News: Tagged as Tutorial

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 Collection FontFonts for Small Text

Think of small text, and often legalese, terms of use, credits, and tiny annoying instructions spring to mind. When working with the strict number of constraints that come with small text, it’s sometimes tricky to know where to start. So to help you weave your way through the world of small text, here are some tips and tricks and a roundup of our best Collection Tier FontFonts suitable for this slight but by no means insignificant intended use.

FF Bradlo Sans & FF Bradlo Slab

FF Bradlo

FF Elementa

FF Elementa

FF Schmalhans

FF Schmalhans

FF Plus Sans

FF Plus Sans

FF Sheriff

FF Sheriff

FF Parable

FF Parable

FF Roice

FF Roice

FF Instanter

FF Instanter

When it comes to small text, it’s the size of the letters within the available space that counts. To ensure optimal legibility simpler forms help. No parts of the text should disappear. Typefaces optimized for small sizes often have reduced stroke contrast; the thinner parts of the letters are almost as heavy as the thick bits. A high x-height can help, too – plus short ascenders and even shorter descenders. Letters themselves are often somewhat wider. If your typeface doesn’t already have generous letter spacing, add more tracking to your text!

It may be true that we read best what we read most. For years, much of the tiniest text appeared in dictionaries and newspaper classified ads; these were often set in serif faces. However, sans serifs perform well in this environment if they have large counters and open apertures – think about the traits in humanist sans types. Whatever typeface you pick, it should not be too fancy: small text leaves no room for detail.

Small text rarely appears alone – who wants to read a document where everything is tiny? Go for a selection that works well small, but also includes some contrast between its family’s weights: If you set some words in the middle of a line in bold, you won’t want this to go unnoticed to the reader. Think about how your selection combines stylistically with the larger type in the document, too.

Catch up on our previous intended use posts:

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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Best Collection FontFonts for festive occasions

For the past few months, we’ve brought together our favorite FontFonts from our Collection Tier and top tips for a particular intended use. With only a few days to go until we head off on our festive break, we couldn’t help but tackle the typographical heights of FontFonts suitable for festive occasions. So grab a mulled wine and a mince pie and feast your eyes on these festive fancies.

FF Quill

FF Quill

FF Danubia and FF Danubia Script

FF Danubia and FF Danubia Script

FF Nelio

FF Nelio

FF Elegie

FF Elegie

FF Letterine

FF Letterine

FF Eddie

FF Eddie

Showings and images by Angelo Stitz,
except FF Elegie: Image by Tobias Titz/
fStop (1009056)

 

Holidays and celebrations have a steady stock of traits to fall back on. These give you excellent opportunities to explore new script fonts, fat faces, or Old English types. Really, anything that looks traditional is likely to be a nice fit. You can also run wild with pastiche or kitsch – letters that look like they are made of candy canes, leaves, ribbons or snowflakes are fair game.

 

Type for festive occasions often takes the form of text to be looked at, rather than actually read. Don’t go the safe route and pick a face that looks too much like something for a book. Go ahead and let your type call attention to itself; there is no need to be too text-y.

 

Most important of all, be sure to pick something that feels cheerful; nothing brings down an invitation like a typeface that is too dreary or formal. Your fonts won’t be the only element of an upbeat design, either. Color will surely play a role, as will illustration or other imagery. Fonts with holiday ornaments can help in a pinch, too.

 

Catch up on our previous intended use posts:

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Best Collection FontFonts for advertising and packaging

Our Collection Tier are affordable hidden gems, containing one family (sometimes more) at one very reasonable price under €/$ 100 each! Over the past few months, we’ve brought together a round up of our favorite picks and some tips for a particular intended use.

As mentioned in our previous post, making your mark in today’s brand saturated world is not always easy. A corporate identity often has to be many things at once: useable, memorable and interchangable. So when it comes to packaging and advertising for your brand, how can you balance the right amount of ‘look-at-me’ to make it stand apart without losing the brand voice? In this month’s installment of our Collection FontFont series, we bring together our top tips and FontFonts from the Collection Tier suitable for advertising and packaging. 

FF Motel Gothic and FF Care Pack

FF Care Pack and FF Motel Gothic

Image: Paul Hudson/fStop (793034)

FF Maverick

FF Maverick

Image: Angelo Stitz

FF Clair

FF Clair

Image: Halfdark/fStop (450017)

FF Sale

FF Sale

FF Matinee Gothic, FF Golden Gate Gothic and FF Catch Words

FF Catch Words, FF Matinee Gothic and FF Golden Gate Gothic

Image: Larry Washburn/fStop (1129036)

FF Dolores

FF Dolores

FF Jambono

FF Jambono

FF District

FF District

Large. In this category, type is often set very large. While your selections don’t have to be too thick or heavy, they should ‘fill the space’ well. Letters that are a little condensed, and which you can set tightly, are a good bet. They’ll help you fit more text on a line and still pack a punch.

