Skip

KernType, a kerning game
October 7, 2011 10:22 PM   Subscribe

KernType is a game where you put your kerning skills to the test.
posted by Foci for Analysis (72 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just learned I possess a skill I never knew I had.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:29 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Same here Mary.
posted by thorny at 10:31 PM on October 7, 2011


89/100. Not too shabby!
posted by pennig at 10:32 PM on October 7, 2011


No Comic Sans?
posted by zippy at 10:34 PM on October 7, 2011


Thought after feeling good about a 100: Oh god, what am I doing with my Friday night.
posted by Felex at 10:36 PM on October 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I got a 100 for one but clearly my kerning wasn't entirely on top of theirs. Grade inflation!
posted by nat at 10:45 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Missing the keming tag.
posted by Eideteker at 10:51 PM on October 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


I don t k n o w wh yI d id so badl y.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:02 PM on October 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


OMG HOW DID THEY KNOW TO MAKE MY FAVORITE GAME
posted by danny the boy at 11:04 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I prefer Kemtype.
posted by zippy at 11:06 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


92 on my first try. It won't be my last.
posted by bink at 11:11 PM on October 7, 2011


86. About half of them I got a 100, but a few were surprisingly tricky.
posted by zardoz at 11:31 PM on October 7, 2011


(Keming)
posted by Anything at 11:33 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


72! Woo hoo I'm terrible!
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:39 PM on October 7, 2011


And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

- Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement 2005
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:40 PM on October 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


Whenever I see poorly kerned text, I have to catch myself, or I'd just sit there and stare at the offending letters, hoping through sheer force of will to bind them to their proper places.

So, needless to say, I greatly enjoyed the game. Its this sort of thing that makes me wonder whether I have a streak of OCD in myself.
posted by Hither at 11:49 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


73! But I feel like I might have done better if there weren't strange trails after some of the letters once moved (in Chrome, at least).
posted by katillathehun at 11:57 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh great. Something else I suck at.
posted by Decani at 12:01 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Need to try again after less scotch.
posted by sharpener at 12:02 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clearly GMT+2 is a superior time zone for playing this game.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:12 AM on October 8, 2011


89 at a quick-run through. I used to spend hours kerning headlines back when I did print work. Years of live-text web stuff has eroded my skills.
posted by maxwelton at 12:45 AM on October 8, 2011


I am a kerning genius. This will surely get me dates.
posted by Justinian at 12:51 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I go a 100 on the first one, 30 something and then a few 80's and 60's. Definitely a little addictive.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:09 AM on October 8, 2011


73%. Every time I find myself doing something like this IRL I wonder why I even have to be doing moving things around pixel by pixel. Isn't this why we invented computers?
posted by bleep at 1:14 AM on October 8, 2011


No Comic Sans?

We out here on the internet find that when kerning Comic Sans, it is sometime useful to edit your type in a different font, really almost any font. Kern it carefully, take you time. Look at the alternatives. Now convert back to Comic Sans. See how bad it looks? Now undo back to the other font and never look back. You'll thank yourself.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:18 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd rather be gallowglassing.
posted by codswallop at 1:33 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I spend a lot of my time at work moving images around until they look just right. I'm not surprised that I'm good at this.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:31 AM on October 8, 2011


I was so pleased when I got my first 100 I actually made a little squeeking noise. 91/100 in the end. They should bring this out as a phone app, it seems like it would be great for learning from the pros.
posted by lucidium at 2:53 AM on October 8, 2011


53! Woohooo!
Okay, it was fun, but I cannot kern around capital letters.
posted by YAMWAK at 3:17 AM on October 8, 2011


The guideline I got in drafting class was to maintain equal areas between letters. So are the "correct" spacings calculated as such, by a more complicated algorithm or are they subjective?
posted by klarck at 4:20 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


70/100; still room to grow. Thanks for the post!
posted by Renoroc at 4:50 AM on October 8, 2011


Thing is, there's no single, absolute "correct" answer to kerning. Some typographers prefer a tighter kerning than others. Many use a more "visual" approach, while others rely on a more mechanical approach to kerning.

This game seems to be based on a much wider kern than I normally use, especially with characters at this large of a size. At these sizes, I prefer to tighten the kerning, in order to get the characters working better as a team. It also seems to be more mechanical than visual.

Cool idea for a game, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some typographers prefer a tighter kerning than others.

I'm definitely in that camp, and it absolutely drives me NUTS that I can't drag the end letters inwards. That said this is fun!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:17 AM on October 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


92, but then I used to do this sort of thing for a living. I suppose I still do, technically, but there's not as much call for it these days. Anyway, I should have done better, but a cup of tea was calling out to me plaintively from the future, and I have to go and actualise it.
posted by Grangousier at 6:25 AM on October 8, 2011


awesome
posted by the mad poster! at 6:25 AM on October 8, 2011


I got a few 100s... a 69 overall. Weirdly fun.

