TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Mon Jul 28 14:17:04 EDT 2014


Font samples

[Headline set in Bodoni Comedia, designed in 2010 by Gert Wiescher]

Luc Devroye
McGill University
Montreal, Canada
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A baroque font extravaganza

Waaiberg (1994) was drawn by hand with a very thin pen as some sort of ultimate test for Sandro's bitmap to type 1 conversion program. The pen's thin strokes are well reproduced, and the program handled touching spirals very nicely. Don't ever use this font for anything but titles or slogans. Viandra is a type 3 PostScript font obtained by writing on a magnetic pad and capturing important points of the stroke (not the outline) via a program written by François Belair, a brilliant undergraduate student at McGill. These points are processed by a font generation program written by Luc Devroye. The nib of the pen is selected at will by the user. The special neon effect is done directly in PostScript. [Google] [More]  ⦿

A brush-stroked type 1 font
[Sandro Mazzucato]

Glabbeek (1994) was brushed on paper, scanned in, and transformed into a type 1 font by a program written by Sandro Mazzucato for his M.Sc. thesis in 1995. Goetsenhoven was brushed on paper, scanned in, and transformed into a type 1 font by a program written by Sandro Mazzucato for his M.Sc. thesis in 1995. The highlighted points are control points for the Bezier curves. Random search in automatic font generation (1994) is an article by Luc Devroye and Sandro Mazzucato that describes the entire process. [Google] [More]  ⦿

A printed type 3 font

Printing is used for labels, menus, orders, blackboards and so forth. The font Overlaar-Bold was obtained from a sample created using a magnetic pen on a Summasketch pad. [Google] [More]  ⦿

An analytic type 3 font

Brigitte-Normal (1994) was entirely created in a mathematical manner. Bezier curves were defined by typing in coordinates, and the letters of the font were painstakingly optimized for aesthetic effects. No fomnt editor was involved at all! Consecutive letters have perfectly aligned joins as the sample shows, thanks to the same join algorithm used by Knuth in his Metafont, and developed by Hobby. It is a stroke font. The nib of the pen is selected by the user, again mimicking what Metafont does. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Automated hinting

Yes, automated hinting is not ideal, but time restrictions force us sometimes to make shortcuts. I wrote an automatic hinter in PostScript which first identifies horizontal and vertical tangents on the outlines, and then matches close tangents of the same polarity to define possible locations for hints. It gives satisfactory hints for 92% of the characters. Shown here is the capital S of the URW font URWPalladioL-Roma. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Bernard Desruisseaux

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Connected handwriting

We have a battery of 12 fonts containing over 1400 characters, pairs and triples that can be fit together in interesting ways to simulate real handwriting. Shown is the "st" pair in the font Herpes. All were obtained with a magnetic pen and converted by a type 3 PostScript generator in which Bezier splines were calculated using Hobby's algorithm. Here is the triple "She" from the font PhthiriusPubis. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Context-sensitive handwriting

Fungus is a font family consisting of about 15 fonts with over 1600 glyphs representing single characters, pairs, triples, end-characters, end-pairs, end-triples, start-characters, start-pairs and start-triples. Words are broken up into collections of glyphs, and optimization of the break-up is done by a mechanism of rewards and penalties. Glyphs are strip-kerned on the fly and put together. The sample shows the constituent glyphs in various shades. The software was developed by Luc Devroye and Mike McDougall. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Double-stroked scan-converted font

Oplinter is created from a sample of handwriting in which each glyph was stroked twice. The Bezier outlines were again produced by Sandro's program. The Bezier control points on the contour show how well Sandro's tracing program works on characters with many intersecting strokes. The character #. [Google] [More]  ⦿

From ductus to font

Ken Sarowiwa was the Nigerian environmental activist who was muredered by the Nigerian government which was abetted by Shell in its crime. I drew this font a little while after his death. The font was drawn on a magnetic pad, and the stroke was captured and converted by an in-house program. Sarowiwa-Plume is the same font as in the previous example, but I put a different nib on the (virtual) pen. PostScript type 3. [Google] [More]  ⦿

From ductus to font (2)

Heverlee (1996) was drawn by hand on a Summasketch pad with a magnetic pen. François Belair wrote a driver to capture important points from the stroke, which were transformed into a kerned type 3 PostScript font by a filter I wrote in PostScript. [Google] [More]  ⦿

From magnetic pen to PostScript font

François Belair has written a driver for a SumaTech Pad that allows one to write on a pad with a magnetic pen, capture the important points of the strokes and make Bézier curves for a PostScript type 3 font (based upon the algorithms of Knuth and Hobby explained in Knuth's The Metafont Book (Addison-Wesley, 1986)). The fonts made in this manner are not released yet. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Fun with fonts

The font shown here is called Wommersom made by Luc Devroye. It too was obtained from a scanned sample. The sample shown here was done directly in PostScript to show that fonts may be used in computer art. "Out creepy devil" is a permutation of "Luc Piet Devroye" suggested by Tom Shermer. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Janos Pach's handwriting

