Starting to create IWMA symbols in SVG

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Jul 25 14:42:19 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
July 25, 2005

Hello Steve and Trevor!
I am starting work on improving the symbols in the IMWA today...just  
started and I am actually changing how the fill in the handshapes  
work, so we can have symbols show up on top of each other with the  
PlaceOver button in wow...Trevor...I am so sorry...I  
don't know what to say...I hope you won't have to re-do some of them  
later...but on the other hand, it can't hurt for you to get started I  
guess...I hope in two weeks time to have all the PlaceOver issues  
done...I will post them folder by folder on my web site, as I finish  
them...then you can try to do the SVG work on those new folders...Is  
that ok? Give me a day or  Val ;-)


On Jul 25, 2005, at 7:29 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:

Hi Trevor,

Good to hear that someone is looking into SVG.  I've researched and  
downloaded some of the same tools, but I've haven't spent the time to  
learn to use them.

You probably know, but only handshapes have consistent and  
predictable rotations 01 thru 16.

Do you think it would be possible to create a unique SVG file for  
every symbol in the IMWA, rather than one large font file?

Keep us posted,

Trevor Jenkins wrote:

> Feeling inspired ;-) by discussions in the computer workshops at  
> the First
> European SignWriting Symposium I spent time yesterday playing around
> creating some IWMA symbols as vector graphic images to supplement the
> present bitmapped versions. Vector graphics have the advantage over
> bitmaps in that they scale without introducing staircasing on  
> diagonals.
> Decided that the SVG format from W3C would be the format to use;  
> W3C being
> responsible for all standards on the World Wide Web and also for  
> XML my
> choice wasn't as random as it might appear.
> Began by downloading an open source drawing program (INKSCAPE from
> ) and making one symbol. Oh boy is that  
> going to
> be tedious! Ensuring that the stroke widths are the same for lines  
> as for
> rectangles; the program's default settings are different and then  
> are the
> symbols consistent in size and weight plus a host of other aesthetic
> decisions needing to be made. And I haven't really got the patience to
> create almost 26,000 symbols from scratch.
> So tried a different track: download the existing PNG files and  
> convert
> them to SVG. There are several open source tracing programs  
> available so I
> downloaded autotrace from . The few
> tests I've run suggest that this is a practical and more sensible  
> method
> of creating the initial SVGs. There is alternate tool potrace  
> (available
> from ) that may occasionally produce  
> better
> conversions. Using autotrace and/or potrace in combination with  
> other open
> source graphics programs such as ImageMagik should provide all the  
> tools
> necessary. Time to convert one PNG file with autotrace is about a  
> second
> of real-time so converting every file would take about 8 hours.
> But there is no need to convert every single one of the PNG files.  
> Once a
> shape has been converted its rotated and reflected variants can be
> generated automatically. For example I only need one version of the  
> G-hand
> (IWMA symbol 01-01-001-01-01-01). All the other G-hands  
> 01-01-001-01-01-02
> through 01-01-001-01-01-16 are nothing more than simple mathematical
> transformations. Reviewing and tweaking this much reduced set of  
> converted
> files with INKSCAPE will be faster too.
> Next step is to try using an open source font creation programs to
> generate some font files. Without realising what I was doing the font
> creator I plan to use (fontforge from http:// 
> )
> just happens to use autotrace and potrace to a capture bitmapped image
> ready for tweaking as a font character.
> This isn't going to be an overnight job but it'll keep me busy  
> during my
> summer break and beyond. ;-) Perhaps if a Second European SignWriting
> Symposium is held then there will be something to show.
> Regards, Trevor
> <>< Re: deemed!

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