Re: Chromatic font research

From: William Overington (
Date: Fri Jun 28 2002 - 05:32:07 EDT

Daniel Yacob kindly replied to my detailed questions.

>> In the handwritten form, could you please say whether the adding of the
>> 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
>> 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
>> pick up another, and, if so, is that on a character by character basis or
>> 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
>> to the possible need to allow for the greater width of the area used for
>> 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
>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
>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.

Can you say why a red word would occur please?

The occurrence of red words raises an interesting aspect of this discussion
in that a chromatic font would be needed for the full stop character when
decorated yet the red words would perhaps be expected by present practice to
be signalled as red using markup. It seems to me that it would be better to
provide code points for RED and BLACK for this application so that such
documents could be set and transmitted using plain text rather than markup
needing to be used obligatorily: an obligation to use markup would prevent
the desired result being produced using plain text encoding.

William Overington

28 June 2002

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