News: Tagged as FF Mister K

Through the eyes of three FontFont Designers: The challenges of designing non-Latin typefaces

The Serebro Nabora type conference took place this past week in Moscow. In the spirit of the event and as part of our recent Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans we asked the designers of these typefaces, Mitja Miklavčič, Julia Sysmäläinen and Martin Wenzel, about their experience with non-Latin extensions, as well as the difficulties they faced in these design processes.

FontFont Cyriilics

Creativity and communication is always at the FontFont forefront along with the aim to build typeface collections with different styles and purposes. Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world and the alphabet has been adapted to write more than 50 languages. Of the many scripts in use around the world today, Cyrillic is probably the closest in appearance and structure to Latin, particularly in the case of upright typefaces. For Mitja Miklavčič, the design process was not significantly different compared with his Latin designs, as in the case of FF Tisa or FF Tisa Sans. “The italics were a bit more demanding to draw, and personally I always find kerning in Cyrillic a bit more challenging, too.”

FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic

FF Tisa Cyrillic

Mitja Miklavčič began the Cyrillic portion of FF Tisa while studying on the MA Type Design course at the University of Reading. “We had some Cyrillic specialists visiting the Department. My initial sketches there were done for the serif part of the FF Tisa family. Although they were over six years old, they were a helpful start for the FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic.”

In contrast to Cyrillic type, Cyrillic handwriting is more abundant in its form variety. Julia Sysmäläinen’s primary challenge while designing FF Mister K Cyrillic and FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic, was how to interpret handwriting typographically. “Like all kinds of handwriting, Cyrillic handwriting can be very expressive. I had to find solutions that suited Franz Kafka’s manuscripts, which were always written in German. For this I studied both historical and contemporary samples of Cyrillic handwriting, asked Russian friends and colleagues to produce samples – and of course, I made many myself. Before 1907, Kafka wrote in a German Kurrent script, and analyzing this was interesting, because some of the letterforms resemble Cyrillic characters. I also found a prominent Russian contemporary with a handwriting style that fits surprisingly well to Kafka’s.”

Julia Sysmäläinen had always planned to make a Cyrillic companion to FF Mister K. “Kafka was strongly attracted to Russia, and he admired Russian writers like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Kropotkin. Soon after the release by FontFont, I made a limited Cyrillic version of FF Mister K Regular to submit to the International Design competition “Modern Cyrillic”, where it received a Certificate of Typographic Excellence. Later, I went at the design more thoroughly, creating extended Cyrillic character sets for both FF Mister K Regular and FF Mister K Informal.”

FF MisterK

FF Profile Cyrillic isn’t Martin Wenzel’s first endeavor into this writing system. “In 1992, FontFont asked me to draw a Cyrillic extension for my FF Marten typeface, which made me look closely at the script for the first time. The end result was no masterpiece, but still a good attempt to apply a simple modular concept to a different script. This was before I even studied Type and Communication Design at the Royal Academy in The Hague. With FF Profile’s Cyrillic, I talked with several designers about the script’s challenges in general, as well as specific letterforms. Over time I’ve consulted various books on the subject and completed my own calligraphic trials, which formed the basis for the structure of each glyph. If you can write it, you can draw it!”

FF Profile Cyrillic CharactersFF Profile Cyrillic

Like Martin Wenzel, Mitja Miklavčič also had professional experience designing Cyrillic typefaces. He has previously worked with noted specialists, such as Maxim Zhukov. “I grew up in the former Yugoslavia, so I learned Cyrillic in primary school. Serbian and Macedonian both use Cyrillic. That might also explain why I’ve decided to draw language-specific forms for those two languages as well. I always consult with any other designers, no matter what type of type design project I work on. A few colleagues have become close friends in the process.”

FF Tisa Sans is unique in that it not only includes support for Balkan languages that use the Cyrillic script, but also many Central Asian languages, like Turkmen and Kazakh as well, which are not frequently a part of many Cyrillic typefaces.

