Archer the Elegant Slab Serif

fly me to the moon

It feels as though Jonathan Hoefler has been designing type for about 100 years—a tall order for a man in his thirties. While still in his teens, he established the Hoefler Type Foundry (now known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones, since teaming up with Tobias Frere-Jones, formerly of the Font Bureau). In 2002 he was honored with type’s top prize, ATypI’s Prix Charles Peignot.

If you own a Mac, then you already have a Hoefler font—Hoefler Text a serif face, commissioned by Apple back in 1991. If you’ve never even noticed it before, then do take a look: the family comprises some 27 fonts; it includes old-style figures, small caps, ligatures and even alternative versions of punctuation for use with caps and and small caps.*

But we’re not here to talk about Hoefler Text or H&FJ Didot or Verlag or Requiem, or even Gotham. If you look up at the night sky toward the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, you’ll spot H&FJ’s new typeface Archer, a rather lovely Slab Serif initially commissioned for Martha Stewart Homes.

Archer

I’m particularly taken with the ball terminals on the s (used throughout the lowercase). See the outlines below (hairline and bold). There’s definitely something Swanlike in its form. Interestingly (well, I thought it was interesting), the constellation Sagittarius contains several nebulae, one of which, the Omega Nebula, is commonly know as the Swan or Horseshoe. (one of those interesting facts you can raise when next at the pub).

archer S hairline and bold

H&FJ faces are never short on weights, and Archer is no exception, available in eight weights with accompanying italics, old style figures, small caps, lining figures…you name it, it’s in there. I’ve always found the slab serif to be a little sterile, characterless even. Archer though is a more noble, elegant slab serif. If Courier is Jane Doe, then Archer is Isabella Rossellini or Audrey Hepburn.

audrey-archer.jpg

Sweet but not saccharine, earnest but not grave, Archer is designed to hit just the right notes of forthrightness, credibility, and charm.

I could happily write several more pages on what I like about Archer, but I suggest you take a look at H&FJ’s Archer page. So what do you think of Archer?

Coming up…

A very exciting exclusive on another new typeface and the interview with Jean François Porchez. But before that, I’ll see you all on Sunday for another edition of Sunday Type.

If you haven’t already subscribed to iLT, then a couple of clicks will ensure you never miss another issue.


*Dot-font: Talking About Fonts—John D. Berry. 2006, page 59.
More about the heroic type duo that is H&FJ can be found here.

セリフを撃ったのは誰?

がiLTを始めた理由のひとつは、話題としてあまり語られていないと感じたからなんだ。次にもっと重要なことだけど、タイポグラフィーのことを調べようと思っても、資料があまりなくてすぐ見つけるのが難しいといつも思っていたんだ。このブログの長期的な目的としては、タイポグラフィーのすべてが揃うワンストップショップになること。専門用語から新しいタイプフェイス、そしてひらめきのヒントになる様な書体例から、仕事に最適な字体選択まで提供できるんだ。WEBで使うものでもそうでないものもね。

john_wayne.jpg

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Sunday Type: Mel Gibson Type

The Serifless Roman

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Type. I hope that everyone had a good week. It’s been an especially busy week, with more than the usual number of emails through iLT. Kris Sowersby’s Why Bembo Sucks article was incredibly popular. There are some more great articles to come from Kris.

Let’s get started with a great new type from Carl Crossgrove. It’s a ‘modulated sans serif’ by the name of Beorcana (pronounced: byor-KON-ah):

the lovely Beorcana

For more information and a PDF sample, see Carl’s Beorcana web site. You can find out more about Carl and his typefaces on Terrestrial Design. Here’s one of my personal favourites, Origami:

origami.png

Difficult to classify in conventional schemes, Beorcana could be described as a serifless roman, as it retains the proportions and contrast of Renaissance Roman typefaces. It could also be described as a modulated or calligraphic sans, as it has no proper serifs, just swellings and taperings. In that sense it is a hybrid…

iPhone wallpapers

Last week I mentioned some of the new Veer iPhone wallpapers. I’ve created some of my own. Ferl free to download them. And of course, you can submit your own.

iphone-wall.png

Where art meets type

Everything You Thought We’d Forgotten is a series of text-based interactive works. Some very novel and interesting ideas:

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Robert for the link.

