Tag Archives: typography

Skolar Devanagari: A Typographic Journey

Text typefaces are essential for serious typography. Yet there is an absence of such typefaces in most Indic scripts. And when it comes to typefaces that work well in multi-script environments, the scarcity is even more pronounced.

Skolar’s new complement aims to fill this gap for Devanagari – one of the major scripts of India. The foremost consideration was to create a design suited to Devanagari and its particularities, and not to uncritically borrow formal principles from one writing system to another. The objective was to create a versatile type family that would work smoothly for complex typographic purposes and yet remain distinctive and energetic in larger sizes.

[alert type=’info’] Skolar by David Březina is an award-winning text serif, originally designed with scholarly and multilingual publications in mind. Primarily intended as a robust, energetic text typeface, Skolar addresses the needs of serious typography. At the same time it furnishes the designer with the hallmark versatility of the family in display sizes, fitting the demands of corporate design.

The family supports over 165 languages using Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and, most recently, Devanagari scripts. Coming next, Skolar Gujarati is in the final stages of development.

Skolar Devanagari, is the first from a series of Indian typefaces Rosetta Type Foundry plans to release in the next 12 months. The fonts support Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, along with a wide range of regional languages that use the Devanagari script. [/alert]

The typeface was designed and engineered by two professional type designers, Vaibhav Singh and David Březina, both of whom have experience with designing for Indian writing systems. Importantly, they undertook substantial research in the historical developments and current situation of the Devanagari and Gujarati letterforms. Both have previously written dissertations on these subjects during their postgraduate studies.

The original brief for Skolar was adhered to, and the Devanagari complement also provides extensive support for scholarly and multi-lingual publications, covering a wide range of possibilities – complex Sanskrit can be set with it as readily as regional languages; contemporary mixed-language messages as harmoniously as academic treatises.

Skolar Devanagari also attempts to provide alternative solutions to the legacy of metal-type and its shortcomings. Limitations arising from the physical nature of metal-type made many compromised typographic practices prevalent. These are still carried on in digital fonts today although they are not relevant given the advanced OpenType capabilities. Skolar Devanagari presents a reevaluated attempt at a more well-considered solution with contextual substitutions and appropriate mark positioning.

Figure above: Mark positioning in various metal typesetting environments (top to bottom: handsetting, Monotype, Linotype).

Figure above: The logic of Anusvara placement in Skolar Devanagari: if the letter has ‘width’, i.e. has two strokes touching the headline, then the Anusvara is optically centred over the width of the letter.

The typeface provides an extensive range of conjuncts and adopts a rational approach to letter-combinations. It covers almost all meaningful bi-consonantal conjuncts and frequent tri-consonantal and quadri-consonantal conjuncts with a view to provide for the unexpected or novel combinations often encountered in scholarly texts as well as in day-to-day transliterated words.

All in all, the typeface has been optimized for more than 1500 basic syllables, which are either precomposed or built from half forms. These basic syllables can be further modified by means of matras (aka vowel marks) and other marks (reph, rakar, anusvara, nukta, candrabindu, …). All of the meaningful combinations are designed and engineered to avoid ungainly collisions.

Production

The complex engineering work is an integral part of the design for most of the Indic scripts. Skolar Devanagari fonts were developed in the Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType (AFDKO) instead of the more commonly used MS VOLT workflow. Skolar Devanagari is apparently the first Devanagari font built this way. Thanks to custom macros for syllabic analysis in FontLab and Glyphs the sheer amount of syllables and mark combinations could be tackled precisely. Using the new tools streamlined the whole process and allowed for rapid prototyping, systematic issue-tracking and prompt updates.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Fiona Ross who taught both of them and commented on the design in the early stages, to Adobe Type team (namely Paul Hunt and Miguel Sousa) who provided impeccable support during the production in AFDKO, to Georg Seifert for help with some of the custom macros, and to Rosetta’s intern Ami Shah for careful testing of the beta fonts.

Skolar Devanagari won the first prize in the Indic text typeface category at Granshan 2012 competition.

About


David Březina is a Czech type designer and typographer, writer, lecturer, the impresario of TypeTalks, and co-founder of the Rosetta type foundry. He got Masters degrees in Informatics (Masaryk University, Brno) and Typeface Design (University of Reading, UK). From 2004 to 2007 he also ran his own design studio, with projects in graphic, web, and interface design. He has been working as an associate with Tiro Typeworks and giving various type workshops around Europe.

His interest in the world’s writing systems and multilingual typeface design and typography manifests in the award-winning type family Skolar. So far, he has designed typefaces for Cyrillic, Greek, Gujarati, Devanagari, and various extensions of Latin.