While Martin Wenzel and Mitja Miklavčič are not native readers of the Cyrillic script, Russian is Julia Sysmäläinen’s mother-tongue. “I’m the child of a Russian mother and a Finnish father, so I learned both languages during childhood. As a native reader, you grew up with all kinds of Cyrillic texts accompanying your everyday life, everything from shopping lists to letters, notebooks and advertisements. You get a pretty clear feeling of how far and where you can move away from some kind of norm, without your result looking awkward. If the script is new to you, you run the risk of being overcautious, or making naive mistakes.”

FF MisterK Cyrillic
In terms of OpenType features and character set size, the Cyrillics of FF Mister K are the most ambitious of FontFont’s new Cyrillic releases. “In Kafka’s manuscripts, readability was not a priority,” Julia Sysmäläinen mentions. “I carried this over into FF Mister K Regular as well. In its Cyrillic version, expressiveness and personality are paramount. Its style is easily readable for people who are at home in Russian and other languages with Cyrillic script, because context makes things clear, but it is not for learners of these languages. FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic is much easier to read, just like FF Mister K Informal’s Latin is. In Cyrillic handwriting some characters – especially д and т – can be written in various ways that do not really resemble one another; these forms can even be mixed within a single word.” This lively mixture is part of FF Mister K’s OpenType features, and it harmonizes well with Kafka’s turbulent manuscripts. FF Mister K Informal is more regularized, to stress readability.

As new communication methods continue to bring the world closer together, great typefaces have grown to speak for more languages and writing systems. FF Tisa SansFF Mister K and FF Profile join 30 other typeface families in the FontFont library with Cyrillic support, including FF Dax, FF DIN and FF Meta.

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New Release: FF 64

FF63 saw a FontFont milestone with the App+ license and this latest release is just as much an occasion as the last. With two brand new designs and Cyrillic language updates to three of our Pro packages, we have been counting down the days in high anticipation – we are simply super thrilled to bring you FF64.

New Designs

FF Mark

FF Mark

FFMark Showing

FF Mark Microsite

New meets old meets technic, FF Mark is more than just an average geometric sans. A special type project, Ze new Germanetric sans is a collaboration by Hannes von Döhren, Christoph Koeberlin, and the FontFont Type Department with creative support from Erik Spiekermann.

True to geometric tradition yet contemporary for today’s needs, the family of 10 weights ranging from Hairline to Black is designed with versatility in mind. Extreme weights have been engineered to shine bright in large sizes and middle weights optimized for body copy.

And to mark the launch of FF Mark, we are launching a new microsite to showcase and celebrate the thinking and creative process behind the typeface. Discover, interact with and download the exclusive Free Fönt at www.ffmark.com.

 

FF Kievit Slab

FFKievitSlab

FFKievitSlab Showing

Four years in the making and designed with utmost precision Mike Abbink and Paul van der Laan’s latest expansion of the FF Kievit superfamily has arrived.
The long-anticipated FF Kievit Slab has been carefully adjusted and fine-tuned in width and contrast to help make it an extremely robust and elegant typeface.

Much akin to its successful sisters, the new slab sibling comes in 9 weights from Thin to Black and matching italics, which makes it a perfect companion to other members of the FF Kievit family.

Typographical finesse has been delivered in the form of small caps, old style, lining, and tabular figures, and a mountain of OpenType glory.

The entire superfamily is well suited for editorial and book design, packaging and superfit for corporate branding and creative industries.

Language Extensions & Updates

Talk in even more type tongues with welcomed Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K Regular, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans. Our extensive library also offer fonts for several scripts aside from Latin, including Greek, Arabic, Hebrew and even Armenian.

FF Mister K Regular Cyrillic

FFMisterKText Cyrillic

FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic

FFMisterKInformal Cyrillic

FF Profile Cyrillic

FFProfile Cyrillic

FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic

FFTisaSans Cyrillic

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What Can Layer FontFonts Do?

Type is typically one-color. Of course, after it’s set, a user can manipulate letters with a texture or a gradient; but out of the box, a font is usually capable of a single color. This is where layer fonts change the game. With glyphs that are designed to be overlaid on top of each other, layer fonts make it easy to apply multiple colors and other effects without extra steps or leaving the comfort of your typesetting or layout app.


