Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pinterested: Witty Words

Pinterested: Witty Words

Ever need a good laugh or just want to be inspired by creative typography, the Witty Words board will fulfill all of your type needs!

Making Your First Font—A Little Guidance

Last time on Using Type, I opened the subject of designing your own fonts. Whether or not you pursue type design, as a hobby or professionally, starting the process of creating a typeface on your own can offer insight into how type works, how to use it well, (and certainly) how much trouble type designers go to to make truly great type. In bringing up the subject last time, I left most of the particulars up to you, but if you’d like a little more direction than that, here it is. By the way, this is just how I approach type design, there is no singular ‘right’ way to go about it.


Mess around a lot first.

Get your ideas in front of you on paper. Your hands will provide special abilities as well as impose specific constraints that the computer won’t. Keep it analog during the exploratory phase. There’s no need to seek out special materials. Whatever you’ve got will do. When you’ve got a concept you feel like pursuing, tighten up your work a bit, and move on to the computer (unless of course you’re producing purely analog type).


If your design is modular in nature, (something to produce in FontStruct or some pixel-based font editor), get right to it. You’ll likely be able to see and test your work right in front of you and probably don’t need my help getting going. Otherwise, there are a number of considerations left to touch on.

Is this type or lettering?

What’s the difference, you ask? Designing type is making a cohesive set of interchangeable letterforms (or characters) that work in every possible combination. (Or at least all the most probable ones.) In lettering, the forms only have to work in a single, specified order. Because the constraints on lettering are less rigid, lettering can do things that type—generally speaking—can’t, such as stray from its baseline or fill some arbitrary shape or dimension. You should experiment with lettering too, but this piece is about designing type.

Start small; Test as you go.


Start with whatever will be used most. If you’re creating a text face, I’d recommend you begin with and spend most of your time on the lowercase. If it’s an all-caps display face, start there. The first thing I do is choose a word or short phrase that includes a good representative sample of the characters, and also one that demonstrates well the overall feel of the face, and get started creating just those characters. Make sure the concept is working well with these before moving on. Begin with your control characters: in the case of a Roman uppercase, that’s H and O. (Lowercase is similarly n and o.)

Picture 1

This is where I recommend you slow down and take your time. Getting the spacing of the straight-sided and round characters solidified gives you the standard by which you space and fit the rest of the characters as you draw them. Remember to export new font files often, print out test files and check your prints.

Keep your alphabets separated.

The capitals, lowercase, and figures (numbers) are all separate things. When drawing the characters in your typeface, fit and space caps with caps, lowercase with lowercase, figures with figures. Then kern like with like, and then kern caps to lowercase, etc.. My own philosophy on kerning: treat it as a last resort. Many spacing problems can be resolved with proper fitting and spacing.

Seek professional help.

Attend workshops, read books, participate in forums such as Typophile’s and TypeDrawers’. Send your favorite type designer a letter. They love letters.

That’s it for today. Using Type continues here Thursday. Special thanks to Gnosis by Gábor Kóthay for labeling the series up top.

FF Kievit Slab and FF Kievit

Today we look at the unison pairing of Michael Abbink & Paul van der Laan’s FF Kievit Slab with the original FF Kievit.

FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-1 FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-2
The overall feeling between the two is difficult to describe; the humanistic forms create an air both American and European, and at once neither. Either of the Kievits are at home setting body text, but just to demonstrate opposing roles, I pair here various weights of the sans with FF Kievit Slab’s book weight. Both variants come in a complete set of nine weights from Thin to Black.
FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-3 FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-6 FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-4 FF-Kievit-Slab-and-FF-Kievit-5

Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

The New Fonts page is now an easy-to-scan list of the latest families. Visitors get a quick overview of what’s new and interesting. The family listing also makes it easy to move from admiring to purchasing. The minute new families become available on the site, they’ll be at the head of the list.
New Fonts page

Continuing Promotions

Metronic Slab Complete by Mostardesign Studio70% off until 22 October

Brownstone and Brownstone Slab by Sudtipos30% off until 27 October

MVB Solitaire by MvB Fonts20% off until 5 November

Buyer’s Guide: Fontsmith EULA


Based in London, Fontsmith is a type design studio founded by Jason Smith. Built with a team dedicated to designing and developing quality contemporary typefaces they independently release great families like FS Me and FS Sinclair. Here are some highlights from their EULA.

Basic EULA Rights

  • Desktop use supports up to 1 computer at a single geographic location.
  • You can create a secured non-editable PDF only if you subset the font.


  • You cannot share the font with users that do not have a license for the same font.
  • You cannot embed the font into a Website or Application.

See Fontsmith EULA

If you have additional questions you can always email FontShop’s Support Team for help.

EULA highlights will be posted every other Monday. Next up is Bold Monday.

Pinterested: Bright Lights

Pinterest Bright Lights

Electrified and luminous—check out our Bright Lights pinboard, with photos from fStop Images and color your day in neon!

FF Absara and Klavika

Today we look at Xavier Dupré’s FF Absara paired with Eric Olson’s Klavika.

FF-Absara-and-Klavika-1You’ve doubtless seen Klavika before; its popular uses include high-profile identities and campaigns for Comcast, NBC, General Motors, others. The contemporary geometric sans finds a nice complement in FF Absara’s reductionist humanism. The faces’ carefully-placed hooks and overall low contrast serve as common threads to keep the two cohesive.

FF Absara comes in two optical sizes, a tightly-fitting headline, and text for setting body copy, above, (left and middle columns). Klavika additionally offers condensed weights for greater flexibility in editorial or other work. Together the two achieve a fully contemporary feel.
FF-Absara-and-Klavika-3 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-6 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-4 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-5 Great Pairs continue here each Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

 New Foundry   CRUZ FONTS

Bandolera & Bandolero
Cruz Handy
Cruz Stencil
Cruz Swinger
Dot Script

Continuing Promotions

Metronic Slab Complete by Mostardesign Studio70% off until 22 October

Brownstone Sans, Brownstone Frames, and Brownstone Slab by Sudtipos30% off until 27 October

MVB Solitaire by MvB Fonts20% off until 5 November