I Love Typography


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:



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.


Some nice type treatments here from Kollega:


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:


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


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):



…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.



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;


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.)


Quelques exemples de caractères humanistiques:

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


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

Terminologia de Tipos: Humanista

Cada tema, desde a odontologia até manipulação do cão tem o seu próprio vocabulário - termos que são peculiares (único) para ele. A Tipografia não é excepção. Aprender a língua franca (lingo) dos tipos vai fazer a tipografia muito mais acessível, e que irá, por sua vez, conduzir a uma maior compreensão e esperamos um maior apreço por todas as coisas “tipo”.

Hoje, vamos dar uma olhada em apenas um desses termos, nomeadamente, a “Humanista”. Tu podes ter te cruzado com este termo antes (ou tu podes até estar a pensar, o que raio é isto?). O termo Humanista faz parte da nomenclatura que descreve classificação de tipos. Durante o período de 1800 um sistema de classificação de tipos foi derivado, e embora muitos outros sistemas e subconjuntos deste sistema existam, basicamente é esta:

Humanista / Old Style / Transição / Moderna / Slab Serif (Egípcia) / Sans Serif

Até ao final desta série de seis partes, ser-lhe-á bastante au fait com todos estes termos; e imagina a alegria que tu vais sentir quando orgulhosamente exclamares para deleite da tua esposa, namorada, namorado, vizinho, gajo da loja do canto,

Olha no tipo inspirado na Humanista! Nota como o perfil do “e” minúsculo …

Assim, sem mais delongas, vamos começar a nossa caminhada – um caminho que nos levará a partir do incunabula aos dias de hoje.

[Incunabula] pode referir-se às primeiras fases do desenvolvimento de qualquer coisa, mas tem vindo a defender-se mais particularmente para os livros impressos na Europa antes de 1500.— A Short History of the Printed Word (Uma Breve História da Palavra Impressa)

O modelo para os primeiros tipos móveis foi a Blackletter (também conhecida como Bloco, Gótico, Fraktur ou Inglês Antigo), um pesada, negra, às vezes quase ilegível – para os olhos modernos - linguagem que foi comum durante a Idade Média. Felizmente, os tipos baseados na blackletter foram em breve substituídos por algo um pouco mais fácil de ler, (drum roll…) – entra a Humanista.


Os tipos Humanistas (por vezes referidos como Venezianos) apareceram por volta de 1460 e 1470, e não foram inspirados na linguagem gótica negra como textura, mas sobre formas mais leves e abertas dos escritores humanistas Italianos. Os tipos Humanistas eram, ao mesmo tempo, os primeiros tipos latinos.



Então, o que torna Humanista, Humanista? O que a distingue de outros estilos? Quais são as suas principais características?

1 A barra no “e” minúsculo inclinada;
2 Altura-x relativamente baixa;


3 Baixo contraste entre o “grosso” e “fino” dos braços (basicamente o que significa que há pouca variação da largura de braços);
4 cores escuras (não uma referência à cor no sentido tradicional do termo, mas, em geral leveza ou obscuridade da página). Para uma melhor impressão de uma página da “cor” analisá-la através de olhos semi-fechados.


E aqui estão alguns exemplos de tipos Humanistas:
Jenson, Kennerly, Centaur, Stempel Schneidler, Verona, Lutetia, Jersey, Lynton.


Embora a influência dos tipos Humanistas tem um grande alcance, não são muitas vezes vistos hoje em dia. Apesar de um breve renascimento durante o início século XX, a sua cor relativamente escura e a altura-x baixa ficaram fora de moda. No entanto, merecem a nossa atenção – mesmo a nossa admiração – porque são, de certa forma, os grandes pais dos tipos modernos.