Layer_Hero_FF_Identification

 

Multi-layered type is not a new concept. “Chromatic” wood fonts for printing large headlines in two or more colors were common way back in the mid-1800s. Polychromatic type continued to be readily available in the photocompositing era when graphic designers sent their text to specialized typesetters to do the precision work required to line up the layers. When digital type took over, there was a noticeable lull in layered type. There were few chromatic fonts available, and making them work was now the complicated and tedious task of the designer who was suddenly given the additional role of typesetter.

But now, thanks to new typefaces (and rediscovering some old ones), better software, and time-saving tricks made possible by OpenType, chromatic type is back! Just a casual glance at graphic design blogs or Pinterest boards is enough to see that layer fonts are in fashion again.

There are plenty of interesting and useful multi-layer typefaces in the FontFont library — it may surprise you to learn we have more than 50 families with layering capabilities (even some Free FontFonts like FF Pullman and FF Koko) — but they are often overlooked because online samplers are optimized for standard, single-layer type. So let’s take a closer, multicolor look at a few and see what they can do.

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Make things pretty.

The most obvious use of type layers is to add decorative elements in multiple hues. A variety of FontFonts take advantage of layers to enhance their display qualities, from playful to grungy. Here are a few:

Layer FontFonts 
FF Beadmap, FF Minimum, FF Letterine, and FF Flava demonstrate the coloring possibilities of FontFonts with layers.

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Add depth and dimension.

FF Profile Layers 

One of the more powerful benefits of layers is transforming type from an element that simply sits on a surface to one that has a three-dimensional shape of its own. A single layer font with built-in shadows or faceting can only go so far in simulating depth. With a layer FontFont like FF Primary you can use color to give each surface an appropriate shade, making the type pop off the page or recede into stone. Over at the FontShop blog, David Sudweeks wrote a good tutorial on using FF Primary (and most other layer fonts).

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Add realism. 

FF Kipp Layers

FF Kipp, inspired by a worn set of wood type, is one of the most popular typefaces with a rough, weathered contour. Still, users often overlook its layer variations which can make it an even more convincing emulation of imperfectly printed or painted letters. The extra fonts in the set offer a variety of degradation when overlaid over the base fonts. These extras can also be colored slightly different than the bottom layer resulting in an uneven, painterly effect.

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Give text meaning.

FF MisterK Features

Layers aren’t only useful for visual appeal. Among the many smart tricks in FF Mister K are scribble, strikeout, and underline features that can enhance the meaning of text all while staying true to the informal handwritten aesthetic of the typeface. The OpenType-powered annotations are easy to apply, work with words of various lengths, and of course offer the ability to easily adjust coloring. Read more about how to use FF Mister K’s special effects in this info guide.

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Clarify text.

FF Jigger Overlays

One of the graphic designer’s often encountered but seldom discussed challenges is overlaying readable type on a photograph or video. This is particularly tricky when the background has varying values of light and dark. Common hacks include drop shadows and strips of color, but it’s often more engaging when the element backing the type is in harmony with the typeface. This is where FF Jigger shines. Because there are separate fonts for front and back, each can be colored independently. And because it’s type, changes to content or color are easy to make.

What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Simplify iconography. 

FF Dingbats2 layering

Maps, infographics, UI design, and wayfinding systems ask a lot of iconography. To get the work done efficiently, icons must be easy to apply, easy to edit, and easy to change. That’s why working with symbol fonts makes so much sense. FF Netto Icons and FF Dingbats 2.0 offer frames and backgrounds to enable icon customization. Because these icon and border elements are separate characters they can each be colored separately. In FF Netto, key in the desired frame, apply its color, then key in an icon to align it perfectly inside the frame. FF Dingbats 2.0 uses an OpenType-powered layering feature to allow coloring of multiple elements in each pictogram without switching fonts (see above). Read more about this and the packages other features at the official FF Dingbats 2.0 site.

Using Layer FontFonts on the Web

You don’t need to limit your layer typography to print and images. Our friends at Typekit have written a simple CSS tutorial on using layer fonts in web design. For his article, Tim Brown demonstrates a chromatic typeface revived from the wood type era, but the technique will work with Web FontFonts like FF Prater Block, FF Advert Rough and parts of FF ThreeSix too.

