Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A day making eye charts

The most familiar eye chart is the Snellen eye chart, and a few years ago I made a reproduction of it and a number of variants. Today I finally started redoing the charts using InDesign using fonts of the optotypes that I created myself following Snellen’s original principles of equal stroke and gap widths.

There are a lot of variables: letter design, letter spacing, line spacing, letter sizes, size labeling, bar colors, etc. The original Snellen eye chart was not entirely precise or consistent, and the typical medical eye chart is a rather mediocre reproduction. I’m sympathetic to the goal of clinical accuracy, but I really want to balance a few other goals: honoring the design archetype of the original Snellen eye chart, improving the precision and consistency of the chart, and simplifying production of the chart by reducing the traditional 11" x 22" chart down to 11" x 17" without making the chart look too crowded.

When I’m done, I’ll have many of the traditional charts—Snellen, tumbling E, Landolt C—as well as variants for non-Roman alphabets, abstract patterns, and more. Then I have to figure out what to do with all of them, aside from a short run book of the full set.

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