New Fell Types and new iKern site.

iginomarini's picture

To all the typophiles. I would like to let you know that a new extended version of the Fell Types is available from my site www.iginomarini.com. The fonts have new metrics data reflecting the progress of my iKern tool.
Now iKern has its own site at www.ikern.com.
Thanks to Jos Buivenga who forced me to do it because he said he wanted to talk about the positive experience of reworking his Anivers family and I didn't want to show a dead link anymore.

Regards

Igino Marini

blank's picture

So I don’t understand the approach of drawing the glyphs and then applying the spacing.

This begets a technique question I often wonder about: how many type designers are kerning while they design as opposed to finishing the drawing and spacing first?

iginomarini's picture

To Eben:

Similarly, if iKern is based on fitting certain kinds of forms and has assumptions built into it about what letterforms are probably like ( the story) rather than having a way of sensing them directly, like the Kindersley system did, then it is not going to be a very robust kerning tool

Unfortunately I still don’t quite understand the mechanism of iKern.

To Terminaldesign:

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I view the spacing and kerning of a font to be part of the design. Muling over the spacing gives me an insight into how it all fits, and more importantly where it does not fit. Countless times I have redrawn glyphs because of some spacing issue. So I don’t understand the approach of drawing the glyphs and then applying the spacing.

I've never received a font without a working spacing (why can't it be refined?).

To Jongseong:

I’m really curious about the points Eben raised though about how much iKern relies on assumptions about letterforms. Has it been used to space and kern non-Latin fonts, for example?
Ikern has no assumption about letterforms. Any geometric shape can be handled (look at the V and A of the Italic Fell Types and how they're handled elsewhere).

To Nick:

In the image above you can see the word LAWT a) without kerning; b) with the output iKern produces before cutting the values under a certain threshold (in this case 3 so the kerning between LA will disappear); 3)the actual version.

Both L and T are detected by iKern as letter where the “space” around the outlines is important for the “identity” of the letter. I use the term “bodiliness”. Internally is a property referred to the left or the right side of a glyph and is a value between 0 (no bodiliness) and 1 (maximum bodiliness). L and T usually have 1. O usually has 0. These values are calculated by iKern. After all calculations, during a post processing phase, there are some further actions on the kerning values depending on the bodiliness values of the glyphs involved. I won't go into details but there is, among others, an action to set a minimun distance between the glyphs proportional to the maximum bodiliness values. In the case of Anivers this distance was 36 points (it can be manually tweaked if one wants. I always let the default value). If you measure, in the unkerned condition, the minimum distance between the LA is 34 points. The measure between WT is 31 points. That's why the LA kerning becomes (36-34) = 2 and the WT kerning becomes (36 – 31) = 5. As I said before in a post-post processing phase the kerning values under a certain threshold are cur away (the value is choosen by the designer).

Nick Shinn's picture

What do you think needs adjusting?

Well, if it were my face, I might put more space between the L and A, but then again, I might not.
I don't believe in absolutes, and that includes any "underlying rule of fitting".

I once rekerned Palatino (in Quark XPress) for a series of publications I designed in 1991. I wouldn't say my spacing was better than the default, but it was something I decided would work for my design, which involved condensing the face around 90% horizontally (the horror!) I've dug up one of those pieces--text at 10pt-- and scanned it, and reset it with the default spacing for comparison:

Nick Shinn's picture

a minimun distance between the glyphs proportional to the maximum bodiliness values.

Surely the bodiliness value that's relevant to L_A and T_W is for the negative area immediately adjacent to the horizontal stems, and with that stem height--not for the glyph as a whole.

Jos Buivenga's picture

Well, if it were my face, I might put more space between the L and A, but then again, I might not.

Different designers make different dicisions.
And often have different oppinions ;-)

I took a look at your latest font Paradigm to see how you did "LAWT". I myself would kern AW less. Especially when the face is also intended for smaller point sizes.

Nick Shinn's picture

Paradigm isn't intended for any particular point size.

I spaced the capitals anticipating that it will be used in the kind of setting where typographers will add letterspacing (see below), or if using an all-capitals setting in text with zero tracking, would choose small capitals, where I have built in a little more space to the A_W combination:

You can play around with the tracking here.

k.l.'s picture

Eben -- this kind of statement strikes me as maybe too absolute
Karsten -- indeed I mean logical consequence, and as such it is absolute.
Eben -- I think if you are going to use words like absolute then you have to build a strong case at least.

But Eben, it wasn't me who introduced this term! I admit it was my fault to not having ignored it, or at least putting quotes around it to indicate it's not mine.

