Touch Type is an extraordinarily fun way to create your own typography

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With one finger, I tap a letter on the screen. With two fingers I can pinch it bigger or smaller. With three fingers, I can go through the whole alphabet like a rotary phone. With four fingers, I stretch the letter wide. And with five, I thicken his line into a rugged bold.

It is the touch type. This is a free letter design tool that you can try right in your browser, developed by the German design studio Schultzschultz.

[Image: courtesy Studio Schultzschultz]

User-friendly platforms like Canva democratize good design by allowing anyone to create simple visual projects through templates, while user-friendly platforms like Adobe’s Creative Cloud help more educated designers create more complex media. Touch Type is what the design world is missing right now: craftsman-level bespoke creation tools. While this quirky and unique software can be difficult to master, it can also take designs down roads that are too narrow for Photoshop.

Touch Type is not a commercial product; it is a free demo that you can try and use for any purpose. However, the creation of Touch Type was born from by Schultzschultz realization that when working with their own clients, today’s creative software is amazing, but also limiting. Their own creativity was shaped by the tools they used.

This is not a new phenomenon, explains Marc Schütz, creative director of the studio. As a type designer, he points out that even the design of letters has long been shaped by the tools that draw them. The flowing forms of written Chinese are the result of drawing them with brushes, just as the Gothic script of medieval Europe was shaped by the downward strokes of large, sharp, ink-dipped bones and other writing utensils. preferred by monks who transcribed books of the era. Hundreds, if not thousands of years later, these tool-based creative decisions are still present in today’s digital fonts.

[Image: courtesy Studio Schultzschultz]

“You realize that the tools you use are just as important to the end result as the person using those tools,” says Schütz. “If you translate that into our digital tools today, people just don’t realize they’re using a tool. It’s just, ‘Photoshop is everything!’ And you can do a lot [in Photoshop]but that still sets limits.

At the studio, they started experimenting with scripting their own little experimental tools, just for fun and as a way to get out of their own creative ruts. They’ve written code to design with PlayStation controllers instead of mice and keyboards, and they’ve built all sorts of pixel-editing scripts that never even see the light of day. It’s an approach they’ve taken since the studio was founded in 2007.

“We like to come up with our own very basic visual ideas, and often something isn’t possible using common tools like Photoshop or Illustrator,” says Schütz. “If you are able to create your own tools, you really feel freer.”

This development work is not lost on Schultzschultz. By building custom tools, they have ideas ready to hit the shelves. And these ideas can create unique work for their clients down the line. It’s work that literally can’t be produced anywhere else, and for Schultzschultz it’s more than just theory. A recent mural the company produced for Mastercard was based on a color smear tool they have since made public. I can’t say that I look at this mural and know it wasn’t created in Photoshop; but I can say that I have never seen anything like it, and that is exactly what motivates Schütz.

[Image: courtesy Studio Schultzschultz]

As for Touch Type, it’s a cool toy to create a small poster for social media or just for yourself. But there’s value in the experience of using it, too, as the interface recognizes the touch of your fingers with glowing graphics – a series of circles, lines and numbers that might be a little redundant, at least. for the uninitiated and occasional user.

“It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike every time you create a new tool,” says Schütz. “You have to learn how to use it. And it’s really great to learn how to use a new tool. Like an instrument, at first it’s clumsy, then you learn that you can do great things with it.

Indeed, part of Touch Type’s appeal is absolutely the learning curve behind its maximalist interface that looks straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s a vibrant contrast to the minimalist software from Apple or Canva. It reminds me of the on-screen interfaces designed for Marvel movies by Marti Romances and his company Territory Studio. Or the work of John Underkoffler at Oblong, who built the famous Minority report gesture touch screen. And me, next many of members of the design community, I’m excited about the possibility of design tools that embrace exuberant experimentation. Because no software should be the guardian of our unlimited creativity.

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