TypeNuts

Some time ago I wrote that I’m developing a type-related news web site. It’s nearing completion; mostly just the details of the design to iron out.

typenuts-thumb.png

There are myriad type-related news items out there, and not space enough to mention them all here, as iLT is geared toward longer articles—so typenuts.com was born. You’ll be able to submit and vote for news items; I’m hoping that it will become a great resource and archive of type-related news. So long as the news is related to type, it will be in there, so new font releases, etc will be there too and you’ll be able to subscribe to all or to specific channels of your choice. I’ll let you all know when I launch.

Free Font

Recently I mentioned Stefan Hattenbach’s beautiful Anziano. I especially like the small caps, and you can now download them for free. But be warned: use them and you’ll fall in love with them.

Anziano SmallCaps

If you decide to buy it, there are numerous wonderfully drawn ornaments included. Here is a small taster:

anziano-ornaments.gif

And on a lighter note…

In the comments to my FontBook review, I paraphrased Mel Gibson’s words in BraveHeart. Hamish, kindly watched the entire movie again and took this screen grab:

myfontbook.png

In fact, I was so thoroughly impressed by Hamish’s work, that I thought I’d make a competition out of it. Here’s what you have to do:

Preferably choose a movie that most are familiar with (though it’s not obligatory), and find a role for FontBook. I can either choose a winner, or you can vote on them; your decision. I’m trying to work one into Casablanca. The winner will receive a copy of Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style. Just mail your entries to jboardley{at}gmail{dot}com, mentioning FontBook in the subject line.

Miscellaneous links

1. A PDF article on .net magazine: Better Web Typography.

2. Smashing Magazine’s incredible January Roundup with several type-related entries. I especially like the Better Ordered Lists item.

3. Some time ago, Emigre promised that as their stock of back issues sold out, they’d re-publish some of the content on their web site. I like this one: The Art of Type Founding.

Competition results

During my review of FontBook I asked if you could identify the three types I used in the header. 86 correct entries went into the hat and out came Miha, a design student from Slovenia. Miha wins a copy of Helmut Schmid’s Typography Today.

The winning answers: FF Meta Serif black italic; Officina bold, and Scala Sans regular. Thanks to everyone for their submissions. Interestingly no-one chose the correct weight for FF Meta Serif italic, but it’s difficult to tell when it’s reversed out (light on dark).

Coming up…

A great interview with the man behind the Porchez Typofonderie and designer of Le Monde, Sabon Next and Ambroise, Jean François Porchez; and some more great articles from Kris Sowersby. Alec Julien has also been working hard on a series of video tutorials. They’ll be posted soon; I think you’re going to like them.

And finally

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of iLT. We’ve now passed one million page views. It really is great to receive your emails and to read your comments. That reminds me: February 8th marks iLT’s six-month birthday—how time flies! Have a great Sunday, folks.

Estudio de un caso de creación de fuentes: Joules

Siempre en la búsqueda de la inspiración tipográfica, compré una pluma caligráfica durante el verano, convencido de que mis garabatos con ella terminarían convirtiéndose en unas mágicas letras. Una semana y una docena de páginas después, estaba sin nada interesante o incluso lejanamente artístico. Luego, una noche, cansado y desesperado, cuando se me había acabado la tinta negra, coloqué en la pluma un cartucho de tinta roja, y boceté el alfabeto que pronto se convertiría en la familia Joules. Luego pensé que sería interesante para algunos de ustedes si documentara parte del proceso de creación de fuentes involucrado en este caso.

Esta es una de las muchas páginas que boceté esa noche:

Joules initial drawing

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Terminologie typographique: Garalde

Dans la première partie de cette série, nous avons abordé les caractères humanistiques; aussi bien dans leur contexte historique que pour leurs caractéristiques visuelles, hier et aujourd’hui. On continue la chronologie en s’attardant un peu, le temps de se familiariser, sur certaines garaldes magnifiques.

