### 3d glyphs

Posted:

**Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:02 am**If any glyph in an OpenType font could contain a 3d object then the COLR table could encode a 3d simulation.

For example, some cuboids and a few other opaque solids and a semi-transparent pyramid could encode a simplified, colourful, 3d model of the exterior of a famous art gallery, the Louvre in Paris.

More glyphs could be used to make a more detailed 3d model.

A colourful 3d simulation, possibly animated, could be encoded for an educational purpose.

I have been using the Serif ImpactPlus 5 program for some years.

One use was that I used it to make a virtual 3d model of a specially-shaped pasta piece, the idea being that that shape of pasta piece would only ever be made in gluten-free pasta, which would be a useful provenance check for people wanting to eat gluten-free pasta in a café or restaurant.

It seems to me that such a 3d model could become encoded within a font.

If implemented I feel that this idea could produce important, easy to use, educational 3d models expressed using vector graphics.

The 3d solids would be produced, one per glyph, in a font editor, by selecting a standard model with a standard set of x, y, z coordinates. The location of the points could then be altered if desired, perhaps by moving every point in the model by a fixed amount in some direction. The solid could then be coloured and its opacity set.

The specification would have a list of standard solids that could be used, each identified by an index number.

The specification would define each solid as a collection of triangles.

For example, solid number 1 could be a tetrahedron.

This could be defined as ABCD and triangles specified as ABC ABD ACD and BCD.

For example, solid number 2 could be a pyramid.

A pyramid could be defined as ABCDE with ABCD as the square base.

The triangles would include ABC and ACD so that if in font designing a font designer caused the four points of the base to become not all in the same plane, the rendering system would know how to render the model.

For example, solid number 3 could be a cuboid.

A cuboid could be defined as ABCDEFGH.

Each of the six rectangular surfaces would need the way that it could, if necessary, be regarded as two triangles defined in the specification.

An icosahedron would be fairly straightforward as it is constructed of triangles.

There could also be such items as a triangular prism, a triangular vase and so on.

I am wondering how would be the best way to encode the information for a 3d glyph in a new table in an OpenType font.

It seems to me that if there were a table for encoding 3d glyphs then that table could contain details of those glyphs that are 3d glyphs and then those glyphs could be referenced within a COLR table and be coloured using a CPAL table with no change to the structure of the COLR and CPAL tables.

Whether 3d glyphs will become part of fonts in this new incunabula age of printing and publishing is for the future.

The brilliance of the Microsoft invention of using multiple glyphs with just one colour per glyph to build up a mapped colourized glyph has opened up opportunities for many new possibilities that almost seem to just fall into place as potentially straightforwardly encodable within fonts; possibilities such as sounds, animation and colourized 3d models.

William Overington

18 September 2013

For example, some cuboids and a few other opaque solids and a semi-transparent pyramid could encode a simplified, colourful, 3d model of the exterior of a famous art gallery, the Louvre in Paris.

More glyphs could be used to make a more detailed 3d model.

A colourful 3d simulation, possibly animated, could be encoded for an educational purpose.

I have been using the Serif ImpactPlus 5 program for some years.

One use was that I used it to make a virtual 3d model of a specially-shaped pasta piece, the idea being that that shape of pasta piece would only ever be made in gluten-free pasta, which would be a useful provenance check for people wanting to eat gluten-free pasta in a café or restaurant.

It seems to me that such a 3d model could become encoded within a font.

If implemented I feel that this idea could produce important, easy to use, educational 3d models expressed using vector graphics.

The 3d solids would be produced, one per glyph, in a font editor, by selecting a standard model with a standard set of x, y, z coordinates. The location of the points could then be altered if desired, perhaps by moving every point in the model by a fixed amount in some direction. The solid could then be coloured and its opacity set.

The specification would have a list of standard solids that could be used, each identified by an index number.

The specification would define each solid as a collection of triangles.

For example, solid number 1 could be a tetrahedron.

This could be defined as ABCD and triangles specified as ABC ABD ACD and BCD.

For example, solid number 2 could be a pyramid.

A pyramid could be defined as ABCDE with ABCD as the square base.

The triangles would include ABC and ACD so that if in font designing a font designer caused the four points of the base to become not all in the same plane, the rendering system would know how to render the model.

For example, solid number 3 could be a cuboid.

A cuboid could be defined as ABCDEFGH.

Each of the six rectangular surfaces would need the way that it could, if necessary, be regarded as two triangles defined in the specification.

An icosahedron would be fairly straightforward as it is constructed of triangles.

There could also be such items as a triangular prism, a triangular vase and so on.

I am wondering how would be the best way to encode the information for a 3d glyph in a new table in an OpenType font.

It seems to me that if there were a table for encoding 3d glyphs then that table could contain details of those glyphs that are 3d glyphs and then those glyphs could be referenced within a COLR table and be coloured using a CPAL table with no change to the structure of the COLR and CPAL tables.

Whether 3d glyphs will become part of fonts in this new incunabula age of printing and publishing is for the future.

The brilliance of the Microsoft invention of using multiple glyphs with just one colour per glyph to build up a mapped colourized glyph has opened up opportunities for many new possibilities that almost seem to just fall into place as potentially straightforwardly encodable within fonts; possibilities such as sounds, animation and colourized 3d models.

William Overington

18 September 2013