Tag Archives: Ademo

Type Trends: Polychromatic Type

The popularity of multi-colored, or polychromatic type is on the rise. Not a sharp upturn necessarily, but I’m seeing it more and more. The concept I’m referring to is the bundling of a set of fonts with identical metrics, designed to layer on top of one another, so that a single character or letterform can be set in more than a single color. And since I love these, I’ve prepared an accompanying how-to portion called Polychromatic Type: Dress in layers, with all the “mechanical” details. For now though, I just wanted to point out a few features and general considerations, leaving most of the education to one’s own eyes.

Jump to part 2 – Polychromatic type: Dress in layers

FF Primary

Martin Wenzel’s FF Primary, 1995. Four fonts stack on top of one another here, each covering a top, right, bottom, or left side only. Playing with FF Primary tests one’s ability to understand and manage color relationships, which is 95% of getting these to work. The other 5% is knowing when to stop.

PowerStation

Michael Doret’s PowerStation, 2006.

Dusty CircusNathan Williams’s  Dusty Circus, 2011.

PTL Mia

Anne-Katrin Koch’s PTL Mia, 2010.

Hopeless Diamond

Jonathan Barnbrook, Marcus Leis Allion’s Hopeless Diamond, 2009. Especially in faces that imitate a 3-dimensional quality, it’s important to use a background color with a low enough value that it allows sufficient range for differentiating between highlight and shadow.

FF Primary

FF Primary again. While it may appear that gradient fills are at work above, what you’re seeing (or rather not seeing) is the harnessing of an optical phenomenon called simultaneous contrast. The eye sees that the blue shadow above grows darker as it’s cast farther from the red letters.

Grandes Vacances

Ryoichi Tsunekawa’s Grandes Vacances, 2007. Note how naturally topheavy the design is when both parts are presented in the same color. This is counteracted above by setting the bottom portion in a much lighter value, causing it to appear more or less of equal weight.

Ademo

Andreas Seidel, Carl A. Fahrenwaldt’s Ademo, 2011.

HWT American

Richard Kegler, Terry Wudenbachs’s HWT American Chromatic, 2012, presented out of register.

There are quite a few of these popping up that we don’t carry as well, notably, Juri Zaech’s Frontage, 2012, and Alex Sheldon’s Detroit, 2011. What other good ones have you noticed?

(Update: I found Dave Foster’s tweet a bit alarming—“No mention of Photolettering?” Though I’m sure this came with the truest intentions, and certainly no umbrage was taken by me, I felt the arm of the question mark reach out and give the back of my head a smack. How could I have left out Photolettering? While not marketed and sold as fonts per se, (well, some are, elsewhere) House Industries’s Photo-Lettering Inc. website, up since April 2011, has an impressive selection of polychromatic alphabets, and a great, easy to use interface. And not all of the faces are from the original Photo-Lettering Inc. catalog. See Erik van Blokland’s Federal, Jeremy Mickel’s Sobriquet. After setting the word or phrase, final output is PDF. Also, two good examples so far in the comments. Keep them coming.)

Follow to the continuation how-to below:

Polychromatic type: Dress in layers

Astype’s Ademo & Secca Art

Looking back over Astype’s catalogue this week, a couple nice ones stood out.

Ademo by Andreas Seidel, after Carl A. Fahrenwaldt

Polychrome types like Ademo by Andreas Seidel give the typographer a lot of latitude in creating the proper relationships between positive and negative space. Initially designed in metal by Carl A. Fahrenwaldt as a shaded display face in 1931, Andreas brings new life and new uses to the design. Among these he mentions embossing, blind imaging, die- or laser cutting, stamping, and experimenting with spot coatings. The face comes in a standard set of six fonts, and supplements this with eight additional fills available individually.

Secca Art by Andreas Seidel

Secca Art is a variation of the Secca family, a fresh take on the German grotesque letter. Secca Art adds a bit of warmth, unexpectedly, through applying curves to the diagonal strokes, and through altering the stance of capitals such as D and G. The effect loosely ties the design to the early art nouveau period which Andreas cites as a direct source of inspiration. Secca Art is purchasable as an 8-weight set, a complete 11-weight set including hairlines, and in individual weights.

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