Humanizing Robots

Citiprime's picture

I am gingerly searching for help to expand my tried and true font vocabulary. One project in particular, interests me.

The story involves a team of robots that are not your "Transformer" (mean, warlike) types but not "Rollie Pollie Ollie" either. Everything from "Iron Giant", to "Johnny 5-0", to "iRobot" solve this challenge differently.

Any faces the guru's here might add to a list of type-faces that frame this "spectrum" between, from warlike to infantile, first-shooter warrior villain robots to the ever-cuddly but futuristic Wall-e (and his girlfriend – way sexy and modernly futuristic)?

I hope I'm being helpful. I think it could be a fun list to build top to bottom. I'd have to say even Pixar strikes me as a candidate, because that animated mascot Lamp is so lifelike – and thus, a robot of sorts.

Thanks :)

eliason's picture

What's the use? Logo, headline, short text, long text?

Something from Ray Larabie might fit the bill.

oldnick's picture

Very retro robotic, and free...

http://www.dafont.com/space-patrol.font

Nick Shinn's picture

Post-human:
Alphaville

marzy's picture

check out Büro Destruct Fonts – typedifferent.com

Karl Stange's picture

More literal selections from FontStruct...

Boxbot
Simons Robot Tuxedo
Dingbots and Monsters
Mr Roboto
Bit Bots

Karl Stange's picture

Some of the Maniackers fonts also fit the bill, particularly:

Alphabet Man
Poranger

Karl Stange's picture

Design System and Geom Graphic by Flat-It also contain robotic themes.

oldnick's picture

Another odd-duck semi-robotic type style, totally free…

http://www.1001freefonts.com/CircuitBored.php

Nick Shinn's picture

Ironically, the most robotic fonts are those “smart” fonts which imitate expert calligraphy with Contextual and Swash OpenType features.

Another genre of robotic fonts is the pseudo-random script, which is actually not really suspposed to be random, but to mimic the irregularities of hand-made writing and lettering.

A primer:
http://ilovetypography.com/2011/04/01/engaging-contextuality/

Automated methods of hinting and spacing/kerning may also be considered robotic font-making.

Karl Stange's picture

Automated methods of hinting and spacing/kerning may also be considered robotic font-making.

Robotics is most often implemented as a means of reduced labour, and this is implicit in the origin of the word. As such, FontStruct as a font creation engine is a prime example of robotic type design, automating and reducing elements of the design process while imposing restrictions and limiting factors on what can be achieved. Parametric type design systems can also reduce the labour of the font creator in similar ways but with very different and less limiting results. Of course the human engineering, programming and labour involved in creating these constructs to begin with is enormous.

Nick Shinn's picture

Automated methods of hinting and spacing/kerning may also be considered robotic font-making.

However, if we’re talking about robotic fonts, then a kerning app, whether stand-alone, incorporated in font production software, or in a layout app (InDesign’s “Optical” kerning) doesn’t make the font robotic.

What’s different about OpenType fonts that perform contextual substitutions is that they respond to the text they’re setting—a feedback loop, a little AI, and it’s that imitation of human decision-making behavior that we associate with robots.

This concerns the argument whether fonts are software or just data.

hrant's picture

We are of course deviating strongly away from the original request, albeit into much more interesting territory.

Parametric type design systems can also reduce the labour of the font creator

They reduce menial labor but more significantly they enable a higher level of design. In fact I would say that parametric font design is to "instantive" font design what font design is to lettering.

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

Amelia.

Citiprime's picture

Usage regards a storyline (promos for robotic products) that educate the public on many robots that currently, and in the near future, improve our lives. The character profiles are very interesting and diverse, but the storyline is fun and informative – so needs to be friendly to children and adults alike.

Citiprime's picture

Cool. Fun. Great finds! Amazing how the 50's, 60's, and 70's with all the sci-fi developed so many you've suggested. I'll post my list below. It's much more modern (like SpiderMan and IronMan), sophisticated, which compliment these very kitchy (sp?) and child-like ones.

Much appreciated.

