News: Tagged as OpenType

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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Best FontFonts for Book Text from our Collection Tier

They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Yet the choice of a typeface in a book can have a fundamental impact on the reader’s experience of the book. If a book’s text is too tight it can be tricky to read, if parts of the letters are too thin they can disappear off the page. In the third installment of our Collection Tier blog series, we tackle the typographic heights of book text and offer some handy hints and tips as well as a roundup of our chosen picks from our Collection Tier suitable for book text.

FF ParableFF Parable

FF RemingaFF Reminga

FF ParangoFF Parango

FF Oneleigh

FF Oneleigh

FF TibereFF Tibere

FF Page

FF Page

In long passages of running text – either in a book or magazine – make sure to select a typeface whose letters are not too tight. Maintaining an even rhythm is one of the most important factors in a good text face. The white spaces between the letters of a word or line should be about the same size, visually, as the white space inside the letters (like the letter ‘n’). In display faces, letters can be spaced much more tightly together.

Make sure that the thin strokes are just right! When you are printing small, the thickness of the thin parts of the letters must still be thick enough on the page so that it does not break away. Book faces tend to have some degree of contrast between thick and thin strokes. Just remember that the thick strokes should not be too thick, and that the thin strokes should not be too thin. Display types can pump up the contrast a lot more than text faces should.

Check the fonts’ OpenType feature availability. In immersive reading environments like books, oldstyle figures are both elegant and helpful. Lining figures can form a dark block, disturbing the even flow of a text. Small caps can be useful for acronyms, etc. – they help maintain a text’s consistent rhythm, too. Aside from making sure that the ‘f’ doesn’t collide with letters that come after it, ligatures aren’t really necessary in book text sizes. In display applications, though, ligatures can add a great note to a design. Larger-sized text allows plenty of room for ligatures to call attention to themselves.

Did you miss out on our previous Collection Tier posts? Have a look at our tips and picks for Music and Nightlife and Sports. Next up in our series, our Collection Tier selection suitable for Corporate Identity, Branding and Logos. 

About our Collection Tier

Our Collection Tier FontFonts are a selection of cost effective typographical treasures offered as full-families. All packages are available in OpenType with Standard language support (with a few key exceptions) and are all affordably priced under €/$ 100 each.

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“Hard and fast categorization is anathema to creative typography”

We caught up recently with Nick Shinn, type design expert, founder of ShinnType and creator of FF Fontesque, FF Merlin and FF Oneleigh on pushing the possibilities of type design and unlocking the delights of OpenType. 

Nick Shinn
Nick Shinn, April 2012 (Photo by David Sudweeks)

You’re known for developing fonts that push the possibilities of the OpenType layout features to their limits. Do technical possibilities inspire you to create new typefaces?

Absolutely! The Contextual Alternates feature in particular. The idea that character forms can respond to text is a genuinely new idea—“smart fonts”. And the degree and manner in which glyph forms may interact with one another is way beyond traditional ligatures. In ten years, we’ve only scratched the surface.

During the revision of FF Fontesque, you conceived a very sophisticated contextual feature. Would you agree that it is no longer possible to design typefaces with handwritten-character without implementing some sort of random effect?

FF Fontesque
FF Fontesque’s contextual alternates make for a better handwritten character.

That’s a question which gets to the heart of type design and its relationship to mark-making technology, be it pen, printing or pixels. It seems to me that there are three design spaces involved—for the writer, for the font designer, and for the typographer. And there is interplay between these.

For the typographer the distinction between pseudo and faux is crucial. One can choose an OpenType font which imitates writing through a pseudo-random Contextual Alternates effect, for a convincing naturalism—or one can exploit the faux quality of a basic script font as a signifier. In that case the font would be set against the grain of naturalism, with typographic regularity (flush left, on evenly spaced, dead straight baselines), and with no concern that doubled characters have identical glyphs. So for a brand of organic food, the packaging would not need to “really” look like it was hand-written, because there is a point at which that has negative connotations; nonetheless, typographic use of a basic, amateur-looking handwriting font would signify the brand’s market position, used in the manner of any other one-glyph-per-character typeface, a manner that graphic designers are very comfortable with. I think one should be aware of both approaches, and choose where to position one’s work on the axis of mimicry accordingly.

