I have been asked how to create Arabic letterforms so here is my recommendation:
1. Get acquainted with Arabic calligraphic styles (dig deep, not just the Aqlam Assita) and the specifics of the script
2. Practice with a reed (or slit pen or any other appropriate tool) the effect of the angle of the cut and the way the pen is held on the resulting shape. Trace the same skeletal structure with different angles. This creates an understanding of the axis and distribution of the thicks and thins.
3. Read about printing history, so as to understand the reasons why current Arabic typefaces look the way they do.
4. Read about current font technology (see my font development section)
5. Get acquainted with the Arabic market to see what is popular, what is needed, what is visually acceptable, what each style carries in implications etc.
6. Read or browse through everything you come across in your research
7. Look at good typefaces for an understanding of how a typographic system of characters works. This is quite crucial as there are things you would do in calligraphy that you would not do in type design.
8. Learn about optical adjustments and visual compensation
9. Investigate spacing, kerning, rhythm, color etc (learning about Latin type design is helpful in such cases)
10. Test your design. This is very important!
In short, I would suggest independent research about the script for 2 years, and then joining the MA program at Reading. It’s lots of fun. If anyone goes to Reading, I also recommend the Katmandu Kitchen (Indian restaurant) near Christchurch roundabout.