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Happy Birthday Franz Kafka from FF Mister K

FF Mister K

(Beetle image: Formatdelete)

Today is the 130th Birthday of one of the most significant writers of the 20th Century, Franz Kafka. Although many of his works were actually published posthumously against his wishes, Kafka has become a highly influential voice in literature renowned for his exploration of the themes of alienation, transformation and brutality.

A person called K appears in a number of his novels and the manuscripts of Kafka’s two best known novels The Castle and The Trial were the source of inspiration for type designer Julia Sysmäläinen, creator of the typeface FF Mister K. Sysmäläinen manages to capture the essence of Kafka’s erratic somewhat eccentric script, whilst maintaining a balanced typographic rhythm. Part of the FF Mister K family, FF Mister K Informal has a slightly more friendly, readable appearance and FF Mister K Dingbats contains a wide range of pictograms, from animals, plants, stars, famous buildings, faces to food and much more.

Another tribute to Franz Kafka is this beautiful video by Pablo Delcán and Peter Mendelsund.

 

 

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FF Mister K exhibition in Berlin

FF Mister K

On Friday, 21st September, over 80 graphic designers from in and around Berlin met at the Mota Italic Gallery for the opening of Julia Sysmäläinen’s exhibition, ‘Mister K and Franz Kafka’. Charting the tale of the ‘Real Travels of Mister K’, the exhibition focuses on how Franz Kafka’s handwriting developed and evolved over time, as well as on Sysmäläinen’s process behind reincarnating it in digital form as the FF Mister K typeface. 

 FF Mister K

The exhibition is both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Featured work includes a number of recent books whose covers or jackets were designed with FF Mister K, as well as jewellery, prints, objects and typographic installations. Sysmäläinen produced a small booklet to accompany the exhibition, ‘Too long to tweet’ which features texts from many of Berlin’s most active type designers (and Twitter users).

FF Mister K

Julia Sysmäläinen (left) during the opening

The exhibition was originally scheduled to run through the end of October, but, due to its popularity, has been extended until 9th November. The Mota Italic Gallery is located in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, and is open Mondays to Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.

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FF Mister K & Franz Kafka Exhibition

FF Mister K

We are delighted to announce that FF Mister K, designed by Julia Sysmäläinen, will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Mota Italic Gallery in Berlin.

Charting the tale of the “Real Travels of Mister K”, the exhibition includes a focus on how Franz Kafka’s handwriting developed and evolved over time, and the process by which it was reincarnated in digital form as the FF Mister K typeface.

The featured work includes a collection of books – like the Mendelsund series by Schocken and the new Too Long to Tweet – as well as prints, objects and typographic installations that reflect the energetic, vibrant, humorous and above all eccentric nature of Kafka and FF Mister K.

If you are in Berlin between September 17 and October 27, be sure to check out the exhibition, or attend the official opening party with Sysmäläinen and the Mota Italic crew on Friday 21 September.

About Mister K

Franz Kafka’s manuscripts had such a profound impact on Julia Sysmäläinen that she undertook the difficult task of capturing his handwriting in a digital typeface. FF Mister K combines Kafka’s unusually strong calligraphic characteristics with a hefty array of OpenType features, delivering a powerful script font. First released in 2008, FF Mister K was successively extended by an additional typeface, FF Mister K Informal, in 2011. The design has already received several awards, including a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the TDC in 2012. Sysmäläinen is a Finnish graphic and type designer, based in Berlin.

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IE10 unlocks CSS OpenType features for Webfonts

With Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s upcoming Internet Explorer 10, a significant step has been taken toward widespread OpenType feature support, which allows for things like discretionary ligatures in text and contextual alternates in display. Now with standards solidifying, a level of typographic sophistication previously unachievable anywhere will soon be realized. Ushering in the new browser, we share this demo page with live examples of OpenType features at work. (Note that unless viewed in IE10 or a recent version of Firefox or some other new-ish Mozilla browser, the demos won’t make much sense.)

We move ahead now to take a closer look into each of the examples, and discuss what’s required before we can get started taking full advantage of this new ability. Contextual Swashes: FF Nexus Serif

Contextual Swashes | FF Nexus Serif Italic is the most comprehensive font of the FF Nexus Superfamily, containing beautiful sets of swash letters for the beginnings and ends of words. Thanks to the Contextual Swashes feature, the swash variants of the letters appear automatically in the appropriate positions (as opposed to the “regular” Swashes feature, in which you would have to decide yourself which letters should be swashed).

