Albers Combinatory Letters

A central location highlighting fonts created with FontCreator and/or Scanahand. Post information about your fonts here.
Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:19 pm

This will be one of the first typefaces I intend to make into a font file (if I get the hang of Font Creator when it arrives).
Joseph Albers designed it in 1926 and I was lucky enough to see a version made of plastic or glass letters at the Bauhaus Exhibition at London's Barbican.
I see that P22 have done a version but they've closed the gaps between the vertical sections which gives a uniform x height but doesn't seem to me to be so easy on the eye. I decided to keep the gaps which throws the f, k and x out of whack a little but I prefer it and, in the plastic version I saw, is how Mr Albers intended it.

At the moment this exists as an AI file and I still have numbers and punctuation to do but I'll dispense with uppercase.
Attachments
albers.png
albers.png (15.69 KiB) Viewed 7142 times

Erwin Denissen
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8270
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2002 12:41 am
Location: Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Erwin Denissen » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:07 pm

It looks promising.

If you haven't seen it, this forum post might be useful:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2846
Erwin Denissen
High-Logic
Proven Font Technology

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:51 pm

Thanks for the link. That was what drew me to Font Creator in the first place as an editor I couldn't use in conjuction with AI is of no use to me.

I'm plodding on with the digits of Albers's combinatory letters today (in Illustrator). Sticking to my original rules makes creating a 3 quite tricky.

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:18 am

Here's where I am with my Josef Albers inspired typeface. I've called it Kombi.
I was originally only going to do lowercase (which was all I'd seen previously) but I decided to do digits and uppercase aswell as some basic punctuation.
I know P22 do a version so I've deliberately avoided looking at theirs in order to figure out the combinations of the 10 basic shapes for myself. I've yet to install it so I'm not sure if my kerning works or not.

It's a display typeface suited to maybe one or two words and is more an exercise in constructivism than legibility. One of the many anomalies is that the x-height is not the x-height. :lol:
Kombi.ttf
Kombi Type*
(8.16 KiB) Downloaded 190 times
*edited 17/2/13 for bracket spacing and correction of capital G.

Dick Pape
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:19 pm
Location: North Dallas, Texas

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters Looked Over

Post by Dick Pape » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:48 pm

You have faithfully used the lettering in this font. The following are things I might change in a new font. Disregard most of the letter redesigns if you must! But I'd like to suggest:

Generic thoughts:
1. Some letters are taller than others: (4 is ok). 8 extends above 9. 3 taller than 2. Both /x /X are taller than next door letters.
2. Should put in quote double (#34). Completes the punctuation and is easy to make!
3. The apostrophe (quotesingle) and quotes (quoteleft/right) are different sizes. Traditionally the apostrophe is without direction so it can be used before or after a word. I took one of your quoteleft, doubled it and inverted it which solves both those problems I feel.
4. /H - strokes too close together merges into black. Also /b, /p.
5. I think the comma and semi-colon should extend the same distance/on or under the line. I used one of the quote characters and had it straddle the baseline. it was big enough to maintain the design between the semi-colon and the colon.
6. /notdef (question mark) should have some white space (like your glyph question mark) just to make it separate from other characters in a row. It also extends below the line unlike your question mark or period glyphs.
7. Quick note on kerning. Those square-shouldered letters (a,m,n...) should not touch the cross-bar of the T.

Letter Design thoughts -- these have ignored the original design, so you may ignore these too:
a. /B - duplicate the lower semi-circle. Too bottom heavy now.
b. /C - copy lower arm to be upper arm. More "traditional" balance/less top heavy.
c. Use /E and remove the lowest arm to be the /F. More consistent design.
d. /K duplicate lower leg and make into upper leg. Makes top heavier.
e. Copy /K lower leg and make it lower leg of /R. More weight.
f. /S seemed heavy so used /R upper right bowl twice.
g. /f seems tall and heavy. Might replace lower arm with copy of upper arm. Might also lower it below the line like a /p or /q. Reduces its weight without changing its size.
h. Alternatively, the /vV could be drawn with both curved ends at top.
i. Invert lc /l so cutout is at top.

Constructionist fonts are fun to work with because you don't have to invent curves or rectangles or nothing.

