Open Source Publishing


Open Source Publishing

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Red & Black
IGEPA ‘Velour’ 1.5 200g/m2
950 x 635mm
Edition 50

Designed by Open Source Publishing

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In the world of PostScript people seem to think that the Bézier algorithm is the only way to make a curved line. At first sight Béziers seem to be very easy to handle. But this is only true when one uses very few Bézier curve elements, so this is of course what everyone does. What most people don’t realize is that one limits oneself considerably by doing that. A tricky contradiction is born.

It seems to be an unwritten rule that one Bézier is enough for a curve over 90 degrees. It is fairly easy to then make a nice curve, but although the Bézier-operator has placed the control points all by him/herself, the curve is mainly determined by the Bézier algorithm.

This is a lazy results from two points of view. First it causes restriction in shape. Secondly, because there is not a very personal influence on the curves, it causes some sort of sameness that gets boring after a short while. These two things are obviously closely related to each other: they are both caused by the fact that the Bézier algorithm has very specific shape properties, or, put in a different way, by the restrictions of Béziers.

Certain shapes are simply impossible to make, in such a case one needs to divide one Bézier into two Béziers, which almost doubles the number of points (control points plus the so called anchor points). This however, does not double the handling difficulty as one might think, it, at least, quadruples it.

All this makes Bézier curves not very useful for the subtle curve manipulation required for type design.

Text by Letterror, ‘Bézier: Prefab Smoothness’, in ‘Letterror’, September 1989

Sources available at work.visual-grammar.git;a=tree