Does anybody really build faces like this anymore?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I've seen a lot of diagrams like this, 'explaining' how the glyph was drawn. I've never contructed a font in this manner, and it seems like it would be a pain really.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Well I'm damn sure not inviting Squircle into my vocab, I mean come on, we already have to say "Tittles." ;-)

quadibloc's picture

One can always just say "the dots on the lowercase i and j", or diacritics (or even "accents"), or vowel points, as the case may be, and avoid the chance of confusion.

oldnick's picture

we should instead send in my bitmaps to the Chyron company for burning on a special chip or something at a cost of a few thousand dollars

Wow: were those guys blowing some serious smoke up your ass. The Chyron system operated with three eight-inch floppies, one of which contained the bitmaps, no “special chip” required.

At KXAS, I became the Resident Master of the Chyron because, one: I made it a point of being in attendance every time the Field Service technician showed up to fix a bug (which were numerous); and two, because I was able to determine at one point that what appeared to be a fatal system error was due to a failed data transfer switch on Drive A. In the latter instance, I told one of the engineers to meter the Drive A output. He was skeptical—until he did it, and proved that my diagnosis was correct. Thereafter, the Engineering Department called me before they called Field Service, anytime an operator encountered a problem. This process resulted in fewer service calls, which was—at least for me—somewhat of a bummer, because the field techs were always sharing new processes and procedures with me, especially the motion chaining one could achieve with macros.

cdiedwardo's picture

Does anyone really build fonts like this anymore? Does 1999 count?

If you read John Downer's article you'll see he says it's a limited approach. http://www.emigre.com/EFfeature.php?di=130
John's Proportions course at Type@Cooper http://coopertype.org/curriculum/workshops/proportion-2 is fully enrolled for next weekend, but it's a repeating course which addresses the value of theory and practice used together.

hrant's picture

The Chyron system operated with three eight-inch floppies

Not the one he had - I remember his had some weird font cartridge setup. Maybe the newer ones were more flexible (although programming the data on those disks couldn't have been trivial) but of course upgrading to that would have cost even more. I solved the problem with a $50 video encoder. Plus with the Amiga I also did 3D animation, crisp raytraced scenes, etc. for them.

Downer .... says it's a limited approach.

A while back I wrote a review of Vendetta. I liked a lot of things about it (only some of the spacing is wonky, like the right sidebearing of the "f"; plus the pronounced faceting really begs for optical masters, since the font ends up feeling very different depending on size) but one thing that I wish had been revealed was how Downer went beyond the limited construction method; if you know that a method is limited but you flaunt it anyway, it's good to explain how you overcame the limitations. Unless some more insight has been published since and I missed it.

the value of theory and practice used together

Hear, hear. There is no cultural progress without theory.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Ryan: I believe he really was explaining how he drew and constructed faces.

I suggest you put your belief to the test—take the capital O from Microgramma, and see if its curves are in any part circular, by trying to superimpose arcs of circle on its outline.

Or compare Microgramma with Alphaville, which was constructed with circles and straight lines:

Té Rowan's picture

I took the lazy way out… I looked up Chyron on the Wikipedia. The first titler, Chiron I, stored fonts in ROM. Later versions, it seems, had them on disk.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Chris Dean's picture

@frode frank : What was the source of your Romain de Roi image?

Nick Shinn's picture

Come on Ryan, thick lines at low res won’t wash.
Try it with BCP paths and you’ll see.

russellm's picture

Here's the thing... (imho)

if you are drawing a typeface by hand a hundred or more years ago and you have some interest in being consistent and making all the letters look like they belong to the same font, well, you're gonna use a compass and a set of dividers and draw some plots to work how it all fits together.

(then, maybe after the fact, you're gonna make some nice drawings to show how clever you were)

These days, we do the essentially same thing, but we call it cut and paste.

hrant's picture

Russell, the pantograph boys did work that way, but not the oldschool punchcutters.

hhp

russellm's picture

:o)

I am sure you are right.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I made it with thick lines so they would be easier to see. Perhaps I will make a hi res version an upload it. Really, though, it dosen't prove anything either way. Just because Eurostile can be made with circles doesn't mean it was. The only person who could really answer that question is Aldo, who has been gone for 17 years now.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

OK, here is a hi res version of a shape similar to Microgramma's O, saved as a pdf for Nick's pleasure.

http://www.fileden.com/files/2012/10/30/3362016/superellipse.pdf

Nick Shinn's picture

Just because Eurostile can be made with circles…

No it can’t.
Can you not see the difference, or does it mean nothing to you?
If you’re prepared to go to all this trouble to make these images, you would have been better off to invest in the Microgramma font and inspect its paths closely.

I doubt that Microgramma can even be made with a superellipse.
It’s drawn, not plotted.
I suspect it was drawn first with a pencil, and then finished either freehand with a brush and ink, or by a pen with French Curves. The thing about the French curves is that they are not used as a conceptual building block, but to firm up/cleanly render shapes that are freehand.
Perhaps letters such as O were made from a repeated (freehand) quadrant shape as template.
Interestingly, Adrian Frutiger made letter artwork from cutouts.
Dave Farey also used a knife (on peelable Rubylith “film” on acetate) to make the stencil artwork at Letraset, a technique he explained at a TypeCon a few years ago.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Well I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this. I do own a copy of microgramma and did inspect its curves, and really the only differences I see between the shape I made and microgramma's O is that my shape has sharper (smaller) corners. That's easy to fix, just make those four blue circles bigger. Oh, and there are short straight lines at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock postions in microgramma.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Actually the cut of Microgramma I own, it looks like whoever digitized it did a pretty sloppy job. A lot of unnecessary points in there if you ask me. Is your's the same, Nick?

Nick Shinn's picture

I don’t have the font.
I just know (probably through practical experience) by looking at images of its glyphs that its shapes are not circular.
Eurostile probably has cleaner Beziers.

Karl Stange's picture

Equivalent from Eurostile.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I don't doubt your skill or eyes at all. IMO, you are the best living type designer. Well, either you or Jocham. You guys should have an all out type design battle to the death for ultimate supremacy!

hrant's picture

So yeah, it's clearly constructed with lines and curves. ;-)

BTW that's a pretty big overshoot for such a long flat segment.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

BTW that's a pretty big overshoot for such a long flat segment.

Are you addressing Karl, or Aldo's Ghost?

oldnick's picture

Ryan—

Who the hell are you talking to? Don’t bother telling us what you’re talking through: it’s apparent with your every post…

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