Y Transparent bundle (lowercase) – The Twelve Days of Ax‑mas

On the tenth day of ax-mas, we’re exploring: the Y Transparent bundle of axes (for lowercase).

The Y Transparent axis is intended for parametric designs—fonts where the design outcome is determined via lower-level inputs into a constraints-based system. However, it doesn’t appear in either Amstelvar or Roboto Flex.

This is because the “primary parent axes” I wrote about in my last two messages (the X and Y axes for Opaque and Transparent), can, apparently, also be broken down into individual axes should someone need even more detail.

Say you wanted to adjust the negative space along the y-axis while looking at the phrase “handgloves.” If you were adjusting a Y Transparent axis, you’d at a minimum be changing the ascender on the h and l, and the depth of the descending g, at the same time.

Instead, the Type Network proposal offers up a whole other set of axes, which include:

  • YTAS for changing the y-axis transparency of the ascenders
  • YTDE for changing the y-axis transparency of the descenders
  • YTLC for changing the lowercase height

The first two, in effect, allow adjustments to the ascender and descender height in isolation. These axes exist in Amstelvar and Roboto Flex, and collectively replace the same thing that a Y Transparency axis on its own would be doing.

For Latin-centric typefaces, should you try and pursue this model as proposed, it seems unlikely you’d ever have a Y Transparent axis controlling negative space along the y-axis of a drawing. Instead, you’d want these lower-level parameters defined independently. In other cases, perhaps you’d have other script-specific or design-specific lower-level axes that defined the idea of controlling the forms or counterforms in one direction or another.

In theory, I think the concept or long-term vision was that these lower-level axes would have restrictions, or be hidden internal axes, that don’t actually expose controls. But that is definitely not the way things work now, and something that will come up again before the Twelve Days of Ax-mas is over.

Until next time,