For the writer who is a polished scribe, if one ignores flourishes, the genre of formal calligraphy may often aspire to a strict regularity. So even within the world of natural media, there is spectrum of possibilites between icy perfection and haphazard extemporization, and this distinction provides creative tension and design space—aided and abetted by happy accidents—in which the calligrapher operates, deciding whether to disguise artifice or put it on show like hammer marks on Arts and Crafts pewter.

As a type designer, I have to admire how a type such as Mistral distills dramatic gestural style into a minimal alphabet where every glyph combines perfectly with every other glyph. But what interests me now is of course contextuality, with multiple glyphs for each character, and my intention is to invent new ways of integrating it into type design. I’m designing fonts that are novel tools; the challenge is for typographers to find ways to leverage that newness in their work, ways that I can’t anticipate.

In Duffy (2008), your random code cycled between four alternates of every character. In the more recent FF Fontesque OT, there are only two versions of each. What made you decide that was enough?

I reasoned that enough letters could be put between repeating characters, that two glyphs of each would suffice to produce the pseudo-random effect. It helps that there are no words in which any characters are tripled (except for a very few in German). Then I devised coding to switch glyphs to avoid any repetition with fewer than three letters between the same character repeating. That amount of separation is beyond a single saccadic impression in the macula (centre of the fovea), which registers no more than three or four letters, so glyph-repetition irregularities cannot be physically perceived during immersive reading—because that’s below the threshold of what the brain registers in text decoding.

FF Fontesque
Some of FF Fontesque’s alternate characters

But why bother with randomness if the eye can only see a maximum of four letters sharply at a time—wouldn’t it be enough just to deal with doubled letters? Well, I don’t believe that one only “reads” the text encoded in letters—I think one is aware of pattern and texture, in the way that one may identify a piece of music from its timbre (even from a single chord, such as George Harrison’s opening strum in A Hard Day’s Night), with no melody or tempo. And in display work, of course, repetition is far more likely to be noticed. Also, one doesn’t just design a document for its immediate users, it also has professional-grade meaning for the design trade, where it may be examined minutely for non-textual plastic qualities. Ultimately, it exists on its own terms as a cultural artefact with an infinity of possible meanings.

One of the original ideas for FF Oneleigh’s Italics was to design letters like T, V, W and Y so that kerning would be almost unnecessary. While you made the Pro update, what was it that convinced you to switch to more “normal” forms, and to offer the originals as Swashes?

I love this face so much, I wanted to shower it with features. Small caps and all kinds of alternate figures, of course, discretionary ligatures, even. Then, as several swash capitals already existed in the face, a full Swash feature [see following images] was a no-brainer—and it didn’t hurt that they were fun to draw! It also gave me the opportunity to further explore a theme I happened upon several years ago, when designing a book title in Bernhard Tango and realizing that face set quite nicely in all caps.

FF Oneleigh
FF Oneleigh
FF Oneleigh

Now, with the Swash feature in layout applications, if it’s applied to any particular character, I don’t want the typographer to think something’s wrong with the font if nothing happens. So there’s a swash alternate for EVERY capital letter of the alphabet. However, the original idea, that a handful of italic capitals could be swash as default (as in Baskerville and some of Goudy’s faces) has not been abandoned—it’s available as a Stylistic Set.

New ideas and concepts, drawing, digitizing, font programming, marketing… do typeface designers today have to be jacks of all trades?

Not necessarily. I’m a generalist anyway, with a varied career before becoming a type designer, fortunate enough to get into it in the early days of digital, and the learning curve over 20 years has thus been fairly manageable. So being jack works for me. But the industry has evolved with more specialization, to meet the demands of increasing complexity, and I do find myself working more collaboratively now.

On top of your design work, you’re very active in online forums like Typophile. How do you manage your time? Is it difficult to keep up with the technological changes in font production?

I’m afraid I don’t manage my time, and my studio is very messy. I just work on what I feel like at any given moment—apart from commissions of course, which do tend to focus one’s mind. I keep up to date with the latest technology, in the sense that I’m fairly aware of what’s happening, by online surfing and going to conferences—but I pick and choose what I incorporate into my workflow. No doubt I could be more efficient, but I try to strike a balance between hands-on artist and production-line technocrat.

