How to design your own script

If you're new to these arts, this is the place to ask "stupid" questions and get directions!
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qwed117
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by qwed117 » Tue 17 Mar 2015, 00:11

Ahzoh wrote:I certainly did.
I certainly didn't....Oh wait, I certainly did! [:D]
clawgrip the great and mighty! wrote:Glyph mirroring
Sometimes, glyphs will be mirrored. Generally this will be left-right mirroring, and it is often associated with a change in writing direction, Though ancient scripts are prone to doing this randomly with some glyphs for no apparent reason.
For the example that you gave, would boustrophendon be the reason behind the change?
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by clawgrip » Tue 17 Mar 2015, 05:30

Yes. I probably should have mentioned that there are two types of boustrophedon. One is where the glyphs are all mirrored when they run in the opposite direction. This can be seen in Ancient Greek, for example. The other is when the glyphs are actually rotated 180 degrees instead of flipped, so every second line appears upside-down. This can be seen in Rongorongo.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Ahzoh » Tue 17 Mar 2015, 05:38

clawgrip wrote:Yes. I probably should have mentioned that there are two types of boustrophedon. One is where the glyphs are all mirrored when they run in the opposite direction. This can be seen in Ancient Greek, for example. The other is when the glyphs are actually rotated 180 degrees instead of flipped, so every second line appears upside-down. This can be seen in Rongorongo.
My conscript for Vrkhazhian works the same way as the first one.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Tue 17 Mar 2015, 06:03

clawgrip wrote:The typo is funny an all, but I hope some people also noticed the content!
I for one was too busy being excited for the update to even notice there had been/was a typo!
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 17 Mar 2015, 13:29

I think this last post was the best post, because other people often forget that scripts do evolve, sometimes rather quickly.
There is so much detail and so much truth [:)]
And I didn't even know there was a Toba Batak script [O.O]
It would also be interesting to learn something about the development of the letter-sound/letter-word/letter-syllable correspondence [:)]
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Mugitus » Sun 22 Mar 2015, 21:44

This is a wonderful guide, thank you for taking the time to create this! [+1]
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by kanejam » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 22:38

clawgrip wrote:The typo is funny an all, but I hope some people also noticed the content!
It would be hard not to!! It is a great guide for the large number of examples alone (most from scripts that I didn't know exist!) but the way you present and organise the separate possible changes is amazing, as well as being easily comprehensible. It would be hard not to feel inspired after reading this!
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by shimobaatar » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 22:44

kanejam wrote:
clawgrip wrote:The typo is funny an all, but I hope some people also noticed the content!
It would be hard not to!! It is a great guide for the large number of examples alone (most from scripts that I didn't know exist!) but the way you present and organise the separate possible changes is amazing, as well as being easily comprehensible. It would be hard not to feel inspired after reading this!
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by a187 » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 02:02

How does my script look?

Image

After reading this tutorial I'm considering maybe making a serif version as those look nicer.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by GrandPiano » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 23:57

I just thought I'd take a look at this thread, and I found out about the Javanese script.

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Re: How to design your own script

Post by clawgrip » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 11:02

I'm glad I was able to introduce you to something new.

There is still at least one more part I plan to do for this. I'm going to try evolving some of the letters of the Roman alphabet into a new alphabet, and indicate the types of techniques I'm using to accomplish it.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by clawgrip » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 11:05

a187:

I like the overall aesthetic of your script. It has a distinctive style. The two comments I would make are:
1. I feel like the mid-points of the letters could be aligned a bit more uniformly. For example, it would be nice I think if all the horizontal middle strokes lined up exactly with the lower extent of the middle diagonals.
2. The two letters that look like HC and NL seem a little too horizontally squashed. I might suggest widening them somewhat.

Otherwise, good work!
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by GrandPiano » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 18:06

OK, I change my mind. Javanese is nice and all, with its beautiful, complex diacritics, but Mayan heiroglyphs are just something else.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by eldin raigmore » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 22:05

clawgrip wrote:The typo is funny an all, but I hope some people also noticed the content!
Oh, yeah! Thanks! (and it's pretty, too!)

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clawgrip wrote:This post really took a long time to make. I hope you enjoy it!

Step 5: How to evolve your script into new scripts

So you've made a script, but now you want to make a related script, or maybe even a whole script family. But how do you evolve a script? What are common ways that scripts can change? It's hard to make an exhaustive list of possible changes since really anything can happen, but I'm going to try my best to make a big list of common changes. So let's take a look!

