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“If you really hate someone, teach them to recognize bad kerning” ~ XKCD

Smelvetica is an experimentation in taking one of the worlds most beloved fonts, and turning it into a morbid monstrocity.

This project began by pulling the original “Helvetica” font from my system files, and making a copy of it. From there I opened it in FontForge, which is a brilliant open source font editor.

Helvetica opened up for editing in FontForge.

From here, the task was fairly simple. I opened up each “version” of Helvetica (these being bold, oblique, light etc), randomly went through the capital and non capital letters and moved them around within their guide grids. This had the desired effect of ruining their beautifully crafted kerning, as such, creating “Smelvetica”.

With the fonts completed, the remaining work was to wrap it all up with a nice web page, and some installation instructions.

The Smelvetica website.

The installation ended up being the most devious part of the prank in the end, since it would install on the system it makes it really difficult for anyone to understand why everything looks just that little bit wrong.

Smelvetica website & examples
Smelvetica source and installation instructions