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Randomized fonts

Luc Devroye
McGill University
Montreal, Canada
lucdevroye@gmail.com
http://luc.devroye.org
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Actiontype.de
[Tanja Diezmann]

German designers of some experimental 2d and 3d fonts, under the guidance of Professor Tanja Diezmann from the Hochschule Anhalt in Dessau. Fonts include Isometrie (sans), Actiontype Bold (3d), Actiontype Light, Actiontype Serif (slab serif). Using these fonts as base models, several random fonts were constructed by interpolation. Actiontype is managed by Marcus Schaefer in Dessau. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Adrian Robert

Adrian Robert's pages with links on random generation of images (using iterated function systems, or fractals), including a bit of material on random font generation. He wrote the free program "randim". [Google] [More]  ⦿

Ananda Das on type 3

Ananda Das tells the type 3 story: Type 3 is an almost-obsolete format once very popular because it was the only way for non-Adobe folks to produce PostScript fonts in the old days. The font technology was generally considered inferior because it did not allow hinting to make the fonts reproduce well on 300-dpi laser printers, although they generally were fine on filmsetters. Adobe kept the proprietary secret of how to make Type 1 fonts to themselves, so that they could sell the best-looking fonts. This, together with Adobe's then-high royalties for PostScript itself, annoyed Apple and Microsoft, so they developed TrueType as an alternative to PostScript. Learning of this development, Adobe's John Warnock publicly released the Type 1 spec so that anyone could make such a font. Thereafter, almost no Type 3 fonts were ever made. But Type 3 fonts did have some capabilities of their own, not shared with Type 1 fonts. They allowed shading and textures, as well as "random" substitution of particular glyphs, as Alan rightly pointed out. If you want to see some Type 3 fonts, they are probably still widely available at FTP freeware/shareware sites, usually under "PostScript" headings, sometimes under "PostScript Type 3". [Google] [More]  ⦿

Antonio Roberts

Birmingham, UK-based Antonio Roberts (aka Hellocatfood) wrote a program called glitch that will replace a certain portion of the font data by random values, esulting in glitch typefaces. A prototype example was called Dataface (2012, free at OFL). OFL link. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Bernard Desruisseaux
[MetamorFont]

[More]  ⦿

Caligraft
[Ricard Marxer Piñón]

Beautiful (programmed) experimental letters derived from fonts. This is based on the Masters Thesis in Digital Arts, obtained in 2005 by the Catalan designer Ricard Marxer Piñón, 2006. For this, he wrote the "Geomerative" library of programs, which includes a truetype importer and interpreter.

Alternate URL. [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]  ⦿

Dunwich Type Founders
[James Walker Puckett]

Dunwich Type Founders (or: DTF) in New York City run by James Walker Puckett (b. 1978, Virginia), who graduated from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC. Blog. Behance link. Fontspring link. Type Library. Typefaces:

  • Armitage (2010). A grotesque sans family.
  • The squarish signpainting family Downturn (2009).
  • He is working on a (nice!) revival of Fry's Baskerville, which is based on a scan of types cut in 1768 by Isaac Moore.
  • Lorimer (2011) is a gothic sans serif that was inspired by 19th century inscriptions in the yard of New York's St. Mark's Church. Some weights are free. In 2011, this was followed by Lorimer No. 2 and Lorimer No. 2 Condensed. In 2012, there was an announcement that Lorimer was no longer being distributed.
  • New Constructivist Beta (2007).
  • Recovery (2008, TypeTrust). The grunge version of Recovery is Black Monday (2009, with Silas Dilworth): it has several glyphs for randomization.
  • The 1829 specimen book of Alonzo W. Kinsley's Franklin Letter Foundry led James Puckett to develop the splendid ornamental didone fat face Sybarite (2011), which comes in many optical weights.
  • The friendly superelliptical black poster face Gigalypse (2012).
  • Becker Gothics (2013). A revival of five typefaces from Ornamental Penmanship (1854, George Becker): Egyptian, Egyptian Rounded, Stencil, Tuscan and Concave. All have Western and wood type influences.
  • Ironstrike and Ironstrike Stencil (2014). Ironstrike pays homage to industrial and constructivist lettering.

Klingspor link. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Enrico Bevere

San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy-based graphic designer. Behance link.