Vaibhav Singh is an independent typographer and type designer from India. He received a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Pune and a master’s in Visual Communication from IDC, IIT Bombay. He was a recipient of the Felix scholarship for the duration of his MA in Typeface Design at the University of Reading, from which he graduated with distinction in 2011.

He has worked as a typographer, graphic and exhibition designer in Bombay/Delhi and Panjim and is presently based in Reading, where in addition to developing typefaces, he has been researching aspects of the typography of Devanagari and its implications for print cultures in India.

VSUAL would like to thank David for sending in this article. Co-founded by him, José Scaglione and Veronika Burian, Rosetta, an independent foundry has a strong focus on multi-script typography. The foundry has been promoting research and knowledge in the field of typography and also ventures in world-scripts type design.

One of the main objectives of the foundry is to create a retail library of high-quality typefaces that are respectful of the traditions and cultural background behind each of the supported scripts. Rosetta actively promotes team-work and collaboration between designers, consultants and language specialists. To date we support pan-European Latin, Arabic, Greek and Cyrillic for Slavic languages as well as for many Asian languages. The addition of type families for Indian scripts will come soon.

You can find out more about the foundry and see their work here.

MyFonts.com recently announced their most popular fonts of 2011. The results are based on the font sales from all of their typeface categories. The list includes “Reina,” an award- winning font that was inspired by classic fonts from the 1960s, “Alana,” a script font based on hand lettering, “Hera Big,” a display font that has eight different weights and italics and “Populaire,” a font with a hand-drawn feel that was inspired by posters that were made during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris.

Reina

Lián Types from Buenos Aires and its sister foundry Typesenses have been a staple of this list for several years now, and their typefaces are becoming more intricate each year. Introduced in March, the award-winning Reina is a sophisticated and imaginative variation on the high-contrast Didone model. Inspired by the classics Didot and Bodoni, and spiced up with influences from 1960s New York magazine lettering from the likes of Herb Lubalin, Reina is up there with the most whimsical of classicist and modern-face display type. A fine toolkit and plaything for making dazzling headlines.

Calluna Sans

Calluna Sans font sample

It can be a big help to the discerning typographer when an oldstyle text face comes with a sans-serif companion that harmonizes beautifully with it, yet is different enough to add a new color to the typographic palette. This is exactly what Calluna Sans is to exljbris’s popular Calluna family. Like its older sister, the new family member respects oldstyle proportions and makes lucid statements with crisp details — but it does so in its own calm, sans-serif way. Its humanist qualities make it wonderfully readable; it comes with all the attributes needed for sophisticated typography: small caps, four numeral sets, and more.

Alana

Alana font sample

Lettering artist Laura Worthington added several beautifully made script fonts to her popular typeface collection last year, including Samantha Script and her latest offering, Rosarian. But it was Alana that outsold all her other work — one of the year’s biggest hits. Natural-looking and subtly irregular, Alana strikes a nice balance between a casual and a formal script face. Based on hand lettering, it indulges in elaborate swashes and ornaments without losing its friendly character and slightly nonchalant look and feel. We recommend OpenType-enabled design software to get the full effect of Alana’s features.

Sánchez

Sanchez font sample
After a string of display faces that embody the “latino” approach to type — colorful, original and a bit cheeky — Sánchez was Latinotype’s first extensive family suitable for body text as well as headlines. A confident alternative to Rockwell, this modern-day slab serif offers more personal lettershapes than most slab serif classics, and subtly rounded edges. Its success in 2011 was greatly helped by the fact that the regular weights are free — a minimal extra investment in SemiBold and/or Bold weights gives you a very affordable small family. Plus, it’s on sale through January 21 — a 40% discount!

Belluccia

Bellucia font sample
Belluccia was the first typeface by the newly formed team comprising lettering artist Debi Sementelli and type designer Brian Bonislawsky ofAstigmatic fame. Their joint venture Correspondence Ink was immediately successful with this lovely handwritten font — a semi-formal script with a rugged edge. Belluccia successfully mimics custom calligraphy, using the wizardry of OpenType to automatically replace letter combinations with alternate forms: ligatures, swashes, stylistic and contextual alternates. For those who work with software that doesn’t handle OpenType magic, there are separate Standard fonts that make up the styles contained within the Pro font. Check out the wonderfulFlourishesBorders and Ornaments.

Hera Big

Hera Big font sample
Brooklyn-based Lucas Sharp of the newly founded studio Pagan & Sharpmade quite a splash last year with his first typeface Hera Big. Successfully exploring the extremes of vertical stress and high contrast (think Bodoni and Didot) in a contemporary mood of playfulness and exuberance, the family members cover a huge range of weights, from Extra Thin to Big Black; gutsy ball terminals play a defining role across the family but work a bit differently in each weight. With eight weights plus italics, Hera Big provides a fine set of display fonts for many occasions.

