Los Angeles InDesign User Group

The Magic of OpenType Advanced Features

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Glendale Community College 91208

Santa Barbara Building, Room SB 243, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale, California

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Original Event Page



Travis Kochel traveled from Portland, Oregon to Glendale, California to give the members of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group a treatise on the advanced features of OpenType. One key feature of OpenType fonts are their ability to replace character combinations with ligatures automatically. For instance, when you type one f followed by another f, an OpenType font knows –- automatically –- that it should replace the two individual fs with a single ff ligature. Now imagine that concept on steroids. In script, for example, an f (or another character) preceded by a space could be replaced with a special initial f character, an f followed by a space would be replaced with a special ending f character, while an f in the middle of a word would be a third f character altogether. That is, unless that f is followed by another f -- or maybe by an i. Got it?


Taken to the extreme, you could have a whole matrix of character combinations that the font would substitute if it detected a particular character combination. It means that you could type the letters b u l l e t and have the font automatically substitute a bullet character. Now one needs to be careful how far to go down this road, since when you type the letters b u l l e t you might in fact want the world bullet and not a bullet character.


Travis not only explained the advanced features of OpenType, but he explained and demonstrated how be used those feature to create Chartwell, a font that makes charts. The concept is identical -– something is substituted when the font sees a certain combination of characters –- but in this case what is substituted is a piece of a chart. Confused? Well, some things are easier shown than described on the printed page –- which is why we have Los Angeles InDesign User Group meetings in the first place. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.) But fortunately someone invented the Internet so here's a link to a demonstration of Chartwell. Published by FontFont in 2012, Chartwell has received awards and accolades from Fast Company, Communication Arts, Typographica and ATypI.


Travis, by the way, is a partner at Portlandia-based Scribble Tone, a design studio. Their work explores intersections of typeface design, interactive experiences and branding. He currently teaches Typography, Typeface Design, and Interactive Design at Portland State University.


As usual, we had a full slate of raffle prizes to hand out. Lea Frechette won a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud for a year. She also won Font Agent Pro 6 from Insider Software. Tony Truong won eDocker Tablet Publisher. Mark Harvey won Blacklining for InDesign. Heidi Okuhara and Pedro Venzor both won subscriptions to Fotolia for three months. Mark Harvey won a subscription to Stock Layouts for three months. Rick Torres won FlightCheck 7 for Mac from Markzware. Wayne Deselle won TypeDNA. Amy Garland won Rasterino for Illustrator and Fabricio Rojas won ColliderScribe for Illustrator, both from Astute Graphics. Roderick Burkhardt won IDML iPad App for iPad from DTP Tools. Amy Garland, Mauro Medina-Susarrey, Greg Saunders and Chris English, all won free admission to the next LA Web Professionals meeting. Mauro also won a subscription to InDesign Magazine for one year for being the person who traveled the farthest to attend the meeting. And finally, to bring things full circle, Marty Safir won the font Chartwell, which was designed by the evening’s presenter, Travis Kochel.







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