Category Archives: Process

Alphabet: All letterforms

With the base letterforms that I had created, I used the Form Categorization Chart and created all other letterforms. This time, I used the software SimpleFont to create all the letterforms.

Here it is. (See the letters inside the red outline? Yes, that is the seed. Working on it, still.)

The first rough draft of Chukki:



Keyline guide

At this stage, the keyline guide is well defined. It becomes a line of control. It commands the way one letterform interacts with the other. There has to be harmony at every stage. When two different base forms are placed together, there has to be some common elements that drive the eye through a webpage full of text.

Every letterform will find a home inside this keyline guide and they co-exist even though they look diverse in terms of their origin.

The ‘keyline guide’ will be finetuned and detailed after the study is done on the existing Kannada typefaces on the web and the categorization of forms.

Working version of the ‘keyline guide’ will be defined just before the defining the design criteria. Keeping the keyline guide open to changes, in a way, brings flexibility in the process.

Here is the first version of the ‘keyline guide’:


It is still vague right. Yes, it is intentional.

Pixel form

At this stage, a type designer has to resist manipulation. It is tempting to actually start deriving the final forms at this stage. But that again will hamper the output. It is essential that a type designer works merely as a copy artist.


In the above image, you can notice:
(i) How the hand drawn letter, now vectorized, is placed on the pixel grid. The thrust keylines (in pink) are clearly defined.
(ii) How the pixel form is derived behind the vectorized form
(iii) How the pixel form behaves with just the support of grid
(iv) How the pixel form behaves without the support of grid or the vectorized form
(v) How the pipel form behaves in the acutal size

At this stage, as a type designer, you need to go back and see if the form is balanced. At this stage, one can vaguely touch upon aesthetics too. It is also important to see how it renders in actual size because at the end of the day user interacts with the actual size.

Vector outlines

At this stage, when the outlines are drawn on computer, there is scope of manipulating the common characters in all letterforms so that it becomes easier when constructing the type.

When you actually see the letterforms placed in a line, a sensitive type designer can definitely see the stress or thrust keylines. Such keylines enhance redability. Every letterform will adhere to at least two keylines, out of which, one will be explicit, and the other implicit.

Here is a sample:


 The image below illustrates how the keylines can be defined.

Selecting letterforms

Selecting a letterform from the explorations is a crucial stage again. This stage is where a type is made. To select a letterform one needs to be aware of these factors:

(i) Intution
Intution is essential. But intution alone is not enough to select a perfect from out from the rest. Intution will only act as a pointer. A type designer has to analyze those pointers. Intution may point to more than one letterforms. As a type designer, one has to measure the qualities of the forms. Here the artist exits.

(ii) Scale
A mathematician enters. The letterform can be analyzed based on these factors: size, simplicity, motion, strokes, angles, endings, flourishes, links, lines, loops, circles, fly-wheels, pegs, breaks, and dots. And a type designer has to see all this in every letterform before selecting the one that best suits the need. The mathematician exits.

(iii) Sensitivity
A surgeon enters. With utmost care, every letterform has to be disected and categorized under a family. Again when a type designer is categorizing, he or she may use self-defined criteria. Here the scope of work just moves beyond letterforms. The surgeon exits.

(iv) Embracing
A critic enters. This is the stage where a type designer will embrace a letterform and maybe take it further than expected. At this stage, every letterform becomes an insight.

Here is a scan of a few base letterforms:



Aplogies. Haven’t updated the blog for a long time. A lot of work has happened since January on Chukki. Will write loads of posts today. Will also feature some scans. 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, the design and research is happening parallely. Just to let you know what to expect.

Here are the things that I have done:*

(i) Freehand explorations of base letters
(ii) Selecting one form, that is consistent in width, proportion and form, from the explorations
(iii) Vector outlines of all the hand drawn base forms
(iv) Place the vector outlines on pixel grid, and construct a pixel form
(v) Use the base form to create the proportion, width, and thrust guidelines
(vi) Create all derived and independent forms

These tasks are yet to be done:

Elective 4 (Research based project)

(vii) Analysis of the Kannada script on the web (Objective)
(viii) Case studies of typefaces available on web (Approach)
(ix) Documenting the analysis and write a paper (Deliverable)

Most crucial of the tasks:

(x) Investigating the forms
(xi) Create design guidelines

* Apart from the tasks that are done, I have also spent a lot of time figuring out font creation softwares such as FontLab and SimpleFont.


Yesterday, I had a discussion with my guide. And it was really helpful in two ways. One, I got a chance to explain him the progress of the project, and two, he provided some valuable insights.

He was quite happy with the geometric construction of the letterforms. But he wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. These were his insights:

(i) Complex to simple
Yes, once i categorized the letters based on the basic form. I have to now choose any three letters which are really complex. When I say complex, it has to be a combination of curves, multidirectional strokes, more than two points of thrusts, and maximum width. So when I set them right I would be able to come up with a better ‘design criteria’.

(ii) Structure follows form or the other way around
Balance is a key. Now how I am approaching is limiting and may not be able to innovate. I am creating a structure and placing the letterforms inside the structure. There is another way to it. I can bring in spontaneity into the froms. But this approach may be complicated to because I need to standardize the grid. So I need to use both the approaches and create a design criteria based on the analysis from both approaches.

(iii) Look at letters as pure forms
I have been looking at letters as forms. But I need to really look at them as images. To gather some kind of an insight that would drive the design. I would be able to only derive that with some sketches of the letterforms.

That’s it, folks. Happy New Year.

Thank you, Suresh.