ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 3 Morning Sessions

These are live blog notes from the 2012 ATypI in Hong Kong, 12 October 2012.

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the event, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect it is because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately ( – or post a comment.

10:45 Hanzi: the past, present and future – George Gu

Intro: Masters in Tokyo, he works with Chinese MM type design.

I studied in 1988 in Tokyo, and I finished in 1993, and moved to Canada. I designed a set of fonts, 0x-08, a MM font, and finished it in 1998. I showed my work to John Collins, D Knuth, in ATypI in Boston. After that I stopped my work but not my thinking.

Last year I started my work again. I agreed with my business partners to show my work to you today.

First, the type history of asia. Second, the thoughts about producing a typeface. Third, the practical results. In the USA, a company invents a lot of technology, like MM. You need a US computer company to make a big CJK font, but I can show you my work is fair, trustable and honest because it lets you export CJK but can work well for Latin too. I will show you my own software for designing. If a firm has this already, thats great. I am just an amateur type designer, so this may not be new. We have 4 guys, 3 with a PhD degree and me. 2 guys are Computer Science PhDs. We did lots of work together.

In 1836 Marcellin Legrand started compositing CJK with composite radicals. 20 years later this was adopted in Berlin and in 1912, a Japanese type designer biought a Lynn Boyd Benton machine which allowed them to move to large scale automated production. It was sold in China in 1950. Later Morisawa Noboo were inspired by Monotype to do phototypesetting of CJK but the scale was hard. This is lead type in 1861, 1875. A western type designer went to China and Japan and help with this work. A number of flaws can be found in the skeletons; loss of aesthetics in scaling a single origin skeleton to multiople weights (counters get closed); uneven alignment (dense characters are too tall, uneven baselines; vertical alignment from widths uneven too), disruption of normal spacing (monospace not done well), uneven strokes ().

Digital tyepface are extended by handwriting; a person doesnt change their brunch when writing but digital type often has variable stroke wdith in an unnatural way. Here is a serif and sans serif design

Here is an example of my teacher, a master of chinese art, Chu Lai Chen, 1982, its 2cm^2 and done very well by hand.

Current font tech:

1. Stroke based types by Dyna Font, in Taiwan, and they make Hanzi in Changhai. 1.4Mb fonts, can change weight.

2. Radical based type, like Paris Type and Berlin Type, is the most common technique in China, like WenQuanYi in Boston. Chienese military use this.

3. Fontographer EM function is excellent. We started this in 1995 and I asked the programmer to stop this.

Finally I chose to use Multiple Master for my font production. Range of weight by interpolation, allows range of wdith axis too, and I have a program to calculate the grey balance. We use this data to design with.


1. Smaller storage memory for JIS X 0208 WOFF (around 1.1mb)

2. Use of condensed fonts can increate number of chars displayed on a mobile screen by 130%

3. EM512 is 9 bit, 1024 is 10 bit, 2056 is 11 bit. Quality can be the same. My partner said, if a USA company chose a CJK font, we can’t match their quality.

Here is Basilisk II, hmm, doesnt work. Win XP, SoftMac. Here is my font in 3 weights. Here is a my font condensed. This is in Ikarus, and this is the grey balance output, returning a value like 0.123 for each Glyph ID. You can see this glyph has a low value, its a single stroke. We had another software on the ‘gravity point’ of a glyph. The 3 PhDs said they can see a central point but they can’t see the gravity point I can see. So we developed this tool. But I don’t have it here.

This is my iPhone mockup showing 1,155 characters on a screen. This is mine, 1,589 – a 137% increase. This images compares legibility, you can see mine is an improvement.

11:10 Designing CJK typefaces under a unified concept – Shinya Yagami

Japanese comics are popular and loved around the world. The quality and workmanship is famous, as is animation.

Why do we need many typefaces? CJK can express something with a single character. The phrase ‘Made in Japan’ reminds of things produced so far.

Issues in typography

11:35 Digging into the ATypI archive – Gerry Leonidas

This talk is dedicated to Cynthia Batty.

ATypI was started in 1957, 55 years old, and in 1984 things changed rapidly with Mac and 2 years later Fontographer. Unicode, internet in 1994 with browsers 2.0, but documents didnt change until later. No memory of online until 1997.

We see a reversal of permanence, what was on paper vanishes as its not searchable, its hidden in an office in a box. digital things can be more permanent. but what happens to reference works, the last years brittancia shifting totally to digital. its a trend.

From 1957 to 1984 there were also big changes. hotel metal to phototype. There were big players; In 1968 when i was born, there was half a pge of new type being published. You could INDEX ALL TYPE THAT EXISTED IN LATIN.