Agarra no teu passaporte e embala a tua escova de dentes porque na parte dois estamos de saída de Veneza para dar uma olhadela mais próxima aos tipos “Old Style”. Para aqueles interessados em testar os seus conhecimentos, poderão dizer quais dos seguintes não são geralmente considerados como sendo tipos Humanistas:

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

Outras leituras:

Wikipedia entrada para Blackletter
A Short History of the Printed Word, chapter 4 — Chappell and Bringhurst
Type — The Secret History of Letters
, chapters 1 and 11 — Simon Loxley

Read Part 2: Type Terminology—Old Style

Translated by Miguel Batista.

Sunday Type: Potato Type

More Edible Type

We’ve had chocolate type, but that’s just for dessert. Well, here’s some carbohydrates in the form of potato type. How do you like your type? Baked, boiled, fried, sautéed, perhaps? Which type would you use for your own potatoes? I’d go for sautéed Parisine.


ATypI membership

It’s January and ATypI membership for 2008 is now open to buy. ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) annual membership costs $110 ($35 for students).

ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale)

Not only does membership bring with it discounts for ATypI events, but you will also have access to the database of members, subscription to the members-only e-mail discussion list, annual reports from Country Delegates, and much more. If you’re already a member, then please share your thoughts.

I love these beautiful letter blocks that I found via Swiss Miss. Just need to have some children, so that I can justify buying some.


RedHat users might be pleased to hear of the release of Liberation, a set of fonts for Unix, that acts as a replacement to Arial and Times, etc. However, you don’t need to have Unix to use them. They can be downloaded here in several formats. Thanks to Alec for the link.

Up with the x-height

It seems like an age ago since I last mentioned the Insigne type foundry. Terfens is the latest offering from Jeremy Dooley, also the creator of the rounded sans Montag:


Terfens is a sans serif with inspiration from chancery scripts like Stefania. Subtly rounded and eschewing harsh technical lines, Terfens is a warm and inviting typeface. Its tall x-height gives it a friendly but not overly informal feel. Its readability and unique contemporary look makes it suitable for a wide range of design applications.

The next item doesn’t make for the most legible type, but it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless. Each letter form is derived from the number eight:


Might also be interesting to see something similar derived from squarer-looking eight. Thanks to James Brown (yes, it’s his real name) for the link.

During my interview with Neil Summerour I mentioned one of his recent typefaces, Epic. It’s now on sale over at TypeTrust. All twelve weights can now be purchased for $145 (half the original price); and Epic Pack A (4 weights) is available for just $50 (an OpenType font of course).

Epic Pack A (4 weights)

I’ve mentioned the display face Brasserie from Swedish designer Stefan Hattenbach before, but I’ll mention it again because iLT will be interviewing him in future.


And here’s another of Stefan’s, Anziano,


which comes adorned with numerous ornaments. To see more of Stefan’s work, visit his web site.

Tales of tattoos

Do you remember Roger who asked for your advice on a suitable type for his tattoo? Well, yesterday he did the deed, and here’s what he has to say:

Thanks for all your suggestions and inspiration regarding my possible tattoo a few weeks ago. I promised I would send a photo of the completed work and I’m happy (and slightly shocked) to report that I paid the shop a visit this afternoon and got my very first tattoo.
I went through a couple of type options with my friend and the artist. I wanted lowercase, but my friend rightly pointed out that a single lower-case word looks odd out of the context of a sentence. Also, uppercase tends to have more impact. I was keen to go for Baskerville, but the artist informed me that he wouldn’t be able to give proper definition to all the subtle curves and serifs (except he didn’t use the word ‘serif’), so I went with xxxxxx instead. I wanted a smaller size, but apparently what I’ve got is about as small as you can go without losing definition. In the end, it wasn’t exactly what I was after, but it’s definitely growing on me. I’m hoping it will thin out a bit when it has healed properly.

Thanks again for all your help! Perhaps this will be of use to someone else planning a type tattoo in the future.

I’ve intentionally x’d out the name of the type Roger used. That’s for you to guess. It’s not so easy:


And talking of tattoos, there’s an interesting article over on Easily Amused, the blog of John D Berry. It’s entitled Wearing your art on your sleeve.

