Category Archives: Typography

Ideogram promises state-of-the-art text generation

Founded by ex-Google Imagen engineers, Ideogram has just launched version 1.0 widely. It’s said to offer new levels of fidelity in the traditionally challenging domain of type rendering:

Historically, AI-generated text within images has been inaccurate. Ideogram 1.0 addresses this with reliable text rendering capabilities, making it possible to effortlessly create personalized messages, memes, posters, T-shirt designs, birthday cards, logos and more. Our systematic evaluation shows that Ideogram 1.0 is the state-of-the-art in the accuracy of rendered text, reducing error rates by almost 2x compared to existing models.

AI Holiday Leftovers, Vol. 2

  • 3D:
  • Typography:
    • Retro-futuristic alphabet rendered with Midjourney V6: “Just swapped out the letter and kept everything else the same. Prompt: Letter “A”, cyberpunk style, metal, retro-futuristic, star wars, intrinsic details, plain black background. Just change the letter only. Not all renders are perfect, some I had to do a few times to get a good match. Try this strategy for any type of cool alphabet!”
    • As many others have noted, Midjourney is now good at type. Find more here.

Sneak peek: Project Glyph Ease

Easy as ABC, 123?

Project Glyph Ease uses generative AI to create stylized and customized letters in vector format, which can later be used and edited. All a designer needs to do is create three reference letters in a chosen style from existing vector shapes or ones they hand draw on paper, and this technology automatically create the remaining letters in a consistent style. Once created, designers have flexibility to edit the new font since the letters will appear as live text that can be scaled, rotated or moved in the project.

Adobe announces new Firefly plans for video

Our friends in Digital Video & Audio have lots of interesting irons in the fire!

From the team blog post:

To start, we’re exploring a range of concepts, including:

  • Text to color enhancements: Change color schemes, time of day, or even the seasons in already-recorded videos, instantly altering the mood and setting to evoke a specific tone and feel. With a simple prompt like “Make this scene feel warm and inviting,” the time between imagination and final product can all but disappear.
  • Advanced music and sound effects: Creators can easily generate royalty-free custom sounds and music to reflect a certain feeling or scene for both temporary and final tracks.
  • Stunning fonts, text effects, graphics, and logos: With a few simple words and in a matter of minutes, creators can generate subtitles, logos and title cards and custom contextual animations.
  • Powerful script and B-roll capabilities: Creators can dramatically accelerate pre-production, production and post-production workflows using AI analysis of script to text to automatically create storyboards and previsualizations, as well as recommending b-roll clips for rough or final cuts.
  • Creative assistants and co-pilots: With personalized generative AI-powered “how-tos,” users can master new skills and accelerate processes from initial vision to creation and editing.

ControlNet is wild

This new capability in Stable Diffusion (think image-to-image, but far more powerful) produces some real magic. Check out what I got with some simple line art:

And check out this thread of awesome sauce:

Welcome to the meme-predicted future.

Midjourney can produce stunning type

At Adobe MAX a couple of weeks ago, the company offered a sneak peek of editable type in Adobe Express being rendered via a generative model:

https://twitter.com/jnack/status/1582818166698217472?s=20&t=yI2t5EpbhqVNWb7Ws9DWxQ

That sort of approach could pair amazingly with this sort of Midjourney output:

I’m not working on such efforts & am not making an explicit link between the two—but broadly speaking, I find the intersection of such primitives/techniques to be really promising.

Stable Diffusion + Adobe Fonts = 🧙‍♂️🔥

Check out my teammates’ new explorations, demoed here on Adobe Express:

Per the blog post:

Generative AI incorporated into Adobe Express will help less experienced creators achieve their unique goals. Rather than having to find a pre-made template to start a project with, Express users could generate a template through a prompt, and use Generative AI to add an object to the scene, or create a unique font based on their description. But they still will have full control — they can use all of the Adobe Express tools for editing images, changing colors, and adding fonts to create the flyer, poster, or social media post they imagine.

