Erik van Blokland @ #btconf

Written by on in Düsseldorf, Germany.

“Responsive Fonts” - notes from Erik van Bloklands talk at Beyond Tellerrand 2013.

This one was kind of hard to squeeze into notes since Erik ran through2 a lot of slides and animations (not to mention the mathematics I could hardly grasp). If you have the chance, check out his slides.

Small text becomes illegible because light from the sides overlaps the black surface of the letter. Kind of like a gaussian blur. The blur increases the older you become.
Erik roughly calculates the number of photons on a 8pt sized letter to around 80 photons. Each character is simply a big spray of points.

Recreation of one of Erik van Bloklands illustrations: how the retina would process a different characters styled in a bold, semi-bold and italic font face. In the figure above each black dot represents one photon hitting the photo receptors in the human eye

Myth: serifs make a font more legible. Scientific experiments instead show us that weight, rhythm and proportion matter for legible fonts.

Eames Medium Font - Eriks favorite font.

Print letters had to work in any order. Digital fonts introduced logic to dynamically adjust to the order of letters (ligatures, letter spacing…). In the web now we have events.
That way we can engage into the reading process or adjust for different screen sizes.

Shows a randomly generated font where every letter is unique.

Shows an algorithm that generates various weights and spacings for a font. From the enormous output he selects the usable characters for his font face.

Proposes to use JavaScript for font rasterizing on the web to bridge over different system font renderings.

Combining SVG and OTF would allow us to even combine the logic of fonts with beautiful imagery.


Any questions?