You are primarily self-taught as a type designer. You have your own foundry, and you make commissioned typeface, too. You retail typefaces through several distributors. Why are FF Fontesque, FF Merlin, and FF Oneleigh FontFonts?

Historical contingency: before the World Wide Web, it took a full-time commitment to run a foundry profitably. Marketing floppy discs though direct mail was expensive and time consuming. But afterwards, one could establish a presence with a web site, sell through e-commerce distributors, and build up one’s catalog incrementally while keeping one’s day job—and make a higher percentage royalty to boot.

In 1993, when I first started making digital fonts, FontShop had a bricks-and-mortar retail franchise in Toronto, and I had known its proprietors, David Michaelides and Tina Hadjidimetriou, since they started out—selling graphic design books, actually. As an art director, I frequently licensed fonts from them. David realized that the FontFont range was Eurocentric, and while up-to-date in the deconstruction department, could do with some representation of the North American Grunge phenomenon. So he persuaded a number of Canadian designers to submit loosely-drawn types to FontFont’s TypeBoard. As an already published type designer (Gryphon and Shinn Sans), I was a likely suspect, and submitted Fontesque. Not really grunge, but casual enough to ride on its coat-tails. Since then, it’s been a breeze working with the people at FontShop International (they also distribute Shinntype through FontShop), and I was quite thrilled when they completely commited to all the OpenType upgrades to FF Oneleigh and FF Fontesque which I proposed, and then some—it was a deal of work for all concerned.

What is the story behind FF Merlin? At first glance, it looks like another 1990s grunge typeface. But a second glance reveals typographic sophistication. The Italic uses “true Italic” letters, and all three of the fonts show understanding of letterform construction – no surprise, since they came from you, but still unusual for this style of fonts.

I’ve had a long working relationship with newspaper designer Tony Sutton; he’s a bit of a fontaholic, always pestering me for new fonts, bless him—so I thought it would be amusing to design something he’d have a hard time using. Hence Merlin. There are some other ideas in it too—it’s the evil anti-Fontesque, and has fractal serifs (serifs on serifs on serifs).

FF Merlin

FF Merlin

How does the process of working on your FontFont families differ from your other typefaces?

Other than the fact that I’m not designing any new FontFonts, not much; I’ve been upgrading earlier designs to OpenType and Webfonts, both Shinntype fonts and FontFonts. In both cases, I’ve had some production assistance.

Do you ever miss Art Direction?

Yes. There is some compensation in producing type specimens, though. And I do collaborate with my wife Karey, doing the graphic identities for her art projects.

FF Fontesque’s Cyrillic characters came out especially vivid, especially in the Italics. Did you need to do a lot of research into those forms? Did you have something like a Cyrillic “supervisor?”

No, I’m not interested in other people’s opinions of what my glyphs should look like. I was already familiar with Cyrillic typography, having studied it during the development of the Modern Suite, and I knew what the Cyrillic characters looked like in different type styles. So I was able to shape them according to the same principles I had applied in the original Latin of FF Fontesque.

FF Fontesque

FF Fontesque includes Cyrillic glyphs, and in your own library, Figgins Sans and Scotch Modern include both Cyrillic and Greek. Do you have plans for any more Greek typefaces? Might Greek extensions appear in later revisions to your FontFonts?

That’s for FontFont to decide; I’m game if they are. There’s not much of a market for Greek fonts per se: it’s a country of less than 10 million, and the academic Classics community is flooded with free fonts, and too conservative even for FF Oneleigh. But there is a market for “Pan European” fonts that service corporations operating in the European Union—which includes both Bulgaria (Cyrillic) and Greece. I’m presently working on the release of Richler, which will have Greek and Cyrillic support.

Your FF Fontesque and FF Oneleigh Pro revisions were among the first FontFonts to include capital Eszett glyphs. This is still a relatively new character in the type scene, and its validity is questioned by some type designers and typographers. How do you feel about it, and how did you decide upon the specific forms for the letter?