How many publications are manually kerned these days? And is it just headlines or what? And are there "hints" or rules built into "industrial strength" fonts since it would take too much memory to enumerate every combination and it seems like this would be a lot of work?
posted by zeek321 at 6:34 AM on October 8, 2011


78, which I'm going to claim is good for a complete amateur who's never kerned anything himself. Part of my problem was the same as Thorzdad and Smiley. I would start moving letters and find there wasn't enough space overall, or else too much space. The last letter should definitely have been moveable.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:36 AM on October 8, 2011


Some of them are so very widely kerned that they look weird.

Does kerning between two letters depend on the surrounding letters? In other words, if you have the letters -in-, are they kerned differently depending on if it is the word in, or the word sin, or the word sing?

And honestly, I don't believe for a second that had Jobs not put in multiple typefaces in his computers that no other person ever would have thought of it so that even today, decades later, we would have just had one monospaced font.
posted by jeather at 6:38 AM on October 8, 2011


Also, what's with the font metrics on Rotis Semi Serif Bold? Or is it just cut-off on my FF3/Win7?
posted by benito.strauss at 6:39 AM on October 8, 2011


After learning a little kerning (gut churning, eyes burning), I find myself yearning to do some gurning.

Page turning.
posted by Philofacts at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does kerning between two letters depend on the surrounding letters? In other words, if you have the letters -in-, are they kerned differently depending on if it is the word in, or the word sin, or the word sing?

The way I learned kerning (some 30+ years ago), yes, it does matter. Kerning is about relationships and flow. You have to consider the whole, as well as the relationship between the individuals.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on October 8, 2011


We out here on the internet find that when kerning Comic Sans, it is sometime useful to edit your type in a different font, really almost any font. Kern it carefully, take you time. Look at the alternatives. Now convert back to Comic Sans. See how bad it looks? Now undo back to the other font and never look back. You'll thank yourself.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:18 AM on October 8


Isn't that true of any font to font conversion? Or was that the joke?
posted by gjc at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2011


90/100.

I'll take it.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:31 AM on October 8, 2011


89/100. Updating CV...
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2011


Wow! Maybe I have a new career. My current job of picture straightening and applied latex pigment dehydration supervisor was getting old.
posted by hot_monster at 8:09 AM on October 8, 2011


They should turn this into a reCaptcha-like crowdsourced kerning service for designers. Throw in a few "trained" examples and a bunch of unknown words. If the user kerns the examples well, consider their kerns on the unknown words correct. User consensus on the unknown words would build up. Some basic numerical tests could make sure that people aren't gaming the system with terrible kerns. Designers could upload their InDesign files and get back a properly kerned masterpiece.
posted by scose at 8:10 AM on October 8, 2011


This game stresses out the part of me that needs to fit as much into as little space as possible.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:16 AM on October 8, 2011


So is this the thread where we all brag about how we have this graphic-design-related talent we didn't know we had? We had one of these last month.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2011


The last letter should definitely have been moveable.

I think the whole point is that the word has to fit, for whatever design-related constraint, in this amount of space. Not some other amount of space for which you can find the solution more easily. It's a constrained optimization problem.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2011


I also wanted to move the end letters in for a tighter grouping in some of the examples.

Needs the kenning tag.
posted by zippy at 8:31 AM on October 8, 2011


In the real world, don't you always end up moving the last letter, changing the total space the word takes? I know i do. But that makes this game a little weird, unless I'm missing something.
posted by cccorlew at 8:56 AM on October 8, 2011


Neat! Though I wish the scoring incorporated relative position in addition to absolute difference from an ideal model. I'd screw up the capital, then five other letters would shifted and be counted as wrong despite being decent looking relative to each other.
posted by Wemmick at 8:58 AM on October 8, 2011


The overall amount of spacing is subjective, and depends a lot on what sort of look you are going for, so by fixing that, one variable is removed, and its easier to compare people's solutions.

It would be interesting to see the same puzzle for screen fonts in smaller sizes, where you are more conscious of the pixel grid.

While doing it I didn't really think in terms of geometry... more in terms of keeping an even rhythm going through the word. And avoiding glaring blocks of whitespace. (I got a 93 overall).
posted by Hither at 9:07 AM on October 8, 2011


This may be the dorkiest game ever.

