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Best Of

  • Re: Copyright Buyout?

    It's a business decision. If the typeface has 600% potential value on the retail market, 100% sounds it's not good. If it has 10% market value then it's great. It depends.
  • Re: Is there a need for a TTF version?

    If you draw your PS correctly, converting to TTF outlines goes reasonably well, but there is no substitute to auditing the TrueType outlines and redrawing them to reduce off-curve points. Option-click on a PS curve converts it to TrueType in FL (Mac). I use this constantly to check my PS handle placement to make sure it converts To TTF nicely. It is an interesting experience. I recommend it to all FL users.
  • A new approach to spacing?

    I've often found it strange that there's a big impedance mismatch between the thing that we want to do when spacing - to set the distance between a pair of glyphs - and the three knobs that we have to twiddle to set that distance - RSB of the left glyph, LSB of the right glyph, and a kerning pair. It's as if you want to set the temperature of a shower, and you have a cold tap, a hot tap, and a mixer tap. (Oh, and the hot and cold taps affect other showers too.)

    Yes, I know about spacing key letters, but I still find myself scratching my head about which taps to open and close when /r/s is too loose but /t/s is too tight and /t/n and /r/o look kinda OK and...; and besides, sidebearings and kern pairs are implementation details. Actually I shouldn't have to care about these things - I just want to set the distances!

    So, I realised that we can just tell the computer the distances we want, if we express those distances like so:
    dist[o,o] := 76   ->  76 = RSB[o] + LSB[o] + kern[o,o]
    dist[o,n] := 108 -> 108 = RSB[o] + LSB[n] + kern[o,n]
    dist[n,o] := 97 -> 97 = RSB[n] + LSB[o] + kern[n,o]
    center o -> LSB[o] = RSB[o]

    This is a set of simultaneous equations, and computers are good at solving equations. We can even get the computer to find the best solution, by finding the case where the total of the squares of the kern pairs is at a minimum, meaning that kerns are only there if they need to be.

    I did a few tests in Mathematica, and it gave me pretty similar numbers to the ones I had come up with using the normal approach. So I wrote a UI which lets you drag or nudge glyphs around, and it solves the equations for you:

    Is this a crazy idea? A useful idea? A useful crazy idea? Or something else?
  • Re: What is a newspaper typeface?

    Besides the obvious functional characteristics (serif, sturdy, spatially efficient), newspaper text faces tend to be fairly "conservative" in personality. By this I mean they rarely stray too far from what is historically common in newspaper design — which in Anglo-American countries is most often in the Ionic/Scotch genres. One reason for this conservatism is that newspaper readers tend to be loyal, longtime readers of their particular paper, so they notice (and are annoyed by) very small changes in design. Another reason is that newspapers want to present as neutral and authoritative, and this style of type has come to represent those attributes.
  • Re: Is there a need for a TTF version?

    The funny thing is, while Apple developed the TrueType format and still uses it, it abandoned relying on instructions with OS X around 15 years ago. Basically, it took more of the Adobe approach, utilizing a smart rasterizer instead of relying on smarts in the fonts (which are rarely smart enough anyway, outside of system fonts). As far as I can tell, it does use alignment zones.

    At first, it wasn't that great, but over the years it has gotten better and better. And now with retina screens, it rivals the printed page in terms of sharpness.

    I really prefer the smart rasterizer strategy, not only because it means less work for me, but also because it eliminates a huge bottleneck. If a new screen technology comes along, with the dumb rasterizer strategy, potentially all existing fonts must be updated since they have been individually optimized to work with the older screen technology. With a smart rasterizer, existing fonts should work fine as is.

    Obviously there are trade offs, especially on low to medium res screens. But I think as screens get better and better, the dumb rasterizer strategy seems to make less and less sense.
  • Re: Font EULAs - “Large Volume Commercial Uses”

    I license my type because it is the right thing to do. But I will generally backtrack and change fonts if I realize that the foundry is trying to—excuse me—nickel and dime me to death. 
    I have first and second hand experience on both sides of font licensing. I have several friends who are graphic designers for very large companies, and Fontspring has a lot of experience licensing to large companies as well. My first hand experience is that large companies often forbid their designers to use fonts until the foundry has been completely vetted first. The way the license reads is only part of the equation. They often research how reasonable the foundry is in general. Once the foundry is approved, they will buy the entire library just to make it worth the cost of their legal team vetting them. But if there is anything fishy in the license, or if the foundry isn't fast to ease their concerns, they move on. Unless it is a font that they absolutely want to use, they usually don't bother negotiating. 

