Anti-Ink-Traps

I'm looking for examples of what I'm inelegantly calling "anti-ink-traps" — design features that would function the way an ink trap would, but for type that's meant to be reversed out of a dark background (or displayed using light rather than ink, perhaps).

In other words, where an ink trap cuts into a potentially problematic join, an anti-ink-trap would have a little extra there, in the form of a curve or bevel.

Does that make sense? Any examples you can think of?

Comments

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 980
    edited October 2
    I use them mostly on diagonal joins as in "V, W, N" on acute angles.  The difficulty is that we need to accommodate different substrates as well as digital output. The most severe examples were used on absorbent paper at small sizes like the old phone books. Look at Matthew Carters Bell Centennial face for good examples.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 980
    Phototype required very clean optics and fresh chemicals in processing to maximize sharpness of output.  Digital has different issues with rounding errors at certain sizes when hinting is not quite right.
  • FYI, I call them thorns (as do a few other people).
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 382
    edited October 2
    We even added them on some display faces too, because display machines didn't usually have the highest quality optical systems. Numerous examples can be found in old specimen books. I think we referred to them as spurs.
  • Chris, Bell Centennial just has straight-up ink traps, right? I'm talking about the exact opposite — Imagine the adjustments necessary if you had to print a phone book as a negative.

    I love the term "thorns" for what's happening on the corners of this Unica example... Interestingly, though, it also uses classic ink traps in the joins!
  • FS Millbank has positive and negative versions:
  • Here’s another example from Schaedler Newsletter, Maybe May, 1974.


  • Ah, tits...
  • ClearviewHwy has Positive and Negative Contrast versions as well. Millbank has its terminology backwards, at least as it relates to signage and Human Factors Research. Light Letters on Dark backgrounds are referred to Positive Contrast, Dark letters on light backgrounds are referred to as Negative Contrast. It took me awhile for that to sink in when I was first exposed to it. 
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 980
    edited October 2
    Bell Centennial just has straight-up ink traps, right?

    Yes.  I didn't see the word "anti" in your post, sorry, senior moment.
  • The problem with calling these things “thorns” is that thorn is also the name of the Icelandic character: Þ , þ.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,166
    edited October 2
    I produced Brown (left) and Worldwide (centre) initially for newsprint, optically scaled.
    The minting sharpens up body type, and provides visual interest at display size.
    The third style is Beaufort, a glyphic effect which doesn’t require optical scaling, as the sharp serifs are close to asymptotic.

    For some reason, rounding obtuse angled inside corners seemed more appropriate than negative thorns, perhaps because they don’t “decay” during process, and it expands the joint in a manner that balances the outside minting, which looks good when the font is closely inspected, rather than the typeset image.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 435
    Back in the phototype days, I always heard them called resolution points.
  • The ones that stick out I've heard called light traps.
  • Austin, it sounds like you're expecting light traps to be in the same position as ink traps, but that wouldn't be the case. In most cases you'd want the acute crotch of a V to be exaggerated for clarity, whether it's light on dark or dark on light. 
    Of course there are letters with more rounded interior corners. For example, letters by lazy wood-type creators who convince themselves that the artifacts of a router are an aesthetic decision rather than something that requires additional handwork to fix! But those aren't optical correctives like ink traps are.
  • Austin, it sounds like you're expecting light traps to be in the same position as ink traps, but that wouldn't be the case. In most cases you'd want the acute crotch of a V to be exaggerated for clarity, whether it's light on dark or dark on light. 

    I guess I was just thinking that if it's specifically meant to be reversed out in white on dark ink (rather than a fabricated or backlit sign, etc), then you might prefer to have an intentionally blunt interior corner than a sharp one that spreads out into a blob.

    This might not actually be a thing!
  • For example, letters by lazy wood-type creators who convince themselves that the artifacts of a router are an aesthetic decision
    Sounds like a lot of contemporary foundries...
  • It's also interesting to note that a technique analogous to ink traps, called Optical Proximity Correction, has long been used in integrated circuit fabrication to compensate for the fact that features on chips were no longer many times larger than the wavelength of the light used to print them. (Now, they're smaller, and so additional techniques, such as multiple patterning, are also required.)
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