I loved it. I got a 92!
posted by moss at 9:18 AM on October 8, 2011


I hated it because at the shown headline sizes I want much tighter tracking and they won't let me move the last letter.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sweet, I got 100s on holly, await, yvess, gargantuan, and xylophone, with a 92 overall. I feel like I'm ready to start my new career as a kerning pro.
posted by 6550 at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2011


I did respectably on the first few, then got five or six 100s in a row... only to finish the last one with a 2. As in half of four.

Is it broken, or am I the Red Sox of kerning?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:01 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


called it
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did græt.
posted by scottreynen at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love this. First time I ever kerned type it was headlines and ads set upside down, mirror image, in lead type and locked in trays set among rows of hot type text made on a linotype machine from molten lead. I remember the smell of the lead and the ink on the presses. It was a summer job and I wasn't allowed to touch the linotype machine or the press but there were drawers of display type I could use.

Later I learned to kern 'artistically' in graphic arts class and thereafter pretty much forgot about it for years until one summer day in 1984 I went out at lunchtime and bought a MacIntosh computer and dot matrix printer. I had a little program called Publish It! Easy and dozens of fonts. Within an hour I was kerning type again with all the passion of the high-school journalist I had been. This time, though, I had a magic box with WYSIWYG. These days, every tenth grader is self-published.

That's just a little of how much Steve Jobs and his ilk have changed the world in my lifetime.

(I was all over the place with this game: some 76's, some 100's and everywhere in between!)
posted by Anitanola at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2011


all your scores belong to me.
posted by kerning at 12:19 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once shared a carpool with an executive from a big design company in San Francisco. I thought she told me she was Vice President of Kerning, but was I disappointed to later learn it was just recruiting.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 2:17 PM on October 8, 2011


96 overall on my first try. But I do this kind of exercise nearly every week for work. (Also I'm more than a little compulsive about arranging type.)
posted by massless at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2011


93/100. I wish the last letter had been movable since I definitely wanted to have less space between the letters in a few of the fonts. I didn't know what kerning was before this, so I'm pretty happy with my result :)

Now that I think about this exercise a bit more, it seems like the same mental/imaging process I use when I'm trying to figure why a quilt isn't "working." Sometimes it's colors, but often it's patterns and spacing. I wonder if putting the computer across the room and looking at your kerned version would help you see the awkward spacing the same way using a peep-eye does when you're trying to find the problems in a quilt.
posted by Mouse Army at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2011


madcaptenor: "I think the whole point is that the word has to fit, for whatever design-related constraint, in this amount of space. Not some other amount of space for which you can find the solution more easily. It's a constrained optimization problem."

We have a winner.

There is no "correct" kerning for any given word; but there are more correct solutions, given a fixed width that the word must fit within. This is pretty much the real life problem that kerning solves: fitting a bunch of words into the fixed width of the newspaper column, poster, whatever, without it looking weird.

And that's why I'm not surprised a lot of you are really good at this. Even if you're not particularly "artistic" we all have a sense of what looks right, based an innate sense of rhythm and from having read a lot of printed matter in our lives. Computers only got good at this relatively recently, and print designers still have to (and for some I do mean have to—like compulsively) tweak.

I've always thought that in school we should have had letterpress class at the very start, as part of the foundational year, along with figure drawing, etc. It teaches you a lot more about typography, physically holding the pieces of metal in your hands, than clicking away at a computer ever will. (I only got allowed into the letterpress studio in my final year.)
posted by danny the boy at 4:06 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Kerning Game? Isn't that the one where you discover halfway through the movie that the female lead secretly has a serif?
posted by yellowcandy at 4:20 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


92!

Scary how fun this is.
posted by rtha at 6:43 PM on October 8, 2011


89. My inner typography nerd is squealing with joy.
posted by tatma at 7:14 PM on October 8, 2011


bleep said: Isn't this why we invented computers?

I've wondered about this, too. I had a manager once who was fond of saying, "If it looks right, it is right." in regards to page layout and print production. So, are attractive kerning pairs something that computers just can't get? Are they in the same category as random numbers?
posted by fartknocker at 10:50 PM on October 8, 2011


A great game for nerds of the typography sort.
posted by Sassenach at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2011


A great comment for haterz of the lazy kind.
posted by Grangousier at 4:51 AM on October 10, 2011


I got an 88. On eight of the ten I scored 100. One was a 66, because I liked more space on the tail of the capital Q than they did. Gargantuan I got a 24 for the same reason, but with more letters offset from the "idea", it significantly lowered the score.

I like a slightly tighter arrangement in the body and a more spacious capital. Sue me.

First try, never seen it before. Amateur type designer. Is everyone else getting full marks too? Is this test just too forgiving or am I some kind of Rain Fontographer?
posted by Aquaman at 11:05 PM on October 11, 2011


« Older City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program   |   Syd Dale, Legend of Library Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post