Were you saying that a Gutenberg paradigm was one that leads "logically" and "absolutely" (I might say inevitably), to simpler shapes?

I did not say it "leads ... to simpler shapes" -- didn't speak of simpler shapes at all (this discussion is about spacing), rather said that the paradigm as such implies a certain aspect of economy (but then, it was another fault to respond to the ligatures theme which is secondary in a discussion about spacing).
I did not say it "leads 'logically' or 'absolutely' ... to simpler shapes" -- and wouldn't because of an aversion against Hegelian thinking, rather I tend towards a Kantian/Peircean understanding of "logic": If you think of it this way, then you automatically imply that. The "if-then-imply" is what qualifies as "logical".

Jos Buivenga's picture

This thread is like an Indian carpet with comments weaving into each other making a colorful topic.

@ Nick :: Thanks for the explanation. I understand very well why you did Paradigm the way you did. I choose fairly loose kerning for Anivers because I thought that fitted my face better. iKern can do both of course.

iginomarini's picture

To Nick:

Surely the bodiliness value that’s relevant to L_A and T_W is for the negative area immediately adjacent to the horizontal stems, and with that stem height—not for the glyph as a whole.

I haven't said how "my" bodiliness is calculated and how its treatment is. As I already said, I can't go into details so I'm trying to express myself in the easier way possible. The fact that, as default, I've put the minimum distance as minimum as possible is functional, in my opinion, to preserve, as much as possible, the rhythm. For the same reason the AV kerning is set as wide as possible. LA and WT have a lot of "air"? Let's minimize it; AW has little "air"? Let's maximize it.
Anyway it's not important. I'm glad of your comment. What have you done? You have isolated a problem having in mind a solution, thanks to your experience. Imagine now to try to formulate the problem and the solution in mathematical terms, finding general concepts to put into a type oriented framework. Imagine doing this many many times until you feel the framework is grown and is "robust" enough (in this case only you could know!). This way you could give iKern the right to existence!
[Before you reply: I don't think you don't give it. I appreciate your positions because are honest.]

I'm not trying to convince anybody to change religion. And, listen well, I'm not just promoting myself as a service owner. All I want is that people begin to consider some degree of automation not being so bad even in terms of quality. And I want that people know that there is the chance to adopt a different and productive workflow.
The way? Try, use your eyes and judge yourself if it's worth.

iginomarini's picture

@ Nick :: Thanks for the explanation. I understand very well why you did Paradigm the way you did. I choose fairly loose kerning for Anivers because I thought that fitted my face better. iKern can do both of course.

Hi Jos, you surely know what I'm trying to say better than anyone here!

Nick Shinn's picture

Strong sense of déjà vu...

http://typophile.com/node/10317

aszszelp's picture

Eben, what's that "Kindersley system" you mention?

Why I'm sceptical about Igino's service is not so much because of some kind of dismission of automation per se, much more its the secrecy igino makes about the actual method employed which makes me wary. In the case of cars, e.g. I approve of ABS, because -- while I don't have the exact paramters of the IC-chips and the exact parameters of the functions employed or the exact differential equations set up, there is publicly available information about how it works, its basic principles in details, even which equations are to be solved by the system. So I can counter-check and trust my confidence into it. I couldn't do that in the case of iKern.
Come on! I even know the basic principles behind nuclear power! I don't care about the actual measure how much they insert the graphite bars to slow ("moderate") the reaction, whether its 1cm or 10cm, I'm sure they know how much they have to (they don't want to die after all either), but I know what they do in principle. And for knowing that there is still no threat that I will construct a nuclear power plant myself and pose a business competitor.

While I said I do not dismiss automation, as division of labour and employing new tools, as well as automation is the way to become more efficient, it's the way of progress (though note that the German word for progress: Fortschritt etymologically does not mean a change toward better, not even forward, as the latin word suggests, but rather only away from the status quo... good to keep in mind); however, there is a common understanding that automation always goes hand in hand with lower quality without exception. Or why else is always "hand-crafted" seen as a label of quality? Automation is viewn completely without drawbacks or loss of quality only, if it makes something possible that was unachievable before, not however, if it makes something just more effective or efficient, faster to deliver.

Szabolcs

Jos Buivenga's picture

Hi Jos, you surely know what I’m trying to say better than anyone here!

I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

ebensorkin's picture

Karsten, Thanks for making that clear.

Nick, Quite right.

Szabolcs, you can read about the Kindersley spacing model here. Click on the link for "spacing".

http://www.kindersleyworkshop.co.uk/

He was involved in making a kind of electronic eye with some to judge things. It wasn't perfect and some letters confused it. But mostly it worked fairly well. Hermann Zapf was keen on it.

