Crafting computational calligraphies.

Calligraphy is the art of decorative handwriting. From a formal point of view we are talking about decorative ways of representing the ideas of glyphs that we have in our mind. This same idea can be translated to the domain of computation, the result is what I call computational calligraphies.

This shouldn’t be understood as trying to imitate human calligraphies using a computer. It means to use computation to create new representations of fonts, which can be considered as the digital representations of the ideas of glyphs.


The main idea behind this work is to explore a new dimension of textual representation. I try to consider the different possibilities of glyph, words and text representation and distribution in space and time.

This is motivated by the large amount of abstract generative work created with the apparition of computing. Thus I try to approach the figurative generative field, by the use of calculus and computation. This allows us to discover the limits of perception and recognition in a superficial but fun and interactive way.

The choice of text as the target of study is due to the large amount of resources available, and the history of study and work behind it. Fonts are much more reachable than other vectorial art, since they are almost a requirement for most computer uses.

The intent of the work is to promote the exploration of textual representation spaces at the different levels. It also intends to motivate the creation of public license fonts, as well as creating new design guidelines for optimal font crafting. On the other hand it pretends to challenge the already existing font rendering systems to discover what advantages computation can provide us in the field of text rendering.


A very important and general objective of the work is to reduce the gap between people and technology, this has been an important constraint for the selection of technology used. Because of this, Processing was chosen as the main platform for creating new computational calligraphies. It was also important in the decision to create a new library called Geomerative which would facilitate the tasks of handling vectorial shapes, like the fonts used. The font format chosen as seed for the calligraphies, is the True Type standard, because of it’s spread of use and the availability of fonts under this format.

From another perspective, the work approaches the concept of generative art, challenging the restriction of the domain to abstract art. This raised many technical questions, such as how to apply typical generative art paradigms to recognizable figures, which showed the necessity for using very simple artificial intelligence algorithms and dynamic systems, to reach the “organic” impression of the results.