TypeAdviser: a type design aiding-tool

The number of people who design typefaces has drastically increased in the last twenty years. However, not all typefaces work as they should, i.e., as a group of characters with shared attributes.


We focus on the early stages of the design process and combine type design principles, derived during the research stage, with an exploration of the Creativity-Support Tools domain, using mixed-initiative approaches. Having computer-aided design as a goal, we present a tool which explores the anatomic relations among characters of a typeface and allows the user to compare its design with existing typefaces. This project is the result of a Master thesis in Multimedia design (read more about it).


The developed prototype is currently composed of two different components: the Part-sharing – based on type design principles – and the Adviser – which uses Self-Organizing Maps to suggest similar designs to the user.


related parts
Figure 1

Shape sharing among letters


The Part-sharing


The Part-sharing component is strongly based on type design principles and uses them to both help designer reduce time-consuming tasks and stimulate creativity.


The user starts by adding previously drawn glyphs and identifying their parts. The shape-repetition is done automatically by the application and the user is then able to edit the letter shapes in order to correct any imperfection and make slight adjustments (e.g. optical compensations). When the user is satisfied with the characters drawn using the tool, he can continue the design process with another software specially developed for type design, using the output of our application as a draft and an initial version of the typeface.



The Part-sharing component
Figure 2

Screenshot showing letter m built using part-sharing.



The Adviser


The second component is used as a guide and its purpose is to present the user with possible letter designs, based on a user given glyph. We use a Self-Organizing Map (SOM) to group similar typefaces and find the ones visually near to a given one.


Figure 3

SOM of the character A


This component has two main goals:

  1. allow the user to see how the characters of similar-looking typefaces were designed, thus being useful to guide the user when designing a typeface of a specific style;
  2. help the user in distancing the typeface being designed from others, thus avoiding an excess of similarity of the output.


We aim at increasing the overall likelihood of the production of better quality designs by both experienced type designers and users without a design background.


Read more about it!





  • J. Cunha, T. Martins, P. Martins, J. Bicker, and P. Machado, “TypeAdviser: a type design aiding-tool,” in Proceedings of the Workshop Computational Creativity, Concept Invention, and General Intelligence 2016, 2016.