First we will look at a couple changes that operate at the glyph level.

Glyph-level changes
This sort of change affects the entire glyph uniformly, leaving its internal proportions theoretically unchanged.

Glyph rotation
This happens more commonly in ancient scripts. There is no limit for how far something is rotated. Also, individual glyphs may be rotated, or the entire script may be rotated. If all glyphs are, e.g. uniformly rotated 90°, this probably means the writing direction also changed by 90°, but if they are all rotated just say, 20° or something, this is likely just a stylistic change.
Image

  • Notice how ‹A› has been progressively rotated and ended up entirely upside-down


In my first post, I mentioned that glyphs may rotate along with a directional change (e.g. Mongolian, Hanuno'o), or may not (e.g. Chinese, Kulitan), so keep it in mind if you're considering a directional change.

Glyph mirroring
Sometimes, glyphs will be mirrored. Generally this will be left-right mirroring, and it is often associated with a change in writing direction, Though ancient scripts are prone to doing this randomly with some glyphs for no apparent reason.
Image

Glyph resizing
Often, glyphs can have their general proportions altered, becoming wider, taller, more square, etc. This typically affects all glyphs in a script uniformly, but not always.

Image

  • The Dehong Dai glyphs are noticeably thinner than their Old Mon ancestors. This happens pretty much uniformly throughout the entire Dehong Dai script.
  • Only some Brahmi letters get squashed in the transition to Gupta. Here, you can see that while the first two glyphs remain pretty much the same height, the second two are noticeably shortened and widened.


Stroke-level changes
These changes are limited just to one or two strokes within a glyph.

Curving
Straight strokes can become curved. This may involve a single straight stroke becoming curved, or multiple straight strokes that meet at angles becoming a single curved stroke.
Image

Straightening
A curved stroke may become a single straight stroke, or a curve may become two or more strokes with angles.
Image

  • In Toba Batak, the curved line has been entirely flattened.
  • In Tamil Grantha, the left side curve has been straightened into two strokes that meet at a 90 degree angle.


Separation
A stroke or strokes may be separated from the main body of the glyph, or a stroke may split into two or more separate strokes.
Image

  • Notice that in Khotanese, the middle stroke has been lowered and separated from the body.
  • In Simalungun, the two lower strokes have been separated from the main stroke.
  • In Khmer and Khudawadi Landa, the closed circle has been opened at one area.
  • In Utama, the two halves have been separated.


Fusion
A stroke or strokes may join onto the main body of a glyph, or two endpoints may fuse to make a single stroke.
Image

  • The stroke inside the Devanagari circle becomes joined to the circle, forming a loop in Gujarati.
  • The bottom stroke of the Phoenician letter gets attached to the right side of the upper portion in Early Aramaic.
  • The two topmost horizontals in the seal script character become merged into a single horizontal line in the modern script.
  • The horizontal strokes of Early Aramaic all begin to run together, eventually becoming a single stroke by the time it became Samaritan script.


Stroke movement
Sometimes strokes can jump from one spot to another, in essence, a combination of separation and fusion.
Image

  • The top vertical of the South Arabian character gets dropped down onto the main body (and the horizontal stroke is eliminated or subsumed into the larger horizontal stroke below it).
  • In the Khmer examples, the top portions of the three letters detach from the left ascender and move to the right side, creating a new right ascender and sometimes a loop in the process.
  • The dots of the oracle bone character have moved up into the gaps of the upper portion in the modern character.
  • The bar at the bottom of the Phoenician glyph has dropped down so that it is no longer inside the circle (though it eventually returns to the middle in some Latin typefaces)


Lengthening
Strokes can be lengthened with flourishes or through quick writing. This can also lead to a number of changes later on.
Image
  • Landa and Psalter Pahlavi scripts take an extra-long end line. The line in Psalter script actually runs below the following letters.
  • The Telugu-Kannada script extends its endpoint all the way up to the top, high enough for it to acquire the top serif.
  • Aramaic acquires an extra downward stroke. This seemingly small detail resulted in the major divergence between the forms of ‹Δ D› and ‹ر ד›.
  • The ornamental stroke of Shalankayana is extended such that it entirely surrounds the glyph. In a number of scripts, the surrounding flourish was reinterpreted as the main body of the glyph, and the central portion, i.e. the original glyph, was simplified to varying degrees. In Sinhala, it was partially simplified, while in Telugu, it was reduced to a single loop.