Centrale Sans

Centrale Sans font sample
The Bulgarian studio Typedepot scored a big hit with their chic Centrale Sans. Released at a bargain price, it sailed smoothly to the number one spot in MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list, and continues to do well. As shown by various cases during the past year, it takes more than just a great introductory discount to capture customers’ attention. Centrale Sans is a well-made sans-serif with a personal touch, adding a welcome new color to the well populated category of multi-functional, readable sans-serifs. It combines geometric cool, humanist friendliness and clear, open shapes, making Centrale Sans a good performer on the screen as well.

Burgues Script

Burgues font sample

Burgues Script is yet another monumental script face from Sudtipos. Based on the work of American calligrapher Louis Madarasz, Ale Paul’s typeface is an interpretation rather than a straightforward digitization. In order to be able to produce digital calligraphy with a natural flow, Paul had to reinvent many of the letterforms, adapting the flexibility and connectivity of the original lettering to the logic of digital machines. The digital flourishes of the prize-winning Burgues are no less dazzling than Madarasz’s hand-lettering. Burgues is a great choice for spectacular lettering — from wine bottles to tattoos.

Cassia

Cassia font sample

One of the year’s nicest surprises was the emergence of the one-man foundry Hoftype, directed by Dieter Hofrichter. A veteran of the Berthold studios, Hofrichter worked with the late Günter Gerhard Lange, who was probably the most exacting taskmaster German type design has ever known and whose meticulously corrected proofs are the stuff of legend. In less than a year, Hoftype launched a stunning collection of text families — well-made, versatile and affordable — with Cassia as the biggest success. A dynamic modern-face, somewhere halfway between a humanized slab serif and an updated Clarendon, it is more individual and agile than most slab serifs. Superbly readable, Cassia comes with small caps for all weights, a wealth of ligatures and multiple figure styles.

Melany Lane

Melany Lane font sample

This year’s crop of most popular fonts has more connected, swashy scripts than ever — and yet, each is surprisingly different from the rest. For Melany LaneYellow Design Studio took the flourished shapes of traditional lettering, and added the quirks and warmth of informal hand-drawn type. The regular version is monolinear — its strokes don’t change in thickness — which gives it the feel of an alphabet drawn with a felt-tipped pen. Melany Lane comes with swashes and stylistic alternates for extra funkiness and fun, as well as 118 lovely ornaments and a free set of fourteen seamless background patterns.

Code Pro

Code Pro font sample

In September we interviewed Svetoslav Simov, the young Bulgarian designer who runs Fontfabric. An admirer of 1930s and 1960s constructed letterforms and icons, Simov has a knack for geometric alphabets with a logo-like quality. Of his 2011 releases, Code Pro did extremely well, and has remained a steady seller to date. It is a kind of ITC Avant Garde on performance-enhancing substances. Even the lighter weights have a muscular assertiveness thanks to the disciplined geometry of their glyphs. Its extreme Light and Black weights offer great possibilities for spectacular headlines, while its middle weights will work both in headlines and medium-length text settings. The demo versions of Code Pro Light and Regular are still offered free of charge.

Mishka

Mishka font sample

Mishka is part of a series of pleasant script-like typefaces launched bythe Fenotype foundry, recalling hand-made pub and shop lettering. While several of the earlier fonts — fonts like Verner and Pepita Script — were mildly successful, the playful Mishka joined the year’s elite of best selling fonts. Mixing clear and informal lettershapes with a taste for the exuberant, Mishka is a pleasant upright script with a decorative touch. It offers plenty of options to customize headlines — just activate Swashes, Stylistic Alternates or Contextual Alternates in any OpenType-savvy program. Its small caps are a font within a font: an energetic set of caps that combine well with the scripts but offer a distinct style.

Populaire

Populaire font sample

Brazil’s PintassilgoPrints found its groove last year, producing a stream of spirited display fonts with a playful, handcrafted feel. As they pointed out in their recent Creative Characters interview, they like the happy mistakes of hand-drawn letters, the “wrong notes” in the design — but at the same time they want their fonts to be technically perfect and eminently usable. Populaire is a case in point. Inspired by the postersmade during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris, Populaire taps into the energy of that period’s hand-drawn and silkscreened posters, while using digital font technology to offer four exchangeable glyphs for each letter. The result is a flexible font that looks as fresh and spontaneous as hand-rendered lettering.

