Calluna Sans as an alternative to Scala Sans, but...

Designing a book based on the layout used in one of Taschen's architectural series which featured Scala Sans for body text. Recreated the layout initially using Scala Sans which I'm enamored here - it seems to be the perfect "voice" for the author and subject matter. Of course Taschen's designers created a perfectly proportioned look amongst all the elements, worthy of study and emulation, but what I have is obviously too derivative, and I've begun customizing, starting with a similar font. 

Calluna Sans seemed to fit the bill, after experiments with Martin Majoor's (designer of Scala) and others' designs (Questa Sans, Proxima Nova, Nexus). Calluna is a good approximation of Scala yet with enough distinctive traits to set it apart. However, it's regular weight is a bit heavier on the page and the one light version goes too far. I suppose taking the Calluna 10 pt size I'm using down to 9.8 and slightly decreasing leading is not an option, as it alters the perfectly balanced look between page size and column width that I find the Scala Sans in 10 pt with 14.2 leading here has. Is it not advisable for any reason to use odd point sizes like 9.85 - does it complicate things in any other way? 

Thanks in advance for any feedback.


Comments

  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 184
    I've designed lots of publications using fractional point sizes for type and/or leading and never run into any issues, other than complicating the math slightly when determining "space above/below" values that tally up to a multiple of the leading.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    edited April 25
    I find the most important quality to look for when deciding on point size and leading is how much one’s eye is tempted to travel up and down, rather than across. Several things in a layout affect this, for instance line length, and whether the paragraph style is ragged or justified. The most egregious problems are “rivers” (vertical paths of white space) and “islands” (vertical paths suggested by the proximity of ascenders and descenders). So it’s unlikely that a small fraction of a point size will make much difference in this regard.

    As you are concerned with the overall weight, you might also consider experimenting with adjusting the tracking plus and minus, or even the width of the space. Not to mention nano-stroking the text, i.e. “grading”. It’s all grist for the mill.
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 48
    edited April 26
    This may or may not help you, but for whatever it's worth, when I redesigned the database School Shooters .info about eight years ago, I decided to pair Scala for text with Calluna Sans, rather than Scala Sans, as a companion sans serif. You can see the two faces working together in this PDF document, particularly in the charts and graphs. (The graph artwork was generated in Excel, but all of the type in the graphs was set in InDesign.) Here is another document where Scala and Calluna Sans are working closely together.

    I chose Calluna Sans rather than Scala Sans because it had a bit more typographic "presence," just a tad more personality. They are both humanist sans, but Calluna felt a little bit "more" humanist, if that makes sense. I did have to adjust the size of the Calluna to match the Scala, which is especially important in some documents where they appear together on the same line.

    The web interface for the database also uses Calluna Sans, but the primary text face is Skolar, not Scala. If I were to do the whole thing again, I would likely use the same serifed face for the website and the PDFs, but there were other considerations eight years ago, including screen resolution and what was available on Typekit (which we no longer use).

    To actually answer your question above, there is nothing wrong with fractional point sizes — points are an arbitrary unit of measurement — and I frequently go to two decimal places with type sizes. That said, I have found that when a layout feels a little wishy-washy or unsure of itself, returning to traditional typographic units and sticking to them, especially in the arrangement of empty space, can sometimes give it more solidity and conviction.
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 48
    edited April 26
    [duplicated comment]
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 48
    edited April 26
    One more thing about Calluna Sans is that it has gorgeous, distinctive numerals, both OS and lining. The numbers have these wonderful open counters, and the industrial serifs on the 1 sort of balance out the humanism of the other numbers.

    Here is an example of a magic sheet, which is a schematic representation of all the stage lights in a theatre, used by theatrical lighting designers. I have been using Calluna Sans for my magic sheets for years, partly because the individual numbers are so distinctive and easy to read in the dark. (I wanted to attach a PDF, but it won't let me.)


  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    To be honest, I wasn't expecting such generous feedback here - thank you. Had actually been expecting to hear my original post was too verbose and wandering. Though I miss the site "Typhophile" sometimes, Typedrawers appears to be the real successor.

    Nick Shinn, grading in the direction I need to go (to slightly lighten the weight) seems not to be possible, unless I'm missing completely how grading is done. One could take Calluna Sans Light and thicken it, but I imagine this may upset the form too much, no? This is for the entirety of the body text.

    Joshua Longman, the description of Calluna Sans as just a bit more "humanist" than the humanist Scala Sans seems very appropriate - an impression I shared. There's more angularity to some of the details in Scala. 