    Companies often ask Fontspring for lists of foundries who are good to work with as a starting point for their font acquisition. They don't want surprises (lots of caveats to negotiate), they want fast responses for fast acquisition and to minimize the amount their legal department needs to be involved. I have never gotten the impression that these companies are trying to avoid paying what it is worth... to the contrary, I've seen them buy thousands of extra seats and additional app, ebook and web font licenses just to have their bases covered.

    The cost of having their legal team involved is extremely high compared to the cost of licensing the font. But once a license is approved by legal, they can buy more fonts under that license. Some companies even have their own license, that their legal team wrote, on file with us that our foundries have approved. The company's design team can then buy any fonts they want from the Foundries who have approved that license. 

    The process of creating a product, from choosing a font to the final product is so complicated, with so many deadlines, and so many cooks in the kitchen. These companies can't afford anything to get overlooked.

    There are exceptions of course. Some libraries are such staples for design teams, that the team just tells legal to acquire the library no matter the cost. If you have one of those libraries, you can probably put whatever you want in your public license. 

    All this to say, it isn't the only piece of the puzzle, but there is long term value avoiding anything that seems onerous in your license. If there are any questionable items, from my experience, you probably won't get the chance to explain yourself. 
  • Re: What is a newspaper typeface?

    Also, what are the fonts that you think constitute the archetype of a 'newspaper typeface'.
    An Anglocentric view:

    The (Scotch) Modern is the archetype, as this was the body text style used by the first significantly mass-circulation newspapers in the UK in the mid 19th century, notably Lloyd’s Weekly and The Illustrated London News. Steam-driven rotary presses, rail distribution and the abolition of newspaper taxes were responsible for the quantum jump. The Illustrated London News was at 200,000 weekly by 1855, Lloyd’s at 400,000 by 1865.

    The Scotch Modern was also prevalent in the golden age of newspaper publishing, when daily circulation for papers such as Pullitzer’s The World reached one million, from the 1890s (with the introduction of Linotype and the massive and widespread increase of circulation which occurred in that decade) until the introduction of Linotype’s “Legibility Group” in 1931. Here is a spread from the brochure introducing Excelsior, showing the displacement of the Scotch Modern (although it continued to be widely used for another 30 years). Note that the Legibility types were moderns with vertical stress, it wasn‘t until the 1960s that new news faces started to acquire old-style and transitional qualities, e.g. caps shorter than ascenders—and old-style news faces are still a rarity.

    Prior to the Legibility Group, Linotype showed Modern Nos. 1, 10 & 16 in its 1923 Manual, as well as its Scotch.

    I term these Scotch Moderns, to differentiate from the original didone or modern types (Didot, Bodoni) on the one hand, and the “Transitional” Scotch Roman on the other. Their most distinguishing feature is the “pot hook” tail of /R and /a (see below in white).

    Timeline: the primacy of newspapers as a news medium was challenged by movie-house newsreels (from the teens), radio (from 1925) and television (from the late 1940s). US dates.
  • Re: OpenType SVG color fonts coming to Windows 10 :)

    There are many historical typographic and pre-typographic practices where coloring parts of the text (often parts of the glyph) have some semantic significance, for example (replicating a historical pre-typographic practice).

    It can be done by carefully crafting layer fonts (and you really need to be careful to not break complex text shaping), with accompanying CSS and or JavaScript, but it is much more cumbersome to build, use and support, and the more layers to added the more text the browser has to layout and the slower things can be.

  • Re: Is there a need for a TTF version?

    Some game engines can only handle TTF. GameMaker: Studio is TTF only. Unreal, Godot and Unity can handle OTFs. I think CryEngine, Project Anarchy, Hero Engine and Rage Engine are TTF only. 
  • Re: What is a newspaper typeface?

    Recommend Christian Schwartz for his approach into design type for newspapers and web.