In terms of validity, it’s a legitimate Unicode character—and, as almost virgin territory (if such a thing is possible), a fascinating design challenge. When the Unicode status was first announced in 2007, a thread developed at Typophile in which the whole issue of grammar and design was discussed. There are two basic forms the character can take, depending on whether the right side is treated more like an S or a 3. In both FF Fontesque and FF Oneleigh, I’ve opted for the S, which I think is more appropriate for types informed by the classic serif tradition. However I’ve used both approaches elsewhere, having employed the character in eleven typefaces up to now. It’s a question of getting a feel for it, and how it can be designed to best harmonize with a particular face.

FF Oneleigh
German capital sharp s in FF Oneleigh

About FF Fontesque Text, you’ve written, “I've seen Fontesque used over the past few years, that in many instances people would prefer a little more heft.” I’d like to hear more about how FF Fontesque Text and FF Fontesque Display diverge from the original FF Fontesque design, especially since FF Fontesque is one of those types where my knee-jerk classification would be a “display” face!

Yes, it’s a display face, but as we all know, hard and fast categorization is anathema to creative typography. What Display signifies here is optical scaling for use at very large sizes, with the glyphs having fine details. I imagine it being used in an understated manner for posters, signage, magazine headlines or book titles, as a script might be used, with a very organic presence.

FF Fontesque Sans does not have optical sizes. Do you think that optical sizes are less necessary, generally, when it comes to sans serif designs?

FF Fontesque Sans

As far as I know, there are only two sans faces with optical sizes—the new Haas Helvetica, and my Brown Gothic. Generally speaking, changing the tracking is all one needs to do to optically scale a sans. I would say that FF Fontesque Sans, with its tight fit, is more of a display face, and recommend adding tracking, and dare it be said, a touch of horizontal scaling, for body text setting!

Of the articles that I’ve read from you, your research into the 1830s British inspiration behind continental typefaces like Akzidenz-Grotesk and Helvetica is my favourite. Are you particularly inspired by the history of British design, or is there another country whose tradition interests you to a higher degree?

I’m not interested in national cultures per se. A face like FF Oneleigh, which is speculative fiction informed by the historicist movement of the early twentieth century—which was international—draws its influences from designers in the USA (Goudy, Cooper), Germany (Schneidler, Koch, Bernhard), Holland (de Roos) and so on.  

FF Oneleigh
How do you think your work fits in to the larger story of contemporary Canadian graphic design?

Outside the type industry subculture, type designers are rarely recognized for their œuvre as a whole, but individual typefaces do make it into graphic design history. I’d say there are three of mine that might have relevance in a specifically Canadian context:

FF Fontesque pairs with Val Fullard’s FF Mambo as the happy face(s) of the Grunge craze of the mid 1990s. They were huge in Canada, and internationally.

The Richler commemorative type is worthy of mention, due to Mordecai Richler’s ongoing celebrity as a Great Canadian Writer.

And perhaps too my custom types for The Globe and Mail (“Canada’s National Newspaper”), given that the paper is such an institution, and an anomaly, both in terms of design (oldstyle types, modernist layout with no justification) and performance—increasing its readership when the newspaper industry in general is declining. Its 2010 redesign was voted best in the world in the 32nd Society of News Design awards.

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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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Pictures, award winners and the delights of OpenType

In our quest to make our website as functional and easy to use as possible, we have added three brand new features.

In-use gallery

First up, is our gallery of FontFonts in-use. Now when you browse through our typefaces, you can browse a picture of each font in-use. Just click on the ‘camera’ icon on the browse page and the pictures of our type in-use examples will be displayed.

In Use Gallery

You can also view an in-use gallery of each indivdiual FontFont family. So whether you’re searching for all in-use pictures of the FF Unit family, looking for an example of what FF Meta looks like when used on the Mozilla website, trying to find out what FF Fontesque looks like on a bookcover, or if you’re simply after another way of browsing through our library, our in-use gallery offers you a real visual treat.