James P asked: "This begets a technique question I often wonder about: how many type designers are kerning while they design as opposed to finishing the drawing and spacing first?" I think that you will find that 100% of the best type designers space and create their glyphs back and forth a great deal beacause the "white" is part of the design.

iginomarini's picture

Why I’m sceptical about Igino’s service is not so much because of some kind of dismission of automation per se, much more its the secrecy igino makes about the actual method employed which makes me wary.

Ikern is actually intended to make fonts and not to talk about making fonts (ironically this attitude shares very much with the “done by hand” practice). They way I answered to Nick, the only one, about a technical and not theoretical question, I use to do in private mails with people interested. And if somebody would have asked something the same way I would have answered just the same way. And after a short debate the landscape would have been clearer and, I know myself, I would have said more than I should have. By the way the general principles of iKern are written on the only one page of my site: "Proximity" "Bodiliness" and "Rhythm". Has anybody asked something about them? If nobody asks I must think people alreay knows or the interest is somewhere else.

aszszelp's picture

By the way, by all my abovementioned (and explained) scepticism: I find the example in the old thread linked in very impressive! And I feel honest appreciation for Igino's work! (But the bitter taste remains, and, maybe you not, but I'm a person who dislikes employing a technology I do not understand sufficiently, even if it "works").

Szabolcs

miha's picture

This whole debate is very interesting, but it's mostly theoretical. I would like to know more how iKern actually works – the theory behind. But I understand if you will not answer exactly, because of all the work you put it in iKern.

I read the definitions on your site and also another typophile thread with a little more info. I think I can understand “bodiliness”, but not “proximity” or “rhythm”. And a fact that iKern can use overlapping value from 0% to 100% confuses me even more.

I am sure that internally the representation of the character is in raster image, because it would be too difficult to mathematically compute parameters directly from bezier data. Is that so?

Did you discover the algorithm of iKern all by yourself or did you help (or get inspiration) with previous attempts with autospacing?

k.l.'s picture

Szabolcs -- but I’m a person who dislikes employing a technology I do not understand sufficiently, even if it "works"

I share this attitude. Yet, do you [need to] know how exactly InDesign's "optical" kerning or KernMaster work? Would you ask Adobe to publish InDesign source-code so you can study it and decide if you like how it works?  :D

John Hudson's picture

Eben: But again, if you believe that kerning is not a chore to be dispensed with but a core aspect of type design it is still hard to think of iKern as something to bring into an ideal process.

I think it is a mistake to say that kerning is 'a core aspect of type design'; rather, spacing is a core aspect of typography. There are two important points made in that statement.

The first is that kerning is a particular mechanism of spacing, and one which presumes other mechanisms, such as sidebearings. Further, it is a mechanism that presumes that spacing is something that is achieved in two (or potentially more) additive passes: default spacing and then adjustment of specific sequences. Or, to use Einstein's terminology, general spacing and special spacing. Since it is a mechanism, I don't think you can say it is a core aspect of type design; it is, rather, an important step within a particular kind of font manufacture. This becomes obvious when you consider that exactly the same spacing could result from a different mechanism.

The second point is that spacing is really an aspect of typography, which was more generally recognised in typesetting prior to the desktop publishing revolution, and is reflected in manuals of that period. [By the way, Eben, Kindersley's spacing experiments need to be viewed in the context of typography (and sign making, his initial inspiration), not type design or font manufacture. In many respects, Kindersley's work -- about which very little solid material is available; I have copies of all the published stuff -- is closer to the kind of thing that Karsten is talking about that conventional font spacing.] The conventional model of general and special spacing via sidebearings and kerning data is, at best, appropriate for a particular size of set type (ignoring other factors that may recommend adjustments to such spacing). As such, this font spacing should be seen as a kind of helping hand, and not as a replacement for typographic control, whether applied by an experienced typesetter or automated in some more or less sophisticated way relative to type size.

iginomarini's picture

I think it is a mistake to say that kerning is ’a core aspect of type design’; rather, spacing is a core aspect of typography.

In my experience with iKern I would say:
spacing and kerning are just two faces of the same medal. I state so because, in my application, autospacing and autokerning are done by the same algorhythm (and same routine) sharing the same data and, as a consequence, I note that the statistical distribution of all the kerning values is a gaussian bell centered on the zero and with very low variance. Translated means that only a few (averagely 10,15%) of the all possible couples turns out to have a kerning whose absolute value is above a certain low threshold (default 3 points for 1000 UPM, 5 points for 2048 UPM. Can be choosen by user anyway). I also see this as direct application of the “first spacing, then kerning” adagio.

