Saturday, December 30, 2000

First attempt at Essence

Into the wee hours of the morning, I finished off the alphabet characters (and a few punctuation marks) for my newest font: Essence. I've got a pretty good description of what I'm trying to accomplish in the last log entry, so I won't repeat myself. But I thought that a screen shoot might be a good thing to show at this first "milestone" for Essence...

If it looks like Epsy (or Espy, whatever, it's early in the morning, you can't expect me to spel!), that's intentional. I printed out a bunch of text to compare Essence to my Nu Sans. Essence wins hands down as being the most "Espy"ish. It looks good on paper, but my main goal is to have Essence be a great screen font first--it should look good under any circumstances: aliased, anti-aliased, grid fitted, whatever. I'll explain later...

Monday, December 04, 2000

The essence of a good font

Just watched the first part of the new "Dune" on Sci-Fi. It looks pretty good, but I'd like to see the David Lynch version after so that I can compare. I saw it as a kid and didn't understand it too well. Perhaps now that I am older and wiser it will make more sense :-)

Along the same lines as the new Nu Casual, I am creating a new font. This new font is based on Espy Sans, but it goes a different direction than my Nu Sans. Where Nu Sans is a printer-friendly Espy Sans, the new font will try to more closely match the design of the original bitmaps. I have found that basing a font on simply one bitmap size as a model is not optimal.

The process will take quite a bit more time, as each finished font is the average of four fonts. I design an outline to fit the 10, 12, 14 and 16 bitmap fonts of Espy Sans. I know that I have a good outline by performing a simple check: I generate a bitmap font double the size of the font I'm working on. If that looks good, I'm set. After the outlines for the four fonts are good, I combine them into one font (actually a three step process: 10 + 12, 14 + 16 and then combining the results of those two).

I was toying with a name for this new font. When I had to change the name of Epsy Sans, I polled my users and they all voted on Nu Sans. This got Apple off my back. It was a week later when I got an e-mail from one of my users congratulating me on the new name, saying that I was able to thumb my nose at Apple after all. You see, "Nu Sans" is pronounced the same as the English word "nuisance." Indeed, I was a nuisance to Apple :-)

So I thought about basing the name of the font on this chance semblance of syllables. I wanted to keep something of Espy Sans (what inspired the new font) while still respecting the legacy of my work on Nu Sans. So I started thinking about "E" as in Espy. E Sans? No, that won't do--too obvious. Apple would burst a blood vessel. But there is a word that sounds something like it: "Essence." I like the implications of the name. It is the literally the essence of Espy Sans. I am taking the individual characteristics of each bitmap size and merging them into one font. It really works for me.

I should have some pictures up soon.