Monday, January 24, 2011


The Unicode Standard version 6 released in 2010 has characters for a variety of emoticons. Apparently these and a great many other additions come from the telephone world of Japan, where they are common on cell phones. I decided to do my version of them when I was updating my picture font Ingy Ding. Here are the results:

 The first three, the smiles and the frown, have been Unicode characters for some time and are at 2639-263B. The others are new, found in the unicode range 1F600-1F640.

More recently I updated a font called AllSmiles, and thought that it might be appropriate to add some emoticons to it. Here they are.
The emoticons at the end are supposed to be cat faces. I have no idea why they are there, but apparently they are in use in Japan.

One of the problems I had in designing these is that because the characters are so new, I could not find any typefaces that had them except for the reference font used by the Unicode Consortium. It is easier to design when there are several different interpretations of a symbol to use as guides.

It is rather interesting how even small changes in position or emphasis changes the impression one gets from these little images. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What do you see?

I have been playing a lot with various unicode characters recently. (For a result, see Ingy Ding MCD, a font with over 1400 characters.) Among the thousands of symbols with assigned unicode numbers are these three:

What are they?

Sometimes what you see depends a great deal on what you expect to see. What do you see in these symbols? Some people see gun sights or cross hairs. These happen to be unicode characters:
Circled plus ⊕ unicode 2295
Position Indicator ⌖ unicode 2316
N-ary circled plus operator ⨁ unicode 2A01
as they appear on my computer.

The position indicator is meant to show exact location. Given that there is a symbol meant to show exact location, one should not be too surprised to see it used on a map. But there are exceptions, and those exceptions may tell us more about what people expect to see than anything else.

(If you want eliminationist rhetoric on a map, a delete right or a delete left, the ERASE TO THE LEFT ⌫ unicode 232B or ERASE TO THE RIGHT ⌦ unicode 2326 seem more appropriate. As for a gunsight, I think a symbol that looks like a gun sight is unicode 2324 ⌤ The "UP ARROWHEAD BETWEEN TWO HORIZONTAL BARS" or enter key symbols fits.)

A great place to explore unicode other than is