Tracing

The project that is taking most of my time is the “revival” of the Stempel Garamond. I have scanned a few pages of the book and I’ve tried to quickly digitize the letters in Fontlab but the results were disappointing. I was for a long time confused as how to transfer the shapes from the printed pages into vectors in Fontlab. The shapes on the printed pages are very rough and I must somehow redefine the outlines of the typeface. This is rather difficult since most of the details of the glyphs have been completely lost by the effect of ink trapping and the porosity of the paper.

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I have blown up every letters to exactly 4 cm in height (x-height + ascender or descender) This I’ve read is the ideal size for sketching. I have done my own test and I have to admit that it’s a good size although it is quite hard to get sharp details at that size. I have traced all the lower cases quite roughly but I am already making some changes by ironing out the most prominent irregularities. I don’t know if at this stage I should perfect the drawings a little more or going straight for digitization? At this stage the glyphs are looking a little bold (or maybe semi-bold). Since I don’t know much about Fontlab I don’t know if it’s easier to thin the glyphs down in the program or on paper.

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One might wonder why I am tracing all the letters and not just the ones from which I could generate the others such as the “o” and the “n”. If I traced the “o” and the “n” I could easily generate “p”, “d”, “,b”, “i”, “j”, “h”, “m”, “l”, “c”, “e”, “r” and “u”. But the point of this exercise is to make a revival and that means getting the flavor of the typeface I am reviving and not finding the quickest way to end up with a digitized typeface. If I generated most of the shapes from the “o” and the “n” I would end up with a very different typeface in flavor that that of the original. This happens because the idiosyncrasies that might be present in the “o” and the “n” will be repeated over the whole typeface. These idiosyncrasies might be the result of errors of interpretation of the original shapes.

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