Snow Crystal Type

Japanese physicist Dr Ukichiro Nakaya said ‘Snowflakes are letters sent from heaven’. His words inspired me to design this typeface based on the geometry of snowflakes and a typing interaction application named Snow Crystal Type.  This project aims to foster an appreciation for snowflakes among viewers and stimulate their interest in the natural sciences. 

I began by sketching the individual letters, digitalised them, and then cut them out of an acrylic board with a laser cutter.  This digital to analogue process gives a more realistic impression of snowflakes within the letters.


Shiho Asada | Typeface Design / Photography / Coding / Filming 
Tomoya  Kamiko | Coding Advise



Concept Sketch

The idea came from Dr Ukichiro Nakaya’s famous word ‘Snowflakes are letters sent from heaven’. Snowflakes give us some information such as weather conditions or pollution levels. I also found that the geometric shapes of snowflakes could be transformed into alphabets.


Designing Letters from Snowflake Shapes

There are some general patterns in the shapes of snowflakes: hexagon plates, hybrid plates, sectored plates, fenlike stellar dendrites and 12-branched stars. The shapes of snowflakes are combinations of those patterns. I found similarities between those patterns and alphabets, and designed letters using features of snowflakes.


Cutting Out by Laser

After I vectorised the letters and made a font, I realised the font was still far from the beauty of real snowflakes. To give a more realistic impression of snowflakes within the letters, I came up with the idea of using a laser cutter. I cut the letters out of an acrylic board.


Editing the Letters

At the final stage, I took pictures of the acrylic letters against a black background to use them in digital environments. I edited them with digital tools to give a more realistic look and texture of snowflakes within the font.


Coding an Interactive Typing Application

To create an interactive typing application with the font, I used openFrameworks.



The typing interaction was exhibited at the degree show and Snow and Ice Museum in Japan. The video was filmed at the degree show. Snow Crystal Type was projected to a w3600mm x h2400mm screen.