Calluna — a text typeface with flow

Calluna started out as a little test I did to see if I could add serifs to Museo, to make a slab serif. Because of its pipe bend serifs I suddenly saw the connection between serif and stem, and some sort of direction.

calluna museo


I’d always wanted to make a serious (book) text typeface, and I thought that the direction idea might be a nice theme to shape it. So I constructed — with the help of components — a number of characters in FontLab to see if I could get this to work. The whole process happened directly on the computer. No analogue sketching involved this time.

calluna fontlab

During the design process, I frequently flipped the font preview vertically to have a better look at the flow — the one-way direction leading to the upper right corner of each glyph — that I wanted Calluna to have. Where possible, I created or adapted shapes and serifs to fit this flow idea. Of course I didn’t restrict myself 100% to this idea. When things didn’t work in words or sentences I did change them.

calluna directions

For more than 1.5 years I worked on Calluna and reworked each glyph many, many times. The goal was to make a text typeface, but one with enough interesting details that would come into their own when used a little bigger. I had to strike a balance between robustness of function as a text face and refinement, to look good as a display typeface. And that certainly took me some time. For example, I changed the weight of the stems at least three times before I thought they were (really) to my liking. It felt like it had to mature — a bit like wine. Usually I start thinking about the italics at a very early stage, but with Calluna some 6 months must have passed by before I got to them. However, when I began drawing them, they evolved very naturally.

calluna weights and styles

In the end Calluna grew into a family with 8 styles. At first I only planned 6 styles — with the semibold and semibold italic interpolated — but after some testing, the light and black extrapolations looked very good and only required minor corrections. The workflow was a little different than for my previous typeface (Museo Sans); this time I used Prepolator, Superpolator, and the Adobe Font Developer Kit OpenType (AFDKO). It takes a little time to set it all up, but it’s really worth the effort. Especially because I also want to make Calluna Sans and probably also a slab serif (from the sans). Igino Marini did the spacing and kerning of Calluna with his iKern service.

calluna sans metrics

Did you know I like choosing names for my typefaces? It didn’t take me long to come up with Calluna. The street I live on is a one way street called Callunastraat.

callunastraat

Calluna is a very complete typeface with lots of OpenType goodness, and offers broad language support.

Calluna by Jos Buivenga. Regular is free!

Be sure to check the carefully designed PDF specimen and, of course, the free regular weight. You can download Calluna at MyFonts.com.

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Related: An interview with Jos


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  1. inspirationbit

    well, now they absolutely must change the sign for Callunastraat and use Calluna typeface instead :) btw, why is the Street called Calluna anyway, what does Calluna mean? To me it sounds as a beautiful name for a girl.

    Amazing work, Jos. Congratulations with completing Calluna.

  2. Andy

    Very nice; I like the directional flow

  3. Ivo

    Very well done! Your text face has flow indeed.

  4. Another great face from exljbris—I especially like the lowercase ‘g’ and the italics are very nicely matched. I can only hope this is as successful as Museo, and although this is a text face, I can see it being used for identity work as well.

    Congratulations, Jos—it’s a great piece of work.

  5. Rob

    Nice to see this article here. Jos is a top-notch designer and a wonderful friend. Calluna is a unique design and deserves a lot of love!

  6. Congrats, Jos !

  7. I love it! It’s so pretty. I think you’ve done a wonderful job of it. I just have one thing I wish you had, an fþ ligature - and perhaps - if you are feeling a bit frisky, fð, fði and ði ligatures too. I would seriously spend my precious student loans on a font that had those ligatures. Icelandic and Faroese deserve beautiful typesetting too :)

  8. Thanks inspirationbit, Andy, Ivo, Christopher, Rob, Hugo and Kári for your very kind comments!

    @ inspirationbit — Calluna (vulgaris) is the name of a heather plant.

    @ Kári — I’ll keep that in mind. Nice to know a little more about Icelandic and Faroese ligatures.

  9. Great font! Can we use Calluna Regular on websites with font-face?

  10. Tlönista

    It’s beautiful! I like the unexpected tilt to the tails of the p’s and q’s.

  11. Beautiful work Jos! I Really like Calluna’s Flow.

  12. Now this is the type of conversation I like to have more with people. Love your website. It’s visually brilliant.

  13. I’m currently building an image for student workstations in my high school lab. Would it be permissible to include CallunaRegular for student use?

    Thanks either way. Beautiful typeface!

  14. Very interesting process. Thanks for posting about it. Beautiful font!

  15. Way to go, Jos!

  16. Jos’ fonts are fresh and fantastic!
    Great work, I’m a fan.

  17. Joe, this is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations: Calluna deserves widespread attention.

  18. Alice S.

    Beautiful typeface!

  19. I am really amazed, your type looks so useful Jos and it does have that lovely plus that makes it elegant!
    Congratulations.
    Lián.-

  20. Thank you all! This means very much to me.

  21. I really like Calluna. I didn’t think I would at first glance, but I’ve been back to take another look at it and it’s definitely grown on me. Good work!

  22. @ Mike Skocko — Sorry, but no. My license doesn’t allow that. Why not let your students download the typeface themselves after installing the image?

