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Bitmapping Chinese

Five-pixel height is all you need to deliver the entire English alphabet, but what size canvas is needed, and how many pixels are required to construct a Chinese character, called a Hanzi? The strokes in each Hanzi vary in number, direction, width, contrast, and style. At the first sight, it seems impossible to fit Hanzi into highly restricted grids of pixels. Since the 1980s, Chinese information scientists and type designers have strived to bring the ancient script into the digital era. In this talk, Willie Liu will look at his efforts and experiments; walking through the Chinese bitmap typefaces used from the national standard, down to the smallest bitmap Chinese we’ve had in computer games. We will also present our own explorations in the low-resolution world of dinkie bitmap.


Willie Liu

Designer 3type

Willie Liu is a type designer at 3type based in Shanghai. Liu has a bachelor’s degree in urban and rural planning, and is currently in the media and communication design program at Tongji University. With a natural passion for nature, technology and art, Liu enjoys making typefaces, illustrations, animations, and videos. Liu is fascinated by typography and multi-script matchmaking. Liu is the creator of Dinkie Bitmap, a multi-script typeface experimenting on Hanzi legibility in extreme conditions. In his free time, Liu watches anime and keeps Java sparrows.