Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Shanksizer! -- Naturalized Handwriting Font Tool

A few weeks ago I was complaining to Mr. Stwalley about a special problem I have. You see, using Todd Klein's great book, "DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics," I developed a couple of fonts of my handwriting. Each font has two sets of alphabets -- one set as uppercase and one set as lowercase. Each set is exactly the same (roman, bold, etc), except that they have very subtle "writerly" differences.

The biggest problem with handwriting fonts is that they're easy to pick out as computerized when you see two of the same letters next to each other. Having just a subtle difference in the way the same letter is written helps trick the reader's mind into thinking that a line of text is ACTUALLY hand-lettered, when really it's not.

Getting back to my PROBLEM: Right now I have to manually differentiate between upper- and lowercase letters to make my fonts look authentic. Currently, "balLoOn" has to typed out by hand. That takes time. Time I don't have. So I was complaining to Mr. Stwalley about how I wished there was a simple Flash program to do the work for me.

So today he surprises me with "The Shanksizer" -- a fun and simple way to alternate your caps! Drop in a block of "normal" text, hit the fish, and out comes your text with alternating text! Of course, the best part is that it's a fun tool to play with even if you don't give a hoot about the problems associated with naturalized handwriting fonts. And if you hate fish.

Click below to play with The Shanksizer:

Note: Concurrently, BTA and PUNY are working on a similar program aimed at professional letterers who deal with naturalized handwriting fonts on a daily basis.


Shad said...

Aha, I see a feature that we need to have in our program that I didn't think about. We need a Font toggle button that quickly toggles between the lettering font and a basic serif font so that we can see and make tweaks quickly.

I'd be also cool to make a comic script writing program that has a few built in style macros. Like "Alan Moore" button that puts descriptions in all uppercase.

Donn Ha said...

Kevin, how can you not have time? You're one of the fastest cartoonists alive.

Kevin Cannon said...

too busy updating my facebook profile and watching Luc Moullet films.

bewilderedkid said...

This is great! Now I just have to wait about a year until my lettering improves to use this fancy tool!

Maxeem said...

hooray for computers!

Paul said...

If you're using applications that take advantage of OpenType layout features (Adobe CS apps/the latest version of Quark), you can make a font that does this for you automatically. if you're interested in hearing more you can contact me at paul(a)