The second point is that spacing is really an aspect of typography, which was more generally recognised in typesetting prior to the desktop publishing revolution, and is reflected in manuals of that period. [...]. As such, this font spacing should be seen as a kind of helping hand, and not as a replacement for typographic control, whether applied by an experienced typesetter or automated in some more or less sophisticated way relative to type size.

Really true. I think the limitatations are in the font format and in the applications. Apart from choosing a size and tracking accordingly, what else can a typographer do? I think the possible “operative” parameters are far more. Examples:
Commenting Nick I talked about a minimum distance between glyphs iKern forces under certain conditions. First: this minimum distance can now be choosen by me or the designer but should have to be choosen by the final user. Second: if I vary the tracking the kerning should consequently change. But I can do it only with the iKern internal traking for the unique istance I produce. In applications kerning remains constant and I loose any possibility of control.
Another parameter iKern uses is “kerning strength”. I noted that text setting require a looser kerning than a display one. So generally I choose the looser direction because “it's better too loose than too tight”. And I have to choose because I can give away only one istance.
By design iKern let you choose one of the infinite possible spacings. But in having to choose between the theorical best and a “manufacturable” one you have to choose the second because, in the end, a digital font is a product that must work in most cases as possible.
Now I've moved most iKern parameters in a “post-processing” phase so I can tweak with them without recalculating everything. So I would say that, in my opinion, the iKern viewer and postprocessing panels are, together, the tool that now permits the wider range of typographical control on a type. Obviously using the iKern file format.
In the long run this is the direction I see for iKern. With the today service I'm only trying to make this concept acceptable.

ebensorkin's picture

John, I was too quick to use the word kerning. Yes I do mean spacing not kerning. You make some great points especially Re: using type at multiple sizes and the impact that has on the spacing that will be appropriate. And most of all the potential unreliability of the spacing you set out as a designer. And so I agree that it is probably wise to consider it as 'helping hand' in some sense. Also what you are saying certainly does add to the notion that a robust design, one that takes spacing degradation with less trouble, is very desirable, which is in a separate point.

Still, don't you design as Noordzij says "the white of the word" along with the black even if that white is in some cases going to be more provisional than you might like? Or do you design first and space afterwards?

It seems like people are increasing interested in having type's use specified and that designers are increasingly designing for specific contexts and this seems desirable. It seems to me too that if you are designing a complex family with versions for narrow pt size ranges like Arno pro the helping hand of spacing can be seen as somewhat less soft suggestion even if still is a "helping hand".

I would like to hear more about the distinction you are setting up between Kindersley’s ideas and Typography vs. Type design. I see that the two are different things but they seem a bit like a venn diagram to me with type design's question of spacing overlapping with the practice of spacing in Typography. But maybe I am missing something. Am I?

Nick Shinn's picture

Yes, the Venn overlap.
Spacing is an intelligence that can be handled in different places.
It can be put in the layout application (InDesign Optical), or in the font (Metrics), or it can be manually applied by the typographer.

It should also be understood that such intelligence is discretionary.
To illustrate, consider this example.
First, this is how it sets default. There are negative sidebearings on v and y, which implement the idea that the white space between letters should be evened out.
However, there are at least two conflicting principles in spacing, the two main ones being "controlling area" versus "controlling proximity". Here, in the v_y combination, it seems to me that space has been overly privileged against proximity. I realize that this is my aesthetic, today. In the past, I would have been OK with the overlap. But not today. So:


1. Default.
2. With added kerning to provide separation, the way I like it.
3. But if this is built into the font or application, it doesn't work when tracking is tightened for a display setting.
4. So, according to the "tight but not touching" aesthetic, yet further spacing has to be added, between e_a and v_y.

So even with a sans serif font, it may be necessary for the type designer to provide optical size variants, and even then, the layout application may be able to offer different "flavours" of kerning. And even then, the typographer may be able to say, screw that, I'm going to exercise my responsibility, turn on manual overide, and blow up the f****** Death Star.

William Berkson's picture

The optical size issue definitely adds a layer of complexity to the issue, as several have written here.

Slimbach has argued that with larger optical sizes spacing of round to round letters is often are best changed differently from straight to straight letters. If this is correct, tracking won't do the trick for the best spacing at larger optical sizes. There is also the issue of adjusting kerns for more than one character, as Nick notes. This can get very complicated, but there's also the question of when it ceases to make any real difference.

I gather what Igino is arguing for is that his program should be built into type setting programs for the best result. And perhaps having more variables under control of the type setter as well? That is intriguing and makes sense to me. In a way Adobe's "optical spacing" is maybe something like that, but of more limited use than what Igino envisages.

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