Where the point falls


Type design is an iterative process of refining directions. When drawing point by point, we have learned to pay extra attention to those precise moments that a curve changes direction. This is where the point falls (l'endroit où tombe le point). In contrast, using automatic tracing tools (vectorization) to automatically translate a scanned drawing into a digital curve, lets the algorithm take all the decisions according to illegible rules.

Even with precise hand-drawn letterforms, the automatic process of hinting often secretly moves point positions in glyphs. This shocking manipulation has been very precisely crafted to enhance the rendering of common attributes like the thickness of stems or the overshoot of serifs on the mild resolution of screens.

We often dream of an interface that would allow us to follow the iterative evolution of these two kinds of processes more closely. One that would make it possible to observe with attention the decision making of the algorithm at work, and to understand the analogies and differences between drawing by hand and drawing digitally in more depth. How to develop a sensitivity for where a point falls in a digital environment?


A sketch for future font editor with a multi-level interface that can display digitised hand-drawn curves next to automatically vectorized ones. This editor could also be thought of as a platform to inspect and learn the historical and technical evolutions of the same letterforms. This desirable piece of software, filled with typographic data, is promising some focus on "where the point falls". Some of these features are present in Fontmatrix, a software by Pierre Marchand. Sketch done during a worksession in the context of the Libre Graphic Research Unit, Brussels, 2011.