Visual Fonts

What is it?

Sensible, offline image libraries packed into a font

Visual fonts are fonts — like Times New Roman or Arial — with a twist. Two twists actually.

The first twist is that, instead of relatively simple glyphs that designate a letter, Visual Fonts insert complex, colored graphics. Like glyphs in regular fonts, these are images described as maths (vector graphics) instead of pixels, and enjoys the same advantages of being resolution-independent. Or infinite resolution, if you will; the images could be printed to large format without being pixelated.

The second twist consists of using words as the unit, instead of an alphabet. In normal fonts, to make certain “clashing” alphabet pairs work aesthetically, the font-crafter actually create a new glyph for that specific combination. This is known as a ligature, and you can see it in when f+l becomes fl, f+f = ff). What we do here is to push this to its absurd limit, and ask, “could we assign a glyph for an entire word?”

Ligatures in Adobe Caslon. Illustration by Max Naylor / WikiCommons.


Now we have a potent combo. By assigning complex colored images to words, we created something pretty magical: you can conjure the picture of something by speaking its name. Type, and watch your words become pictures.

Fonts Available

We are working on several fonts while iteratively refining the font-building procedure.

Now available we have Equal Earth, a map collection with 1,500+ locations, including countries, states / provinces, oceans & seas, and fresh-water. Each location was drawn in three variations (variations are like italic and bold of normal fonts), and can be called using its name — in 10+ languages. Equal Earth is available in Play (pay-what-you-want) and Work ($50) editions, with maps in English or Chinese (Traditional).

In the works we have the Chemistry font (Q1 2023). Here, you’d type the name of a compound, and get its structural formula, for some 3,000+ most common compounds. Variations here include structure with partial charges / hydrophobicity labelled as contour maps, and in a later phase, different views of its 3D structure.

Further down the pipeline are Yoga Asanas, city maps (Hong Kong is the front-runner), 粵拼 Jyutping, and Human Anatomy. If you have a community that wants to commission a font, let’s talk.

How can I use them?


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