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Arabetic type design, like type design in general, should not be limited by rigid rules, other than those advocating open choice and user options. But as with all design fields, highlighting certain principles and guidelines is crucial to realizing a successful project. In an Arabetic font design environment, such guidelines and principles should reveal deeper understanding of various scripts visual and behavioral defining characteristics rather than mere traditional calligraphic and handwriting norms. A main goal of this study is to emphasize that designing Arabetic fonts is much easier than it is portrayed, and designers of all backgrounds should be more involved designing than deciphering complexities. Classifying Arabic as complex may add challenge and thrill to a project but can harm unfairly a flexible and powerful script. The key observation of this typographic study is that, according to their connecting behavior in the traditional model, Arabetic letters are two types: restricted or unrestricted. Based on this and other observations, the study provides a solid design model, free of the restrains of the chaotic four shapes per letter model widely used today. It does that through an open-minded systematic analysis of the Arabic script rather than its historic calligraphic flavors. A Mutamathil type style font, Mehdi, is used by this study solely for visual illustration. But the model provided is equally valid for the design and implementation of any other Arabetic font including multiple glyphs per letter fonts. The choice of Mehdi is neither arbitrary nor biased given that its design also implements a complementing alternative input method, NAIM, introduced by the author in a previous essay (Abulhab, 2006.)


This work was originally published in Visible Language.



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