Chinese Type in the Digital Age
With its visual complexity and seemingly infinite amount of characters, transitioning Chinese from a written language into a digital language was no easy feat. Being one of the oldest languages still in use today, it has since evolved into a seemingly infinite written language that spans 50,000 unique characters. This research project takes apart the history and nuances of the evolution of Chinese into a digital language.
In Chinese type design, radicals in each character has to take into consideration the radicals next to it; this means that radicals need to be adjusted in size and shape for each individual character. Throughout this project, Chinese type is often compared to architecture, where every form has to be aware of its surroundings.
Chinese type typically falls into one of five categories: Songti (宋體), Fangsongti (仿宋體), Mingti (明體), Heiti (黑體), and Kaiti (楷體). While these are existing typefaces, they have also become classifiers for future typefaces, such as “old style” and “modern” in English typefaces. A hypothetical new typeface starts with a set of a few hundred polished characters designed in one of these styles that set the tone for the thousands that will follow.