Author Archives: Ivan Bettger

Foundry Relations Manager at Typekit. I’ve been learning about type on the job since 2005. Other activities include obsessing over basketball uniform aesthetics, discussing comic books with colleagues, and trying to remember what “orgeat” is.

Staff Picks, July 2011

Summertime and the living may be easy, but we still have type on the brain. This month’s FontShop Staff Picks are here. We’ve highlighted three below so you can hear why our employees picked them.

Oxtail by Stefan Hattenbach

Michael, First Officer of our SF crew, likes Oxtail from PsyOps Type Foundry. “This is one of my favorites because it’s sophisticated, tasteful, and has a splash of sass,” he explains.

FF Polymorph by Stefanie Schwarz

Designer Anna picks FF Polymorph for its international flavor. “FF Polymorph intrigues me with its variety of forms inspired by characters from all over the globe,” she notes.

FF Mister K Informal by Julia Sysmäläinen

Our communications manager, Meghan, digs the newly released FF Mister K informal. “I’ve been a big fan of the whole family, but now I can have a font to express my more casual Kafkaesque situations,” she jokes. “In all seriousness though, there are so many unique and beautiful glyphs in this version – it’s a very fun font to explore.”

The OpenType Features of Compendium

Most of our readers are probably well familiar with OpenType features. They allow you to set type using glyphs that are not necessarily available by default, giving you a much wider range of effect. This is especially helpful when working with a script font — a point that is often demonstrated in the work of Alejandro Paul and his foundry Sudtipos. Many of his scripts contain vast character sets with tons of alternative glyphs, among them Suave Script, Affair, and the recently featured Fiance. Another is the beautiful Compendium, which we’ll take a look at below.

Here’s Compendium in Adobe Illustrator, with only the default Standard Ligatures activated:

Now let’s activate Contextual Alternates:

… with Swash caps turned on at the same time:

Now we take a step back and try out the Stylistic Alternates:

… and now Stylistic and Contextual Alternates together:

Just by flipping a switch, you can see how much variation one can get from feature to feature. Of course for best effect, one should go through the entire glyph palette and insert individual glyphs that best fit your sample, layout, or intended aesthetic. If you don’t want colliding flourishes, for example, there is likely a combination of glyphs that will fit together perfectly. You may also find additional flourishes, such as what can be found in Compendium:

You can preview these OpenType features using our new and improved custom sample toolbar.

Foundry Update: Letterbox

In our first newsletter of the month, we announced some new fonts from Letterbox: the chunky but energetic display faces Brunswick Black and Gordon Black, and the curiously mechanical monoline script Terital United. Terital, originally conceived as an all-lowercase script, wasn’t entirely new — FontShop originally announced its release in December of 2009. But since then, designers Wendy Ellerton and Lan Huang completely revised the typeface, with two sets of caps (standard and swash) and by combining the three variants into one single OpenType feature-laden gem — thus United.

But Letterbox didn’t stop with Terital; in fact the entire library was upgraded. All fonts were re-coded, some with updated and refined outlines and others with new glyphs and features. Here are a few standouts:

Berber by Stephen Banham, Niels Oeltjen, and Lan Huang

Berber is a strong, narrow, block-style sans serif. While typically meant for use in larger applications like signage, this recent incarnation of the the typeface increases its legibility in text settings. Berber Text now comes with Small Caps, while the King Caps variant offers some great underlined ligatures. Central European language diacritics have also been added to the family.

Download Berber Specimen PDF (532 KB).

Kevlar by Niels Oeltjen and Wendy Ellerton

Kevlar is a set of interesting hybrids. The Regular and Bold weights, similar to TypeTogether‘s Bree, are sans serifs with a distinct scripty vibe. Kevlar Slab meanwhile is an upright retro display script, like Michael Doret‘s Deliscript, which acts as a nice and extreme display option for the family. Figure variants have been added to all three styles.

Download Kevlar Specimen PDF (537 KB).