I've put these together in Kombi-dp fyi.
Kombi-dp.ttf
(8.31 KiB) Downloaded 201 times

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:40 pm

I appreciate you taking the time to go over 'my' typeface, Dick. I'll try and respond to each of your points but please bear in mind my lack of technical knowledge or even my novice status when navigating a keyboard. :)

1. These anomolies are down to the fact that a space is required (in my mind) between the vertical components and I am rigidly sticking to using the original 10 shapes. The height differences could be overcome by losing the gap but, to my eye, they become a little bit uglier. I could also trim a bit from the top or bottom of the glyph but this would defeat the object as I would no longer be using one of the basic shapes.
2. I have included the double quotes (alt 0147 and alt 0148) but not the double prime.
3. The apostrophe being different to the closing single quotation mark is a mistake. I'll change that.
4. H isn't ideal but p and b look ok to me (though I'm unsure why they should close up any more than the other letters at small sizes), bearing in mind I don't really see this as anything other than a large display font. Again, I'm sticking rigidly to a uniform gap (which I have done as one fifth of the stroke weight).
5. I struggled with this one. Still unsure.
6. Noted. That one slipped through the net.
7. I hadn't spotted that! Something must have gone awry there as I didn't intend to kern the T with every x-height character. :roll:

a. Not ideal but, as before, I'm trying to keep the original spacing.
b. I shall keep the existing C as it follows on from the lowercase c and I shall also make an alternate capital C as you suggested (once I've figured out how to include alternative glyphs).
c. Noted. I was paying more attention to the lowercase f but you're right; it should have more in common with the capital E.
d. Another tricky one that would require the closing of the gap between the legs.
e. see d.
f. I did try that but changed my mind. Another alternative glyph I shall include.
g. I do like the original f but I can see what you mean. Another alternative to include.
h. I'll disagree with you on this one.

You have provided some very helpful feedback and I'll upload an improved version tomorrow. :D

Dick Pape
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:19 pm
Location: North Dallas, Texas

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Dick Pape » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:26 am

Glad I could help your alternate glyphs collection!!

Good luck.

Dick

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:00 am

I'm almost afraid to ask but; what do I do with alternative glyphs? I've perused the forum but answers to similar questions seem overly complex for my gin-addled noggin.

So, I've got 5 or 6 alternative glyphs for various standard English lowercase and uppercase characters, to account for different tastes, and I need to know where to put them and also, how to let other users know how to access them.
I imagine I could put the alternate glyphs almost anywhere but I was wondering what the correct procedure is.
Am I right in thinking that these would just go under Stylistic Alternates in an Open Type font but in a True Type font I just need to find somewhere sensible to put them?

My learning curve is so steep this week I think I might do a loop-the-loop.

William
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1997
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 6:41 pm
Location: Worcestershire, England
Contact:

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by William » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:35 am

Ned Ludd wrote:I'm almost afraid to ask but; what do I do with alternative glyphs?
This is a happy, friendly forum. Please ask as you feel the need to do so.
Ned Ludd wrote: Am I right in thinking that these would just go under Stylistic Alternates in an Open Type font but in a True Type font I just need to find somewhere sensible to put them?
Well, I will not comment as regards an OpenType font as I am not 100% sure of the answer myself.

However, I can answer in relation to a TrueType font.

There are in the character map three areas known as Private Use Areas.

One of them, sometimes referred to as "The Private Use Area" is in plane 0 (that is, plane zero). The other two are huge and are in planes 15 and 16.

For most present day uses, using the plane 0 Private Use Area is the one to use.

Anyone can assign anything he or she chooses to any code point in any Private Use Area just by doing it, there is no need to register or anything like that. However, so can everybody else. So the assignments are not unique.

So care is needed. However, with care, using the Private Use Area can be extremely useful.

Sometimes the Private Use Area is used for alternate glyphs for existing regular characters, sometimes for characters that are not in regular Unicode and sometimes for symbols.

A rather nice example of someone using the Private Use Area for characters that are not in regular Unicode arose in a post in the Unicode Mailing List recently. There is a link for obtaining a font.

http://www.unicode.org/mail-arch/unicod ... /0107.html

If one downloads that font and opens it in FontCreator then there are a lot of characters in the Private Use Area. They are within the range from U+E000 through to U+F8FF.

However, there is a bit more to using the Private Use Area.

