design by
algorıthm

Algorithmically designed font variations
Algorithmically designed font variations

design by
algorıthm

generative design of fonts

the challenge    This was an unusual and fascinating project in generative design. I was hired by eminent type designer Nick Shinn to write computer programmes that produced algorithmically designed fonts based on his carefully crafted letterforms. The images above illustrate a very small selection of the results.

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the solution    I came up with many mathematical approaches and combined them in a vast number of ways: projecting diverse noise signals along letter outlines, building letters out of a wide range of randomly generated shapes combined additively and subtractively, utilizing a variety of subtly different spatial distributions, partially morphing shapes into letterforms — and so forth. Every programme included a host of adjustable parameters, allowing me to play with a literally infinite number of possibilities. The greatest single challenge was writing code that tempered seemingly random effects with an eye-pleasing degree of regularity.

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tl;dr    My wilder notions yielded results closer to generative art than practical type designs. I’m proud of the more restrained results that were judged suitably legible. And I’m looking forward to implementing some of the concepts I developed in JavaScript.

This project yielded a few expected challenges, such as coding in multiple computer languages and wrestling with complex mathematics, and a few unexpected ones, including the discovery of serious bugs in widely used code libraries. It also rewarded me with many moments of pure wonder, as mathematics mixed in unanticipated ways to yield serendipitous, and often remarkably beautiful, results.

Expertise required
.
Typography
Computer programming
Mathematics & geometry

generative design of fonts

the challenge    This was an unusual and fascinating project in generative design. I was hired by eminent type designer Nick Shinn to write computer programmes that produced algorithmically designed fonts based on his carefully crafted letterforms. The images above illustrate a very small selection of the results.

.
the solution    I came up with many mathematical approaches and combined them in a vast number of ways: projecting diverse noise signals along letter outlines, building letters out of a wide range of randomly generated shapes combined additively and subtractively, utilizing a variety of subtly different spatial distributions, partially morphing shapes into letterforms — and so forth. Every programme included a host of adjustable parameters, allowing me to play with a literally infinite number of possibilities. The greatest single challenge was writing code that tempered seemingly random effects with an eye-pleasing degree of regularity.

.
tl;dr    My wilder notions yielded results closer to generative art than practical type designs. I’m proud of the more restrained results that were judged suitably legible. And I’m looking forward to implementing some of the concepts I developed in JavaScript.

This project yielded a few expected challenges, such as coding in multiple computer languages and wrestling with complex mathematics, and a few unexpected ones, including the discovery of serious bugs in widely used code libraries. It also rewarded me with many moments of pure wonder, as mathematics mixed in unanticipated ways to yield serendipitous, and often remarkably beautiful, results.

Expertise required

Typography
Computer programming
Mathematics & geometry