Bisque by Niels Oeltjen and Stephen Banham

Another upright script, Bisque is a unique blend of quirkiness and elegance, combining the coolness of geometric form with the warmth of unexpected and organic loops and glyph connections. The two weights are packed with contextual alternates and language diacritics, which are nicely illustrated in the specimen PDF.

Download Bisque Specimen PDF (516 KB).

Head over to the Letterbox foundry page to see the whole collection.

Images courtesy of the Letterbox website.

New Feature: OpenType Feature Controls

In May, we announced a complete overhaul of our custom sample text toolbar. Phase One included the introduction of our sample text selection menu, and our new color selector. Today we’re happy to introduce Phase Two: OpenType Feature Controls.

In the sample text toolbar on any page displaying font renders, you’ll now see a new gear icon. Upon clicking the gear, a control panel will be expanded, as seen above. This panel includes a predefined list of OpenType features most commonly included in OT fonts, as well as a few dropdown menus containing additional features that are grouped by relevancy. Note that on single font pages, like that of FF Chambers Sans OT Regular, features that are not included in the font will be grayed out and unselectable.

To view your sample text with an OpenType feature applied, simply select a checkbox or menu item. The rendered image will automatically update with your OT feature applied, if any applicable characters are present in the sample string. FF Chambers Sans OT Regular, for example, contains Swash caps alternates:

Please note that not every selectable OpenType feature will affect your rendered sample. Most OT features only affect a subset of characters within a font, and if they are not present in your sample string, no glyph replacement will take place. You can view which glyphs are included in each OpenType feature by clicking the Character Set tab on a single font page and selecting a feature from the list. You can also learn about each feature by hovering over the feature name.

Just as with the color selector, the OT feature controls can be collapsed using the Hide Controls button. Unlike the color selector, your selections will not be persistent when navigating through to other font pages, as each font will have differing available OT features.

While we’re very happy with the status of the OT feature controls and wanted to let you all get your hands dirty with it, we are still working out some of the kinks. If you notice anything awry, let us know in the comments.

New Fonts, June 2011

We love new fonts. Earlier this month we showed off new stuff from DSType, Typolar, and Red Rooster. In case you missed it, or for some oddball reason aren’t subscribed to our newsletter, you can subscribe and check out old announcements in our Newsletter Archive. Acta, from DSType, was just one of many new releases thus far in June.

Download Acta PDFs: Large (4.2 MB) and Small (446 KB).

Because we’re greedy for new fonts, and because there’s still a whole two days left in June, we’ve just gone live with another update. Check out what’s new on the New Fonts page for June. Among them comes the new superfamily from Font Bureau and Cyrus Highsmith: Salvo.

We’ll be looking at these new releases more closely in our next newsletter.

The Many Faces of Łukasz Dziedzic

In most type design, a bit of the designer’s personality is imprinted on the design. This might show through in certain characters, the way they treat their terminals and tails, the way each character interacts with the next. And sometimes the imprint is a little more… direct.

A little while back, we here at the ‘Shop were admiring the new FF More by Łukasz Dziedzic. As we were exploring the character set to see what sort of interesting glyphs could be highlighted in the newsletter, we found this charming fellow. You’ll sometimes see a foundry’s mark as a glyph in each font, and occasionally a seemingly unrelated dingbat will make an appearance. But this masked character seemed unique, and we wondered: is he hiding in all of Łukasz’ designs?
We jumped over to FF Clan, one of my personal favorites. And we were delighted to find, buried deep in the character set, an entirely different masked face. Even more intrigued, we searched through each of Łukasz’ other typefaces: FF Good, FF Mach, and FF Pitu, and sure enough each design had its own little avatar, each with their own personality befitting the typeface.

