Multiple Glyph Changing Font

ptaeck's picture

Hello,
I am still thinking about creating an unique font, which automatically changes letter types as You write. Easy to say - when I write "Praha", I do not want to have the both letters "a" exactly the same, but a bit different, for example with some "print errors" You get while printing at the old huge machines...

Is the some software way to create this on PC? Or do I have to do it manually?

Thanks for any answer...

Nick Shinn's picture

The standard method is to use a font which has such "randomness" built-in as an OpenType feature: Contextual Alternates.
This feature is active by default in those applications which support OpenType features, such as the Adobe Creative Suite and Quark XPress.

You can see this in action at MyFonts, for my Duffy Script font (click on "Contextual Alternates" in the "Advanced typography" menu). I made the font using FontLab, which enables feature programming.

Pieter van Rosmalen's picture

Hello,

Read more about “random” features here:
http://typophile.com/node/19625

Pieter

Khaled Hosny's picture

I think the OpenType Randamize feature fits well for your purpose.

I use it to re-implement a randomized font that was first done in Metafont, essentially there are several alternates for each glyph, all mapped to a "rand" feature and the layout engine selects between them randomly (check a sample). However, AFAIK, support for this feature is almost non existent, and I know only one OpenType implementation that supports it.

Nick Shinn's picture

Apart from the lack of support for "rand", the biggest piss-off for "calt" pseudo-random effects is that layout applications disable them beyond a very narrow range of tracking, on the assumption that contextual substitutions are exclusively for cursive ligatures.

kentlew's picture

> layout applications

By which you mean InDesign, which gives the user no control.

The cutoff point can actually be specified in Quark. The Preferences > Character — Ligatures — Break Above: field will be respected for the OT {calt} feature, not just ligatures (OTL or not). So, set it to something like 40 and track to your heart’s content. (And remember, 40 Quark units = 200 InDesign units.)

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Kent, I didn't know that.
Quark took a looooong time to catch up with InDesign in OpenType support, but now it could well be ahead.

kentlew's picture

Not ahead, but drawing even. Pros and cons to each.

dave nalle's picture

I've designed lots of fonts which offer alternate versions of the characters, usually limited to about 3 variations. I've found that the best way to do it is to put the alternates in the positions accessed by using the standard key for that character in combination with alt or shift-alt on the Mac keyboard.

This isn't random, but it allows you to access multiple versions of the characters and in many ways it is better because you can control which version appears where, which is desirable when some variations of the character are quite different from the main style.

Dave

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

> I've found that the best way to do it is to put the alternates in the positions accessed by using the standard key for that character in combination with alt or shift-alt on the Mac keyboard.

But this solution only works if you are on a Mac with US keyboard, right? I mean, if you put an alternate w in the alt + w combination, you are using the slot (that should be) for ∑ . But if I press alt + w on my Spanish-ISO keyboard, I get æ. I get ∑ by pressing alt + x.

Nick Shinn's picture

Dave, that's not a good idea, as it changes the text, which compromises the search function.
What's wrong with people using the glyph palette to manually change glyphs?

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