Discover the delights of OpenType

Through the advanced typographical control of the OpenType format you can bring your text to life with fantastic features such as small caps, tabular figures, swashes and oldstyle figures. Yet it’s often said that the true features and fantastic functions of OpenType can be hidden away, often undiscovered. We hope to change that with our second new feature which helps you to see how the OpenType layout features, that are included in each FontFont, appear. For example, when you click on the OpenType features of FF Scala Regular you can now see all the different features that the font contains and how they will appear in FF Scala. FF Scala

Want to find out more about OpenType and its layout features? Check out our OpenType User Guide (247KB).

Award-winning FontFonts

Our FontFont Library is home to numerous award-winning typeface designs and now you can easily see which of our FontFonts have won prizes. Just look out for the little trophy icon next to the font on the browse page. You can also read all about the typefaces which have been awarded accolades and prizes on our news section under Awards

Award-winning FontFonts

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FontFont to sponsor ISType 2012

 ISType

Last year Onur Yazıcıgil and Alessandro Segalini set up and organized ISType (Istanbul Type Seminars), to encourage and develop typographic literacy in Turkey. Their inaugural event was held in September 2011 and was a fantastic success, combining workshops with a series of lectures and creating a space where inspiration and ideas are exchanged and developed. This year’s ISType takes place in June 15–18 in Istanbul and we are delighted to announce that we will be supporting and sponsoring the event.

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Swashin’ around with FF Nexus

When Martin Majoor designed FF Scala and FF Scala Sans between 1988 and 1994, the idea behind this was to design a serif, humanistic typeface from which a sans serif version would be derived. Martin called it: Two typefaces, one form principle. Ten years later, he expanded his idea of two typefaces, one form principle into four typefaces, one form principle, creating a new superfamily as a result. FF Nexus, today one of the most popular typefaces in the FontFont Library, borrows some of its structure from FF Scala, but adds the slab-like FF Nexus Mix and the monospaced FF Nexus Typewriter to the set.

FF Nexus and FF Scala

And as if FF Nexus itself wasn’t amazing enough, designer Martin Majoor made one of the styles stand out even more; FF Nexus Serif Italic comes with two additional swash alphabets:

Recently, while working on the Web FontFonts of FF Nexus, we decided to revisit the OpenType features of the OT versions as well. So our Type Department worked closely with Martin Majoor to achieve the optimum result from the revision.

“The happiest period in my type design life was when I worked on FF Nexus Serif Italic Swash. I found out that it is impossible to create one ideal series of swash capitals, so I decided to make two.”

“Even though my first typeface, FF Scala, is still more popular, FF Nexus is, in my opinion, the best typeface I have created so far. With FF Nexus Mix, I introduced a third family member in my type design philosophy, and I am happy that this slab version is not a stand-alone typeface; it feels best when accompanied by serif and sans.” says Martin Majoor.

A combination of the OpenType features Discretionary Ligatures and Contextual Swashes

FF Nexus Serif Italic: A combination of the OpenType features Discretionary Ligatures and Contextual Swashes.

It was a great challenge to translate Martin’s ideas into a well-performing OpenType font, but no matter if you prefer activating features or choosing from the glyph palette, in the end you'll see that we achieved maximum flexibility. This screencast shows you how it works:

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The a|ɑ-Team

Every now and then we are asked for typefaces containing alternative characters – the first letter of the alphabet is especially interesting in this respect as the Latin script knows two forms of the lower case a: the double-storey a is one of the most distinctive letters in a typeface while the single-storey a is rather neutral and decent. So you can considerably change the character of a typeface by simply swapping just one letter.

a-Alternatives

Thanks to OpenType both forms can be contained in one font and the user can easily switch between the two forms (in applications that support OT layout features, like Adobe’s Creative Suite for instance). Many of the innovative FontFonts offer this opportunity:

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New release: FF55

BERLIN, GERMANY, April 2011 – FSI FontShop International announced the latest additions to its award-winning FontFont® typeface library.

The new designs

FF SpinozaMax Phillips developed FF Spinoza over a period of eleven years. With the goal of readability in mind, Phillips named the typeface after 17th century rationalist and lens-grinder Baruch Spinoza, a man whose job it was to help people see clearly. The family is meant as an elegant workhorse, a classic text family with just enough individual character to hold its own in display sizes. It was inspired by mid-century German book faces like Trump Mediaeval and Aldus, and by the types of Nicolas Kis. The forms are narrow and economical, with open counters. The line is firm and distinct. It has strong thick strokes and serifs to help it grip the page. Its intended virtues are firmness, clarity and modesty.