Janos Pach is one of the finest minds on this earth. A disciple of Paul Erdos, Janos makes the hardest things seem easy. And he explains his insights in a thick fountain pen. He left a sample at McGill, which we converted with Sandro's software in an admittedly imperfect font. Boris Aronov was going to send me suggestions for corrections, but he has not done so thus far. We obtained a sample written with a thick fountain pen when he gave a talk here at McGill, scanned it, and created a type 1 font by Sandro Mazzucato's software. The letter H shown here may not be the prettiest glyph, but one gets a good feeling for the smooth outlines that Sandro's oultline-optimization software leaves behind. [Google] [More]  ⦿

[Bernard Desruisseaux]

With Bernard Desruisseaux we developed a randomized PostScript type 3 font in 1996 that incorporates various interesting parameter choices. Because of its conceptual closeness with Knuth's Metafont, Bernard's font family is called MetamorFont. This font introduces randomness in every glyph, a nice feature of type 3 fonts not available in truetype or type 1. Bernard finished about three glyphs per week, because each glyph is an intricate program that had to be tested and retested. The font has six major multiple master axes or parameters: the amount of randomness, the stress angle, the contrast ratio, the stroke thickness, the outline mode, and the jumpiness of the glyphs. There are ten minor parameters, for a total of 9132 lines of PostScript code. For each setting of the parameters, the font is fully random: each glyph produced is never repeated! In the end, after a visit to Jacques André's lab at INRIA in Rennes, and lots of hard work, in October 1996, Bernard published one of the best Masters theses in the area of font software ever written. In January 2008, the software, the fonts, and the thesis (entitled Random dynamic fonts) were made available to the public. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Mike McDougall
[Random fonts]

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My own handwriting

HeverleeOSF (1996) is my own handwriting when I am calm and serene (which is almost never). The type 3 font was obtained via the magnetic pen program of François Belair. Many characters were redrawn until I was pleased with the results. The letters OSF refer to the fact that this is an old style figures font. As with all the type 3 fonts I made, each typeface consists of Regular, Bold, Thin, and Black weights, a Small Caps collection, an Italic collection, and often an OSF collection. The sample was obtained by a special effect written directly in PostScript. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Old typewriter font

Gete (1994) is an old typewriter font based upon a typewriter I used when I was a boy. My mother had kept in the attic, and it still had a 20-year old dried out ribbon in it. Remington was the name of the machine. Here we approximated the contours by a minimal polygon that would correctly color each of the pixels in the original bitmap. Naive, but it works. Check also for OV29 in our download page. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Random fonts
[Mike McDougall]

Mike McDougall (ex-University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. student) created a random type 3 font called Tekla (1994) as an undergraduate student at McGill University, under the supervision of Luc Devroye. Tekla uses several handwritten samples as parents to create random offspring. Tekla's letters vary every time a character is needed. A type 3 font of unique versatility, Tekla may be used to simulate drunkenness, and, as the sample shows, varying degrees of instability on one page. His font has a "craziness" parameter, by which we could actually extrapolate beyond the convex polyhedron determined by the master fonts. It should prove useful in testing character recognition software.

A companion article entitled Random Fonts for the Simulation of Handwriting has appeared in "Electronic Publishing" in 1995. See also here.

Source code of the font.

Additional URL. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Sample of Bost-Bold

I use Bost-Bold for envelopes. It was drawn on paper, scanned, and converted by the program of Sandro Mazzucato in a type 1 PostScript font. Quite legible. Here is how I made the previous figure of Bost-Bold by using various clipping paths in PostScript. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Sandro Mazzucato
[A brush-stroked type 1 font]

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Scanner to bitmap to PostScript

With Sandro Mazzucato, we developed a program that takes fonts from scanner to bitmap to PostScript type 1 outline. The Bézier curves in the outline are found by a specially adapted random search method. Some of the fonts are freely available for everyone except for persons or companies that are now selling (or intend to sell) fonts for profit. Random search in automatic font generation (1994) is an article by Luc Devroye and Sandro Mazzucato that describes the entire process. [Google] [More]  ⦿


I created a font with 256 spirals from various mathematical families: logarithmic, polynomial, exponential, and indeed many other spirals. These may be used to test the accuracy of printers. The font is Type 3 PostScript of course. The figure shows just a small subsample of the glyphs. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Strip kerning

An example of strip kerning: two characters are moved towards each other until strips covering the character end up at a given distance from each other. This is not ideal for kerning in general, but it is handy when setting large pieces of handwritten text. The kerning pairs are automatically generated during the generation of type 1 or 3 PostScript fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Syed Hyder

Syed Hyder was one of the founders of the School of Computer Science at McGill University. At McGill, Syed, together with Olivier Maquelin and Amar Goudjil developed high-quality nonlinear context-sensitive Arabic fonts. One of the greatest hackers anywhere, Olivier wrote an in-house TrueType to PostScript converter in C in two afternoons. Paola Maleh and Laleh Tajrobekhar helped out with the programming for context-sensitive Arabic glyph placement. Laleh's brother in Iran, one of the leading calligraphers there, provided the team with wonderful Nastalique glyphs.

A few years before his death, Syed tried to convince Microsoft to use his solution for automated Arabic glyph placement in their software, but no deal was struck. The project was then abandoned. Syed Hyder died in Pakistan on Easter Sunday, 2006. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Towards a connected font

The menu shown here was done in Birke-New, a font I designed mathematically, without looking at any screen or using any font software. All Bezier control points were typed in individually. There was a moderate amount of PostScript hacking to make the characters connect in a neat way. The font was done in type 3 format. [Google] [More]  ⦿