I Love Typography

Sunday Type: monday type

100 Words

First, I must apologies that today’s Sunday Type is closer to a Monday Type. I have now moved and am surrounded by numerous half-open boxes, and I have to wait until March 21 until I get connected. What an odd feeling it is not be connected to the Internet. Anyway, I’ve found an Internet Café close by, so I’ll survive until I get connected at home. Oddly enough, I appear to have lost several boxes during the move, and my heart missed a beat when I thought that I’d forgotten my FontBook. Anyway, that’s quite enough of moving mishaps. Here’s Sunday Type:

First up, we have a simple and yet very effective type treatment. A word comprised of words. This one would make an interesting classroom lesson; how about the word typography constructed from typographic terms.

99/100 words

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Newzald: From Moleskine to Market

By Kris Sowersby

In this article I will attempt to illustrate my design process—from typeface concept to a marketable font. Not many folks are willing to write about this. Perhaps they find it boring, irrelevant or just a little bit personal. I suspect it is a mix of all the above.

I’ll try to remain as concise as possible. Some of the individual steps can be a lot more complex and involved than they seem. I’ll try not to gloss over too many things. One thing is certain, typeface design is a long, involved process with many hours of seemingly endless tedium.

1) Purpose. What is this for?

newzald, fleischmann, rosart, plantin
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Sunday Type: illegible type

cn u rd mi?

Welcome to another Sunday Type. It’s time to forget about work, kick off your shoes, sit back and feel some type lovin’. What’s all this about illegible type? Isn’t type meant to be read? On the whole, yes; but sometimes it’s interesting to see how far we can stretch type before it breaks. At what stage does type become unreadable or illegible. For that reason, I like this experiment from James Elsey:

illegible font

The font is called Illegibility. The brief, set by Neville Brody, for the 2008 D&D Student Awards, was to create a new and original font for a relaunched FUSE magazine.
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The Best Type of 2007

And the Nominations are…

I had planned on publishing Typographic Detail for the Web, but Typographica has just released its annual Our Favorite Typefaces. It’s always an inspiring list, and a precursor of some of the fine things to come. Interestingly they’ve renamed it. Formerly it had been Best Fonts which is not wholly inaccurate (as the typefaces in the list are comprised of fonts); however, as Typographica’s editor writes,

Keeping these two terms distinct may be a losing battle at a time when some have already declared the words interchangeable, but we’re going to go down fighting.

This year’s list sees an improvement in the format, with larger specimens and who to look out for in 2008.

Most of the typefaces listed, you’d expect to see there, but there are also a number of nice surprises. Here are some of my favourites from the list:

Blaktur—the latest addition to my own type library—looks like Blackletter after a spring clean:

blaktur

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Sunday Type: the sound of type

Nine O Type

Yet another week flies by. My birthday passed without any disastrous incidents; I’ve just about finished packing, and now it’s time for type. Today we have quite a feast, so loosen your belts, sit back and enjoy.

Let’s start with a new type. Many of you will know Kris Sowersby, the man behind Meta Serif, Feijoa and National. Last week I announced that National was one of the winners of TDC2 2008. Well, he just released a new serif typeface called Newzald, and something tells me it’s going to be a big hit.

Newzald

Newzald is beautifully crafted, with exquisite attention to the finer details. It’s not easy to create a new serif face that looks fresh; and it’s only too easy to resort to little eccentricities and irrelevant details introduced simply for the sake of distinguishing it from the competition. Newzald hasn’t—and doesn’t need to. Kris describes Newzald as a decent, hardworking serif designed for the international editorial environment. If you’re looking for a fresh face that’s eminently readable, then I suggest you try Newzald. But don’t take my word for it; download the PDF specimen, print, and see for yourselves.
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A guide to Web typography

Typography for the Web has come a long way since Tim Berners-Lee flipped the switch in 1991. Back in the days of IE 1.0, good web typography was something of an oxymoron. Today things are different. Not only do we have browsers that support images (gasp!), but we have the opportunity to make our web pages come to life through great typography.

First, it’s worth noting that Typography is not just about choosing a font, or even distinguishing one typeface from another. In recent experiments, trained monkeys were able to correctly identify Helvetica 90% of the time.

helvetica monkey

Today we’re going to talk about web typography in terms of a recipe of four fundamental ingredients. If you’ve ever tried to cook a soufflé, you’ll know how important the recipe is. Follow this recipe and your typography will rise up like … that’s enough of the culinary metaphors, let’s cook:
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National News

TDC2 Winners Announced

I wouldn’t usually post today, but the Type Directors Club (TDC) has just announced this year’s winners of TDC2 2008. Among them is Kris Sowersby’s sans serif, National. I’m sure you’d all like to join in congratulating Kris, and the other winners.Winning entries are divided into five categories, and here is a taster from three of them:

