principles for designing Greek "italics" (aka slanted Greek)

edited January 11 in Technique and Theory
Historically, Greek typefaces would not include both upright and slanted italic characters like Roman faces do, instead choosing generally either an entirely upright face or an entirely slanted one. Greek typefaces also being traditionally somewhat calligraphic, in every Greek family I have seen with a matching italic/slanted face, the change is much simpler than an italic is for Roman (since the basic calligraphic nature of the letters has not changed). So when designing a Greek font, do you prefer to slant the upright as a basis for an italic, or start again from scratch and, if so, with what principles for matching with an upright Greek/Latin and/or the Latin italics?


  • It is right that the upright/corsivo ratio, inherited in Latin typography for a long period, had no match in Greek typography for most of the past. In many older Greek typefaces you find calligraphic vigour and (more or less) an upright structure the same time, whereas in Latin type usually calligraphic expression was reserved to the (slanted) Italic sorts, but not applied to the upright Regulars.

    When you want to decide for a new Greek or Latin-Greek design which provides upright and Italic for both scripts, my advice is this: start with reg. Latin. Then do the reg. (upright) Greek and watch Greek models while doing so. Then compare your Greek Regular to the Latin Regular and think about the balance of harmonizing or differentiating them.
    Then turn to the Italics and operate in the same manner.

    A general rule can hardly be given, because it always depends heeavily on the nature of your intended design and the scope of style and usage you want to serve for.

    And try to study materials about this topic as much and thoroughly as possible. Designing a good Greek typeface is hard to master, to design a convincing Greek-Latin match is even more demanding.

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    Greek italic seems more free to me.  The few Greek italics I have done, I have done from scratch, not with slanting the upright Greek. But that is just me. I tried looking at handwritten letters my mother received from our family in Greece but the hand-written form is too different and I could not make the Latin italic fit with it.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,777
    edited January 13
    A lot of Greek publishing in the 20th Century used what were originally two distinct typefaces in combination: an upright, derived from Didot's 18th Century Greek types, so common as to be referred to by Greeks as aplá, i.e. 'normal', and a slanted derived from 19th Century German types, referred to as Lipsías, i.e. 'from Leipzig'.

    [Image from Atelier Fluxus Virus.]
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,491
    edited January 13
    I mostly just changed the design of θκφ and added some cursive in- and outstrokes. Hope that does it!
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