Nous avons déjà vu que les caractères humanistes ont des racines calligraphiques très prononcées. Les garaldes, bien que partageant les mêmes influences, s’affranchissent plus radicalement de la simple imitation de l’écriture des lettrés et scribes italiens d’antan. Ce n’est qu’à partir de cette période que la typographie passe réellement la vitesse supérieure, en faisant ainsi l’une des phases les plus riches de son histoire.

garaldes

Portrait d’une garalde

Les garaldes font preuve d’un raffinement croissant du dessin, notamment dû à l’amélioration constante de l’habileté des graveurs de poinçons. En conséquence, le contraste plein/déliés est accentué et les formes s’en ressentent claires et affinées. On le remarque davantage sur les empattements: chez les garaldes, les empattements des ascendantes ont une forme pointue plus prononcées (figure 1.1).

Un autre changement d’envergure concerne l’axe, qui s’est redressé (figure 1.2) en position plus verticale. Il se peut que vous vous rappeliez notre vieil ami, le e bas de casse des caractères humanistiques et sa traverse oblique: chez les garaldes, nous assistons à l’adoption un tantinet soudaine d’une traverse horizontale (figure 1.3). J’ai passé quelques temps à essayer de comprendre pourquoi ce e avait dû muter si radicalement. Après avoir retourné les cieux ; et ma bibliothèque, je décidais de poser la question sur Typophile. Pour ne pas m’épandre davantage que de raison sur cette épique anecdote, je vous enjoins de lire le sujet ouvert sur la traverse du e. (Merci à Nick Shinn, David et les autres pour leurs précieux apports).

La première italique

Puisque nous sommes dans les changements radicaux, c’est également vers 1501 que nous observons le tout premier caractère italique. Ils furent d’abord conçus comme des caractères autonomes, non comme les pendants des romains, ceci afin de satisfaire les contraintes d’espace imposées par l’édition de livres de poches. La première italique fut, dès lors, conçue comme un caractère de labeur.

La contribution de Griffo aux caractères romains s’étend à l’harmonisation poussée entre capitales et bas de casse, notamment en gravant les capitales à peine moins hautes que les ascendantes de lettres telles que b et d, et en en réduisant subtilement la graisse.—A Short History of the Printed Word, Chappell et Bringhurst, page 92.

On pourrait catégoriser les garaldes en quatre sous-catégories, ainsi que le schéma ci-dessous le suggère, et en ventiler les membres de Francesco Griffo à William Caslon Ier. Contrairement aux caractères humanistiques, les garaldes eurent le vent en poupe durant plus de deux siècles et nombre d’entre elles sont encore des caractères de texte populaires.

old-style-chart-fr.gif

Noms des caractères en rouge, personnalités notables en-dessous.

Caractères garaldes
Et voici quelques garaldes de plus: Berling, Calisto, Goudy Old Style, Granjon, Janson, Palatino, Perpetua, Plantin, Sabon et Weiss, pour ne citer qu’elles.

humanist-vs-old-style-fr.gif

Alors comme ça, notre brève introduction aux garaldes vous a plu? Pour ceux d’entre vous désireux de mettre leurs connaissances à l’épreuve, devinez donc lequel de ces caractères est considéré comme une garalde:

Times New Roman, Baskerville, Concorde, ITC Cheltenham

Et pour les typomasochistes parmi vous (je crains que vous ne soyez en majorité), voici vos devoirs de garalde:

1. D’où vient le terme Garalde?
2. Qui commanda à Claude Garamond la gravure des Grecs du Roi?
3. La plupart des italiques contemporaines ne sont pas basées sur la première Aldine italique gravée par Griffo. Sur quoi sont-elles modelées?
4. Que signifie le terme «Axe humaniste»?
5. À cause d’un quiproquo, le caractère Janson est nommé d’après Nicolas Janson. D’après qui devrait-il être nommé?

Si vous connaissez les réponses, épanchez-vous donc dans les commentaires; si vous n’en savez rien, pas la peine de s’inquiéter: j’ai pensé qu’en posant ces questions, tout le monde pourrait participer, pour qu’ainsi nous puissions tous en retirer quelque chose.