— Viva Em Dashes —

I am, evidently, the kind of guy at parties who’ll whip out a typographical comedy clip—but hey, this one is worth it! Enjoy, fellow nerds:

The replies led me to discover Emdash.fan, an entire site devoted to providing you, the gentle visitor, with exactly one (1) delicious em dash for your clipboard. Insane & thus amazing. 😌

On a related note:

New courses: Machine learning for typography & art

These Cooper Union courses sound fun:

Each week we’ll cover a different aspect of machine learning. A short lecture covering theories and practices will be followed by demoes using open source web tools and a web-browser tool called Google Colab. The last 3 weeks of class you’ll be given the chance to create your own project using the skills you’ve learned. Topics will include selecting the right model for your use case, gathering and manipulating datasets, and connecting your models to data sources such as audio, text, or numerical data. We’ll also talk a little ethics, because we can’t teach machine learning without a little ethics.

Design: Split-flap signs

I’ve long loved the weird mechanical purring of those flappy-letter signs one sees (or at least used to see) in train stations & similar venues, but I haven’t felt like throwing down the better part of three grand to own a Vestaboard. Now maker Scott Bezek is working on an open-source project for making such signs at home, combining simple materials and code. In case you’d never peeked inside such a mechanism (and really, why would you have?) and are curious, here’s how they work:

And here, for some reason, are six oddly satisfying minutes of a sign spelling out four-letter words:

Typesetting Trains

Having a train-obsessed 11yo son who enjoys exclaiming things like, “Hey, that’s Cooper Black!,” this tour of railroad typography is 💯 up our family’s alley. (Tangential, but as it’s already on my clipboard: we’re keeping a running album of our train-related explorations along Route 66, and Henry’s been adding things like an atomic train tour to his YouTube channel.)

From the typesetting video description:

Ever since the first train services, a wide variety of guides have helped passengers understand the railways; supplementing the text with timetables, maps, views, and diagrams. Typographically speaking, the linear nature of railways and the modular nature of trains meant that successful diagrams could be designed economically by using typographic sorts. Various typographic trains and railways from the 1830s to present-day will be evaluated in terms of data visualization, decoration, and the economics of reproduction. Bringing things up to date, techniques for typesetting emoji and CSS trains are explored, and a railway-inspired layout model will be proposed for wider application in the typography of data visualization and ornamentation.

[Via Terri Stone]

Font Me, Amadeus

“The world’s first typeface you can hear and play” sounds (heh) interesting. Per DesignTaxi,

Visualizing the brilliance of Amadeus Mozart, branding agency Happy People Project has created a typeface to front communications for Peter Shaffer’s play, Amadeus, in Turkey. […]

14 numbers and letters were created in line with notes and octaves on the staff, so you could listen to them. In total, though, a massive font family of 574 characters was designed for the project.

Check it out:

Sic Transit Linotype

While camping at the funky Sierra Circles sculpture garden/pottery studio/winery, this past weekend, we came across an old Linotype machine hanging out in a field—one of 40+ presses that once existed there, before most were sold to China for scrap. Here’s a tiny gallery I captured:

This reminded my wife to share with me a cool two-minute portrait of America’s last newspaper still printed on the old gear:

New typographical brushes from Adobe turn paint into editable characters

I’ve long, long been a fan of using brush strokes on paths to create interesting glyphs & lettering. I used to contort all kinds of vectors into Illustrator brushes, and as it happens, 11 years ago today I was sharing an interesting tutorial on creating smokey text:

Now Adobe engineers are looking to raise the game—a lot.

Combining users drawn stroke inputs, the choice of brush, and the typographic properties of the text object, Project Typographic Brushes brings paint style brushes and new-type families to life in seconds.

Check out some solid witchcraft in action:

Typography: The super-fraught history of Blackletter/Fraktur

Man, who knew just how much cultural identity could be wrapped up in a style of printing?