The association handled everything byt he secretariat, employed by Monotype Linotype Etc, they kept copies of all the association’s stuff, evthing was on paper. Business transitions, conference records, meeting minutes (!). It was North Western centric; evrything was in English German and French and translater, copied to 3 colored papers. Like a world wihtout mobile phones; people type something, 2 weeks it arrives, 4 weeks they get a confirmation. its all filed in BOXES AND BOXES of stuff.

AtyPI had some transitions and the archive followed through each one. People felt they should maintain it somehow, it grew and grew. I have a presinte 2001 AtypI bag. Most things are similar to today, like Sam Berlow, and there are lots of pristine empherma. SoTA partnerships. LEgal history. And the founding principles, arbitration between members.

We got the archive in 2006, it was a store house in New Jersey and sent to Reading. We can maintain things that tell us stories. We kept it in storage for 5 years until I got funding and hired a student to sort thorugh it.

If you forget your credit card numbers from 15 years ago, we have them. It was all on paper so remains. We scrapped all personal financial informaiton and tried to keep all the best things.

‘Mostly gentlemanly disussions between mostly north western men, represtingn different strages of oligolpolies in transition.’ it was a series of dinners among friends. The gala dinners is a tradition.

The interesting thing was the committess. The type deisgners, manufactorers, and educators. Education was key from the start. Typefaces were no longer tied to heavy machinery. Portability. And portability of designers. So the challange was, who maintains this, who owns it.

Copyright for typefaces?

ATypI was active in trying to design copyright for typefaces. They put together a document in 1973, to clarify what type is and how to protect it. Lots of other discussions about how own them.

Who owns what?

THere is a tension between manufactorers and type designers. ANd they wanted to educate users.

How do you educate users?

get them young, its easy to copy a floppy, and bad habits set in fast.

The minutes are often very boring. There are a lot of whitepapers explaining to outsiders what typefaces are. They tealk to the general grpahic communication community. The main companies are behind this, they wantto get their act together – they are people who talked to each other instrution to sintiution and all faced the same problem.

Most of them will not exist in their current form in a few years, there is no awareness. 5 years into DTP, they talk about funding a bank service to fund buying metal type. There is a lot of stuff like this. Initiatives to get people together. THe industry is not like what we know today. 5-6 figure funds for ‘piracy protection’ activities. £10-20k per year across a dozen companies adds up.

The ease of ephemeral publication digitally, we dont keep things that are worht keeping. Producing things on paper takes time and attneion. so people had experence and its useful to circulate. No one I know has made any copies of thise online. Its lost to the modern world. This is in 73, and in 94, its people at the top of their game, education and industry.

Walter Jungkind, largely resposnibile for seriosu type in Candada.

David Kindersley in Rrading; Gerrit Noorszji and Simon Daniels in Reading, in a room thats still used today.

Legibility is fashionable today, and theres old research in this archive thats quite different to what is done today.

What is a typeface?

That was explained to non type people a lot.

What is a PROTECTABLE typeface?

‘This is a little bit too much like mine’ without a legal environment; explaining to users was done thorughfully. 2 definitions, one was german first and translated:




Novelty was ‘the stlistic elemnts or overall appearance’ – this is not yet known to eh general public,
reasonably expected t be known by professionals.

WE cant talk about type separate from the users of type. all justments of type are in the conditions of use. familiarity by a general audience is a relevant factor.


if the distinction features of a typeface exhibit […] individual creativity exceeding […]

the technical skills and craftsmanship of a lettering draftsman.

Today, if a junior extends a character set, the art director has set the design parametrers and the junior doesn’t have much influence.

But there are hazy boundaries. What is ‘just productoin’? We have production professionals.

There is an unashamed recognition of expertise. There are people who are qualified to make judgements that are worth of attnetion. Today we avoid recognition of expertise.

WEb Fonts FORCED type desiners to open up. Browsers said they’d do it on their own and there are records of that all teh way back.

We used Omeka, a libre archival tool. Its online,

We started uploading text and images. When its more complete we’ll link it to the ATypI site. Its taggable and we want to make it available as a reference to the world, and then as content.

Jungshik: People take many photos of presentations. Why don’t we distribute slides of every presentation to attendees?

Gerry Leonidas: A list of participatnts is easy to do. We used to do that on paper. We can do that online. My view is that slides are not that useful. Theres little text in mind. You dont know what I said with the slides. I can put things on speakerdeck but you don’t know what the gist of what I said is. A paper presentation is different to a slide based presentaiton. I’m happy to put mine up. the images on my slide are not semantically tagged either, so you won’t find them if you search for phototypesetting. Taking a photo of a photo on a project is silly. Lets not forget that, as a teacher, I put my slides online, is that a substitute for teaching? The words that go with things is important.

Brian Stell: Its very valuable for us in teh audience to refer back to, though

Gerry: Yes. I will put my slides online.

Q: Why did you appear in Adams slides yesterday?

Gerry Leonidas: Oh, that reminds me! [Glimpses of Adam in various poses]

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