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John Savard

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John Savard
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  • Re: What are 'true italics'?

    While I've noted myself that the usual practice with italic versions of sans-serif typefaces is for them to be slanted versions of the normal version, some of the comments here on this issue have inspired even myself, merely an interested layperson in this field, to say "Whoa!".

    It's not as if all sans-serif typefaces are the same. Helvetica isn't Futura, and neither of those is Gill Sans. Since there are very different styles of sans-serif typeface, for some of them, optical correction is necessary for the italic, and for others its benefits will be limited; for some of them, single-story a and g will be appropriate, and for others, those modified letterforms will be out of place. (As noted, in the case of Futura, they wouldn't be a modification.)

    There isn't one best way to italicize a sans-serif typeface, although there can certainly be examples of typefaces that were italicized the wrong way for that particular typeface.

    Since sans-serif doesn't necessarily mean monoline, one could even reach further. While a slanted italic was still appropriate even for Optima (which isn't, perhaps, strictly sans-serif), I would not categorically exclude the possibility that a sans-serif typeface could be designed to resemble conventional Roman serif typefaces to such an extent that a cursive italic would be the appropriate match for it.
  • Re: Playboy

    Certainly looks like Goudy Old Style to me at first glance.

    But I thought most advertising was typeset by the ad agency, and was sent to publications in image form, since one might see exactly the same advertisement in LIFE and Popular Mechanics.

    Maybe I'm mistaken, and ads were simply tightly specified, since each publication might have had to tweak photographs, for example, to have them turn out right on the specific type of printing press they used.
  • Re: Does that “y” exist?

    Clearly I'm no professional type designer. The only thing I could see (apparently) wrong with the typeface sample that began this thread was that the capital Y should have had a shallower V-part and a longer stem. The width of the letter U completely escaped me.

    Now, the typeface is unusual in that the upper case is a conventional geometric sans-serif, while the letterforms in the lower case have a special rounded shape. Since the specimen given shows the two alphabets separately, I can't judge whether their juxtaposition will be problematic.

    As for the lowercase w, it looks like the lowercase v, not the lowercase u, in most typefaces, so I don't see that the wrong shape was chosen for it.

    Thanks to Jan Middendorp, I know that there were Dutch type designers who DID complain about the German standard baseline, although not as much as Van Krimpen complained about Monotype’s 18-unit system (is it possible for anyone to complain about anything as much as he went on about that?).
    Obviously, if anything actually happened, then it is possible for it to have happened. :)

    However, I am still surprised that the 18-unit system is a significant cause for complaint. I had not found the coarseness of the 9-unit system of the IBM Selectric Composer to be visibly apparent.

    That does not mean that it did not have limitations. The letters M, m, and W should have been 11 units wide, not 9 units, to be in correct proportion. Also, unlike the situation with the Monotype caster, all typefaces were spaced the same way, which led to the same painful limitation for italics as found on Linotype - and further problems for any typeface other than Times Roman, for which they spacing chosen was appropriate.

    However, that an 11-unit system would not have caused problems for the reader of a text doesn't mean that it could not have meant much more work for the type designer.
  • Re: Aspects of quality for a typeface

    This reminds me of the famous quotation:

    "If there were an individual, readily recognized quality or characteristic which the type designer could incorporate in drawings that would make any one type more beautiful, legible, or distinguished than another, it is obvious that only type of that kind would be designed." - Frederic W. Goudy

    It was obvious to me what he meant by that. So many songs are written and recorded every year, and only a few catch on and become popular. So many expensive movies are made with high hopes, and then flop. As with music and movies, there's no easy way, no shortcut (in the vein of "more cowbell", humorously advocated for country music), to designing a typeface so that it will be accepted.

    Craftsmanship in the design of a typeface is essential, but it doesn't guarantee a good result, it only makes one possible.
  • Re: Brain Sees Words As Pictures


    While I can read Cmarbidge, Cgiarbmde doesn't work.
    This might be because the latter's letter dislocations are too great (throwing off the parallel compilation) but it could instead/also be because the descender is moving too far, disrupting the bouma.
    For myself, the first thing I think of is that in Cgiarbmde, the "g" has become a hard g, while in Cmarbidge, the sounds stay the same, but are re-ordered.

    The idea that it is all interrelated - we see the individual letters, the bouma, the context of the words, the apparent sound values - makes perfect sense to me.

    And with such a complex process, learning a new and different script means throwing most of it away until facility in the new script is acquired. So even if it would cure dyslexia, I don't think we will switch to an adaptation of the Korean writing system any time soon.