Google has created a new emoji (variable) font with “Noto Emoji”, whose defining characteristic is a black and white design that tries to capture the “simplicity” of the format – and happens to bring blobs back.
Over time, emoji have become more detailed. Instead of representing broad concepts, there has been a tendency to design emoji to be hyperrealistic. This would not be a problem, except that the specificity of skeuomorphism has resulted in the exclusion of other similar concepts on your keyboard.
Google counteracts this trend toward realism with the Noto Emoji by “removing as much detail as possible.” The goal of this set is to make emoji “more flexible, representing the idea of something instead of specifically what is in front of you.” For example, the dance emoji today clearly represents just one form of dance to the detriment of other types.
Many resulted in 1: 1 conversions, but there were several design challenges associated with simplification that prevented Google from simply redrawing emoji in black and white, especially flags:
You can not just convert flags to black and white. You would not be able to tell the difference between Finland and Sweden. You can draw the flags again, but there is a risk that they will be incorrect. Instead, we took advantage of ISO country codes. These letter sequences are unique and represent each country.
Meanwhile, people in Noto Emoji are represented using Google’s blob characters:
Relatively without maintaining a distinction between genders. Google’s blob emoji was really something special. Sweet, squishy and remarkably friendly. We were able to bring back a bit of what made them special while at the same time discarding the parts that did not work. Most notably, the clatter’s facial expression was wildly inconsistent, but it was very easily corrected in black and white mode.
That said, a modern aspect of the Noto Emoji is how it is a variable font with a weight class that lets characters appear as “light” or “bold”. There are also dark and light modes as well as the ability to change text / character color, like all other fronts.
Noto Emoji is open source and available from Google Fonts today. It supports the latest Unicode 14.0 specification with 3,663 emojis in total.
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