Timeline: Discipline: For:
6 Weeks, Fall 2019 Typography, Digital Product Typography
Design, Type Design
For my final project in Typography class during Fall 2019, I designed a font that I call Courier Neue. When has a real typewriter ever perfectly typed text and not had random ink splotches or different character weights from the ink press on the page? The answer is never. My font, Courier Neue, has three versions of each character that can be found on a Courier Typewriter. With opentype features activated when typing, the font chooses a random version of each character and displays it!
Why I made this.
Earlier in the semester we did a poetry redesign assignment. I chose to redesign the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. I rearranged the words of the poem in the font Courier in the shape of the American Flag. I was upset when all the words looked so perfect and set. It did not have the tattered, beaten, resilient feel that old American typewritten documents have. To solve this problem, I chose to redesign Courier and make Courier Neue with its contextual alternates. Below are all of my characters from font development software Glyphs.
How I made this.
To make this font, I first went to the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado and simply typed with a Courier typewriter. I then made sure to type around 6 versions of each character available. The typewriter I was using did not have a capital C (the letter press for it had been snapped off), and to preserve this specific typewriter I chose not to include one in my font. I then scanned these letters and traced them in illustrator. From illustrator, I chose my favorite three versions of each character and create a glyph for it in Glyphs. In Glyphs, I had to create three different classes and two different features to get my font to work as an OpenType Font. I then exported all my characters as an OTF and web safe WOFF for download and installation!
The Code Explained
Below is the code I had to write in Glyphs to get my OTF font to work with its contextual alternates. The first image shows me defining which characters are included in my font in a class. I then define the first and second alternate for each glyph in their own class in images two and three. Image four is me calling my contextual alternate feature as a feature. Image five is me defining my contextual alternate feature. It pretty much says that once class DEFAULT has been typed, sub in class ALT1. Then it says once DEFAULT and ALT2 have been typed, call class ALT2. Once each character has been typed by the third time, the cycle continues.