After one has constructed a large number of typefaces, possibilities open up that are not there for the beginner. One of those possibilities is that of creating new fonts by blending existing ones. (I suppose one can use other people's fonts as the starting point, but then the title to the end results is not clear. Eventually the courts will decide what is lawful and what is not. Digital typography opened up new questions that are still unresolved.)

PostScript and TrueType fonts are outline fonts, and the outlines are curves determined by a number of control points. In Fontographer, an outline of a PostScript font looks like this:

The points are numbered, and the curvature between points is determined by the handles that extend from each point. Pulling on handles alters the curvature.

Two characters can be blended if they have the a one-for-one correspondence of points. The results can be quite interesting. Here is a sample of the most interesting (though not the strangest) of the blendings I have done:

The chart needs some explanation. In the corners are four fonts which I created during the past few years. In the noon, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 positions are blends of the corner fonts. The middle is occupied by a blend of all four of the original fonts.

The upper-left font is BetterTypeRight, which has very large serifs and a very high x-height. The upper-right is called Euroika, a decorative font with lots of contrast between thick and thin and a fairly low x-height. The lower left font is Ingriana, a classy informal font. Finally, in the lower right is KampFriendship, a completely informal, handwritten serifed font.

What I find interesting is that the font in the middle is the most readable of the group. Each of the original fonts has a lot of idiosyncrasy, but the final blending mostly eliminates them, resulting in a font that blends in. I tend to use it more than any of its grandparents, which I never thought would happen when I started playing with blending.

If fonts can be blended, they can also be made into multiple-master fonts. The multiple-master technology is fascinating, and it is very unfortunate that the tools have been so slow in developing. I place the blame on Adobe. It is their technology, and if they want people to develop for it, they need to make sure the tools are available. They have not done that. (Fontographer can construct multiple-master fonts, and I have done quite a few. But there are major problems with the multiple-master part of Fontographer that have not been fixed for years.)

There is no reason to stop with the plain versions of the fonts. Here are the same fonts, but in their italic styles:

If you are observant, you will immediately notice that the "g"s cannot be blended as they are here. To get the blends, two completely new "g"s had to be constructed, but there was no reason to alter the original fonts with these new constructions. Again, I find that the overall mega-blend is the most appealing typeface to use for straight text.

I might mention that a really good text face is extremely difficult to do. The big type foundries have spent more money than I will earn in my lifetime developing some of these faces. Given that, it is not surprising most of the typefaces done by small type foundries, not to mention shareware authors, is display type. I have done several faces which I think can be used as text, but if I were responsible for publishing books or large circulation magazines, I doubt if I would use anything I have created for text. I would use faces developed with big budgets.

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altered Dec 2007