We’d forgotten all about these little Easter eggs, but thankfully we weren’t the only ones to uncover them. Adam Twardoch did, and he made great creative use of them. His inspiration led to this series of Planet of the Apes posters, also using FF Mach:

Head over to Adam’s Flickr page for more excellent work. Also check out this diagram on FontFont’s Flickr page, which shows every weight variant of every masked floating head from Łukasz’ families.

The Chicago Manual of Style and FF Tisa: Print Edition

Last week we showed you The Chicago Manual of Style Online, which uses FF Tisa Web throughout. We like what they’ve done so much that we had to pick up the ol’ bound and printed copy of their 16th Edition. As you might imagine, the book is entirely set in FF Tisa (OpenType). The designers of the book over at The University of Chicago Press made full use of the typeface: the range of widths, small caps, and figure variants all contribute to an incredibly clear and aesthetically pleasing design.

The 15th Edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, coincidentally or not, also featured a FontFont stalwart: FF Scala and FF Scala Sans. The 15th Edition’s vibrant orange was used as an accent on the soft blue cover of the 16th Edition.

You can pick up a copy of the 16th Edition here.

Staff Picks: June ’11

Summer is almost here and instead of hitting the books and taking exams, our staff  studied the gems in the FontShop archives to find this month’s Staff Picks. Here’s a sampling of our June selections:

Refrigerator Deluxe

Aaron’s June pick is Refrigerator Deluxe by Mark Simonson. The beginnings of this design date all the way back to 1988, inspired by vague memories of block-style lettering from Mark’s youth. As time went on, additional styles and alternate glyphs were added, leading to its Deluxe release in 2008. While the basic block-style lettering remains by default, Refrigerator Deluxe can transform into a stylized Art Deco face, both with squared and open shapes, with the flick of an OpenType feature. This User Guide gives a great overview of the available glyphs and features, and how to access them in various applications.

Download Refrigerator PDF Specimen (152 KB) and User Guide (41 KB).

FF Sanuk

One of my own picks for this month, Xavier Dupré‘s FF Sanuk is deceptively buoyant: its squared veneer gives way to a calligraphic flare. Take the lowercase ‘k’, for example — the foot tails off in a friendly way that you might not expect upon first glance. FF Sanuk has perfect form and character for the web, and was recently released as a Web FontFont.

Download FF Sanuk PDF Specimen (545 KB).

Blockhead Alphabet

Theresa chose a blast from the past: Blockhead Alphabet, a classic display face from John Hersey and Emigre. One of my earliest lettering memories as a child is the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I discovered how to make letters look three-dimensional. (Of course, this meant that every time a class project required a poster or some other visualization, I had an extra task.) Blockhead Alphabet is reminiscent of that childhood discovery, right down to the details of imperfection.

FontFonter Update: Preview Web FontFonts on Any Site

Almost a year ago, we first announced FontFonter, a tool which allows you to temporarily replace sans and serif fonts on almost any website with a selection of Web FontFonts. Since then, FontFont has greatly expanded its Web FontFont selection, and that expansion has carried over to FontFonter: you can now preview over 40 Web FontFonts, ranging from trusty standbys like FF DIN Web, to some of the newer designs like FF More Web and FF Sanuk Web.

The process is simple: Go to FontFonter.com, type in a website URL, and FontFont It! You’ll then be able to specify which Web FontFonts you want to preview in a control panel at the top of the page; below will be the website you entered, with the chosen fonts replacing the default fonts used for that website. You can choose to replace all fonts with a single Web FontFont, or you can specify replacements for sans and serifs, respectively.

(Note that FontFonter doesn’t quite work as expected on 100% of sites. It will not work with secure sites [https], and will occasionally conflict with some sites’ Javascript or other code.)