This excellent 99% Invisible episode covers the origins of blackletter printing (faster & more reliable for medieval scribes), the culture wars (from Luther to Napoleon) in which it battled Roman faces, its association with (and revilement by!) Nazis, and more.

Bonus: stick around for a discussion of revanchist, Trumpian mandates around government architecture, featuring that delightful term of art, CHUD. *chef’s kiss*

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Sononym: Finding sound by similarity

This audio browser app has a clever idea, though I wonder if it’d benefit from the kind of rendering that a Google project uses to let researchers visualize thousands of bird sounds via AI:

The primary innovation in Sononym is something called “similarity search”, which enable users to find similar-sounding samples in their sample collection based on any source sound. Essentially, a bit like how Google’s reverse image search works, but with audio.

The initial release focuses strictly on the core functionality of the software. That is, to offer similarity search that work with large collections of samples. Technically, our approach is a combination of feature extraction, machine learning and modern web technologies.

Not entirely dissimilar: Font Map helps you see relationships across more than 750 web fonts.

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[YouTube]

Google’s new Sketch plug-in helps you pair harmonious colors & fonts

Old Man Nack would’ve killed for this back in his designer days:

As Design Taxi writes,

“Material Theming” effectively fixes a core gripe of the original “Material Design”: that virtually every Android app looks the “same,” or made by Google, which isn’t ideal for brands.

The tool is currently available on Sketch, and you can use it by downloading the “Material” plugin on the app. Google aims to expand the system regularly, and will roll out new options such as animations, depth controls, and textures, next.

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[YouTube]

SNL savages Papyrus font

Oh, I see you nervously shifting a little, photographers. 🙂 This take-down is as hilarious as you’ve heard:

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Bonus: CBS news caught up with the font’s creator to get his reaction:

“I designed the font when I was 23 years old. I was right out of college. I was kind of just struggling with some different life issues, I was studying the Bible, looking for God and this font came to mind, this idea of, thinking about the biblical times and Egypt and the Middle East. I just started scribbling this alphabet while I was at work and it kind of looked pretty cool,” Costello said.

He added, “I had no idea it would be on every computer in the world and used for probably every conceivable design idea. This is a big surprise to me as well.”

[YouTube]

Typography: Art Text 3 can create cool, non-cheesy 3D type

It makes me sad that after 10 (!!) years of having 3D in Photoshop, I can’t think of a single time I’ve created good-looking text in it, much less anything else 3D of value. Given that PS includes a whole 3D engine, I hope that someday it’ll include easy ways to make attractive text.

In the meantime, amidst sometimes literally cheesy results, Art Text 3 ($29.99) produces some rather impressive pieces. Maybe Adobe could just license & bundle it as a plug-in. Hmm… (No, I don’t know anything you don’t know.)

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[Vimeo]

Titles: A riot of “Stranger Things” goodness

Eric Demeusy & Imaginary Forces have created some terrific titles for the new retro hit Stranger Things: 

Want some insight into the inspiration & process? Check this: 

How cool this must be for 89-year-old Ed Benguiat, creator of the iconic typeface that bears his name. “We’re back in the driver’s seat together again!” he says in this short Fast Company interview. See also “The Typography of ‘Stranger Things.'”

Oh, and would you like to make your own version? Check out Make It Stranger, with which I busted out this:

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[YouTube]

Meet the new Google Fonts

It’s “a design geek’s paradise,” the Verge writes. Check it out:

The new Google Fonts is now in line with the company’s Material Design guidelines. It has both a new logo and a far easier way to test out new fonts, compare them with others, and change preferences on the fly while viewing sample text in a four-font grid. You can filter by categories like Serif and Handwriting, sort through trending and popular fonts, filter by language, and toggle between different degrees of thickness and slant. Each of the more than 800 open source fonts available now also contains bio information on its designer, as well as statistics on its usage and a list of popular fonts to pair it with. Google Fonts will let you either download the font or give you the code to directly embed it into your site.

The view counter to date might make even McDonald’s insecure:

GoogleFonts

[YouTube]