Citiprime's picture

Love it. Yes! Thanks.

Citiprime's picture

Ones I've identified myself:
Andvari, Fade to Blak, Abo Mando, Digital Tech, Gabba All Caps, Heiko, Homoarakhm, Indiana, Nike 2002-04, Orion Pax, Quadrats, Regen, SL Rock Art, Sprawl, Teio, Space Font, Praetorian, Robotica, Sector 034, Microfuture, Ice Station Awesome, Saturn 5...among others (most available at dafont.com).

If I read Japanese there would be a plethora, due to their long and historied fixation with gadgets and sci-fi, from Godzilla ray guns to anime tv and film productions.

Gus Winterbottom's picture

I was going to say this anyway with tongue in cheek, but then I found these articles. It's, well, uncanny.

http://www.aiga.org/steer-clear-of-the-uncanny-valley/
http://servetulas.com/blog/2011/10/the-uncanny-valley-and-casual-script-...

Citiprime's picture

Thanks Gus, there were very well written articles, and informative. Robotics includes type faces, since each is created to automate, simplify, even speed the efficiency of writing...through printing (mass production) :) Even so-called script fonts or those that fake or mimic hand-writing qualities fail when their repetition and "perfection" (or more suitably named, engineered repetition) of each letter says "un-human". So true!

HVB's picture

Dr. Who ...
DrWho42
from a Dr. Who episode; the font in the episode may have been suggested by Vic Feiger's
Major Snafu

Also, ccTimeLord, from ComiCraft.

- Herb

russellm's picture

& I forgot... There is Campcraft, which while not conceived of as a 'robotic' font is a take off on dot matrix fonts, Standard for the automated typography on scrolling message signs and instrument displays for quite some time.

The vertical and horizontal grid lines pile up at the intersections which is kind of human of them

R

hrant's picture

{Note: the below was in response to a post involving alternate sexuality and the relative merits of robots versus a young lady with a notable finial, which has since been censored.}

You can like broccoli and chocolate cake for different reasons.

hhp

oldnick's picture

You can like broccoli and chocolate cake for different reasons.

Hrant, you are absolutely correct. One size does not fit all, and neither does one font.

Which is really good news for those of us who make a living exploiting this little bit of wisdom.

On the other hand, if you really want to humanize robots, go with the obvious and use Comic Sans. Or, better yet, one of my fonts in the same vein. Because, after all, chocolate cake is yummy, but broccoli is good for you.

russellm's picture

You could bake broccoli into a chocolate cake and nobody would know.

... They might wonder, but they wouldn't know. And in the US, the government can make you eat it.

Government robots will force you all to eat broccoli cake.

oldnick's picture

You could bake broccoli into a chocolate cake and nobody would know.

True. On the other hand, you could bake marijuana into a chocolate cake and most people would probably not know it, but—in all cases—no one would really care.

However, I am fairly confident that just about everyone would want a second slice…

russellm's picture

True, but that would anger the robots.

kentlew's picture

which has since been censored

Not censored, per se. Removed because of spam, not content. The image was a spam link and the account profile was full of spam backlinks.

timd's picture

>“a young lady with a notable finial”

I missed that – was it a limerick?

Tim

hrant's picture

Kent: Got it.

Tim: It was a picture. But really nothing a Google image search couldn't replicate.

hhp

oldnick's picture


timd's picture: “a young lady with a notable finial”
I missed that – was it a limerick?

Only if you can come up with some risque rhymes for "finial"…

A limerick packs laugh astronomical
In a space that is quite economical.
But, the good ones I've seen
Are mostly obscene,
And the clean ones are often not comical.

E.g.,

This limerick's entirely clean:
Not a word that is coarse or obscene;
Not a word incorrect
To offend any sect,
And not funny: see what I mean?

timd's picture

A young lady with a notable finial
Whose underwear was quite minimal
Slid down a stair
With too little care
That’s what she said at the hospital.

I am not happy with the last line.

Tim

Té Rowan's picture

Vic Fieger's yukarimobile, if you don't mind an association with a battered Toyota Corolla.

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