Using Victor’s Story as scenario inspiration, I spent part of the last week creating a font which highlights negative feelings without showing them.
I managed this through the use of typographic ligatures. Ligatures are the special characters which combine multiple characters into a single character.
They’re usually used to overcome problems with a font’s aesthetic. For example, often the letters f and i when used next to each other can ‘crash’/overlap – in many fonts a ligature replaces them for better visual continuity.
The designated substitutions are embedded in a font’s .ttf or .otf file and happen automatically when a defined string of letters is typed.
Recently, designers/developers have been harnessing ligatures to create intentional word substitutions for conversational or playful reasons.
Two examples of this:
I thought I could do something similar using a list of negative feelings words I was given by Momentum counselling and expanded on through online research.
Moriarty.ttf is a font which indirectly highlights negative feelings giving a visual, authoritative overview of how negative a piece of text is.
Every letter is initially made of a straight horizontal line. However, if the font detects a negative feeling word, it replaces the word with a wavey line.
Moriarty.ttf also works as a web font as illustrated here:
To hack this font into reality I had to
- convert a boilerplate .ttf file to .ttx (an XML equivalent format),
- design and export icon SVGs for the horizontal line and wave glyphs,
- convert the SVGs into a icon font .ttf file using Icomoon,
- convert the icon font into a .ttx file for editing,
- copy over a multitude of glyph data from the icon font into the boilterplate .ttx files,
- edit the boilerplate .ttx file’s GSUB table to look for negative feeling words and replace them with the wave glyph,
- edit the font metadata to call it moriarty.ttf,
- convert the moriarty.ttx to moriarty.ttf,
- install moriarty.ttf to local system and online directory for web font use.
Thanks to Pixel Ambacht for the helpful breakdown of how they made Sans Bullshit Sans along with their handy scripts.
PS: The name is inspired by Moriarty from Kelly’s Heroes and his constant ‘negative waves’.