Monthly Archives: December 2012

Breaking News: FontBook is now available on iPhone and iPad


FontShop International announces the new version of the award-winning FontBook is available on the App Store today. Version 3.0 is compatible with all iOS devices, including iPhone. The universal update is free for those who already own the iPad version.

We’ll post more tomorrow, but tonight go forth and play! (If you have FAQs, find answers here).


Countdown: C

End of the world here in about 48 hours. Making the most of today is C, set in Ramiro Espinoza’s Dulcinea, an original script face made for ornate display work.

C, set in Dulcinea

Polychromatic Type: Dressing in Layers

The how-to portion of Thursday’s Type Trends comes a little early this week to accommodate its mention in the FontShop newsletter. By the way, if you’ve arrived here by following the links from the newsletter, great. Let’s get busy layering polychromatic type. Just to reiterate, the kind of type I’m referring to is any set of fonts that’s designed to stack one font on top of the next so that it can be set in multiple colors.

FF Primary's layers

Above is an illustration of FF Primary’s layers coming together. Shown in exploded view are FF Primary Stone Top, Right, Left, and Bottom in red (listed in descending value). The blue shadow below the integrated example is FF Primary Stone All. The offset of the shadow is my own placement. Chances are, if you’re a designer you can at very least figure out how it’s done on your own. but I’d like to give just a little more insight into the process. This will be brief, since I’m presupposing a basic understanding of working with layers in a composition program such as InDesign, and some color theory.

First, do it all wrong.

This is how everybody does it starting out. Paste-in-place text frames on top of each other in the same layer, setting the font and color with each step. Voilà. Not bad perhaps, but likely not very good.

Use layers.

Instead of piling up the text frames in a single layer, paste them into different layers. This allows you to select a given layer more easily, and reorder layers as needed.

Color palette

Assign new color swatches to each layer.

When ‘pasting-in-place’ the next text frame to the next layer, set the font, and then hit the New Swatch button in the Swatch Palette. This allows you to control the color of that layer’s type, even when it’s locked / not selected. (Control it by selecting and changing the swatch you create for each layer.)

Search and replace to change the phrase set in polychromatic type.

Since there are five copies of the same text all set in different fonts, should you need to change what it says, one easy way is to use Search and Replace to change all five instances at once. Be careful though that you don’t accidentally change something somewhere else.

Use a text variable to change all layers at once.

Smarter yet, use a text variable.

Since InDesign CS3 I believe, the ‘Type > Text Variables…’ functionality has allowed designers to arbitrarily assign a variable capable of holding a given string of text. So if you know you’ll be changing your mind a bit, define a variable and insert it into each of the layers. If pasting it in, remember to paste without formatting (Shift+Command+V or Shift+Control+V) otherwise your font and color for all the layers will all be the same, and you’ll ask yourself “what happened?”

color detail

Play with color a while.

Don’t limit yourself to only tints and shades. In the example above you’ll see that not only do I shift value, but I also play with warm and cool across the different three-dimensional surfaces of the type. I also base the shadow layer’s color on the background, but warm it slightly, rather than just multiplying a black tint overtop it. Lastly, if taking a job like this to print, do yourself a favor and expect failure at the first press check. Getting color right is tough. Getting color right when the whole concept is based on the subtle interplay of near-matching colors is quite tough. Be realistic with your printer and design to process.

Considerations for web/screen

Tim Brown at Typekit has some good examples of HWT American Chromatic Web in action, using the layered fonts with semantically smart markup and CSS. Until now I’ve left designing for the web out of this discussion, since while the technology differs, the basic principles apply across all media. Keep trying until it’s right.

New Fonts This Week

This week we have a good selection of fresh new faces as well as some new great deals we’d like to share with you.

Indian Type Foundry offers 50% off promotional pricing on its Latin fonts Kohinoor and Engrez until January 17. Get 30% off Krul and Dulcinea from ReType through December. Sudtipos’ Poem Script is 30% off until Dec. 25. We’re also offering offering a promotional price of 25% off this month for all Positype fonts. We also welcome a new foundry, Monokrom, to the FontShop family. And as always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories. Now for all the latest from the following foundries:

New foundry: Monokrom





Indian Type Foundry


Engrez Sans at 50% off

Parkinson Type Design


Hoosier Daddy




Countdown: D

Wasn’t there something about the earth coming into alignment with the plume of gas and dust created by the supermassive black hole that’s likely at the center of the Milky Way galaxy? No, that’s actually very unlikely. Though the world is set to end on Friday, I believe it is. Marking today off is D, set in Jim Parkinson’s Hotel, an inline sans reminiscent of old still-hanging city signage in San Francisco, and the surrounding neighborhood.

