During my Reading MATD I felt in love with Indian scripts and I studied and designed a Bengali typeface, Zenon Bengali. I decided to focus on Bengali because it seemed to me the most challenging among the North Indian scripts. I also wrote my dissertation on contemporary Bengali typefaces and the problems on typesetting Bengali.
To understand how to establish the widths of my Bengali letters and how their relative proportions work (I mean the proportions between different parts of the same letter, or between similar parts in different letters) I studied two models from the past.
1. Figgins Pica Bengali, cut in London in the beginning of the 19th century, it was the most used Bengali typeface in England until the advent of hot-metal and we find it in the the Baptist Missionary Specimen too, called Bengalee Type n.4.1 I took macro pictures of a large specimen sheet conserved in the St. Bride Printing Library, London.Figgins Pica Bengali (St. Bride Printing Library)
2. Linotype Bengali, designed by Tim Halloway and Fiona Ross for digital phototypesetting and produced in 1982. It was a landmark in the European production of non-Latin typefaces, for the deep historical research and the understanding of how the script woks. For my analysis I used a digital version of the font (not complete in the glyph list and without Unicode) from the Non-Latin Typedesign collection of the Department of Typography at the University of Reading.Front page of the daily Anandabazar Patrika set in Linotype Bengali, 4 June 1983 (Non–Latin TC, DTGC)
The first step was calculating the widths of every letter in relation to the height (using the headline as a limit) then I analyzed every letter in detail, comparing the main strokes to similar strokes of other letters.Figgins Pica Bengali Linotype Bengali
After understanding the different behaviour of the two typefaces (they are different for purpose and as the technology for the making: Figgins was a book metal typeface for hand composition while LT Bengali was designed for newspapers in the photosetting era) I tried to find my own proportions for Zenon Bengali.
Some worksheets of the analysis in pdf.