. Any Program that runs without special system?! TV or Radio Programs?!
2. Any System that runs without special engine?! PC or Linux?!

Zuhair Albazi's picture

Tatweel (kashida) in my font after refining and some other features. Badr, I hope now kashida is in good shape.

Badr Oraby's picture

Very Good Work, Zuhair.

I will back again to let you know some notes and this time it will be about using character alternates.

Badr

finedesign's picture

I wish I could choose to be notified when these forums are updated. Zuhair, I'm very impressed with your font! And thank you everyone for sharing your wisdom. I'm indebted!

Zuhair Albazi's picture

Thank you finedesign for appreciating the font.

I think you have missed my new thread http://typophile.com/node/93945 showing much details about my font

Also watch "Zuhair Albazi Naskh Font" in a video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zb2HvrNprM

Thanks,

Muhammad Rashid Shaikh's picture

I want to develop a new font of Urdu Language(in Nastaleeq script) by using Calligarphic works of one of famous Calligrapher.

I request all to please inform me step by step detail how I can achieve this goal.

I shall be very thankful to him or her.

With best regards

Rashid Shaikh

N.B. Special request of MR. JOHN HUDSON to help me

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