Shortening
Strokes can be shortened for various reasons. This could possibly lead to a stroke disappearing, if it gets shortened enough.
Image
  • The long right descender of the oracle bone character has been drastically reduced in length, so that only the horizontal portion remains in the modern character.


Addition
Sometimes, strokes can be added to a glyph. Usually, this is either a disambiguating mark, a flourish, or something to make the glyph resemble other glyphs in the script. It is also a common way to derive new letters when a script is borrowed to write a new language.
Image
  • Arabic added different combinations of dots to many disambiguate letters that had otherwise become identical. It also uses various dot combinations (and other diacritics) to create new letters.
  • Book Pahlavi often did not bother with disambiguators, but this wedge does serve this purpose.
  • Khmer ‹ញ› had its subscript form (‹្ញ›) tacked on to the main form, serving to differentiate it from ‹ពា› (‹ព + ា›).
  • Kannada (and Telugu) is an interesting case. ‹ಠ› had a swash added to its top just for the sake of uniformity, through analogy with other letters. However, the addition of the swash made it identical to ‹ರ›, meaning it then had to receive a disambiguating dot in the middle.


Elimination
On the other hand, sometimes elements may be removed from glyphs. These may be superfluous elements, or they may be integral elements that were eliminated due to quick writing.
Image
  • New Sundanese script eliminated several superfluous strokes from the old script, as seen here.
  • Many seal characters also had a number of unnecessary strokes removed. This character has undergone a massive simplification.
  • The Proto-Sinaitic characters started out as pictograms, and were streamlined over time, droppingn numerous strokes.
  • The triangle of Phoenician slowly becomes subordinate to the stroke, until by Arabic it has been entirely eliminated.


Reorientation
This simply refers to a change in the angle of a stroke or group of strokes in relation to the rest of the glyph of the stroke. Reorientation may occur with other changes, such as curving, straightening, and lengthening.
Image
  • The middle ascender of the first Old Khmer glyph has moved over to the left and rotated itself up onto the ascender.
  • The right ascender of the second Old Khmer glyph has been rotated and raised, becoming a sort of headstroke above the body of the glyph.
  • The top portion of the Tibetan glyph is rotated, lengthened so that it covers the entire 'Phagspa glyph.
  • The Grantha glyph here gets reoriented differently in Malayalam and Tamil Grantha:
    • In Malayalam, the left portion gets rotated 90 degrees and placed above the horizontal line.
    • in Tamil Grantha, it is straightened horizontally with its proportions adjusted.


Regularizing proportions
Sometimes, glyphs will have a repetitive pattern, but the repeating elements will have different proportions. As the script evolves, these may end up having their proportions regularized for the sake of visual unity (or maybe they will get put out of proportion).
Image
  • You can see how Etruscan had its zigzag element regularized, resulting in Latin ‹M› (and one stroke was eliminated, though it remains in ‹m›).
  • In Buhid, the zigzag pattern is completely regular, while in Hanuno'o the zigzags are different sizes, more clearly reflecting the older form of these scripts than does Buhid.
  • The first Grantha glyph has two round portions, which have been regularized in size, position, angle, etc., to create Malayalam ‹ഗ›.
  • The second Grantha glyph had its ascenders and descenders regularized in height (including having its loop un-looped) to create Malayalam ‹ഢ›.


Glossing
This is a complex simplification that usually has elements of elimination fusion and movement/reorientation of strokes. Essentially, it is when a number of strokes are eliminated, but their former locations are still marked in some way by one or more new strokes. This is common in complex glyphs that are simplified to save time, in writing, etc.

Image
  • Hiragana derives from cursive Chinese characters, which are all about glossing. In ‹け›, you can clearly see that the all the strokes that make up the left portion of ‹計› have been replaced by a single vertical line that simply marks their location more than it does their form.
  • These simplified Chinese characters do some similar things. You can see how the lines of ‹马› suggest the position of the various strokes of ‹馬›. ‹车› does something similar, though it is a little less straightforward, In a way that cannot exactly be classified as either fusion or elimination or even both.
    The three top strokes of ‹学› and ‹栄› replace whatever happens to be above ‹冖›. Since the same strokes are used to replace a few different elements, it's clear that this is not simple elimination/fusion/etc.
  • When the Old Sundanese character was simplified to New Sundanese, the three horizontal strokes were fused/glossed to create a new shape.
  • As you see the progression of this Cuneiform character from Proto-Cuneiform pictographs to Neo-Babylonian, there is some glossing going on. The Early Dynastic form simplifies the face of the original pictograph into a number of strokes. By the Ur III period form (3rd form), the bowl has been simplified into four strokes, and by the Old Babylonian form (4th form), instead of angled strokes, the shape of the bowl is simply suggested by the shape of the wedges rather than their angles. By Middle Assyrian (fifth form), the head and face have been replaced by several strokes that suggest the shape of the head. The Neo-Babylonian form seems to have adjusted their form further. (There are some other non-glossing changes here as well, notably the bowl slowly moving to the inside of the glyph).