Attention. These typefaces are made for selling. Choose one whose letterforms are individual; your advertising and packaging should grab attention. Keep an eye out for what your competition is doing, though – you don’t want your products to appear interchangeable.

Multilingual. Not all of the text on packaging is meant to immediately call attention to itself. Lists of ingredients or instructions are a vital part of a package’s design, even if they aren’t one of the first elements noticed. Depending on where your products are sold, you may need to print this information in multiple languages, too. Make sure to select fonts that have the corresponding glyph ranges in their character sets.

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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Best Collection FontFonts for logo, branding and corporate identity

We are confronted by logos and branding on a daily basis and yet some of the most memorable logos are composed of just a typeface. But how do you choose the right typeface to fit the face of your brand? Making sure the face is recognizable, useable and at the same time interchangeable, is by no means an easy task. In the fourth installment of our Collection Tier Blog series, we bring together our top three tips and a selection of FontFonts from our Collection Tier that are suitable for logo, branding and corporate identity projects.

FF Typeface Six

 FF Typeface Six

FF Marten

FF Marten

FF Moonbase Alpha

FF Moonbase Alpha

FF Govan

FF Govan 

FF Zapata

FF Zapata

Frank Sinatra School of Art, design by Pentagram


 

Memorability: Your logotype and your corporate typefaces don’t have to be the same – but they should harmonize, visually. Make your logo unique. Many logos use no type at all, but every logo will be paired with text. Your branding and CI faces can be individual, too, but their primary function is to be recognizable and readable. Choose selections that differentiate your brand from competitors, while still appearing clear and ‘corporate’. Although many companies rely on modern or humanist sans serif typefaces for their identities, your brand’s face could be a serif.

 

Usability: Does your typeface family have enough weights and widths to support a strong typographic hierarchy? Consider how much differentiation is necessary between the elements in your documents, both for internal corporate communications and external advertising. A superfamily, with sans and serif variants, may be an apt choice. Families with optical sizes for text and display help, too – a logo and the text around it should function well in virtually every size and resolution.

 

Interchangeability: Corporate fonts are rarely used in isolation. Depending on a company’s communication strategy, your faces are likely to be seen together with other types, too. How well does your selection play with others? If your corporate fonts have to degrade to standard fonts in certain settings – like online or in office memos – can your design cope with this substitution? Which typographic extras typically appear in your corporate documents (e.g., small caps, tabular figures and fractions)? Consider the fonts’ default glyphs, as your fonts may also be used in office applications that don’t easily support OpenType features.

 

Did you miss out on our previous Collection Tier posts? Have a look at our tips and picks for Music and Nightlife, Sports and Book Text. Next up in our series, our Collection Tier selection suitable for Advertising and Packaging. 

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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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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Best Collection FontFonts for Sports

In July, we launched our Collection Tier FontFont Blog series. Each month, we will be sharing our top picks from our Collection Tier suitable for particular intended use with a few handy hints to boot! Inspired by London 2012, next up in our series are our ‘Olym-picks’ – a round-up of our favorite Collection Tier FontFonts suitable for Sports.

FF Archian Plastic

FF Archian

Image: Caspar Benson/fStop (677042)

FF World

FF World & FF Tyson

Image: Poster Boxing World Heavyweight Championship between Mike Tyson and Tony Tubbs 1988, designed by Neville Brody, using FF World and FF Tyson

 

FF NewberlinFF Newberlin

Image: Tobias Titz/fStop (577019)

FF Alega

FF Alega

Image: Andreas Schlegel/ƒStop (862020)

FF Rosetta

FF Rosetta

Image: Carl Smith/ƒStop (1123030)

FF SnafuFF Snafu

Image: Adam Burn/ƒStop (605010)

FF ScratchFF Scratch

Image: Brian Cassie/ƒStop (1085002)

FF Lance

FF Lance

Image: Sven Hagolani/ƒStop (693016)

FF Turmino

 

FF Turmino

Image: ƒStop (020023)

 

Rememberability: Quite a few kids in school would rather doodle the logos of their favorite bands and sports teams than pay attention to their teachers. As a designer, you need to give these kids a hand! Design team identities that are unique enough to stand out from the competition, but easy enough for 11-year-olds to draw.

 

Sports logos are something that fans of all ages identity with. Here is an opportunity to design a feeling – go ahead and try letterforms that are ornate or complicated. When it comes to sports, relying on tradition can be helpful, too. Fans will remember the style of lettering on their team’s championship-winning uniforms decades later. Script typefaces are a natural choice for team logos – especially in baseball – but can appear too nostalgic for some other sports. Big, chunky angular type is a perennial favorite. Whatever you select, make sure that it has individual and memorable shapes. 

Clarity: When it comes to player identification, clarity is important; referees, announcers and fans all need to be able to see the names and numbers on player uniforms clearly. These can take a different style from a team’s logo. Since the playing field isn’t an immersive reading environment, using all-caps text is OK. Remember, though, that uppercase letters are less differentiable than lowercase – no one wants to mix up names like KAHN and HAHN. Selecting type families that include multiple widths may be helpful, too, as the same team might have players with both long and short last names: BECKENBAUER and PELÉ, for instance. 