Creator of an experimental faces Jellymorph (2012) and No IS (2011), which use the Perlin random number generator and trigonometric functions to create glyph outlines. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Erik van Blokland
[LettError]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Erik van Blokland

Prolific Dutch type designer who created Beowolf (a random font, 1989), Hands, Trixie (the old typewriter font), Kosmik, Federal (1996) and Zapata. Launched LettError in 1989 with Just van Rossum. Born in 1967 in Gouda. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

From metal to digital

Interesting discussion on Typophile on the transition from metal to digital type. Items dealt with include ink traps and thorns, optical scaling, soft contours, and randomized letters. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Ink Magazine
[Pierre Delmas Bouly]

Design magazine. Graphical concept by Patrick Lallemand and Pierre Delmas Bouly. They designed the random modular font Minimal Bloc (2007, Superscript): here modularly decomposed letters can switch between various geometric forms. This was followed in 2008 by Basics, another modular design. Superscript is located in Lyon. [Google] [More]  ⦿

James Walker Puckett
[Dunwich Type Founders]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Just van Rossum

Dutch experimental nutty (in the good sense!) and prolific type designer (b. Haarlem, 1966) who created famous fonts such as Beowolf, Brokenscript, BeoSans, Trixie, Flixel (FUSE 2), and Schulbuch. He is also a font software expert who has initiated many ideas in the areas of type software. He created Phaistos (1990-1991, the Font Bureau, with David Berlow), which was inspired by the flared angular designs of Rudolf Koch such as Locarno). Designer or co-designer at LettError of LettErrorRobot-Chrome (2001), FFTrixie (X-files original), FF Advert (1991, a flared sans family), FF Schulschrift (1991; in versions A, B and C following the German school script recommendations), FF StampGothic (1992), FF Confidential (1992, grunge), FF Karton (1992, a grungy stencil face), FF Flightcase (1992, a grungy didone stencil), FF Dynamoe (1992, a dymo label font, white on black), FF Hands, FF Brokenscript (1990, blackletter), Federal, and the random font Beowolf (1990, with Erik van Blokland). At FUSE 11, he designed What You See/What You Get (with Erik van Blokland).

Bio at Emigre. FontShop link. Klingspor link. FontFont link.

View Just van Rossum's typefaces. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Khaled Hosny
[Khaled Hosny]

Khaled Hosny is a physician in Egypt. He loves Arabic and its type, and is interested in every aspect of letter forms and typography. A hobbyist translator, programmer and font developer, he supports software freedom and is actively participating in the free software community. Sourcefirge link.

Designer of Punk Nova (2010), a free OpenType implementation of Don Knuth's Punk font, based on modified Metapost sources by Taco Hoekwater and Hans Hagan, dating from 2008. Hosny writes: Punk is a dynamic font, every time a glyph is requested Matafont draws a unique instance of it. On the other hand, OpenType is static, glyph outlines are drawn once and stored in the font and the renderer can not alter those outlines. To emulate the dynamic nature of Punk, we generate several alternate shapes of each glyph and store them in the font. Alternate shapes are mapped to the base character using OpenType [Randomize] feature (rand), which tells the renderer to select glyphs randomly from the list of alternate shapes. Pick up the free Punk Nova from CTAN.

XITS (2011) is a Times-like typeface for mathematical and scientific publishing, based on STIX fonts. The main mission of XITS is to provide a version of STIX fonts enriched with the OpenType MATH extension, making it suitable for high quality mathematic typesetting with OpenType MATH capable layout systems, like MS Office 2007 and the new TeX engines XeTeX and LuaTeX. This free OFL package was developed by Khaled Hosny. Inside the fonts, we read Copyright (c) 2001-2010 by the STI Pub Companies, consisting of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the American Mathematical Society, the American Physical Society, Elsevier, Inc., and The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. Portions copyright (c) 1998-2003 by MicroPress, Inc. Portions copyright (c) 1990 by Elsevier, Inc.

Euler OTF (2010) are OpenType Math fonts based on Hermann Zapf's Euler and implemented by Taco Hoekwater, Hans Hagen, and Khaled Hosny. Named Neo-Euler (2009-2010), it covers Latin, Greek and has a full blackletter set of glyphs. Copyright Hosny and the American Mathematical Society.