Type System / Superfamily

NationalKris Sowersby:

national-winner.gif

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Sunday Type: fruity type

Of Pens and Pears

First, thanks to everyone who read and commented on Alec’s great Small Caps article. It’s been incredibly popular. Sunday again, and I still haven’t finished packing! Well, let’s forget packing and start with something else that seems pretty popular these days: we’ve had potato type and chocolate type; even cupcake type; and now we have customized fruit type from the talented Sarah King:

pear-type1.jpg

I can’t imagine how long it must take to complete one of these. Continue reading this article

Small Caps

by Alec Julien

Small caps are uppercase glyphs drawn at a lowercase scale. A common misconception—unfortunately reinforced by most word processing programs as well as by CSS on the web—is that a small cap is just a regular capital letter scaled uniformly down to a smaller size. In actuality, a proper small cap is a carefully crafted glyph that differs in significant ways from a uniformly-scaled-down capital letter.

Small Cap height

Generally speaking, small caps are about as tall as the font’s  x-height. Look, for instance, at Minion Pro’s lower case m compared to a small cap Minion Pro m; it’s marginally taller than the lowercase m and the font’s x-height. Other typefaces have small caps that are the same height as the x-height, while others still stand a little shorter.

small caps height

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Sunday Type: pointy type

Monotype AirThese last couple of weeks I’ve been dreaming of a life-remote control. It need not be particularly high-tech—I just need a big pause button. I’m moving apartments and packing like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, I’m taking a break from boxes and gum tape, to talk type.

Let’s start by going back in time to the Linotype and Monotype typesetting machines. AceJet has some wonderful scans from The Book of Knowledge; love the “Can do the work of eight men” sub-head accompanying one of the Linotype illustrations. These days it would take eight men just to find the on button. If you ever find yourself complaining that your old laptop is a little on the bulky side, that it won’t fit into one of those fancy Manilla envelopes, then remember the Monotype machine and count your blessings.

monotype machine

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Typeface Review: Arnhem

By Kris Sowersby

Talent borrows, genius steals

In Erik Spiekermann’s list of favourite five typefaces, Arnhem comes in at No.5. He writes “I Love it for newspapers, magazines, etc. Not so keen on the headline weights, they look too Dutch for my use (perhaps too Ungerish, but then Fred is also from Arnhem). But the text weights are a superb modern interpretation of a legible serif with an edge.” This sums up the essence of Arnhem—a very legible serif with an edge.

I first encountered Arnhem in Norman Potter’s “What is a designer” published by Hyphen Press. It is set beautifully, with a good point size, rag-right and suitable leading. Arnhem really works well; it is calm enough for extended reading yet retains enough personality to save it from lapsing into mediocrity and the reader from boredom. It has an understated feeling of seriousness, a fitness of purpose that isn’t betrayed by any unusual or distracting details.

Arnhem was released by OurType in 2002. It is designed by Fred Smeijers, a first generation digital type designer. (His typeface Quadraat was one of the first designs to be distributed by FontShop in 1992.) He is currently a partner in OurType, a digital foundry founded in 2002. According to their website, Ourtype “publishes newly designed fonts that are tailored to contemporary needs… So it stands apart from those who are enslaved to the new and those who merely try to recreate the past”.

arnhem-1.gif

The OpenType Standard text styles of Arnhem has a fairly basic character set, the usual standard accents (no macrons, though) with lining and old-style figures, small caps and two f-ligs, ff and fl. This is slightly disappointing, as one expects a bit more depth with OpenType. Hopefully there is a ‘pro’ version of Arnhem planned with all the bits.

What Arnhem lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. The family can be safely split up into text and display styles. The text styles have 4 weights, Blond (light) to Black with italics, and the display variants have been labelled Fine, with two weights and italics. Surprisingly, the roman text weights have all been duplexed onto the same widths—meaning that one can change from any weight to another and the letters will occupy exactly the same space! Happily this wee trick doesn’t detract from the actual design of the letterforms, none of them have been compromised by the duplexing.

arnhem-2.gif

The overall stress of the face is subtly vertical, but the excellent modeling saves us from the eye-strain typically caused by lesser Modern types. The bowls are gently modulated from thick to thin, as are the arches of ‘n’ ‘h’ ‘m’ and ‘u’. The serifs have shallow brackets with an easy wedge shape. The overall detailing seems initially sharp and spartan, but if looking closer at the ascender serifs one notices a slight rightwards finish, lending a lovely movement to the line of type. The eagle-eyed will also notice the ‘k’, its arm and leg not quite joining the upright stem. And the ‘g’! It works so well within the confines of the design—the ball-shaped ear breathes a good amount of life into the face.

The italic styles are good companions to the roman. They provide the right amount of contrast without resorting to flashy tricks or self-conscious styling. Smeijers has kept the counters open, the entry serifs horizontal and the departing serifs at a decent length. The strokes are slightly modulated, the ‘x’ ‘v’ and ‘y’ strokes are slightly curved, and the ‘z’ descends slightly below the baseline. Thus the italic has feeling, enough finesse to keep it from becoming a dullard subordinate to the roman.