A low-contrast sans serif, slab serif or semi-serif family is almost always going to be the right way to go. Multiple width-options are more important than having multiple weights, but two or three levels of stroke thickness to choose from is never going to be a bad thing. 

Dynamism: The right typefaces for sports usages should look ‘fast’. Even though it is a bit cliché, picking styles that are slanted or italicized is a still good shorthand for speed. Some sporting events have other iconic elements that typefaces can play off of: simple, light geometric forms combine well with the Olympic rings, and typefaces with round letters allow for gimmicks, like substituting various balls for letters like the O. 

As is mentioned above, typefaces with clear, hard-working forms lend themselves well to many different kinds of sports. Picking fonts that are part of larger families gives you access not just to multiple widths or weight, but may offer you dynamic italic or oblique styles, too. Make sure to look at all of the fonts in a family when comparing different typefaces. 

Have a browse of all our Collection Tier typefaces suitable for sport. Which ones are your ‘Olym-picks’?

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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Spiekermann transforms Olympics typos in record-breaking time

Our founder, Erik Spiekermann tackles the typography of the Olympics with lightning speed and with the help of the Twitter community.

 

Borrowing a screen grab posted by Aegir Hallmundur, Erik spent thirty minutes on a little sketch to transform this

 

Screen grab
 
into this …
 
Erik’s sketch
 

The original design included a number of common typographic mistakes: all caps (which makes it difficult to read), spacing that was too tight, use of italic (which was confusing and redundant), artificial small caps, messy gradations and an uninspired font choice (Arial). 


Using his very own FF Unit, his quick fix improved the legibility, kerning and artificial small caps. His twitter followers then helped to finesse and finalize the picture. Together they proved what a difference good typography makes.


We love the result!

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Best Collection FontFonts for Music and Nightlife

To help you navigate your way around our vast assortment of typographical treats, we made some changes last year to the way our library is structured and introduced three tiers: Premium, Collection and Free.

Over the coming months, we will feature our top Collection Tier FontFonts for a particular intended use and give you some handy tips and hints on how to use them. We’ve mentioned before that we are powered by music and although the summer may not be sizzling, the music festival season has certainly arrived; so first up in this series are our top ten typefaces suitable for use in music and nightlife.

FF Imperial

FF Imperial

FF Minimum

FF Minimum

FF Amoeba

FF Amoeba

FF Flava

FF Flava

 FF Bionic

FF Bionic

FF Karo

FF Karo

FF Softsoul

FF Soul

FF Container

FF Container

FF Mach

FF Mach

FF Massive

FF Massive

Audience: Can a typeface look like music? Maybe. The right face for a violin concerto CD probably won’t be the best choice for a DJ’s website, though. When it comes to selecting type for music and nightlife, the right ones are all about appearances; legibility and even readability take a back seat.

Think of the great psychedelic posters from the ’60s or the dance club flyers from the ’90s – neither of these typically featured text that was easy to read.

The typefaces you select for music and nightlife should be geared toward the particular audience. Contemporary music needs type that feels like it was made now. ‘Corporate’-looking fonts will probably be the wrong fit.

Usage: Choose your type based on where it will be seen. Album covers, t-shirts and posters are an opportunity to create work that is illustrative and unique, while advertisements for an act’s concert appearances or for specific clubs offer less leeway

Fans will be able to pick out their favorite band from a sea of logos, but when you present information about where they will play, when tickets will be available and how much they cost, you can help the reader by listing these bits of information clearly.

Music and nightlife allow typeface combinations that would never normally go together in a corporate setting. Try to find imaginative styles for band identities, or for the venues where they will appear. Combine these with something clear and more subdued for everyday information; this stuff is less important in a visual hierarchy than the creative side, but it should still communicate what it has to.

Ecosystem: Type is just one element of the mix for music and nightlife. How does it combine with photographs, illustrations, or even simple fields of color? Words don’t have to be written with ornate letters to be decorative – big fat block letters can do the trick, depending on what other elements you mix them together with. Especially in this category of design, it is definitely OK to use all-caps text.

Although your design doesn’t have to be 100% about the type, good fonts will help strike the right tone. When you select your typefaces, think about what other design elements you will be combining them with. If imagery is a more important part of your band’s ‘identity’, take this into consideration. Sticking to one family with several weights and widths may offer enough versatility.

 

Have a browse of all our Collection Tier typefaces suitable for music and nightlife. Let us know which ones you would add to the list!

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.

About the Intended Use function

The intended use function helps you easily sift through the multitude of fonts on offer. With categories ranging from Book Text to Wayfinding and Signage, from Posters and Billboards to Festive Occasions, there are over 12 different intended use categories to help you find the perfect typographical match for your project.

Next up in our series — Our top Collection Tier FontFonts suitable for Sport.

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