Here are some examples to entice you:

FF Clan Web on Apple.com

FF Milo Serif Web on Google.com

Lukasz Dziedzic‘s serif and sans siblings FF More Web (navigation, headline) and FF Good Web (body) on Guardian.co.uk

FF Spinoza Web (navigation, headlines) and FF Basic Gothic Web (body) on NPR.org

FF Suhmo Web (headlines) and FF Hydra Text Web (body) on printmag.com

FF Chambers Sans Web on Flickr.com

FF Sanuk Web on tdc.org

Safari to support WOFF in Mac OS X Lion

Steve Jobs announced a whole heckuva lot of stuff yesterday at the WWDC here in San Francisco. Between iCloud, iOS 5, and all of the new features Jobs introduced in OS X Lion, there’s a lot to be excited about.

But the most exciting feature for FontShop and its customers introduced yesterday didn’t make it into Jobs’ keynote. Hidden in this expansive feature list for Lion was this bit of gold:

Support for the Web Open Font Format (WOFF) gives web designers and developers the ability to use a wider range of fonts on websites.

What this means for us and you: soon, your Web FontFonts (as well as the recently released Azuro Web) will be supported in Safari as well as every other major browser, allowing you to comfortably host webfonts knowing that your visitors will view your website in all its typographically fine-tuned correctness.

For the uninitiated: WOFF is a file format which provides lightweight compression and the capacity for additional metadata, which can be implemented on websites using CSS @font-face rules. Developed by Jonathan Kew, Tal Leming, and Erik van Blokland, WOFF fonts are generally converted from TrueType (TTF), and can contain hinting for optimal onscreen rendering. WOFF is a recommended standard by the W3C, and is already supported in FireFox (3.6+), Chrome (6+), and Internet Explorer (9+).

Mac OS X Lion will be available in July. This gives you just enough time to browse our Web FontFont offerings and pick some new faces for your site in celebration of Safari joining the WOFF revolution.

New: Coranto 2 Headline from TypeTogether

Last month we released Coranto 2 from TypeTogether. Designer Gerard Unger based the new family on his earlier DTL Paradox, tailoring this new variation to the newsprint medium: extremely legible, professional and approachable, with a taller x-height and more robust forms than its parent. It also maintains a detailed elegance that modern printers can more easily translate to the page than in past eras, adding to the typeface’s versatility in media beyond print.

Quickly on the heels of the first release comes Coranto 2 Headline. TypeTogether added three styles to the family, now available at FontShop: Headline Regular, Headline Semi Bold, and Headline Bold. These new styles have an even taller x-height, and are condensed to save space. They can be purchased individually, and are also included in a new family package which contains all seven styles.

Download Specimen PDF (762 KB).

Coranto 2 Headline

New fonts from Alias: Aspect, Aspic, and Asphalt


Last month FontShop released three exclusive typefaces from Alias: Aspect, Aspic, and Asphalt. Designer Gareth Hague created the trio for AnOther Magazine. While the similar underlying structure links them as a cohesive pseudo-family, each of them is unique in its own right. Asphalt is perhaps the most popular of the three, making a welcome addition to our Casual Brush and Sports Scripts lists.

Gareth sent a handful of images along from AnOther Magazine, showing all three fonts in use:




May ’11 Staff Picks

This month’s Staff Picks are a bold, striking group — a little something for everybody. Here’s a taste:

FF Jackie Pro


Download the PDF (393 KB).

The newest member of our team, Anna, picked FF Jackie this month — a favorite of mine as well. Designer Dario Muhafara drew inspiration from the Jack Daniels label script, and expanded upon it with swash caps, alternate glyphs, and an excellent Block variant. FF Jackie is one of many Upright Scripts at FontShop, some of which also have similarities to the Jack Daniels label. Further investigation and comparison is necessary, preferably on the rocks.

Facebuster


Download the PDF (70 KB).

Longtime FontShopper Jason Chapin throws down hard with his pick Facebuster, by designer Silas Dilworth. It’s one part Lively Old West, two parts Don’t Mess With Me. Use at large sizes, and at your own risk.

Novel Sans


One of Aaron’s picks this month is Novel Sans from Christoph Dunst. Novel Sans is a legible, high-x-height, contemporary sans serif with a touch of classical elegance that it borrows from its lovely serifed sister, Novel.