Coming soon

The next in our Type Terms series, Transitional Type, where we’ll be heading back to early-eighteenth century France to take a closer look at the types that followed the Old Style forms like Garamond. We also have some more great interviews to come.

And finally…

Can you name the type used in this article’s header? Thanks to Antonio Serrano.

I’ve added some links and a search this site and search for fonts option, accessible via the ‘Typography Tags & Search” menu at the top of the page. You can also search for fonts from the FontWall. Soon I hope to have a search for fonts application within this site, with samples from a database of thousands. Yesterday I published the first translation of an iLT article into Portuguese. It’s a translation of Alec’s Font Creation case Study—one of iLT’s most popular. Many more translations to come, including Japanese, Chinese and French.

Have a great Sunday.


Caso de estudo de Criação de Fontes: Joules

Andas sempre à procura por inspiração tipográfica, trago uma caligrafia barata orientada no Verão, convencido que os meus gatafunhos fariam letras mágicas.
Uma semana e dezenas de páginas depois, não tinham nada interessante ou vagamente artístico. Depois, uma noite, cansado e desesperado, e não tendo tinta preta, tapei com cartucho vermelho, e esbocei o alfabeto que brevemente se iria tornar a família Joules. Pensei que talvez fosse interessante para alguns de vós se eu documenta-se o processo de criação com este caso de estudo.

Aqui está uma das páginas que esbocei naquela noite:

Joules initial drawing

Um pormenor:

Joules initial drawing, closeup

Um super pormenor do A maiúsculo que eu usei:

Joules A closeup

Do esquiço à fonte

O processo que eu usei para criar a Joules a partir dos meus esboços é o mesmo que tracei nos meus artigos anteriores em criação de fontes. Fiz uma digitalização da página, e aqui está o resultado em Photoshop depois de mudar a digitalização para um bitmap preto/branco.

Joules A black-and-white

Nota como os pontos toscos aparecem na imagem bitmap:

Joules A rough spots

Joules A black-and-white rough spots

Geralmente limpo a imagem em bitmap antes de a importar para Fontlab, mas não neste caso. Aqui está o primeiro passo para importar o bitmap para Scanfont:

Initial pass in ScanFont

E um pormenor do Scanfont:

A in ScanFont

Copiei a nova forma e colei na abertura apropriada no Fontlab. Para te dar um gostinho da artimanha do Fontlab, aumentei o “A” tosco. Seleccionei um ponto problemático:

Closeup in FontLab

E comecei a artimanha apagando alguns nós ofensivos:

Closeup in FontLab

Uma das grandes coisas para balançar quando artimanhas formas em Fontlab é a tentação de amaciar todos os contornos versus a tentação de deixar muitos pontos toscos para manter a fonte interessante. Descobri da pior maneira que com fontes de escrita manual não deves amaciar todos os pontos toscos, assim que isso começa a roubar alguma da emoção da escrita manual.

Formas compostas em nosso auxilio

Uma das boas características que nos poupa tempo no Fontlab é a composição de caracteres automática. Neste caso, criei um “A”, e um “acento grave (`)”:

A plus Grave

E agora duplo-clic na célula de “A-Grave”…

A plus Grave double click

…e o Fontlab cria uma forma composta:

A plus Grave composite

A partir de agora, se editas o “A” ou o “acento grave (`)”, as alterações vão automaticamente reflectir-se no “A-Grave” composto.

Distâncias laterais (Sidebearings)

Como mencionado nos meus artigos anteriores em criação de fontes, formar boas distâncias laterais é um passo importante. (Por uma boa razão, boas distâncias laterais facilitam o kerning!) Inicialmente para as artimanhas das formas, geralmente crio distâncias laterais toscas, pequenas e positivas. As distâncias laterais do “y” inicialmente são algo assim:

y sidebearings

O problema com estas distâncias laterais pode ser ilustrado olhando par o kerning inicial do par “ay”:

a-y sidebearings with kerning

Posso deixar as distâncias laterais como estão e fazer o kerning do “y” próximo do “a” (e, depois, fazer o kerning do “y” próximo de qualquer outro caractere), mas é mais fácil (e saudável) criar distâncias laterais negativas para o lado esquerdo do “y”:

y negative sidebearings

Aqui está o kerning inicial com as distâncias laterais melhores:

a-y negative sidebearings with kerning


As horas de diversão que eu tive com o kerning desta fonte! Vou te livrar dos detalhes chatos. Mas aqui está um exemplo de kerning a funcionar. Antes:

