Friday, June 1, 2012

The Human Touch

One of the perennial topics here at Propnomicon is the difficulty of making fonts look handwritten. For short segments of text it's not a major issue, but reproducing the appearance of natural writing when you're dealing with large blocks of material is extremely difficult. Dean Engelhardt at the Cthulhu Reborn blog has an excellent post up looking at some techniques for adding the human touch.

Now, that’s a great font … and even straight out-of-the-box it looks pretty reasonable as a simulation of human handwriting. But … if you look closer, you’ll notice a few things. The capital I character repeated in both lines looks exactly the same in both renditions. The lower-case T is also conspicuously identical in angle and weight in each of the half-dozen places it appears. And the baseline is dead-straight, much moreso than a real person would create. Now, none of these are failings of the font itself (most fonts only include one version of the upper-case I glyph for example), and for short passages of faux-handwritten text they are probably fine. But when you’re putting together long passages using a font like this, the repetition and regularity of the font definitely diminishes the overall illusion of the text having been written by hand.

The focus of the article is on Adobe Illustrator, but his detailed explanation of the basic principles of incremented randomization should be applicable to any digital art program. I highly recommend reading the whole thing.  His insights will be useful to anyone crafting handwritten paper props.


orion24 said...

I said this before in another post about Physical props such as Statues, Relics and Specimens, They are great to look at but you can't buy them, They are one of a kind items made by Fans, I know there are some tutorials on how to make some of them here, But the majority of people that come here are looking for props they can download or Buy, Over the past Few months I haven't seen any downloadable paper props, This is called "Propnomicon" the first 4 letters makes you think of props you can either buy or download and I would Prefer that, As of lately Propnomicon is turning into where the majority of the props are just pictures, Don't get me wrong, I Love this site and the Content within, But how many Fan Made Cthulhu Idols and Relics can you Show Here and Can't Buy, The owner of this site put's allot of thought into making and selling his props and I say Thank You for that, I just saw the Arkham Sanitarium Lab Coat on HPLHS's site the Patch on the Lab Coat is Bland Looking Compared to the Arkham Patch that was done by the Owner of this site allot of thought and detail went into that, Basically what I am saying is... MORE DOWNLOADABLE PROPS and MORE PROPS FOR SALE HERE. Keep Up The Great Work. :)

Alex Kaeda said...

I love downloadable paper props. I keep trying my hand at making them, but generally end up not-pleased enough with the end result to share with the public. I have a feeling that theres 'alot' of people who are in the same place as me (I've been trying to find a way to make the editable form-fields for PDF files for months, and I keep coming up empty because I can't throw $300 at Adobe right now). So, Onion, rather than asking for more downloads, why not make some and contribute? help inspire others with your own works, so that they make some that you can download and enjoy?

As to the subject of props for sale.... Propnomicon headlined a Deep One Skull from Justin Bailey/obscura reliquias - I contacted Justin and just today sent a money order for one. Propnomicon also often headlines projects from the gentleman in New Jersey who's name escapes me at the moment, and those projects are usually up on ebay.

I've visited Propnomicon daily for a couple years, and its been a huge source of inspiration for me (and I'm always astounded by the depth of knowledge that is associated with this blog and its regular visitors - such as coastconfan).

Sure, I'm always looking forward to being thrilled by the prop projects (such as the At The Mountains of Maddness project that our host is working on), and all of the downloadable and purchasable props that are posted that help bring the world of H.P. Lovecraft alive.

With that comes inspirational things that are one-offs that are only for admiration (although, you know.... if you're really interested, theres nothing stopping you from contacting the originating artists, and making them an offer that they cant refuse.....)

Raven said...

As I commented at Cthulhu Reborn:

May I commend to your attention an Open-Type Font (OTF) called "Olicana" (particularly the subset "Olicana-Rough"), which uses OTF's capacities to cycle through various letter-forms based on how many letters have been typed. Thus there will naturally be a variation in the shapes of (for instance) the capital letter "I" as with all other successive letters, to emulate natural handwriting.

(This is the handwriting font I used on the wolfbane tag here awhile back.)

Phil said...

Alex - Agreed. Checking out this blog is one of the highlights of my morning, and I've lost could of the number of ideas and resources I've gotten here, even if output of relics has gone down lately because of health issues.

As for props for sale, I know I'm always willing to consider commission pieces, and I'm sure many of the other artists featured here would as well. It certainly never hurts to ask.

orion24 said...

Alex I'm in the process in making some Downloadable props, But I can't sell them because of the certain fonts I use are not owned by me, So I do it for free, Right now I have Computer problems hopefully when that clears up you'll see my props up here. :)