Nous aborderons les réales dans la troisième partie. J’espère que, jusqu’ici, ça vous plaît. Commentaires et suggestions sont bienvenus, dans l’espace dédié ci-dessous.

Translated by Jean-Baptiste Levée

FontBook

Book Review

Recently I received through the post something large, yellow and weighing 3kg. No, not a genetically modified banana, but FontShop’s FontBook, an the encyclopaedia of type. This book really should come with a health warning: my postman almost had a hernia delivering it, and very nearly sprained his wrist attempting to hold it in one hand as he passed me the delivery receipt with the other. However, with some 32,000 type samples, 1,760 pages, and 100,000 footnotes and cross-references, I don’t think FontShop will be publishing a pocket version any time soon.

I took the FontBook to my local café, where I often work in the evenings, and complete strangers approached me (unusual in Japan); several people remarked ‘ookii hon desu ne!’ (big book, isn’t it!), while others simply asked what the book was about.

fontbook-photo1.jpg

Beyond the trademark FontShop yellow covers, the content is prefaced by a ‘how to use this book’ section in both English and German; however, to be frank, you could be a Martian and/or only speak Zangalulob and still find your way around the book without any problems. The types are organised into eight main groups: Sans, Serif, Slab, Script, Display, Blackletter, Symbols, and Non-Latin.

Cross-references

My favourite feature of the book—and this must have taken ages to prepare—is the ample cross references. For example, I’m looking for something similar to one of my favourite types, Gerard Unger’s Swift (a). I can go to the Serif section—where all the types are arranged alphabetically,…p, q, r, s,… Swift! The cross reference in the inside margin displays an eye icon (denoting similar types); and listed are ITC Charter (b), Demos, Hollander and Bitsream Oranda . A very simple and very powerful feature.

fontbook-refs.gif

In fact I’d love to see this further developed, so that for example, I’m looking for a good sans serif accompaniment to Swift, and there’s a cross-reference that points me to one. I’d also like to see an index of names. Anyway, it’s the cross-references that do it for me, making FontBook an invaluable tool for just about anyone who uses type. There really should be no studio without this in its library.

After spending an hour or so flicking through its pages, Monty Python’s exploding glutton, Mr Creosote came to mind. After, consuming some 20 courses, four bottles of vintage red and six crates of beer, the Maître D, played by John Cleese, recommends “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.” Type gluttons among you will simply not be able to resist just one more wafer-thin page.

In absolute terms, $99 is not cheap, but then this is no throw-away paperback novel; it’s a 1,760-page, 3kg encyclopaedia. An in relative terms FontBook is cheaper than 20 McDonald’s Value Meals.

Why?

The cynics among us (and I can be one too), may argue that FontBook is a marketing tool aimed at selling more fonts. It may well sell more fonts—FontShop is not the Samaritans. However, when one considers the time that has gone into producing this tome, and the costs of production, I doubt that FontBook is much of a cash cow. I suggest instead that it is simply the product of a passion for type, published not so much with pecuniary gain in mind, but simply because its authors love type.

The FontBook is to type what the chocolate house is to chocoholics.

This book is probably worth robbing a bank for (non-violently, of course). However, if you’re caught, then whatever you do, don’t mention this article; and pray that Erik Spiekermann is on the jury. If you don’t hear from me for a while, then it’s because Mafia Maurice and Billy the Bruiser won’t let me use the ‘Internet’ in Cell Block H—until I perform favours of a wholly type-unrelated nature. I guess it’s only then that I will appreciate the fact that FontBook weighs 3kg. Anyway, let’s hope I’m put in charge of the prison library.

Coming up…

Prison typography.

And there’s a prize if you can tell me which three types I used in the header “i” (1) “love” (2) “typography” (3). One correct entry will be randomly selected and announced on this week’s Sunday Type. The winner will receive a copy of typography today by Helmut Schmid.

Further reading:
One Book to Specify Them All. Khoi Vinh of Subtraction interviews Stephen Coles of FontShop.
FontBook on FontShop, with PDF sample pages.
FontBook—the movie.