FF Spinoza

Download the FF Spinoza specimen (PDF, 1.9 MB).

FF More — It’s easy to find sans serif typefaces with multiple widths and weights, but large serif families are much less common. The 30-font FF More fills this void. Five weights in each of Condensed, Regular, and Wide widths answer every need of publication design, from strong headlines to readable text and space-efficient information graphics. FF More’s sturdy serifs and gentle contrast withstand the rigors of magazine and newspaper design — retaining clarity despite size, background, or substrate.

Łukasz Dziedzic built FF More to work alongside FF Good, resulting in a powerhouse superfamily, versatile in both its function and aesthetic.

FF More

Download the FF More specimen (PDF, 5.4 MB).

Updated and extended FontFonts

FF Meta HebrewErik Spiekermann’s FF Meta is the foundation of the FontFont library, released at the label’s inception and still a signature of the brand. Its ancestor – PT55 (1985) – was conceived for the West German Post Office as a economical typeface for use at small point sizes, but once FF Meta was released to the public it was used for nearly everything, quickly becoming one of the most popular typefaces of the computer era. It has been called the “Helvetica of the ’90s”  – not because the two typefaces have anything aesthetically in common – but because FF Meta fulfills so well the needs of modern communication. Oded Ezer designed a Hebrew version for Book and Bold.

FF Meta Hebrew

FontFont Release 55 marks a distinctive milestone — the entire FF library is now available in OpenType, while PostScript formats have been retired.

In addition, more FontFont families were converted to the Offc format (e.g. FF Sanuk and FF Isonorm). An important improvement is that Small Caps are now bundled for Offc fonts — if a font has a Small Caps version it is sold together with its companion, heavily discounting the Small Caps font.

On the OpenType Pro front, FF Sanuk was extended to Pro, and the lightest weights of FF Meta Pro, FF Meta Condensed Offc Pro, and FF Signa Correspondence Pro all received Cyrillic upgrades.

New Web FontFonts

New Web FontFonts

Aside from the two new families, ten more popular FontFont families were converted to webfonts: FF Balance, FF Chambers Sans, FF Isonorm, FF Magda, FF Oxide, FF Pitu, FF QType Square, FF SanukFF Signa Correspondence and FF Tartine Script. Web FontFonts are optimized for use on web pages using the @font-face rule. This means websites can now display HTML text in fonts other than the handful of “web safe” options of yesteryear. Because HTML text is far more flexible and easier to update than an image, using Web FontFonts gives the user customized, dynamic type. Furthermore, branded typography on web pages can be found and indexed by search engines. Text is also more accessible to users with disabilities. And because it can be resized, copied, and edited by website visitors, webfonts allow for stylized interfaces, forms, and applications without relying on Flash or other hacks.

Learn more about our different formats here.

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New release: FF54

BERLIN, GERMANY, December 2010 – FSI FontShop International announced the latest additions to its award-winning FontFont® typeface library.

The new FontFonts

FF Basic Gothic

FF Basic Gothic — Due to its popularity online, Verdana has effectively become the basic sans serif. Yet in print it tends to looks too heavy and a little unwieldy. As a response to this FontFont releases FF Basic Gothic. Influenced by the early sans serif typefaces of the 19th century and developed for today’s highest standards, it is a sans serif optimized for maximum legibility. With its functional, basic look, it is willful but pleasant at the same time. Inspired by the unique letter forms of Gill Sans and Antique Olive, designers Hannes von Döhren and Livius Dietzel searched for exceptional yet legible proportions. At the same time, the letters are stripped down to their basic forms, with precise curves and straight lines, making FF Basic Gothic extremely versatile for a multitude of applications.

Their extended weight range makes it interesting for corporate designers; TYPO Berlin 2011 already trusts on FF Basic Gothic (as well as on FF Scala). The type family performs especially well in small sizes, both in print and on the screen – thanks to the hinting experts of the FontFont Type Department.

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