In 2010-2011, Hosny developed the free Amiri font (OFL; dedicated web page): Amiri font is an open font revival of the Arabic Naskh typeface designed and first used by Bulaq Press in Cairo (also known as Amiria Press) in the early part of the twentieth century. Amiri's uniqueness comes from its superb balance between the beauty of Naskh calligraphy and the requirements of elegant typography. Amiri is most suitable for running text and book printing. See also here and at OFL. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Khaled Hosny
[Khaled Hosny]

[More]  ⦿

LettError
[Erik van Blokland]

LettError is a foundry in Den Haag, founded by the interesting duo, Just Van Rossum (b. 1966) and Erik van Blokland (b. Gouda, 1967). Most of their fonts can be found in the FontFont library. Wired interview. Shop. At ATypI 2004 in Prague, LettEror spoke about education in type design, and the RoboFab toolkit.

Erik van Blokland develops niche tools for type design and font production and has been involved in the development of the UFO (for font sources) and WOFF (for font binaries) formats. He is a senior lecturer at the TypeMedia master at the Royal Academy of Arts in Den Haag. Speaker at ATypI 2013 in Amsterdam.

Their typefaces:

  • At FUSE 11, Erik designed FF Beowolf (1990, a randomized font, sometimes still called Beowulf; with Just van Rossum), FF Erikrighthand, FF Kosmik (1993), FF Trixie and FF Zapata. FFTrixie (of X-files fame), was made based upon an old typewriter. They explain: Trixie was taken from a typed sample from a typewriter owned by a friend in Berlin, Beatrix Günther, or Trixie for short..
  • Erik created LTR ThePrintedWord and LTR TheWrittenWord (2001), both free fonts designed to be unreadable.
  • Salmiak (2001).
  • Critter (2001) and New Critter.
  • Bodoni Bleifrei.
  • LTR BitPull.
  • Federal: great dollar bill lettering font family, which earned him an award at the TDC2 Type Directors Club's Type Design Competition 2002.
  • What You See/What You Get (with Just Van Rossum).
  • At FUSE 2, Erik published Niwida.
  • FFAdvert.
  • Schulschrift.
  • FFHands.
  • FFBrokenscript.
  • LTR Monsta.
  • In 2005, Erik and his brother Petr made the Künstlerbrüder-Schriftfamilie of 30 fonts (10 widths, 3 weights) based on 3 width masters for each of two weights. It is a quirky and refreshing family made for banners for the Münchener Haus der Kunst in 2005.
  • Jointly with Erik Spiekermann and Ralph du Carrois, Erik developed Axel (2009), a legible system font.
  • His masterpiece, in my view, is the 2010 family Eames Century Modern, finished at House Industries, a take on Clarendon. It won an award at TDC2 2011. A special extra award was given at that competition for Eames Poster Numerals. For another complete modern Clarendon family, see Canada Type's Clarendon Text.

Klingspor link. FontShop link. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

MetamorFont
[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]

[More]  ⦿

Mike McDougall

Nova Scotian who works at GrammaTech in Ithaca, NY. 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. He used several handwritten samples as parents to create random offspring. A companion article entitled Random Fonts for the Simulation of Handwriting has appeared in "Electronic Publishing" in 1995. See also here. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Opentype random contextual alternates

Code by some typophiles for cycling through alternates for certain glyphs in opentype. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Opentype Randomize feature

Partially discussed here by John Butler, the Randomize feature in Opentype allows a cyclic substitution of glyphs by other ones, for example, to create the feel of randomness if each glyph has several slighty different implementations. This principle dates from the late 80s, when Signature Software first tried it in its handwritten font software. Those were type 3 fonts where such things were easy to do. Of course, "randomize" is not the right word. As of early 2006, no major software supports OpenType's "randomize" feature, but John Butler managed to get around it using the Contextual Alternates feature. [Google] [More]  ⦿

ParaNoise

ParaNoise is software by ParaType, Russia's main foundry, for randomizing contours of PostScript fonts. Their ad: ParaNoise is a software tool for making special graphic effects based on PostScript fonts. ParaNoise opens source PostScript font and uses special filters to distort character's contours." A commercial product from ParaType. Demo available. Mac and PC. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Peter Vollenweider
[Rechenzentrum Universität Zürich]

[More]  ⦿

Pierre Delmas Bouly
[Ink Magazine]

[More]  ⦿

R. K. Joshi

Typography professor R.K. Joshi's pages. He was born in 1936 and died in San Francisco in 2008. He was a poet, calligrapher, designer, researcher, teacher and type specialist. Above all, he was respected and influential. From 1952-1956, he studied at the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art in Mumbai. From 1956-1960, he was an artist at D.J. Keymer, and from 1961-1983 he was art director at Ulka Advertising in Mumbai. But his best years were still to come. From 1983-1996, he was Professor of visual communications at the Industrial Design Center of IIT, Mumbai, and he was with CDAC, Mumbai, formerly NCST, from 1997 until his death. Radio interview. Obituary at TDC. Pages by Design India on him.