Serif becomes stroke
Sometimes the most distinctive part of a script can arise from simple serifs, as the following examples show:
Image
  • The first two examples show how the characteristic Devanagari headline arose as a gradual widening of serifs on the upper stroke until it covered the entire character.
  • Khmer did something similar, but they became exaggerated both horizontally and vertically, creating the characteristic M-shaped headstroke.
  • Telugu evolved similarly to Khmer, but the curving of the serif resulted in the swash that appears in the majority of Telugu letters.


Change through analogy
Sometimes, a character's shape can be altered through analogy with other characters. This can result in the addition of missing elements, or the elimination of disharmonious elements.

Image

These examples all come from Telugu
  • Once again, the first line shows ‹చ› as an example of the typical evolution of Telugu characters, with the serif forming the top swash.
  • The second line shows an example of how analogy can take hold. The top ascender of ‹స› gains serifs as usual, but eventually, it not only separates from the character, but leaves behind only the swash. This is most likely because no Telugu letter has a swash connected to the glyph via a vertical line, nor does a swash connect to the left side of a "bowl" in any character. As such, the stroke is separated from the body, and the vertical subsumed into the swash.
  • The third character, ‹మ›, shows a different type of change through analogy. The original Brahmi glyph has two ascenders, and you can see that they both begin to develop serifs. However, once the swash becomes salient, the rightmost ascender is conspicuously absent. You'll notice the same thing happens with ‹స› above. Most likely for aesthetic reasons, it was decided around this time that each letter could have a maximum of only one swash.


Stroke reanalysis
This is an important change for creating really divergent scripts. They can start subtle at first, but eventually cause major changes in glyph appearance.
Image
  • In the first example, we see the evolution of the Thai character ‹ส›. Although the original Brahmi character clearly has a single stroke for the U-shaped portion, with a smaller hook attached to the bottom left, this begins to be reanalyzed in post-Pallava scripts so that the bottom left hook becomes part of the same stroke as the right side, while the top portion gets separated. In Thai, this stroke eventually migrated over to the top right side of the glyph, intersecting or even passing through the right-side stroke.
  • In many Philippine scripts (Baybayin, Batangas, Ilokano pictured) the character superficially resembles ‹31› and clearly has one stroke for the "3" and another stroke for the "1". However, in the two right-side examples (Bulakan and Tagbanwa), the strokes have been reanalyzed. In Bulakan, the bottom of the "3" has been connected to the "1", and the top of the "3" has become its own stroke, while in Tagbanwa, the opposite has occurred: The top of the "3" has fused with the "1" (which was subsequently re-oriented upwards) and the bottom of the "e" became its own stroke (which was subsequently exaggerated).
  • Comparing these varieties of Thamudic, the more evolved on on the right shows two types of reanalysis: the top portion (resembling three strokes arranged in a squared "U" has become a single "V" shape, while the two verticals have also been reoriented so that their bottom extents fuse. so what started out as a large body with two top strokes eventually became two disconnected V shapes.
  • The last example shows the evolution of one glyph from Kawi to the bizarrely un-Brahmi-like Sundanese script. You can see that the left portion, shaped like a backwards "3", eventually gets disassembled until there is nothing left of it but three horizontal lines.


As you probably figured from looking at the various examples I've provided, there are a bunch of other more subtle things that can happen that I haven't really mentioned, but I just did my best to sort them into broad categories to help you out.

After this, I will show some actual examples of ancient glyphs getting evolved into various other scripts, and I will evolve some glyphs as examples.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Sat 28 Mar 2015, 00:17

@Eldin: Perhaps this is a silly question, but why'd you quote his entire last post... and then shrink it, stick it in a spoiler and say almost nothing about it? I only ask because I spent like 10 minutes trying to find things in it that you had commented on directly. I assumed you must have or it wouldn't have been added. I think I was wrong in my assumption, was I?