D, set in Hotel

Countdown: E

Our preparations for the end of the world ramp up today as we note how little time we have left. While getting our “So longs” in, we pause a moment with E, set in Michael Hochleitner’s Henriette, a type family inspired by the lettering on street signs of 1920s Vienna.

E, set in Henriette

Countdown: F

We’ve nearly run out of days. Reminding us how few days we have left is F, set in Edwin W. Shaar’s Futura Script, a monolinear commercial script likely named after Futura so it would sell.

F, set in Futura Script


Countdown: G

It won’t be long now. Today’s letter is G, set in Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura’s JAF Domus Titling, a softened sans with Imperial Rome’s inscriptional letter proportions.

G, set in JAF Domus Titling


Countdown: H

End of the world blowout sale. Now ’til the end of the world. 100% off on all fonts you bill to your clients.* Client participation may vary. Get billing. Reminding us how few days we have left is H, set in Manolo Guerrero’s Optica, a design that plays on the mind’s intrinsic bent for pattern recognition.

H, set in Optica

*Pay the marked price for your FontShop order, then bill this amount to your client. FontShop is not responsible for clients who fail to pay before the end of the world.

Pinterested: New board this week

pinterest-hobbiton This week, we have one new board that’ll take you into a whole new (or perhaps familiar to some?) world filled with greenery. In honor of the first installment of Bilbo Baggins’ adventures, our Keep Calm & Hobbiton pinboard steps into Middle Earth and offers a piece of the Shire during this holiday season!


Not only will you find uncial fonts such as Electric Typographer’s Abelard & Troubador, but images of lush foliage, mushrooms (among halflings’ favorite things!), and misty mountains from fStop Images may take you on an unexpected journey. Adventure through Middle Earth by way of typography and discover great faces such as Lombardic Capitals and Elizabeth. Remember to Keep Calm & Hobbiton!

Countdown: I

End of the world, etc..  Marking today is I, set in Hans Samuelson’s Lucy Samuels, a monolinear, stroke-based face for display work.

I , set in Lucy Samuels

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.


Michael Doret’s PowerStation, 2006.

Dusty CircusNathan Williams’s  Dusty Circus, 2011.


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.


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

Unsettling: Maxime and FF Legato

FF Legato, Maxime

As a quick follow-up to last week’s pairing faces to work in unison, I thought I’d take the topic just a hair farther, to the point where a pair grows so similar in features one to the other, it’s unsettling. I’m not advocating this for general application by the way, only pointing out that there are times when, once you’ve got the reader’s attention, you want to keep him or her on edge. Note how each of the faces below deviates from the norms of its genre in similar ways.

FF Legato, Maxime

Éric de Berranger’s Maxime, our serif, introduces a humanist element by softening its hard lines, heavily bracketing its serifs, shifting weight to the shoulders of the lowercase letters, and introducing fine painterly touches most notable in its serifs and intersections. Evert Bloemsma’s FF Legato similarly takes pressure off the baseline by rendering its characters with weight and larger than normal counterforms up high. Its humanist feel comes largely from its construction, but this quality is reinforced by accentuating the corners, stiffening up the hard lines, and deliberately and carefully placing weak points along its curves.

Maxime with FF Legato FF Legato with Maxime

Together, the two are different enough that they can still work with each other, but just enough alike to raise the occasional eyebrow, or cause a momentary strained stare. And if as a typographer you’ve ever arrived at this destination by mistake, you know that the way out is by playing up your pair’s differences, or changing one of the faces to a more disparate design.

Maxime with FF Legato

Countdown: J

Twelve days ’til Christmas or something like that today—wait—nope. Only 10 days left.  Standing atop our twelve-shaped monument of a day is J, set in Andreas Seidel’s Vtg Stencil No. 4. I could be wrong, but it seems like I saw the source for this design all over Spain when I visited back in October. Every lamp post and piece of public property bore a trace of it.

J, set in Vtg Stencil No.4