His contributions to the type world:

  • Quoting CDAC, he made pioneering efforts to establish aesthetics of Indian letterforms through workshops, seminars, international conferences, exhibitions and demonstrations. He revived academic, professional and research interest in Indian calligraphy, typography and computer-aided type design.
  • He created Vinyas, a digital type font design environment providing a comprehensive set of interactive tools for the generation of calligraphic fonts (callifonts) using a skeletal approach.
  • Typecaces: Vishakha (Devanagari), Vibhusha (Bengali), Vidhan (Oriya), and Viloma (Tamil).
  • His students at the Industrial Design Centre included Deborani Dattagupta (Bengali calligraphic typefaces), P.M. Hashim (headline type for a Malayalam daily), Anand Bhandarkar (drop caps), Rajeev Prakash (text face), G.V. Sreekumar (text face for Malayalam), and Apurva Joshi (titling faces).
  • He experimented with random fonts. Check this example of a random font, based his Vinyas software (1991).
  • He won an award at Bukvaraz 2001 for Raghu (or Raghindi, which can be downloaded here and here. It was developed with with the help of Vinay Saynekar. With Amresh Mondkar, Jui Mhatre and Supriya Kharkar, Joshi and Saynekar developed RaghuBengaliSans (2005). With Riddhi Joshi, Jui Mhatre and Supriya Kharkar, he created RaghuGujaratiSans (2005). R.K. Joshi, assisted by Jui Mhatre, Supriya Kharkar and Kruti Dalvi, created RaghuHindiSans (2005). R.K.Joshi and Omkar Shende, assisted by Seema Mangaonkar, Jui Mhatre and Supriya Kharkar made RaghuKannadaSans (2005). R.K.Joshi and Rajith Kumar K.M., assisted by Nirmal Biswas, Jui Mhatre and Supriya Kharkar developed RaghuMalayalamSans (2005) and RaghuOriyaSans (2005). R.K. Joshi and Omkar Shende, assisted by Supriya Kharkar and Jui Mhatre, made RaghuPunjabiSans (2005) and RaghuTeluguSans (2005). RaghuTamilRoman (2005) was done by R.K. Joshi and Rajith Kumar K.M., assisted by Jui Mhatre and Supriya Kharkar.
  • Joshi made the first OpenType font for Hindi (Mangal) and Tamil (Latha, with Vikram Gaikwad). Mangal became a Microsoft face, but some designers such as Mohd Asif Ali Rizvan think that it is an eyesore.
  • Speaker at ATypI 2006 in Lisbon and at ATypI 2002 in Rome. His presentation in Rome was memorable and thrilled all participants.
  • Developer of Deshanagari, a common script for all Indian Languages.
  • Joshi was involved in the standardization of codes for Marathi and has worked exhaustively to implement Vedic Sanskrit codes for Unicode.
[Google] [More]  ⦿

Random fonts

Typophile discussion on random fonts. Current font formats (opentype, truetype, type 1) only permit alternate letterforms, and contextual designs. For true random on-the-fly random shapes, another medium is needed. For example, a true PostScript-based type format like type 3 would do the job. But future font formats could pick up the slack as well. [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]  ⦿

Rechenzentrum Universität Zürich
[Peter Vollenweider]

PostScript information and sample programs at RZU. Site by Peter Vollenweider with a ton of information. There is a crash course on Bezier curves, a type 1 version of Frutiger 47, and a random type 3 font, with line by line explanations. In German. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Ricard Marxer Piñón
[Caligraft]

[More]  ⦿

Tanja Diezmann
[Actiontype.de]

[More]  ⦿

yourfont

55USD for your handwriting font. Free demo font called Janet Luther. It comes with the MyFont software for randomizing letters in your handwriting. [Google] [More]  ⦿