Why Bembo Sucks

By Kris Sowersby

At a recent panel discussion on New Zealand book design, I lambasted the overuse of Bembo in many New Zealand books. As more questions were asked than could be answered, I wrote this article to explain myself. Let me begin with a brief history.

Before digital typesetting and offset printing, there was the letterpress. A typeface was composed of fonts, one font for each size. These size-specific fonts consisted of individual letters made from metal alloy. Single letters were placed by hand to create words, words were aligned into sentences, sentences were stacked to make paragraphs, and these were inked and pressed into paper. As a printing process it is fairly basic. Woodcuts and potato stamps use a similar method.

Bembo

However, cutting a 7-point lowercase ‘g’ takes a lot more skill than making a smiley-face potato stamp! The old masters of typeface design spent decades perfecting their craft. Each font of type was designed to work at a specific size. For instance, when Bodoni needed a font for text size, he cut a font at 9 point. When he needed a larger size for headings, he cut another font at 36 point. The 9 point worked beautifully for text and 36 point worked for display. If one were to blow up the printed impression of the 9 point to the same size as the 36, the differences would be readily apparent. The 9 point has sturdier details: the serifs are thicker, the contrast is lower, and the spacing is more generous. The 36 point has much finer lines and the spacing is tighter. This is as much a technical consideration as an aesthetic one: the 9 point needs to be sturdier to withstand the printing process. If the details are too fine then the metal will quickly wear or serifs will break off when pressed into paper.

This practice takes on new meaning when we consider that there can never be a definitive Bodoni, Garamond, Jenson, or Fleischmann typeface, as their oeuvres consist of a multitude of single, size-specific fonts. It is like mashing up Othello, King Lear, Hamlet and a touch of The Tempest and publishing it as ‘The Shakespeare’.

Why is this relevant? Well, in the rush to adapt to digital typesetting technology, type foundries digitised classic typefaces. The nature of digital fonts is to use one outline and scale as desired. Typefaces went from being cut in a multitude of sizes to a single, all-encompassing outline. A digital typeface can be optimised for a few sizes, but hardly for all. Bembo, for instance, is a digital copy of a metal interpretation of an original typeface cut in 1495 – a copy of a copy. So, the process of digitisation poses a problem: which point size should be digitised?

This seemingly superfluous dilemma can only be truly understood when the original metal typefaces are seen in print. Oh, what a joyous sight! The subtle variation of letterform, the slight impression into the paper, the vibrant warmth of a page of text. It is not only beautiful, but an absolute delight to read. The effect of these typefaces is impossible to emulate with their insipid digital ghosts. Modern printing has become so perfect, so uniform and precise that the spirit of the original is crushed. It is like spending a lifetime slurping instant coffee and never experiencing a proper espresso.

As languages change, so do typefaces. These changes are not radical; they are subtle evolutions that address culture and technology. Modern typography requires modern typefaces, designed by the people of our time for the people of our time. There are cultural considerations as well. Is it appropriate to set contemporary Pasifika poetry in a typeface designed by a seventeenth-century Italian philanderer? What about using an eighteenth-century clanger for a twenty-first century New Zealand political polemic?

Are the ideals of the typeface designer compatible with those of the writer? It would be pedantic, of course, to match every nuance of the writing to the tone of the typeface. However, it is nice when some effort is made in the selection of typeface. Reading New Zealand books would be far less tiresome if the internal typography was much more considered. Just imagine if the same amount of effort went into choosing the typeface as there is for choosing the colour of the cover!

Clinging to the corpses of digital ‘classics’ is pointless, old fashioned and anachronistic – it will only ever lead to typography that is dull at worst and pedestrian at best. Ultimately, the point is to respect the reader. They will spend a lot of time reading the thing, so it is sensible to make that experience as comfortable and appropriate as possible.

