Looking Outward: Capstone Ideas

by Nara @ 9:54 am 17 March 2010

So I have two ideas for what I want to do for my final project, and I’m not sure which one I’d rather do / which one would be a more worthwhile use of my time.

Idea 1

Basically, this is just to redo Project 2, which I thought was a good start but I really just didn’t have time to develop into what I wanted it to be. I also felt like this would be a good project for me because it has a physical component (laser-cutting the drop caps), and I’ve not done any projects that combine art/design and programming and have output anything other than an either interactive or static display on a screen. Another pro would be already having a starting point, even though the program would largely need to be reworked.

Idea 2

This is an idea for a project that I’ve had since last semester, but at the time I was only just beginning to learn about how to do data visualization, and I wasn’t sure how I’d go about implementing it. Now that I have over a semester’s worth of experience under my belt, I feel better-equipped to tackle it. The idea is to algorithmically/heuristically classify typefaces based on the shapes of letterforms and typographic properties. You’d think it’s been done, but it actually hasn’t, not involving programming anyhow. Some examples of static visualizations done by hand are The Periodic Table of Typefaces by Cameron Wilde and and this typeface classification by Martin Plonka. While both of these examples are beautifully done, they are limited to relatively small datasets and don’t necessarily help a user answer a question like, “What kind of subsets exists within types of typefaces?” and “If I want a typeface that’s a lot like Helvetica but not Helvetica, what should I use?” I know that some designers might hate me if I did this project because it reduces knowledge that we’ve acquired through years of learning and experience to a simple set of heuristics and mathematical comparisons, but I don’t think that’s a reason not to do it. The visualization component itself would also not be easy but could (and should) be done quite beautifully.

If anybody has any suggestions or opinions on which they think would make for a better project, let me know!

1 Comment

  1. comments from the PiratePad

    GL: I’d like you to do some actual literature research into “shape descriptors” — it would be great if you could cite a few papers.
    Get more feature metrics!
    Great work.

    with 20 criteria, or even 8, you might lose a lot by reducing to a 2D dataset. maybe you can make the display somewhat interactive that allows you to “sort” via different metrics. and you still can have a general typeface similarity view, which i think you have going on in this demo. neat job with PCA

    You might want to look at different ways of visualizing it – perhaps a user can click a single font and all the others are classified relative to it based on “degree of similarity”. Or, maybe people should choose which metrics are used, or how they are weighted.

    I think you should consider making it 1 dimensional, and display all the typefaces in a line.
    I also think you should have several different views to look at this in different ways, because I don’t think there is a single ideal way to visualize this.

    Add a zoom function.

    You make it look easy as pie. 🙂 -SB π

    This could be cool as a game. You guess which typefaces are related and get scored on how close they are. See http://fontgame.ilovetypography.com/

    When you mentioned referring a font to a friend, I wonder if you could incorporate some sort of font upload: “upload your font and see what else is close.”

    Comment by pkelley — 7 April 2010 @ 8:00 am

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