Making a Quikscript Font

These are my notes on what it takes to make a font that properly handles Senior Quikscript as one might actually write it. Other people have tried, and we’ve all ended up bashing our heads against the wall because we can’t handle all the different letters and how they ought to connect to one another. While the inestimable Philippe Cochy of Pecita fame describes how he connects his letters, shows what he does in FontForge (Web Archive link), and has a sample font, Aghja, where he presents his technique in a simplified form, I haven’t been able to recreate his technique in my AFDKO-based workflow.

All that said, I just read The Terrible Secret of OpenType Glyph Substitution (archive link) and I think I might be able to make a proper font now that I know OpenType’s limitations. In short, OpenType is deliberately not Turing-complete and this limits .fea files in ways that are hard to figure out.

Letterform Inspiration

If you’re looking for letterform inspiration, bear in mind that Read intended his alphabet to be written with a pen (or pencil), not engraved in stone. Serifs are unnecessary.

Character Coverage

It’d be great if companion Latin letterforms can be designed alongside the Quikscript ones; the Latin alphabet isn’t going away anytime soon, especially for scientific names (Homo sapiens).

Of course, any punctuation you might run across in Orthodox will be punctuation you see in Quikscript — em dashes, single- and double quotes, degree signs, prime and double-prime marks, etc.

Supporting Junior Quikscript Well

Quikscript has 44 letters; if you’re making a font that supports Junior Quikscript, you’ll want to kern them so they don’t overlap each other.

Supporting Senior Quikscript Well

Since Quikscript has only 44 letters, theoretically all you’d need to do to make a complete Senior Quikscript font is make 44 different letters and then smash them together with loads of kerning.

While this technique will work for most designs for , , and , it won’t work for many things that people do with pen and paper. For example, if has a flat end (as opposed to rounded), it won’t look right if smashed into a following , as in .

Supporting both Junior and Senior Quikscript in the Same Font

I have 44 base glyphs that I’ve kerned with each other. These are my Junior Quikscript glyphs. However, if calt (contextual alternates, an OpenType feature) are enabled, then the Junior glyphs are replaced with Senior glyphs that have been kerned to overlap with each other where possible. Additionally, calt should also enable half-letters, upside-down , the alternate , and use them where appropriate.

I’d like a way to enable combined letterforms, half-letters, and alternate letters individually, but I don’t know if there’s a way to do that other than by having 2³ (8) different stylistic sets.