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John Hudson


John Hudson
Last Active
Member, Type Person
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    I don't have time to write as long a response here as I would like, but here are some thoughts:

    1. When talking about colour in typography, it is important to distinguish between the use of multiple colours applied to text, and use of multiple colours applied to individual letters. These are different uses, with different roles in typography, and different implications for reading. I don't think Mark made this distinction, and conflates chromatic typography — use of colour in the design and arrangement of text — and chromatic fonts — use of colour in the design of glyphs. When he's talking about colour as analogous to things like bold and italic to make a case for chromatic fonts, these categories get confused. Colour is already an aspect of typography, especially on the Web where it doesn't cost anything, and has been for a long time without involving chromatic fonts.

    2. One of the things on which all readability research agrees — as does common sense —, is that higher contrast between positive figure and negative ground aids reading, while we find it harder to read at lower contrasts. This is why 'black' and 'white' remain the standard of readable text reproduction, despite the freedom and low cost of using different combinations on the Web. When people do deviate from this, as in the recent trend for grey text on many websites, readability suffers (especially for those of us whose eyes are no longer young).

    3. Maintaining strong contrast between figure and ground requires consistent density in the elements that make up the former, which is why a poorly inked page or some kinds of antialiasing of text on screen impede readability: they degrade the letter image by making some parts of it lighter than other parts, reducing their contrast with the ground. It isn't difficult to see how changing the colour of some parts of the letter has the same effect, which is why I consider polychromatic fonts to be only appropriate for display typography at large sizes, i.e. at sizes at which we do not rely on complete letter image for recognition, but rather on edge mapping.

    4. As has been demonstrated by Denis Pelli and other researchers, we read within spatial frequency channels determined by the characteristic spatial frequencies of scripts and text styles. Changes in spatial frequency in text require retuning of spatial frequency channels, which slows and interferes with reading. It isn't difficult to see how colouring parts of a letter in different ways may alter spatial frequencies, in combination with the reduced stroke density and contrast discussed above. This is not to say that one couldn't make polychromatic fonts that stick within a single spatial frequency channel, but being aware of the need and strategies to accomplish it would need to be part of the design process. It's something we take for granted when designing text typefaces for typical, single-colour, high contrast reproduction, because we've inherited evolved letterforms and weight/proportion relationships that work and which we tend not to question. It seems to me that an intelligent approach to designing polychromatic fonts would start by questioning those things, rather than just applying colour in fancy ways to letterforms that evolved in monochromatic media.
  • Re: Glitches in FL5, not in MS Word

    Yes, fractional coordinates are legit now (although not recommended unless you need them, since they increase font file size), and yes, they are supported in FLVI.
  • Re: Naming font modifications

    Someone recently asked me to modify the ogonek accents in one of my fonts — you may recall the thread. I duly modified the position and design of the accents, and uploaded a new version, fixing a few more bugs in the process. 

    Even Microsoft made some changes to their fonts with Windows updates to fix some bugs, but they have not changed the font names: Verdana, Arial, etc., have had the same names for more than a decade.
    This thread isn't about updates and fixes to fonts, it is about making customised versions of fonts, i.e. versions with distinctive features and behaviours that differ from the standard version. The standard version isn't being updated or replaced: the custom version exists alongside the standard version, for the use of a specific client, perhaps even for specific uses by that client.
  • Re: Q: "Moderately modern, but not futurist, book jacket design by Morrison"?

    What's missing, I think, is the care over placement and balance, the attention to graphical detail that characterises even Dadaist typography. The Gollancz covers include all the tropes of modernism — sans serif type, bold colours, lack of images, use of lines and geometric shapes — but without much feel for how to use them to effect.
  • Re: Q: "Moderately modern, but not futurist, book jacket design by Morrison"?

    I wouldn't describe the design of The Intelligentsia of Great Britain as 'moderately modern'. It's a dog's breakfast of poorly conceived and executed ideas. Many of the other Gollancz jackets are more moderate, and the better for it.