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:
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.
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:
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,
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.
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.
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
National –Kris Sowersby:
Ventura–Dino dos Santos:
Text / Type Family
Just about all of the entires have PDf specimens, so fire up your printers to fully appreciate them.Be sure to check out the other winners on the TDC2 2008 Winners page. Do you have your own favorites among the winners?
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:
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.
These 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.
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”.
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.
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 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.]
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:
There’s even chocolate Scrabble,
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.
Next is a great little tutorial on Paragraph Styles:
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):
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.
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:
I’m also a fan of Frank Chimero‘s work:
For iLT’s French-speaking readers, this is a good little site, with some type-related posts: Zone d’information opaque.
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:
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:
And today’s font is PowerStation from the 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.