 Stylistic Sets: FF Unit

Stylistic Sets | FF Unit holds the library’s record for Stylistic Sets: It has a whopping 14 sets to tailor the look of selected letters to your needs. (39 OT Features in total!)

Contextual Alternates: FF Mister K

Contextual Alternates | FF Mister K isn’t available as a Web FontFont yet, and if you switch off the Contextual Alternates feature on the demo site you’ll see why: It just makes no sense to use it without the connections and letter variants that give FF Mister K its special look.

Small Caps: FF Ernestine

Small Caps | FF Ernestine is one of the few FontFonts containing two sets of small caps: Small and Petite Caps (the only other Petite Cap FontFont being FF Atma Serif). While Small Caps are available as separate Web FontFonts now, Petite Caps only become accessible through browser OpenType feature support.

Discretionary Ligatures: FF Milo Serif

Discretionary Ligatures | FF Milo Serif is one of the FontFonts that go wild with extravagant ligatures.

Oldtyle Figures: FF DIN Round

Ligatures: FF Tartine Script

Oldstyle Figures and Ligatures | FF DIN Round and FF Tartine Script can actually look like this on your website right now! Unlike the other features shown above, Oldstyle Figures and Ligatures are included (if available in the design) in all WOFF Web FontFonts today. There’s one more feature we didn’t even mention on the demo page: The Kerning feature is activated for the whole demo page. It is most noticeable in combinations like “We” and “y.”, which just look more even with kerning. This feature is included in the current WOFF Web FontFonts and is applied automatically by some browsers.

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TDC 2012: FF Mister K Informal and FontBook

What a great start to 2012! One of our last year’s premiere releases, FF Mister K Informal has just been awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Typeface Design by the TDC (Type Directors Club)Congratulations to designer Julia Sysmäläinen, who spends hours and hours designing new typographic and graphic offspring to her popular FF Mister K family, with no end in sight.

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K is never really formal, but this K has even got the name “Informal” to emphasize the point. It is the most friendly looking K Family member for anyone who wants to make a personal, relaxed but also reliable impression. K Informal started in one of Franz Kafka’s Quart Notebooks with handwritten texts that look astonishingly clear. The letter forms are carefully placed line after line but still reveal the author’s characteristic writing style. The simple explanation is: These are final, rewritten texts.

The first version – loaded with heavy editing and correction marks – can be found elsewhere in Kafka’s literary remains. FF Mister K’s Regular and Onstage have many designer-friends. But they can be too unpredictable for down-to-earth target groups. So this clean and tidy looking offspring came to life – derived from Kafka’s stylistic repertoire and made for almost every user's needs.

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New release: FF51

BERLIN, GERMANY, December 2009 – FSI FontShop International announced the latest additions to its award-winning FontFont® typeface library.

The new FontFonts

FF Yoga Pro
FF Yoga Sans Pro

Xavier Dupré’s FF Yoga family is a type system conceived to work for newspapers and magazines thanks to its strong personality and good legibility. The Serif weights with their sturdy serifs are a good choice for body text, but they also serve as an original headline face with their subtly chiseled counters inspired by blackletters. FF Yoga mixes the harshness of blackletters with the balanced rhythm and round shapes of the Garalde typefaces. FF Yoga Sans is a contemporary alternative to Gill Sans and a sober companion to Yoga Serif.

FF Mister K Dingbats OT

FF Mister K Dingbats are the newcomers to Julia Sysmäläinen’s FF Mister K family, a script typeface based on Franz Kafka’s manuscripts. It started with Finnish illustrator Oili Kokkonen creating some pretty funny cartoon characters using letterforms of FF Mister K Regular. Soon after, the design of almost 600 pictograms was on its way. All are based on glyph parts of the Regular with which they make a very good match.

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ISTD Awards 2009: FF Mister K, FF Netto, and FF Pitu

ISTD Awards

The ISTD International TypoGraphic Award is the only international design award that specifically recognize typographic excellence across a broad range of design disciplines. The quality of work entered, and the reputation of companies and individuals taking part, is an expression of the status of the Awards.

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