Gelato Script

Gelato Script font sample

The mouth-watering, smoothly flowing Gelato Script lives up to its name (Italian for “ice cream”), and consequently became the year’s most successful brush script font — ideal for packaging, café menus and magazines. Influenced by both formal scripts and mid-twentieth century hand lettering, its luscious curves make it attractive to a wide audience. For expert users, it has the additional benefit of being equipped with all the amenities of meticulous OpenType programming. With 781 glyphs, this font has many faces and speaks many different languages.

Pluto and Pluto Italics

Pluto font sample

Berlin’s HVD Fonts has a knack for coming up with the right typeface at the right moment, and marketing strategies to match. Pluto’s release at an introductory offer that seemed too good to be true resulted in sensational sales; some months later, Pluto Italics all but repeated that meteoric success. As the fonts are decidedly lovely — a happy-looking, lively sans-serif family with a strong personality — it comes as no surprise that Pluto continues to sell well at the full, but still quite reasonable, price. There is little doubt that MyFonts’ best-selling typeface of 2011 has a bright future ahead of it.

MyFonts is a digital fonts distribution, location based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, selling fonts through the www.myfonts.com web site. It launched in September 1999 (during the ATypI conference in Boston), and started selling fonts in March 2000.

MyFonts pioneered a new model of font distribution, based on the long tail phenomenon: an all-inclusive inventory from which total sales can beat those of a carefully chosen collection. Every font that meets basic technical and legal criteria is accepted for distribution. Designers set their own license terms and their own prices, while MyFonts gets a 50 percent cut of sales.

 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes is a series of ‘social posters’ by Irish graphic designer Christopher Scott. Inspired by the works of Stefan Sagmeister, Christopher blends elements of nature, man-made objects and certain props to deliver a strong typographical statement. Sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes shocking, these posters aim to stir-up the audience and bring them face-to-face with the harsh realties of life that millions confront everyday. Featured here are 7 of his posters that deal with a variety of topics ranging from fear to life and from the homeless to hope. This series is an inspiration that encourages students to get away from the computer and experience how expressive and powerful graphic design as a medium of communication is.







Christopher Scott is an award winning internationally recognised social awareness poster designer from Northern Ireland. His work has been exhibited all over the world including Louvre Paris, Triennale Milan, Peru, Korea, USA and many many more. Paramount to his designs is for them to have substance that communicate a strong and meaningful message. His sensitivity and passion make him a unique designer which has humanity at the very core of his work. You can find more about ‘Put Yourself in Their Shoes’ here on this facebook page.

Tom Morin, a designer and teacher of design & typography, in writing this recent memoir reflects back on his many influential teachers; their teaching influenced him not only when he was a student, but also today as he continues to design books, brochures and identities for large corporations and institutions around the world. Thomas O. Morin, his 93 year old father, an architect of modern and contemporary buildings in New York State first taught him about design and inspired him to create as a youngster. M. Peter Piening was his Bauhaus trained advertising design professor for four years during college at Syracuse University. Alvin Eisenman, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson, Norman Ives, Herbert Matter and Walker Evans were all his professors during two years in the masters program of graphic design at Yale University. In this exclusive article written for VSUAL, Tom reveals the secret ingredients that go into making a good graphic designer. He also showcases some wonderful design spreads where the teacher’s work is featured on the left followed by an example of his own work on the right.

For the past five years I have been consumed with discovering and acknowledging my shepherds, angels, and teachers—tracing out the threads of influence that have shaped my personal and professional life. My aim was to both remember and honor those individuals who have been my life’s creative catalysts and who have made a significant difference in my life-long pursuit of creativity. My journey has involved family members, early childhood teachers, college and grad school professors, employers, consultants, and contemporaries, all of whom imparted their lessons by instruction or example, and all of whose influences were ultimately integrated into my life as a graphic designer.

In tracing these threads through my life’s work in graphic design, I experienced a new-found appreciation for all that had gone before—an appreciation I could not possibly have entertained in my youth. In short, I needed to grow and mature, both as an individual and as a designer, until I had acquired enough hindsight and wit to be able to look back.

It is easy to say that my first important influence was my mother, who gave me a broad view of what it meant to be a teacher and mentor outside the home; her efforts in this regard stretched from public school to our church Sunday school classes. But it was my father who introduced me to design. As an architect, he taught by example, through his instincts and his professional training. Not only did he introduce me to designers like Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Ray Eames, but he also influenced me through his choice of contemporary designs to furnish and decorate our home. Over time, such early childhood influences evolved into a lifetime of seeing, playing, experimenting, researching, writing, reading, and speaking—all habits one does not necessarily develop through higher education.

