November 7, 2014

#smcfontworkshop : Agenda and selected participants

Day 1

Introduction to digital typography

What is a font?

  • Encoding: Unicode
  • Mapping data to drawings concept
  • Do not confuse - font is independent of typing tool.

How a font works ?

  • The text rendering stack-rendering engine,
  • shaping engine, Harfbuzz
  • layouting, - Pango/Qt
  • font selection - fontconfig, font fallbacks, generic font families
  • Font types-Regular, Non Regular - calligraphic, handwriting, ornamental - familiarization with examples, introduction to famous font families - Italics, bold
  • Hinting, pixel smoothing

What are the existing fonts in Malayalam?

  • A quick walkthrough on existing fonts - just to familiarize - because we will be talking about them in the whole session

What is a Malayalam font?

  • How many glyphs?
  • Orthography
  • Understand some ligature formation rules of Malayalam - മ്പ, ണ്ട, ന്റ, റ്റ, ക്ര, പ്ല etc.
  • Aesthetc aspects of Malayalam
  • How a Malayalam font works
  • Opentype - what is standard, who, how
  • Malayalam OT features - familiarization, mlym, mlm2 - what are they? how it differs - Practical aspects of OS versions and these OT script versions.
  • Frequently asked encoding sequence questions - Chillus, ന്റ, മ്പ, ണ്ട, പ്ര, ക്ര, പ്ല, dot reph, consonant signs - ്ല, ്ര, ്യ, .

Understanding a font

  • Case study - Rachana font - Hussain KH
  • Very very brief history, effort, technology, aesthetic concepts, glyph characteristics
  • Case study - Meera font - Hussain KH
  • Case study- Dyuthi - Hiran
  • Case study- Chilanka- Santhosh
  • Familiarize with the terminology
  • code point , Glyph - ligature
  • Consistent glyph naming for lookup tables
  • Font metrics- Guidelines - ascend, descend, bearing, stroke width, angle, pen tip, varying width, equal width, spacing, kerning

Familiarize with Tools

  • Inkscape
  • Bezier curves
  • Spirals
  • Fontforge
  • Corner points, curve points

Day 2

Let us create a font! (hands on training)

Introducing a workflow:

  • Creating SVGs
  • Importing to fontforge
  • Using a font framework
  • Creating TTF, installing and trying out

If time allows or in between other sessions..

  • Font formats -ttf, otf, eot, woff, svg
  • Font embedding
  • Font licensing, release, version control
  • Medium of instruction: Malayalam


  1. Santhosh Thottingal
  2. Hiran Venugopalan
  3. K.H Hussain

Selected Participants

  1. NUJUMUDEEN (Eggs Creative Solutions & Communications (P) Ltd.)
  • Ullas (C-DAC)
  • Jotty Jacob (St. Joseph College of Communication, Changanacherry)
  • Varun
  • Bibin Vasudevan
  • K.Haris Muhammed (ചീഫ് ഡി.ടി.പി ഓപ്പറേറ്റര്‍, മാധ്യമം)
  • Yaser Ali (Zyxware Technologies)

Participants under SMC Scholarship

  1. Orion Champadiyil
  • Kavya Manohar
  • Ark Arjun
  • Sebin Abraham
  • Nithin Krishna. S
  • Manoj K

Special Guests

Narayana Bhattathiri

Font packaging team

  1. Praveen A
  • Balasankar C


  1. Hrishikesh K.B
  2. Anivar Aravind

Organizing Support

  1. Anish A
  2. Sooraj Kenoth


Bring a working laptop. Please bring your drawing instruments you are comfortable with - Mouse, Drawing pad/stylus(if you have) etc,

Since we are Free Software developer community, we will be using GNU/Linux and free software during the workshop. We recommend GNU/Linux as the best platform for developing with Malayalam. But you are free to use whatever Operating system you are comfortable. Please use a reasonably latest operating system, outdated operating systems have crappy Malayalam support and you will feel helpless most of the time you work with them. Windows XP will not be helpful.

Power, internet, lunch and refreshments will be provided at the venue.

Inkscape will be used for demonstrations, but if you are good at other vector graphics editing tools such as Adobe illustrator, you will see comparable features in it for drawing svgs. But we may not be able to give specific instructions on such editors. As long as you know how to draw and create svgs with given metrics and styles, you are good.

Inkscape works in all operting systems. If not installed get it from Inkscape is packaged for GNU/Linux

Fontforge will be used for developing the font. Sorry, we will not be able to train on other systems like fontlab etc. For complex scripts like Malayalam, we know this as the only working tool. Accepting the fact that its UI is not upto standard.

Fontforge is available for all operating systems. If not installed, get it from and install. Fontforge is packaged for GNU/Linux. If you need help installing, see

If you are curious, you will see that has a good tutorial on fontforge.

Please download SMC’s latest fonts: - Click on Download as ZIP. Similarly download latest version of Chilanka font from