(I took the liberty of re-arrangeing your image into two rows so that it doesn't break the frame... you might consider doing likewise. [:)])
a187 wrote:How does my script look?
Image
After reading this tutorial I'm considering maybe making a serif version as those look nicer.
Image

I know that you didn't ask for my input, but to piggy-back on what Clawgrip said, another thing I noticed right away was that there are several different ways that a stroke "ends" in your script. I think I circled one of each in the above example in red, though I may have missed a variety. Are each of these different types meant to be distinctive? If not, you might think about unifying these different end-points to all be the same, or if you'd like to keep them distinct, perhaps exaggerate the differences a bit and make it clear that they are different. As it is, a person writing this script would almost assuredly not be able to reproduce those minute differences consistently.

Just my two cents.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by MIGUELbM » Fri 16 Oct 2015, 15:59

I made a pdf version, do you mind if I share it? it's properly attributed to you of course.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by HoskhMatriarch » Fri 16 Oct 2015, 18:06

Could someone include in this thread how to make a font for their script? All I can do with mine now is write it (and often badly) with a calligraphy pen. I don't actually have all the letters designed anyways though.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by MIGUELbM » Fri 16 Oct 2015, 23:14

HoskhMatriarch wrote:Could someone include in this thread how to make a font for their script? All I can do with mine now is write it (and often badly) with a calligraphy pen. I don't actually have all the letters designed anyways though.
That's a complicated and often tedious process.

First you need to familiarize yourself with vector graphics, you can use [url)https://inkscape.org/en/]inkscape[/url] which is free, or if you have access to it, you can use Adobe Illustrator or Corel DRAW. (A very good tip for vectors is try to have your handles at either a horizontal or vertical angle, this makes handling curves much easier and optimizes your designs a lot)

Once you are familiar with these you need to get a font making software, free ones include Font Forge and Type Light, don't bother getting paid ones, the advantages are minimal, they are quite expensive and chances are you'll never use them for professional type making, which is their intended use.

As for how to specifically use these softwares, I suggest you take a look at youtube tutorials, each software is different and describing their use would be a titanic task in a written format.

EDIT: One thing I forgot, if your script is not an alphabet, but a syllabary, abjad, abugida or logographic system, don't even bother, the skills needed to pull it off are worthy of a masters degree.
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by HoskhMatriarch » Sat 17 Oct 2015, 01:15

MIGUELbM wrote:
HoskhMatriarch wrote:Could someone include in this thread how to make a font for their script? All I can do with mine now is write it (and often badly) with a calligraphy pen. I don't actually have all the letters designed anyways though.
That's a complicated and often tedious process.

First you need to familiarize yourself with vector graphics, you can use [url)https://inkscape.org/en/]inkscape[/url] which is free, or if you have access to it, you can use Adobe Illustrator or Corel DRAW. (A very good tip for vectors is try to have your handles at either a horizontal or vertical angle, this makes handling curves much easier and optimizes your designs a lot)

Once you are familiar with these you need to get a font making software, free ones include Font Forge and Type Light, don't bother getting paid ones, the advantages are minimal, they are quite expensive and chances are you'll never use them for professional type making, which is their intended use.

As for how to specifically use these softwares, I suggest you take a look at youtube tutorials, each software is different and describing their use would be a titanic task in a written format.

EDIT: One thing I forgot, if your script is not an alphabet, but a syllabary, abjad, abugida or logographic system, don't even bother, the skills needed to pull it off are worthy of a masters degree.
OK, anyone with a master's degree in font-making want to help me make a font out of my abugida once I finish it?

I don't see what would be hard about a syllabary or abjad though, unless it's a massive syllabary. An abjad though is just an alphabet without vowels...
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Re: How to design your own script

Post by Ahzoh » Sat 17 Oct 2015, 01:34

I have not figured out how to do right-to-left fonts, but apparently you just overlay your font over arabic or hebrew letters. I did it, didn't work.

@Hoskh:
If my computer wasn't broken, I would have made the font for you.
MIGUELbM wrote:don't bother getting paid ones, the advantages are minimal, they are quite expensive and chances are you'll never use them for professional type making, which is their intended use.
I use FontCreator, which I downloaded from a torrent...
Last edited by Ahzoh on Sat 17 Oct 2015, 01:38, edited 1 time in total.
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