It is better to use the part from U+E000 through to U+EFFF as this minimizes the chance of clashing with the use by manufacturers of software packages.

Historically there can be a bit of a problem with using some codes ending 00 in WordPad as they were once used for some Oriental characters by Microsoft and there was some time ago a legacy issue that I do not fully understand over needing to press a key twice sometimes.

I find it best to avoid using U+F000 through to U+F0FF as much of this is used by Microsoft Symbol Fonts and I am unsure as to whether some software might make assumptions about any font using those code points. That may be a groundless concern, but as there is plenty of other space to use, I always avoid using that part of the character map, just in case.

Here is a link. There is a section about the Private Use Areas in that document, section 16.5.

http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode6.2.0/ch16.pdf

There is a lot about what is called "private agreement". That is, I feel a somewhat unfortunate way of explaining the situation. You do not need the agreement of anybody to define your assignments in the Private Use Area. Certainly, if someone then wants to use the font and access an alternate glyph then he or she needs to go along with what you have assigned in order to use the font. To me, that sounds like following the documentation of the font rather than being an agreement.

So, in relation to your alternate glyphs, you could make a list of them and assign to each of them a code point that is somewhere in the range from U+E000 through to U+EFFF.

When I do that with my fonts I tend to try to choose code points such that the decimal equivalent is fairly easily memorable.

For example, suppose that I chose 60000 decimal. That is U+EA60.

So, if you put your glyphs at U+EA61, U+EA62, U+EA63 and so on, then if someone was trying to access the alternate glyphs using WordPad, he or she could use one or more of Alt 60001, Alt 60002, Alt 60003 and so on to access them.

The Alt method is to hold down the Alt key, then key the number using the digit keys that are at the right of the keyboard then release the Alt key.
Ned Ludd wrote: My learning curve is so steep this week I think I might do a loop-the-loop.
Yes, I have had the feeling of looking at trying to learn something and it seems like a vertical rock face.

So please ask, as often as you wish.

As regards your font, I tried the original before you changed it.

I am very impressed.

A few suggestions if I may please comment.

A hyphen would be a useful addition.

A .notdef glyph that is distinctively different from a question mark would be useful.

An e acute, é, would be useful so that the word Café could be typeset.

I am wondering how that would be designed.

A capital E acute, É, would present an interesting design problem.

William Overington

18 February 2013

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:30 pm

Excellent! Thanks, I think I understand some of that.

What I'm hazy on is the relationship between the unicode number (eg. U+E000), the glyph code in Font Creator (eg. $002E) and the alt code (eg. Alt+0148).

Presumably, if I were to share, sell or give a font with any alternates I would include some form of text document detailing where the alternates are to be found. Or would I expect people to simply look at the character map?

William
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1997
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 6:41 pm
Location: Worcestershire, England
Contact:

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by William » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:49 pm

Ned Ludd wrote: What I'm hazy on is the relationship between the unicode number (eg. U+E000), the glyph code in Font Creator (eg. $002E) and the alt code (eg. Alt+0148).
The Unicode codepoint, or Unicode code point, is a standardized number so that various things can work together.

So, for example, the letter g. There is a code for the character g so that, for example, if someone writes an email with a letter g in it on one make of computer and then sends it to someone who is using a different make of computer, then it comes out as a letter g on the screen of the second computer. That is so much an everyday experience of what happens that many people probably never realize that that interoperability only happens because there are industry-wide standards as how to encode a character g on a digital computer.

The code charts are avaiiable from the following page.

http://www.unicode.org/charts/

The character g is in the following chart, which is Basic Latin (ASCII) in the list.

http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0000.pdf

The code for a letter g is U+0067 and that is indicated in the chart.

Now, in the U+0067, the 0067 is a hexadecimal number.

The Alt code is a decimal number.

For character codes with a code point at or above U+0100, the Alt code is the decimal equivalent of the hexadecimal number. So that method is good for the Private Use Areas.

For code points below U+0100 it is not necessarily so, for historical reasons.

(side note)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt_code

(end of side note)

A useful way to convert from decimal to hexadecimal or from hexadecimal to decimal is to use Microsoft Calculator, which sometimes (always?) is bundled with Windows.

The calculator often starts up in standard mode, which is a simple calculator.

If one chooses View and then chooses Scientific, one gets a much more comprehensive calculator.