Looking at these details, enlarged, is a mite unsettling. There is an urge to smooth out some curves, to fix the odd serif. But this impluse must be avoided, as the text styles must be judged at text sizes. Smeijers has anticipated this by designing Arnhem Fine—essentially display versions. Certain details like the ball-terminals of the ‘a’ and ‘y’ have been erased, the serifs seem lighter and broader, and the overall contrast of the face is increased. It is most definitely sharper, the moniker ‘Fine’ is certainly fitting.

arnhem-3

Arnhem is an elegant workhorse; it is eminently useable. It is quite telling that Spiekermann, the designer of Meta, ranks it in his top five typefaces. To use Arnhem is a pleasure and it will surely imbue a feeling of pride and certainty in a typographer’s work without leaving the reader in the cold.

For the record, Spiekermann’s other favourites are 1. Reklameschrift Block; 2. Akzidenz Grotesk Mager; 3. Concorde; 4. FF Clifford.

[Kris Sowersby is a professional type designer from New Zealand. You can see his own typefaces at Village.]

Sunday Type: sponge type

The Passionate Printer

First up we have a type feast from one of the world’s most popular ‘interiors’ blogs, Design Sponge. Included in the list are some of those we’ve mentioned here before, but there are numerous other examples of ‘living with type’, such as these large reclaimed metal letters. Imagine some of these in your living room:

heavy-metal-type.jpg

There’s even chocolate Scrabble,

choc-scrabble.jpg

though I’m not sure how long a game would last.

You could say that Mark Simonson is on something of a roll. I mentioned his Filmotype Glenlake a couple of weeks ago; well Mark has another lovely script for you. This one’s a 1940s-inspired brush script called Lakeside, accompanied by all the OpenType features we’ve come to expect from a Simonson font.

lakeside.jpg

Next is a great little tutorial on Paragraph Styles:

horizontal-rule.jpg

Hamish, author of the wonderful WordPress Typogrify plugin, has an article that will be of special interest to just about anyone who writes code. In The Typography of Code, he considers five typefaces for programmers. Bitstream Vera Sans Mono (free and Open Source) is probably my favourite, though the newer DejaVu, based on Vera Sans’ design, with a much larger character set is definitely worth taking a look at.

Some Type for Kids

Jairo sent me this link after watching the kids program WordWorld. I don’t have any children myself, but I did watch an entire episode (for research purposes of course):

word-world.jpg

LivePen is an interesting tool for those who like to draw letterforms in Adobe Illustrator. I haven’t used it yet, as the Mac version isn’t ready. However, it is currently available for Windows + CS2.

livepen.gif

If you do use it, then be sure to let me know what you think. You can try it out for free.

And some gorgeous letter-pressed posters from the talented Douglas Wilson, printed on a variety of substrates, including old maps. Well worth taking a look:

douglas.jpg

I’m also a fan of Frank Chimero’s work:

frank-chimero.jpg

Miscellaneous links

For iLT’s French-speaking readers, this is a good little site, with some type-related posts: Zone d’information opaque.

iLT PodCasts?

This is an idea I’ve been toying with, and thanks to Alec Julien, a regular iLT contributor, it could become a reality. We have two videos to get you started. The first is a tutorial on how to create discretionary ligatures in FontLab:

and the second I’ll post mid-week. I’ll create a new section of the site specially for these videos, and although it’s unlikely you’ll see my mug on any of these videos, I do have some interesting ideas for PodCasts, so stay tuned. I will also add these videos to iTunes, so you can subscribe to them. (right now silly iTunes won’t let me setup an account because although my address is in Japan, my credit card is British. And I can’t sign-up for iTunes US or UK, because my credit card’s address is in Japan—stupid really. If anyone from Apple is reading this, please get it sorted.)

A little light relief

First is this license plate from typenut Duncan:

KERN license plate

and this light-hearted type dating game from Amanda.

And I absolutely love this this video from a very impassioned printer. Thanks to the ATypI Mailing list for this one:

YouTube Preview Image

Sunday Font

And today’s font is PowerStation from the Umbrella Type:

powerstation from umbrella type

I hope that’s enough to keep you going until mid-week. Some really great stuff to come, so stay tuned.

It was really tough choosing a winner for the FontBook in a movie competition. All the entries were great, but the winner is Christian Neumann, who wins a copy of Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style. All of your entries have been popping up all over the web.

Oh, and if you missed the interview with Jean François Porchez, be sure to take a look—great insights from an even greater type designer. And talking of great type designers, coming up we have those articles from Kris Sowersby, so stay tuned and have a great Sunday (what’s left of it), and I’ll see you all again mid-week.

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