Andika dotted line font?


#1

A user has expressed interest in having an Andika dotted line font. She has seen the Andika Primary Lines font (https://langtechcameroon.info/primarylines/), but a dotted line font would be more useful for her literacy work:

“I have been waiting for an Andika related dotted line font for a long time. This new font is ALMOST what I need. How about a font with dotted lines kids could trace for practicing letter writing? Is that possibly in the works? I like Andika much better than the other dotted line fonts I have found which are more “ball-and-stick” (straight and round) fonts.”

Is anyone working on this? Or have plans to work on it?

Liz
SIL Asia


#2

We have been planning for a new member of the Andika family that will have letters with dotted lines, strokes, guidelines, etc. However we need to get the next version (v6) of the main Andika fonts out first, which will include bold and bold italic weights of the complete character set. We hope that will be released mid-year. We had hoped to have a dotted font out long ago, however we have very limited design resources, meaning that progress is slow. Thanks for your patience!


#3

Hi there,

Even though I’ve been a member of this community for a while, I can’t post links…bah!

I’ve been in contact with Victor since the first version of PrimaryLines, and so I knew about the long-term plans for updated Andika.

My colleague John and I are the folks behind PrimaryLines.
It was requested here in Cameroon, and I spent some time on it. We know nothing about Graphite or OpenType, are only using free tools, and just blundered through the process. The first draft took me a couple of hours, and the second draft a couple of days, but pasting and trimming lines is a fairly trivial task.

Dots, arrows, outlines, and other decorations are far less trivial.

Alternatives

There is a font Called LSManuscript ( from educationalfontware) out there that has nearly a dozen different variants with dots, arrows, boxes, and outlines. Weirdly, they claim that it is under the Open Font License, but that it can only be used in Africa (where I am) without buying a license. That seems like an abuse of OFL, but I’m no expert.

There are fonts named Schoolhouse from vletter, that also have similar varieties. These are available for purchase.

Unfortunately, neither set has the special characters needed in Cameroon, so this is why we created Primarylines.

Dots

When we released PrimaryLines, I said we weren’t planning on releasing further decorations. for lack of skill and time. We are Language Technology folk, but not skilled typographers (By using free tools, I believe we broke alternate glyphs in our copy of Andika). Nevertheless, I believe that if someone could arrange 3-5 days where I was completely uninterrupted (which I don’t see in my near future), I want to believe I could cobble together an algorithm to transform block letters into evenly spaced dots and make a draft. (An article I found and a free copy of Wolfram Mathematica on my Raspberry Pi give me hope. Search wolfram Convert Pixel Image into Vector Graphics"" in Google.)

My proposition would be:

  • Exporting to vector or hi-res images,
  • Running binarize, thinning, and smoothing on each glyph in Wolfram Mathematica to get a skeleton path.
  • Importing into Inskcape
  • Finding a way to distributing dots along that path with minimal overlap
  • And reimporting all glyphs back into FontForge.

Not knowing the advanced font tools that NRSI uses, or whether they have these features, I don’t know if spending several days defining a tracing and dotting process would be a worthy use of my time.

Outlines

This one also seems trivial to get a first draft of the glyphs.

##Arrows
Arrows showing pen-direction are WAY beyond our skillset and probably need to be designed manually. It would be a significant step backward if people had handwriting as bad as mine.

Final Thoughts

After all that, any draft that I might be able to create would be far less polished and much less dynamic than what the experts over at NRSI could create. Additionally, I wouldn’t have the new characters in Andika 6. Another option would be for me to work with a typographer to develop the tracing system.

I’ve seen the “viral” nature of PrimaryLines (my blog has had it’s best month ever). Maybe if NRSI is in need of funds/staff for this work, the wider community could crowdfund the process. Any takers?


#4

Hi Matthew -

From our experience I think you’ll find that creating evenly spaced dots to be a non-trivial challenge. In fact we’ve had three very skilled and smart people separately work on it over the last 10 years, and none of the three came up with anything that truly met the need. The best of the three results still needed significant manual tweaking on most letters - to the point that for a large font (like Andika) it wouldn’t save much effort.

It’s less work to come up with a ‘skeleton’ of glyphs, and we have something that somewhat works for that, but it too is not very successful. If you want to take a look at that tool let me know privately and I can put you in touch with the person who worked on it.

The more basic issue is that the non-monoline shapes of the Andika letters, and some of the letter construction (cap and descender heights that differ, etc.) aren’t ideally-suited for handwriting instruction. The solution is not to find a magic way to turn Andika shapes into skeletons and dots, but rather to design a sister font to Andika that is fundamentally constructed the other way around - from the skeleton outward. It would look similar to Andika, and be a good complement to it. However the new method of construction would make dots, and even arrows, relatively easy to produce. I won’t get into the technical details here - if you want to chat about it via Skype send me an email.

This is why we’ve chosen not to pursue your suggested strategy, and rather to move forward with a new member of the Andika family that isn’t just an algorithmic variant. But again, that will need to wait until v6 is out.

Thanks for the suggestion regarding crowdfunding. We certainly intend to pursue that with the project, but we can’t really do that until we have a more detailed project fleshed out in a public way. And that will need to wait until v6 is out. :slight_smile:

Of course, you’re welcome to pursue whatever strategy you think best for PrimaryLines, and I’ll be happy to help you think through that further privately. I’m just trying to save you a bit of disappointment (and fruitless work) by sharing our experience.

Victor


#5

And there we have it…I will leave this task to the experts… :slight_smile:


#6

PrimaryLines

Maybe this is the link which Matthew was hoping to include. (I guess all bloggers are blogged from linking to their own stuff…) :wink: