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Calluna — a text typeface with flow

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!

Be sure to check the carefully designed PDF specimen and, of course, the free regular weight. You can download Calluna at MyFonts.com.


Related: An interview with Jos

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