Copy and paste

epiktet's picture

Hi all,

I'm in the process of creating my first font and was wondering if you (more experienced) guys could answer me a quick question: how much cut and paste is ok? What I mean is this: can I simply re-use my b for p (and q), or n from h, or r from n and so on. (I documented some of this in a blog post a blog post, if you are interested.) Should design every letter from the ground up or can I use this kind of shortcut?

I'm not sure if this kind of copy and pasting is messing up the rhythm of the font or if it is actually standard practice.

Thanks, HP

cerulean's picture

Copy and paste things, but then look at them and identify what might need to be changed. Refer to your sketches for helpful differences that may have come by instinct when drawing.

Let's take the b and p on your blog for an example. You might start by vectorizing the p. The bowl is not vertically symmetrical, nor should it be. The first thing you should conclude from this is that the b isn't going to be made by flipping the whole p. Instead, leave the bowl where it is, chop off the descender, and create the ascender. Are you done? Maybe. But maybe you've preserved some of the pointiness I see at the top of the bowl, which relates to the tops of the m and n shapes. Is that appropriate for the b, whose stem does not start in the same place? Look at your b sketch, you may want to round the top of the bowl more to match that sketch. What else is different about your b sketch? It's a lot heavier in the lower right. Is that a mistake, or is that something that actually helps the b read better, even if you didn't know you knew it? Even though I'm suggesting the latter, it comes down to you to decide for yourself whether it is or not.

And after changing one shape to look like another, you might be thinking, "Well, I should have just traced the two separately, then." But you've deliberately chosen the ways they are different, and avoided as much work that would be needed instead to adjust them so that they are the same in the ways you want them to be the same.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

When I first started trying to design typefaces (not that I've been at it for so very long) I resisted copying and pasting anything. I mean it doesn't really go with the "skilled artist credo" does it? It seems lazy at best and downright uncreative at worst. But I came to find out that "making everything the same that can be made the same" is really the way to go in type design. Too much eccentricity, to many differences, can really make a typeface awful.

Nick Cooke's picture

When I first started trying to design typefaces (not that I've been at it for so very long) I resisted copying and pasting anything. I mean it doesn't really go with the "skilled artist credo" does it? It seems lazy at best and downright uncreative at worst.

Yes Ryan, and anything that can cut down the time involved in creating a typeface is surely a good thing unless you like wasting time. Copying and pasting elements to use as a base for something else is an essential part of the workflow.

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