A V pre kerning


A V post kerning


Criei uma série de ligaduras para a Joules que se pode seleccionar manualmente e aplicar num projecto tipográfico:

Joules ligatures

E aqui está como criei uma. Primeiro, como o “z” e o “a” assentavam normalmente um a seguir ao outro:

z and a

Podia ter feito o kerning ao par para que eles ficassem sobrepostos numa moda esteticamente agradável, mas o mais responsável foi criar uma ligadura “z-a”. Passo 1, criar uma forma vazia, e copiar o “z” e o “a” nele:

z and a, pre-ligature

Passo 2, cortar os contornos para que eles se possam juntar no sítio apropriado:

z and a, pre-ligature ...

Passo 3, remover o excesso:

z and a, pre-ligature...

Passo 4, aproximar as formas:

z and a, pre-ligature...

Passo 5, conectar os pontos:

z and a ligature

Ligaduras inteligentes

Uma das coisas que não deu para o meu primeiro lançamento da Joules são as ligaduras inteligentes: tecnologia que eu recentemente aprendi como criar. (Quer dizer o fim das Truetype como as conhecemos, já que as ligaduras inteligentes requerem o uso da tecnologia das OpenType ). Vou te poupar dos detalhes, mas envolve abrir um painel especial Opentype no Fontlab, e basicamente fazer algum scripting para que as formas da ligadura que criaste ganharem vida num software ligadura-aware. É algo assim:

Ligature definitions


Aqui está o resultado, depois de todas as artimanhas e kerning:


E meti-me a fazer uma versão em itálico (era mais uma versão oblíqua, para os puristas que por aí andam), e depois uma bold, bold itálica, e black. Se alguém está interessado, eu posso detalhar como fiz este processo.

[Alec Julien é um web developer e um tipógrafo amador que vive em Vermont, USA. Sonha um dia viver num local quente, e escrever um novela.]

Translated by Miguel Batista.

Type Snippets

FF Unit Rounded Ready to Roll

News just in from Erik van Blokland writing on SpiekerBlog is that Unit Rounded is now complete.


One of the dangers inherent in creating one of these rounded types is the ‘sausage effect’. Those rounded corners may well look OK at one weight, but what happens when you want numerous additional weights? That’s where the Superpolator comes in—a kind of anti-sausage machine. To discover why FF Unit Rounded is no sausage, you can read the original article here.

FF Unit is serious enough to be rounded without becoming a sausage face or one only suited for comic strips. It looks friendly without losing its precision and changes its appearance quite dramatically as it grows in size. The Rounded version should be available at your local FontShop any day now.

It’s worth pointing out too that while the Superpolator looks like a pretty impressive piece of software, the final product was tweaked and perfected by human hands and trained eyes.

And here’s the original FF Unit designed in 2003 by Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz:

FF Unit 1

See you Sunday for another Sunday Type. If you missed last week’s, you can read it here.

Type Faces

An Interview With Ellen Lupton
Graphic designer, curator, artist, educator and writer, Ellen Lupton is perhaps best known for her Thinking With Type—a book that in many respects opened up typography to a wider audience. Many have remarked that she made learning about typography fun; and ‘do I look fat in this paragraph’ and ‘typography is what language looks like’ are now oft-quoted phrases. She also stirred up some controversy over her Free Fonts Manifesto, which you can read about here.

How did you become interested in typography?

I discovered typography as an art student in the early 1980s. I had played around with lettering in an amateur way as a teenager, but I had no notion of typography until I was exposed to it in a typography course taught by George Sadek and William Bevington at Cooper Union. I was stunned.