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

Sunday Type: Spaced-out Type

The Art of S PAC ING

Regular readers may well remember the lovely 1940s-style brush script, Kinescope, from the talented Mark Simonson. Mark’s latest offering is Filmotype Glenlake, a digital revival of a classic Filmotype font from the Fifties. And if you have no idea what Filmotype is, then head on over to the Filmotype page.

filmotype-machine.jpg

And here’s a little taster of Filmotype Glenlake:

Filmotype Glenlake

FontShop has not long released its list of top ten types of 2007. Among them is of course FF Meta Serif, Stefan Hattenbach’s Anziano that I mentioned last week, and this absolutely beautiful didone from Jean François; she’s called Ambroise:

ambroise

iCandy

I’m not going to dwell on this next item. I don’t have an iPhone, so it pains me to talk about them. Anyway, Veer has produced some lovely iPhone wallpapers; among them are a few type-themed ones, with Candy Script by Alejandro Paul used on the left, and I’m sure you can guess which type is used for the wallpaper on the right:

veer iphone wallpaper

iLT iPhone wallpapers coming soon. If you’d like to make your own, then why not submit them here (320px × 480px)

Zoo type

Maybe you’ve already seen the book Bembo Zoo, but have you seen the web site; same principal as the book; pretty clever, I think. Just click the letters and enjoy.

bembo-zoo.gif

Some nice type treatments here from Kollega:

ronny.jpg

And on a lighter note

The following book cover is not the the marriage of PhotoShop and the typographically challenged comedian, but is the real deal. And of all the people in the world to find it, Jonathan Hoefler of H&FJ did. Priceless:

hoefler-find.jpg

Gemma over at For the Love of Type photographed this in her local book store. Spot the ‘deliberate’ mistake:

topography.jpg

If you come across similar crimes against type, then be sure to send them in—so long as they’re not examples of my own typos ;)

Dan Reynolds needs you

Dear iLT readers, Johno has asked that I appeal directly for your aid. This year, I’m researching Indian newspapers, which typefaces are used, and how these work in print. Fellow students are conducting similar research: I’m just looking at Hindi newspapers (not other languages that use Devanagari), while a colleague is looking at Telugu newspapers. Other students are looking into Tamil, Gurmukhi, Oriya, and Malayalam, but not for newspapers. Perhaps this explains things a little better.

Links to newspaper websites are not what we are looking for—a website uses fonts installed on the reader’s browser. PDFs of newspapers are a good second-best… at least here correct fonts are displayed. If any of you out there are from India or happen to fervently collect daily Indian newspapers, do drop me a line at d.j.a.reynolds [you know what comes here] reading.ac.uk. Thanks!

Coming soon…

This one I’m very excited about: Alec Julien, the author of the popular So you want to create a font series, has made iLT’s first ever video tutorial. More about that next week. Next up is an article by type designer (and creator of Feijoa) Kris Sowersby; and then an interview with Jean François Porchez, type designer, former president of ATypi, and founder of the Porchez Foundry.

And finally

A big merci to Jean-Baptiste Levée for the Ambroise header. Here are a my font-picks for this week (Anaheim Script and Leitura Display):

Anaheim

veer-leituradisplay-swashes.png

…and it’s Sunday, so don’t work too hard.

History of typography: Transitional

Welcome to part three of our Type Terms series. In part one we travelled all the way back to the 15th century to take a closer look at the Humanist or Venetian style types with their distinctive lowercase ‘e’ (remember that sloping crossbar?). In part two we considered the Old Style or Garalde types and also discovered how this era gave birth to the first italic type in 1501.

Today we’ve moved along the time-line to the cusp of the 18th century, the start of a period in history that we now refer to as the The Enlightenment, a time that was to sow the seeds of revolution in France, North America and beyond. But today we stand in the cobbled streets of 17th century France; Louis XIV is on the throne and Jacques Jaugeon is working on what is now considered to be the first Transitional (or Neoclassical) style typeface, the Romain du Roi or King’s Roman, commissioned by Louis XIV for the Imprimerie Royale in 1692.

Roman du Roi

Continue reading this article

Terminologie typographique: Humanistique

De la dentisterie à l’élevage des chiens, chaque sujet possède son propre jargon, un champ lexical qui lui est propre. La typographie ne fait pas exception, et en appréhender le vocable ne peut que la rendre plus accessible. Ce qui en définitive mène à une meilleure compréhension et appréciation de toute chose «typo».

