Is this my second or third childhood? I’ve quite lost count.
When I was at primary school, I would occasionally design alphabets, which was a slow, painstaking job, hence I did not do a lot more of it. It wasn’t very practical either because the letters were all one-offs. Later, I also tried my hand at calligraphy using steel nibs, Indian ink, manuals which described how to draw letters in different styles. I quite liked traditional-style Gothic fonts (quite misnamed, of course) and uncial, and imitated a Roman-style uncial hand which was featured in the illustrated dictionary we had at home.
Later, when I owned my first computer, I had a program called Fontwise Plus which I used to reduplicate, rather clumsily, the Roman font. I have no clear recollection of the program, but I think you had to draw the glyphs in a 7×8 or 8×8 grid, which was slow and fiddly. My computer and I parted company before I could do much more with Fontwise Plus, although the desire to create fonts has been on a long, long sabbatical.
More recently (well, in the past three or four years or so), I was probably trying to track down some medieval-style fonts via Google, though quite why I can’t recall. It’s something I do – not recalling reasons and searching online for fonts. That led me to Pia Frauss (who I’ve mentioned before) who has created a range of fonts based on medieval manuscripts and later, and made them free for non-commercial use. From her website, I learnt about High Logic’s Font Creator software, but not having the means to buy such a piece of kit, I’ve been able to do nothing about it.
Yes, now that I have the means to buy things online, I thought I might resume a hobby which I’ve never properly started.
Font Creator (but let’s be overly familiar about it and call it FC) offers two main means of creating fonts: images or contour editing. Thus it’s possible to turn handwriting into a font using a scanned image (or some sort of pad which allows the user to write by hand) or to be hardcore and create contours. A contour is basically a two-dimensional shape which seems to be the same as vector graphics in PaintShop Pro. Points can be added to, say, a rectangle and can either be on or off the curve. (The curve may be a straight line, which, I suspect mathematicians might tell me, is a special sort of curve; or vice versa, the curve being a special sort of line; I surmise it’s all just sophistry.) That puzzled me initially until I found that a point off the curve can be dragged around to create an actual curve. (Which may just be a special sort of straight line.)
I’ve managed to come to grips with the basics of the program fairly quickly, having progressed from points to angled guidelines to manual kerning to autometrics in a short space of time.
My first attempt at a font was using images I drew with my mouse in PaintShop Pro. The method lacks finesse and, as I discovered, my strokes were too thin. I needed to make the brush 30 units wide.
My second attempt was contour editing. From somewhere, I found an image of the Draconic alphabet, which is one of those details in D&D which is never utilised and is only good for the rendering of English because the creator has no idea of languages or linguistics and no appreciation of Appendix E in The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, the ignorance of non-linguists aside, I used Draconic as a source for creating a font manually. Fortunately, the whole thing is restricted to numbers and upper case letters or my job would have been much longer. It’ll never get out into the wild, but it’s been an interesting and educational process as I’ve turned the jagged original into a serif-style font.
At least at larger sizes, the result doesn’t look too bad even if the details don’t bear close scrutiny. I’ve been somewhat inconsistent about my placement of glyphs on the baseline or just below it. I spent much of the afternoon tinkering with the script, adjusting this and that.
However, I’m also thinking about trying to create a Chinese-style version with Chinese rather than Roman-style serifs since a lot of the characters are based on shapes like 元.
It’s early days and there’s much about FC which I don’t yet know. But as I said above, it’s taken me little time to acquire the basics of the program.
(Cross-posted from Green Bamboo LJ.)