Bernard Desruisseaux

Bernard Desruisseaux is a software specialist who wrote an interesting thesis in 1996 at McGill University entitled Random dynamic fonts. He set out to prove that one can build very interesting fonts in which all glyphs change randomly, while controlling the randomness by a battery of parameters as in a multiple master font. For technical reasons, the fonts were coded in type 3, at the pace of about three characters per week.

In 2008, I asked Bernard if I could place his work on my site so that everyone can benefit. He kindly agreed to that. So, I am putting all of his work on my site. Most of it is technical and of little interest to regular users, but for those somewhat familiar with either TeX or PostScript, the material is quite helpful. You have access to every line of code written in the development of the font.

If your work builds on that of Bernard, please acknowledge him. Any questions regarding further development can be directed to me.

MetamorFont-Regular This is the type 3 font file: the "ps" file has the type 3 font, and the "afm" file is for its use in TeX or other environments.

The font itself is the code, because a type 3 font is a program. And this program is nothing to sneer at---9132 lines of PostScript code. If you intend to test it, place the font files in a directory, and run the following PostScript code in the same directory.

( run
/MetamorFont-Regular  findfont 20 scalefont setfont
50 600 moveto
(This is Bernard Desruisseaux's type 3 font. Enjoy.) show

MetamorFont features several parameters that can be changed at will. It is not only a randomized font---it is a multiple master randomized font with six major axes and many minor ones. Things that can be set include:

  • Craziness: the amount of randomness, from 0 (not random at all) to anything you like. Defaulted to 50 (subtle randomness).
  • Stroke width: a continuous unlimited choice.
  • Stress angle.
  • Thick to thin ratio for the pen.
  • Jumpiness of the letters.
  • Paint type, fill or stroke.
About ten other, less important, parameters can be set as well.
Bernard's thesis The thesis, 75 pages long, entitled Random dynamic fonts, was published in October 1996. It also contains a survey of other developments related to the simulation of handwriting.

A test The example below example was generated by the PostScript program in the link. The randomness parameter takes the values 50, 120, 190 and 260, from top to bottom. Please observe the subtle changes in the glyphs.

The development kit Here are all the files used in the development of the font. They come "as is". We offer no software or technical support.

Another test page In this test, we altered four of the six multiple master axes randomly.


Luc Devroye
School of Computer Science
McGill University
Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6