Aujourd’hui il ne sera question que d’une seule appellation, «humaniste» (ou «humanistique» voire «humane». Il vous est peut-être déjà arrivé de rencontrer ce mot (ou bien vous vous demandez «qu’est-ce que c’est que ce truc?»). Le mot <em>humanistique</em> se rapporte à la classification des caractères typographiques. Au dix-neuvième siècle, plusieurs systèmes de classification se sont développés, et bien qu’ayant tous leurs spécificités, le schéma directeur reste le suivant:

Humanistes / Garaldes / Réales / Didones / Égyptiennes / Linéales

Au terme de cette série en six volumes, vous serez quelque peu coutumier de ces termes; imaginez donc à quel point vous pourrez briller lorsqu’évoquant, pour le plus grand bonheur de votre épouse, petit(e) ami(e), voisin ou épicier:

Regarde donc ce caractère d’inspiration humanistique! Tu noteras à quel point la traverse du «e» bas de casse…

Sans plus tarder, commençons notre périple, qui nous mènera de l’incunabula jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

[Incunabula] ou incunable, quel que soit le domaine, se rapporte à la genèse de celui-ci; mais s’applique ici tout particulièrement aux livres imprimés en Europe avant 1500. — A Short History of the Printed Word

La gothique fut le modèle utilisé pour les premières impressions en caractères mobiles. Connue aussi, chez les anglo-saxons, sous des dénominations telles que Fraktur, Blackletter ou Old English, il s’agissait d’une écriture courante au Moyen-Âge, noire et épaisse, actuellement quasi-illisible pour nous. Heureusement, les caractères typographiques basés sur la gothique furent rapidement dépassés par un autre modèle un tantinet plus lisible, (roulement de tambour…) le caractère humaniste.

gutenberg bible detail

Les caractères humanistes, (ou Vénitiennes) firent leur apparition entre 1460 et 1470. Basés non pas sur les épaisses gothiques comme la Textura mais plutôt sur les formes ouvertes des scripteurs de l’Italie humaniste, ils constituèrent les premiers caractères dits romains.

Jenson

Caractéristiques

Qu’est-ce qui rend humanistique un caractère humanistique? Qu’est-ce qui le distingue des autres styles, et quelles en sont les caractéristiques principales?

1 Traverse inclinée du «e» bas de casse;
2 Œil relativement petit;

Caractéristiques

3 Contraste pleins/déliés assez faible (ce qui signifie tout simplement de faibles variations de graisses);
4 Un gris typographique assez sombre. (Le «gris typo» étant la surface créée par le bloc de texte lorsqu’on le regarde globalement, notamment les yeux mi-clos.)

Exemples

Quelques exemples de caractères humanistiques:

Jenson, Kennerly, Centaur, Stempel Schneidler, Verona, Lutetia, Jersey, Lynton.

Centaur

Même si l’influence des caractères humanistiques se perpétue encore et que ceux-ci furent largement diffusés, on les voit peu employés ces derniers temps. Malgré une brève période de renouveau au début du vingtième siècle, leur noirceur et leur faible œil sont passés de mode. Cependant, ils méritent notre attention — voire notre admiration — car ils sont en quelque sorte les arrière-grands-parents des caractères contemporains.

Attrapez donc votre passeport et n’oubliez pas votre brosse à dents, car dans la deuxième partie de cet article nous partons à Venise pour examiner de plus près les Garaldes (ou Old Style). Pour ceux d’entre vous qui désirent mettre leurs connaissances à l’épreuve, serez-vous capables de dire lesquels des caractères suivants ne sont pas considérés comme des caractères humanistiques:

Erasmus, Times New Roman, Caslon, Cloister, Guardi, ITC Garamond

Pour en savoir plus

Article de Wikipedia sur les gothiques: [FR] + [EN]
A Short History of the Printed Word, chapitre 4 — Chappell and Bringhurst
Type — The Secret History of Letters
, chapitres 1 et 11 — Simon Loxley

Note du traducteur:

Cet article différencie Humanistique, terme directement lié à des caractéristiques typographiques visuelles, d’Humaniste, qui se rapporte davantage à l’esprit de conception de tels caractères.

Traduit par: Jean-Baptiste Levée


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