New Feature: Enhanced Custom Sample Toolbar (Beta)

We are happy to announce today that we’ve rolled out Phase One of our enhanced custom sample text toolbar. The toolbar has been rebuilt from the ground up, and now includes some new user-friendly features to enhance your font browsing experience. Phase Two is coming soon now live, which introduces OpenType feature support. Scroll down for more info.

Updated sample text and size menus

As always, you can enter your own custom sample text, and our font samples will quickly update with your specified text. We’ve also added the option to select one of a number of preset samples, including text set in German, Central European (in this case Polish), Cyrillic, and Greek.

Note: If a font does not contain support for these languages, placeholder glyphs from the font (or, in some cases, empty space) will instead appear. We’re working on making this clearer and prettier.

We’ve also updated our point size selection menu, which will now allow you to input a custom point size value in addition to selecting from predetermined sizes.

Color selector

We’ve also added a color selector to the toolbar. When you click the icon, you are presented with two color wheels and hex inputs: one for foreground color, one for background color. To use the color wheel, first click in the square color selector to specify hue, saturation and lightness, then use the color wheel to fine-tune the hue. When colors have been selected, the toolbar icon will reflect the chosen fore- and background colors, respectively, just as you may be familiar with from other applications. You can collapse the color selectors by again clicking the icon in the toolbar, or the Hide Colors button (this has been replaced by a Hide Controls bar below the expanded controls, which will collapse the expanded area) — your chosen colors will still persist from page to page after you’ve closed the menu.

After specifying custom text, point size, and/or colors, your samples will update automatically after a moment. We’ve beefed up our rendering service, so samples should update lightning-quick.

OpenType features

In the sample text toolbar on any page displaying font renders, you’ll now see a new gear icon. Upon clicking the gear, a control panel will be expanded, as seen above. This panel includes a predefined list of OpenType features most commonly included in OT fonts, as well as a few dropdown menus containing additional features that are grouped by relevancy. Note that on single font pages, like that of FF Chambers Sans OT Regular, features that are not included in the font will be grayed out and unselectable.

To view your sample text with an OpenType feature applied, simply select a checkbox or menu item. The rendered image will automatically update with your OT feature applied, if any applicable characters are present in the sample string. FF Chambers Sans OT Regular, for example, contains Swash caps alternates:

Please note that not every selectable OpenType feature will affect your rendered sample. Most OT features only affect a subset of characters within a font, and if they are not present in your sample string, no glyph replacement will take place. You can view which glyphs are included in each OpenType feature by clicking the Character Set tab on a single font page and selecting a feature from the list. You can also learn about each feature by hovering over the feature name.

Just as with the color selector, the OT feature controls can be collapsed using the Hide Controls button. Unlike the color selector, your selections will not be persistent when navigating through to other font pages, as each font will have differing available OT features.

Try out the new sample toolbar on any page you find samples. And stay tuned for future enhancements.

April ’11 Staff Picks

Our April 2011 Staff Picks have arrived! Let these favorite fonts shower your designs with inspiration in the coming month.

Hotel

We here at FontShop San Francisco love the Bay Area, and we love retro, so Jim Parkinson‘s showcard lettering typeface Hotel, inspired by signage still seen in Oakland, CA, is a staff pick shoe-in.

Le Monde Courrier

Download Le Monde Courrier specimen PDF(246 KB).

Jean-François Porchez‘s Le Monde Courrier is but one part of the extensive Le Monde superfamily. Named after the French publication for which it was designed, Le Monde is sometimes serious, sometimes playful, but always maintains a level of sophistication. The Courrier variant straddles the line between typewritten and handwritten, and was designed to be impervious to the imperfections of various printed media.

Also included in April’s Staff Picks is Meran Condensed Black by OurType, just one of the FREE OurType fonts being offered until May 31. Read about our OurType promotion here.

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