But if my strengths today are found in graphic design and typography, I must point out that my parents were not the only ones to direct the arrow of my life’s compass. There were other family members who pushed me along—grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom somehow affected the direction I eventually headed. And there were, of course, those responsible for my design training—my teachers and mentors.

Perhaps most influential among these was the Bauhaus-trained M. Peter Piening, who taught me about Bauer Bodoni, drawing, and the power of good copywriting. Then came Alvin Eisenman, who had one foot firmly planted in the history of type and printing and the other in the emerging digital age. Paul Rand, whose career began in New York in the 1930s, was a most significant mentor: he not only designed with a mix of spark and humor but showed me that good design must be succinct and visually to the point. Then there was Bradbury Thompson, who taught with a reserve and restraint that typified his manner as well as his design and typography; his work still excites today.

Designer and artist Norman Ives pointed me toward playing with letterforms, cutting, splicing, and blending to create ever more exciting imagery with nothing but the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Herbert Matter taught through the example of his early posters, in which the magic of juxtaposing photographic images and type exploded with excitement. And then there was Walker Evans, whose incredible photographic eye revealed a fascination with the indigenous typography found on roadside signs. His work taught me volumes about seeing and cropping, and his penchant for saving postcards and other graphic ephemera made me look at my surroundings in a new way, pushing me to collect examples of all sorts of interesting visual phenomena.

My contemporaries also exerted their influence during my school years. Our student workshops and class projects were usually carried out in teams; critiques were held in open groups; sketches and ideas were presented and discussed with the class. Sometimes, we spent half the workshop discussing what we had found during the research phase of a project. All of this became part of my experience.

Now, if you take all the early, formative experiences gleaned from among my family, add the more formal lessons imparted by teachers and professors, sprinkle with experiences shared with fellow students, friends, and colleagues—if you whip all of this together with the quizzical traits that informed a lifetime of reading, researching, and collecting, you will find the beliefs and values that have shaped my work as a graphic designer and typographer.

A good designer has an understanding of and appreciation for things like history and current events. He or she will understand contemporary graphic design as a point on a continuum that began with pre-historic handprints on the wall of a cave, and that extends far into a future we cannot yet see. A designer must also understand that all of life is grist for the graphic mill—that all sorts of input, from museum exhibitions to travel photography to simple editorial points of view, can contribute to the reservoir of experience. And it is from experience that ideas flow.

In my years of looking at and thinking about design, I have found that I have always been able to discern when a piece of graphic design has emanated from deep within its creator and when a design solution is merely the product of a software package replete with tricks and widgets. The latter usually ends up being about decoration rather than a strong idea. It may have flash and dazzle, but its excitement will have little substance and less longevity.

I believe that a well-grounded design philosophy combines knowledge and experience with tools and training. From knowledge and experience we get inspiration; tools and training give us the means to transform that inspiration into an effective graphic design solution. Inspiration does not come from the tools themselves, nor does it come from computer software. It comes from living life, from earning, sharing, listening, and reading—all are key ingredients of a lifetime of successful problem solving.

My father’s many architectural sketchbooks started me drawing at an early age.

The dynamism apparent in Professor Piening’s work is easily seen in this advertisement I prepared for a student assignment in 1962.

Alvin Eisenman taught me about the historical aspects of typographic communication and its role in the digital age. Client: Xerox Corporation.

Playfulness and a strong yet simple graphic solution were the legacy of my years working with Paul Rand. Client: Katonah Museum of Art.

Bradbury Thompson showed me how to combine visual reserve with typographic elegance. Client: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Norman Ives’s “slice and dice” approach to typography helped me see and interpret letterforms in infinitely exciting ways, as in this Yale student project from 1968.

By juxtaposing type with photography, Herbert Matter’s posters proved that a simple visual message could explode across the page. Client: Champion Paper.

Walker Evans’s fascination with indigenous design and signage taught me volumes about seeing and cropping, and about finding inspiration in the everyday.


Tom Morin is principal and designer for Context Design Inc., Galisteo, New Mexico, U.S.A.  Mr. Morin has enjoyed a prolific career as a graphic design consultant to corporate America, working for clients such as Alcoa, Champion, General Electric, JP Morgan, Westinghouse, and Xerox. His current focus includes teaching design and typography and designing books for museums and publishers. He is the author of a new visual memoir called Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design. This long-awaited book will be the focus of an exhibition at the Yale University Art of the Book Room Library and Collection in January 2012.


For further information on Tom’s book ‘Threads of Influence’ and to know more about his work, please visit:

Threads of Influence: Official Website
Threads of Influence: Facebook Page
Context Design: Tom’s Website