Typeface design education from Cooper Union
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Exploring Variable Fonts with Python and DrawBot
with Maurice Meilleur

Typographics Conference (in-person) ticket holders can have a 10% discount on this workshop. Write to type@cooper.edu for the promo-code to take advantage of this offer before you pay.

Have you ever wanted to demonstrate the applications and advantages of variable fonts, to colleagues or clients? To test and refine a variable font you’re designing yourself, or to create specimens for it? To use variable fonts in ways that push them to the limits of their potential as text and form?

Python and DrawBot can help you do all these things. By writing code you can create your own design tools, ones that reflect your own process and workflow. Python is an approachable, beginner-friendly programming language, and the free application DrawBot is an environment for writing Python code that includes powerful tools for working with variable type and typography. A couple dozen lines of code can be enough to test or show off all the axes of a variable font, produce convincing specimen sheets that you can save as single- or multipage .pdfs or raster images, or create visually compelling patterns—and even animations—of variable letterforms.

In this two-day workshop we’ll explore the basics of working with variable fonts using Python in DrawBot. We’ll start by reviewing a few relevant coding concepts and the structure of variable fonts, and then together we’ll create specimens of variable type for running and display text, a typographic pattern, and a simple animation. Some experience with writing code in an object-oriented language like Python or Javascript, or in environments like Processing, is helpful but not strictly necessary.

Required Materials

  • Mac laptop running macOS 10.9 (Mavericks), or later versions
  • Sketchbook and pens/pencils for notes and ideas

Tue, June 11 – Wed, June 12, 2024
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Number of sessions: 2

41 Cooper Square at Cooper Union
East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Price: $535

About Maurice Meilleur

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Maurice Meilleur is a recovering political theorist turned graphic designer and design researcher and writer. He completed a PhD in political theory from Indiana University Bloomington in 2004, and earned his MFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. He’s an assistant professor of graphic design at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he teaches and studies typography and generative design. He has contributed numerous type and book reviews to Typographica and Fonts in Use. He’s writing a book on Jurriaan Schrofer’s constructed scripts, and he’s presented his research at Robothon, ATypI, TypeCon, the Cooper Union, and the Letterform Archive. Maurice explores digital drawing and animation using Python and Drawbot as part of a larger investigation into typographic representation and algorithmically-defined formal systems.