Calluna — a text typeface with flow

by Jos Buivenga

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

calluna museo

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

calluna fontlab

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

calluna directions

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

calluna weights and styles

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

calluna sans metrics

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


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

Calluna by Jos Buivenga. Regular is free!

You can download Calluna on ILT.com.

Related: An interview with Jos

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next: The Font-as-Service

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