Calling all typographers

steven at steven at
Fri Apr 29 17:32:42 CDT 2016

Paul wrote:

>> On Apr 29, 2016, at 8:39 AM, steven at wrote:
>>> ...
>> I've also had a go at the dec font for the purpose of those 'good enough' mastheads I
>> posted about here last year:
>> I too found the font to be mostly circles and tengential lines except for the 's' which
>> gave me a lot of trouble to draw nicely in my CAD program. I'm puzzled about the notion
>> of 'o' not being a perfect circle as I found it to be quite so, at least on the masthead.
>> As mentioned there are different 't's. I treat the whole masthead as an integral CAD drawing -
>> I'm not trying to replicate Paul's near-enough Corel-drawn font (which I examined) but
>> rather a correctly spaced and kerned piece of text, just as it is on the masthead.
> Yes, my font doesn't have any kerning and the width data is a mess too.  I spent some time with FontForge, but now my Mac is acting strange (TextEdit recognizes the font after I install it, Word and Illustrator pretend it doesn't exist).
> The way I would deal with the sort of project you mention is to use a tool like Illustrator (or other suitable vector graphics editor), enter the text using the "Handbook" font, then adjust letter positioning with the text positioning tools until it's correct.
> As for the "digital" logo, it's been clearly established that using a standard font for that will be pretty inaccurate.  Fortunately, a correct version, in PostScript form, has been posted long ago by someone who traced it from the original master films at DEC.  Most drawing programs (Illustrator
for one, of course) can import PostScript.
I considered the Batchfelder 'digital' logo for my masthead design (having converted it from
Postscript to SVG) and it's a beautiful piece of work. Due to its copyright, I could not incorporate
it into my own work so I drew my 'digital' by blowing up the masthead image very lrge and manually
tracing the edges with vectors and fitted splines. It took a lot of hours to do this. Afterwards I
converted the splines to arc segments for generating the DXF then further conversion to SVG for
stencil cut testing.

One observation about converting old pieces of text to fonts. In my military vehicle restoration hobby,
almost all old WWII vehicles have etched dataplates ('nomenclature plates' as they are called).
There is a thriving market in reproductions of these, and are available for a large range of vehicles.
Some are better than others. The better ones are done by treating the text, lines and spacing on the
plate as an image. That way, the kerning, serifs and peculiarities of the original hand-typographed font
are preserved. The inaccurate repros are done by retyping the plate using a near-enough modern font.
I have seen one of these plates on eBay that even has a typo in it. That was annoying because it was
a copy of a rare one I need for my own vehicle restoration.


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