  23. Lindsay Rollo

    Good to see a font design with moderate x-height relative to ascenders.

    The inclusion of ranging and non-ranging numerals is a plus, as is the slashed zero.

    However, in mass, Calunna Regular is very light on the page and would tend to be grey on coated stock.

    It would be interesting to know what paper stock the designer had in mind when he settled on the weight of the font on the page.

  24. Leandro

    Great job, Jos. I’ve always admired your typefaces: Diavlo, Fontin, Delicious and Museum, and now Calluna. The italics are very fresh. Which glyphs do you specially like and why?

  25. @ Linsday — Calluna doesn’t appear heavy on a page because that was a design choice. You could have a look at the Semibold.

    @ Leandro — I like the lc “g” both regular and italic, the italic “k”, “v” and “w” and most ligatures. Why? Because how they look as single glyphs and work well in words.

  26. Bert Vanderveen

    Wonderful work & happy (and amazed) to read that you have gone full time designing fonts.
    (Is your old position available, one wonders…?)

    @Lindsay: You would have to do a test print run to be in a position to make a comment like you did. IMO there are enough cuts to make Calluna a viable text-face for most jobs.

  27. Bert, nice of you to drop by. As you guessed my old position isn’t available anymore. The company I worked for got bankrupt before I could fulfill my cunning plan of becoming an little indie type designer at the end of this year. But now … I am. And (knock on wood) a very happy one.

  28. Congratulations¡ I really like it. Calluna loks very nice.

  29. Excellent piece of work there. A little food for thought…., I would like to see someone like you design a word press plugin for fonts. After 3 years of blogging I have not managed to find any theme with the option. Most of the fonts are boring or hardly legible after they add all the bells and whistles.

  30. greaaattt!!! litle different and BIG CHANGES!! nice (:D

  31. Adam

    You are so ridiculously gifted at this.

  32. Adam

    You are so ridiculously gifted at this.

  33. Can I be really cheeky and ask what software you typeset the specimen in? It’s beautifully done.

  34. Zia Rahman

    I loved it.

  35. Understood, Jos. Might make a good lesson for the kids. Thanks for the idea.

  36. Super awesome. I’ve got the perfect project to use this for—will definitely be saving up my coins for Calluna.

  37. @ *all* — Thanks a ton! Adam x2 ;)

    @ marcelino — I don’t know anything of WordPress plugins.

    @ Stephen — I used Indesign.

    @ Mike — You’re very welcome.

    @ David — Sounds great!

  38. Veery nice work! Are you planned Cyrillic version of Calluna?

  39. Stephen Hampshire

    Yet another beautiful typeface, Jos, congratulations.

    I also really admire the way you market your type, making certain weights available free. Letting ordinary people appreciate professionally designed type (legally) is a great thing. I honestly believe you are making the world (or at least the web) a better place…as well as making people more likely to pay for your type!

    Finally, for us aspiring type designers, the clarity with which you explain the design process is wonderful - thanks.

  40. @ Skolato — No I haven’t, but I would like to make one for Calluna. Maybe next year.

    @ Stephen — Glad you appreciate the free part. I think there is no better way to get to know a typeface than to use it. Because that’s not easy with a free bold italic or such, I will always give (at least) the regular away for free. Thanks for the kind compliments!

  41. Pedro

    I like how the street sign is set in Interstate. The road signs in São Paulo, where I live, are set at a font very similar to it, but not quite the same. The closest I found is SAA.

  42. Excellent design, Jos. As a “recovering” fontoholic, I’m always on the hunt for a good typeface. Congratulations! If anyone this font I hope they post the product. If not, I surely will. This font is awesome.

  43. That font is DELICIOUS! Loving it!

  44. Excellent font! I wish I could use it for some of my new websites. And I’m also a fan of the Interstate sign posts.

  45. Clear and brilliant type face. Good work and added to our weekly ‘must-buy’-list…

  46. Brian

    I really liked this blog when it was updated once a week. The posting seems pretty erratic lately.

  47. Thanks very much for the encouraging comments! Great little energy boosts to get the sans and the slab serif on the road :)

  48. You can find a german translation of this text on http://www.ABCdarium.de, wich was published with permission of Jos. Thanks again!

  49. Thanks for the free weight! Look forward to experimenting with it! Looks great!

  50. This is just spectacular! It does what you say it does. Great display properties, and also great as a typeface… I found this site looking for bembo semibold, and I never thought I could be so taken in. I want to make it a part of a book I’m writing… probably it’ll never get written, but a guy can fantasize.

    Calluna is beautiful, and your passion is infectious. Congratulations. Hope you sell lots.

  51. and by the way, I loved your explanation of how you developed the font - the pipe bend directionality of the serifs. I just love peering in on someone else’s creative process. You’re obviously awesome.

  52. Francis Boudreau

    Wonderful! Thank you!

  53. Samantha

    Awesome typeface! I have been a student for the last four years, and when I was a freshman a teacher turned us on to your website, and I have kept checking ever since! I have loved everything you’ve done, I used Museo for a lot of school projects and Calluna is another great font!

  54. I like the ligatures ! Sexy !!

  55. Thanks (again) very much!

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