So, the Unicode code point and the Alt code are directly related, one-tto-one.

The glyph index in Font Creator is simply the sequential place in the font file of the glyph.

Actually, I have got FontCreator set up so that the PostScript codes are displayed rather than the glyph index. I always add the PostScript code to a cell, using the Format Post... facility, whenever I add a cell to a font.

Tools
Options...
Overview
Ned Ludd wrote: Presumably, if I were to share, sell or give a font with any alternates I would include some form of text document detailing where the alternates are to be found. Or would I expect people to simply look at the character map?
Well, if you were selling it, you might possibly be required by some law about selling things to provide adequate documentation. I am not a lawyer and I do not know.

On a scientific level, I would say it depends on how the font is going to be used.

For example, suppose that someone makes a font and puts an alternate glyph somewhere in the plane 0 Private Use Area.

If someone is using WordPad, there is, as far as I know, no way without documentation to find that alternate without testing each code. I suppose that there might be a test file somewhere that someone could open in WordPad, format with the font and the glyph show up. But really, some form of documentation would be necessary.

If someone is using Serif PagePlus, recent versions, then there is a display that one can access that shows a two-dimensional map and the character can be selected easily. So documentation, whilst aesthetically desirable, is not essential as long as people know that it is worth looking.

I think it is a good idea to try to produce some form of documentation.

When I publish a font in this Gallery forum I try to include some notes in the posting. This might not be full documentation, just some notes.

I always try to produce sufficient information so that someone using WordPad can use the font easily.

William Overington

18 February 2013

Dick Pape
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:19 pm
Location: North Dallas, Texas

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Dick Pape » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:12 pm

Expedient answer: probably need the disclaimer from High-Logic.

To work universally, glyphs have to be mapped to some defined character. What they look like is your choice. Most often I have seen a font will include some extra glyphs anywhere there's space. Since you will probably be using a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and punctuation look further down into the accented letters area such as: À,Á,Â,Ã,Ä,Å. Users may need a character map to access them, but that's doable.

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:08 pm

It's slowly seeping into my grey matter. Good work, chaps!

I thought it best to ask questions while making a simple font to aid learning.

William
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 1997
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 6:41 pm
Location: Worcestershire, England
Contact:

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by William » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:25 pm

Dick Pape wrote:Expedient answer: probably need the disclaimer from High-Logic.

To work universally, glyphs have to be mapped to some defined character. What they look like is your choice. Most often I have seen a font will include some extra glyphs anywhere there's space. Since you will probably be using a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and punctuation look further down into the accented letters area such as: À,Á,Â,Ã,Ä,Å. Users may need a character map to access them, but that's doable.
Well, I have indeed made fonts where the glyph was not what might have been expected in a proper Unicode font.

The examples that I can think of at the present time were for special purposes.

One is in the following post.

viewtopic.php?p=16243#p16243

I suppose that if the Kombi font were going to be used with the version of Microsoft Paint on the Windows xp computer system here it would be easiest to have a version Kombi_8_bit where the alternate glyphs were mapped onto cells that Unicode uses for wavy brackets and the like for easy keyboard use and onto some of those accented letter code points that can be reached with an Alt code in Paint.

I do not know how Paint responds to Alt codes in later versions of Windows.

I have just tried an experiment and have been surprised and delighted at the result.

I used an Alt code, namely Alt 60001 to set up a character in WordPad using one of my fonts that has a glyph mapped at that codepoint, then copied onto the clipboard and then set up a text area in Paint for the same font and font size and pasted and the character pasted into Paint properly.

In case anybody wants to try repeating that experiment the font was the one at the following post.

viewtopic.php?p=17499#p17499

William Overington

18 February 2013

Ned Ludd
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:57 am

Re: Albers Combinatory Letters

Post by Ned Ludd » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:02 pm

Following on from valuable feedback I attach Kombi version 1.1.

It still has anomalies due to my insistence that none of the component shapes touch each other but some major clangers have been corrected. Plenty of basic characters are missing but I don't intend to add any more as I don't think any would be needed for its intended purpose as a display font (that and the fact that further characters would most likely be illegible using the existing 10 basic shapes).

Four stylistic alternates are included:

c mapped to [
f mapped to ]
t mapped to {
C mapped to }
Kombi.ttf
(8.48 KiB) Downloaded 199 times

Post Reply