Continue reading this article


永远都在寻觅字体设计的 灵感。夏天过后,我买了一套便宜的书法钢笔,说服自己,它会让我的鸡爬字产生脱胎换骨的变化。在浪费了一个星期和几打白纸之后,我还是没得到什么有趣的或 是有稍微艺术气息的东西。最后,在一天晚上,疲倦而失望的我,在用完了黑色墨水之后,插入了一支红色的笔芯,然后写下了下面这一套字母表——之后它变成了 我的 Joules字族。我想,如果我在这个案例研究中把它如何变成字体的过程写出来,大家也许会感兴趣。
Continue reading this article

Sunday Type: Iso Type

Give me my Fix

January is certainly the month of lists, and here’s MyFonts list of their Top Ten Fonts of 2007. My personal favourites are these two. The first is a ‘handwriting’ font inspired by a handwriting sample from the 1930s. Mark van Bronkhorst turned it into a font and named it Sacre Bleu:


The next is Jeremy Dooley’s (Insigne Foundry) Aviano and Aviano Sans, the rich- and rather dignified-looking all-caps display faces.

aviano typeface

One List to Rule Them all

Of course the real list (the list we’re all waiting for) is Typographica’s favourite typefaces of 2007.

Typographica’s review of our favorite typefaces of 2007 is in production and we’ll publish it far more promptly than in past years. Keep your refresh fingers pushing and your feed readers running — the article will grace this space very soon.

If you can’t survive the next few days(?) until Typographic’s best of 2007 list, then you can get your fix through past lists: 2006, 2005 and 2004. That should alleviate the withdrawal symptoms until the next one.

Here are a couple of my favourites from 2005-2006:

Omnes by Joshua Darden:


and Zingha by Xavier Dupré:


One of my regular sources of inspiration is AisleOne, and I found this site on his links list. There’s some fine work to be found on the ISO50 web site; I particularly like this rather edible looking poster:


And here’s another rather comfortable and inspiring example from AisleOne:


The next item is here, not because I’m suggesting you buy this calendar from Linotype (though you can if you really want to, of course), but rather here to inspire. How about making your own type-calendar. A different type for each month, perhaps; or type treatments like those below. I like May:

linotype calendar

If you make one that you’re particularly pleased with, why not submit it as a wallpaper.

Moving Type, created by Seb Lester, was featured in the 2007 Typophile Film Festival, and demonstrates the varied emotions that type elicits. I mentioned above the rich-looking Aviano. There are other types that shout corporate, while others exude confidence and elegance, or conjure up whole eras. I’m sure you can think of many such examples.
YouTube Preview Image
And here’s one of Seb’s typefaces, Neo Sans—also used for this article’s header. Thanks, Seb.

Neo Sans

Readers’ Type

It’s really encouraging to come across the work of iLT readers. Nour is a regular reader and was inspired to have a go at type design upon reading Alec’s So You Want to Create a Font series (part 1 | part 2).

web geometric by Nour

Many seem to be put off by the amount of work involved in creating a font. However, what’s to say that you ever have to complete and publish it. Why not create just the lowercase—or even a few letters—for your own use. In the process, you will learn a great deal about how type works, and your good type radar will become that much more sensitive. So don’t be put off by font creation software, discretionary ligatures and kerning—take up your pencil and paper and get drawing. You won’t regret it. If you do have a go, be sure to let me know.

Coming up…

I have so many articles prepared, that I’m really not sure which to post first, so just this time, I’ll let you decide:

Here are your options:

1. An interview with Ellen Lupton;

2. Talking About Type (a kind of essay about type the way we talk and write about it);

3. Type Terms—Transitional Type, part 3 (part 1 | part 2).

All of the above will be published, but it’s for you to choose the next one to be published on Wednesday or Thursday.

And finally…

Well, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing (kerning, gardening, washing the car…), have a great Sunday.

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