Mike Hebrew - A Work in Progress

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

The nights are already longer. My sailboat is out of the water. This morning the bird bath was frozen. Now is the time to start thinking about the next release of Mike Hebrew! Generally the next release will be ready at the time when Cabin Fever prevails in the surrounding forests....

In this topic, I like to share some of my design issues in the hope of receiving practical comments.

In this example of Mike Hebrew Web, I pasted bits of English text at random into a Hebrew newpaper article using the same font and size throughout.

An example of side-by-side usage of Mike Hebrew Web with a single point size.

The Design Process
I started with setting the size of my Hebrew characters so they would look good when displayed or printed without nikud or cantilation in Hebrew-only text. Next I tweaked a little to sqeeze them in, however the intent is modern Hebrew usage with little use of nikud.

Define “Hebrew Height” as the top of most Hebrew characters such as dalet and het. Lamad would be as high as possible. What heights should I use for the latin characters and numerals?

A choose the cap-height to be higher than the Hebrew Height but much lower than the top of the lamed.
The x-height was chosen to be much lower than the Hebrew Height. Numerals are a little less than cap-height.

So you see I started with my Hebrew design and choose the metrics of the Latin and numerals to match it. These characters were adapted from the free font Tuffy.

I have my doubts as to the suitability of Tuffy and would like something than matches Mike Hebrew more closely. However the font should not draw attention to itself. It should also be free. Any ideas?

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

MOST COMMON PAIRS OF LETTERS
I'm now working on getting the spacing correct between characters. To do this efficiently it would be good to have a list of the most common pairs of letters. Not all pairs of letters but the (say) twenty most common pairs. I could then get the spacing of those perfect.

This seems like the kind of task that a writer of pearl scripts could dash off
or maybe the list is published somewhere?

Mike

piccic's picture

Mike, no matter what the letter forms of the script are, I still think you'd get an ideal basic spacing by doing a comparative text for each glyph. I.E. if you are evaluating an Aleph, use a similar string
|א| OאO SאS IאI VאV סאס באב ןאן שאש

Add as many comparision pairs as you need, and compare them in subsequent lines.

Only after that, start by evaluating actual text, and only when you are entirely satisfied with the basic sidebearings, then start to consider adding some kerning…

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

piccic,

Well I suppose we are unlickly to agree! I am happy when I work in a meaningful rather than mechanical way. What follows is some common words in Hebrew and I feel I must get the character spacing right for them because they are so common. (The example is NOT an example of good spacing as I'm in the middle of designing the letters so they will be spaced well.)

I'm amused that לא ("No") is reported as the most common spoken word in Israel!

Michael Cunliffe Thompson
Seascapes and Landscapes of New England and...
Hebrew Calligraphy at http://cunliffethompson.com/font

piccic's picture

I am happy when I work in a meaningful rather than mechanical way.
So I am, but you need both. My process is not mechanical at all, I'm just bad at explaining it in English… :=(
We'll see what I can do…

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

Looking through a siddur I don't see any nikud or cantilation below a Mem Sofit.
Is this always true?
I like the visual effect of having the bottom stroke of the Mem Sofit well below the baseline - it makes it an impressive end character to a word.

gohebrew's picture

I think you should redesign your nikkud to match the letters better.

The nikkud is too "straight" with 90 deree and 180 degree angles, which are traditional shapes for traditional designs.

The font employs many non-traditional angles, which gives it its informal appearance. I suggest the nikkkud should be similar.

In that way, if I set Hebrew poetry, which often has nikkud, the whole look would match.

I would employ larger elements, with non-traditional and informal-looking nikkud to match the letters. Don't be afraid to increase the height of the nikkud. This allows the vertical strokes to be at an angle.

piccic's picture

If the nikkud is the squarish accent(s?), I agree.
At least, make the corners rounder, treat them in a way similar to the one you used for the letter strokes… :=)

P.S. Israel, sorry if I did not post anything, I'm having really little spare time and I am trying to devote it to my type work…

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

Go hebrew and piccic
About the design of the nikud, I agree I need to have non-traditional shapes that match my font. More work!

But your did not comment on my question:
IS IT TRUE THAT MEM SOFIT NEVER HAS NIKUD OR CANTILATION?

Mike

gohebrew's picture

The final mem has one nikkud, the chirik, positioned on the extreme right. It is used to indicated the correct pronunciation under the non-apparent yud which should have appeared before the mem sofi.

I don't believe that there are any cant. marks under th final mem. There are some under other final letters.

John Hdson has database for every cant. mark in the Bible, and can tell yu for sure. Right, John?

gohebrew's picture

The final mem has one nikkud, the chirik, positioned on the extreme right. It is used to indicated the correct pronunciation under the non-apparent yud which should have appeared before the mem sofi.

I don't believe that there are any cant. marks under th final mem. There are some under other final letters.

John Hdson has database for every cant. mark in the Bible, and can tell yu for sure. Right, John?

david h's picture

> IS IT TRUE THAT MEM SOFIT NEVER HAS NIKUD OR CANTILATION?

See: 2 Samuel 24:16; Jeremiah 7: 22; Judges 18: 17

gohebrew's picture

John has database on his pc, but David has a database in his head. Too bad he can't burn a CD for me.

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

Maybe I should add to the release notes for my font:
NOT TO BE USED FOR 2 Samuel 24:16; Jeremiah 7: 22; Judges 18: 17

I looked at 2 Samuel 24:16 and saw the chirik is almost under the previous character and my new design of mem sofit did not obscure it. I see also that if delete the mem sofit the chirik stays put!
I did not find the promised examples in Jeremiah 7: 22 or Judges 18: 17.

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

When I began this thread I spoke of the horrors of Cabin Fever in New England.
Well this winter was more eventful than most... The snowplow got stuck in our
driveway and a second snowplow could not pull it out. Eventually an enormous tow truck succeeded. That's not all, we had the Ice Storm. Actually there was no wind, only
a gentle rain that froze on the branches which eventually fell under the weight.
Through the strangely silent night we could hear the crack and thump of falling
limbs and trees until the power lines had been brought down in hundreds of places. It took eleven days for the power to be restored. But now its spring and the "winter work" on my font is complete.

SEE THE NEW VERSION 3.2 OF MIKE HEBREW AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD AT
http://cunliffethompson.com/font

The font is now more unified in style and the letters fit together better.
I have added some new examples of its use to my web site.
Mike

386sky's picture

Fixed all problems with Mike Hebrew Bold:

Fully mixed directional glyphs are chosen
Added ucircumflex and circumflex glyphs

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