Report Number: CS-TR-83-966
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: A formal approach to lettershape description for type design
Author: Ghosh, Pijush K.
Author: Bigelow, Charles A.
Date: May 1983
Abstract: This report is designed to explore some analytic means of specifying lettershapes. Computer representation and analysis of lettershape have made use of two diametrically different approaches, one representing a shape by its boundary, the other by its skeleton or medial axis. Generally speaking, the boundary representation is conceptually simpler to the designer, but the skeletal representation provides more insight into the "piecedness" of the shape. Donald Knuth's METAFONT is one of the sophisticated lettering design systems which has basically adopted the medial axis approach. Moreover, the METAFONT system has introduced the idea of metafont-description of a letter, i.e., to give a rigorous definition of the shape of a letter in such a way that many styles are obtained from a single definition by changing only a few user-defined parameters. That is why we have considered the METAFONT system as our starting point and have shown how we can arrive at the definition of a formal language for specifying lettershapes. We have also introduced a simple mathematical model for decomposing a letter into its constituent elements.