    At any rate, I'm proceeding cautiously. The author is a noted architectural historian with a very refined eye and is a true bibliophile. She's mentioned how upset she was by a previous publisher (Wasmuth) which utilized an absurdly heavy font for the English portion of her text in a bilingual (English and German) publication. 

    I've tried decreasing the point size fractionally as suggested, away from 10 points, and lightly adjusting tracking. It's so minimal, but 9.9 or 9.85 makes a small, barely perceivable difference along with widening the tracking by 1 or 2. 

    I notice that once I go deeper into ID's Justification settings to work away some hyphenation, most of what succeeds in doing so shortens line length and then across the page you wind up with an overall darker look.

    I'm concerned we're going to fall back to Scala over this whole character weight issue. And then the totality of my design is just too derivative of Taschen's. One thing which sets it apart is the use of extensive and highly integrated shoulder/margin notes, which I've set just 1.2 points smaller but at 72% black. 

    Time to nail down these decisions as it's holding up work. 


  • If you are able to post sample pages of your layout, we could probably provide more helpful feedback. And if Calluna Sans isn't working for you, there are many other humanist sans faces out there — something which, only a very short time ago, was not the case.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    To lighten a font in InDesign, for instance, go to the Stroke palette and apply a tiny amount of <Weight> in the background colour, presumably white. Of course, you will need to experiment to get the desired effect.

    I have used this technique, for instance in beefing up Perpetua for footnotes.
  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    edited May 27
    duplicate post. edited by @Paul Hanslow


  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    edited May 27
    duplicate post. edited by @Paul Hanslow
  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    Joshua Longman, I'm attaching all the pages here (10 spreads) in identical layout but with Latin placeholder text. A few of the superscript reference numbers in the body text for the shoulder notes are missing. Otherwise, it's a very close facsimile. 

    I've let go of the grid - just overwhelmed at the moment on how to tie this all together, so the baseline will be seen shifting and the shoulder notes not matching a set number of body text lines.

    Nick Shinn, I really must investigate/learn this grading technique - really not sure what impact this might have at the printers, but thank you. What do you think of the weight in the PDF?

    [EDIT] Ok, now I see I'm "not allowed to upload files in this category." So attaching screenshots. Print format size is 21 x 26cm.

    Very appreciatively - Silas 


  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    edited May 23
    If a moderator can delete the 2 duplicate posts above, that would be helpful. 
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 828
    I took a look, finally, at the two typefaces under discussion here.
    What struck me immediately was how reminiscent of Gill Sans the typeface Calluna Sans was.
    Then, out of curiosity, I poked around Google Fonts to see if any of their free fonts belonged to the same general category of typefaces as these. It did not seem that was the case. I noticed a lot of typefaces there inspired by News Gothic, and even a few inspired by Futura, and even one that reminded me of Akzidenz Grotesk...
    Oddly enough, though, the only ones I saw that were a bit like those two  were fonts primarily designed to handle the Devanagari script, such as Mukta.
  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    Uploading here as a PDF spread, at actual size.
    Appreciatively,
    Silas
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 48
    edited June 2
    Hi Silas,

    It's hard to comment on the nuances of the typography given only the low-res images above, but the two things that strike me are (1) the measure (line length) of the main text seems a little long given the size of the type, and (2) I would not normally set a sans face justified. Certainly people do, but to me sans faces as used for running text feel inherently informal and therefore best set flush-left. Also, ragged setting goes better with your blank lines between paragraphs, which are likewise informal. Justified setting implies traditional indented paragraphs.

    If this were my layout, I would try shortening the measure and playing with the indications for paragraphing. I know this doesn't address your question about type size, but again, I can't judge that from your images.

    Josh
  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    edited June 2
    see below
  • SilasSilas Posts: 17
    edited June 2
    Have tried again to upload here as a PDF spread, at actual size, and have requested permissions to do from admins, but so far, not possible. It can be zoomed into with good resolution. 

    Josh, in one way, this sample is not perfectly representative. It's the introduction written by an architectural historian, preceding the text proper, which will be illustrated in line, often shortening the measure. I suppose the overall impression then will be quite different. Also, the large number of shoulder notes are in the intro only and have been a unique challenge. The measure(s) mirror the Taschen model, but lack the illustrations common there as well. Both are justified on both sides, but the comment/recommendation certainly makes sense to me.

    Appreciatively,
    Silas
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