Re: Chromatic font research

From: Daniel Yacob (
Date: Thu Jun 27 2002 - 23:58:32 EDT

> In the handwritten form, could you please say whether the adding of the red
> increases the width of the area needed to represent the character?

yes, absolutely, at least by the width of two dots.

> Also, when handwritten, does the scribe have a black pen in one hand and a
> red pen in the other so that colouring takes place on a character by
> character basis as writing proceeds, or does the scribe put down one pen and
> pick up another, and, if so, is that on a character by character basis or is
> that on the basis of producing a number of characters in black and then
> adding the red afterwards. This would seem to be possibly significant due
> to the possible need to allow for the greater width of the area used for a
> character that is later to receive red flourishes.

my oh my, these are wonderfully interesting questions :) I would think the
use of tools would be highly sensitive to the experience, training, and
learned habits of the writer. I haven't witnessed a great enough number to
sensibly say what a norm would be. I certainly haven't seen a person hold
two pens at once though. The scribes I've seen (maybe 4 I watched closely)
were pragmatic in their writing, when a red word occurred they would put down
the black brush and pick up the red and write the word. While the utensil
was still in hand they would go back and add red dots or strokes where they
thought it was needed. If no red words occurred (usually one every sentence
or two depending upon the material) they would continue writing in black
until the end of a sentence or section and stop there to change pens to go
back and update punctuation or tonal marks. Again, I wouldn't draw any
significant conclusions from this.

I don't believe extra space is considered for adding red marks later, the
red is allowed to bleed over the black. Trying to reproduce the practice
with fonts though I have used an enlarged version of 1362 because the result
looked much clearer. The original intention was lost when keeping the original
proportions. My thought at the time was that it was just a natural adjustment
that one makes when going from ink and paper to computer typography, the
goal being that we try to improve upon what the hand can do without losing
the essence of it.


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