and Crimson Pro
are two free serif fonts available throught Google Fonts. I really like them and I'm courious to know what you think about them, not just as web fonts but also as desktop fonts for long Word and PDF documents:
1) Do you consider them quality fonts, comparable to commercial alternatives such as Minion?
2) Do you prefer Crimson Text or Crimson Pro? And why?
3) I would like to use them on my computer for common Office tasks. Should I download them from Google Fonts or from GitHub?
Both look like they are pretty well designed but it's hard to judge without actually using them.
There are a lot of fonts that I think are “quality fonts” that are not at the same quality level as Minion. Robert Slimbach is one of the ~ top five or so western type designers in the world, and Minion is his all-time flagship, which he has taken multiple passes at. The question is kind of like taking a fantasy film and asking if it is “comparable to a major studio release such as The Lord of the Rings”—that wasn’t just ANY major studio release!
Leave out the “such as Minion” and that would be a very different question. All “quality fonts” would be “comparable to commercial alternatives.”
Crimson Text: yes, it is a quality font family. No, it is nowhere near the same league as Minion. it looks fine, but feels quite derivative of countless other Garalde typefaces, including Garamond and Minion itself. The weight range is very limited and no optical size variations are available.
Crimson Pro: yes, it is a quality font family. It is an ambitious reworking and definitely a step above Crimson Text. It has a significantly broader weight range than the original Crimson Text. However, it still lacks optical size variations.
Both Crimson Text and Crimson Pro have extended Latin character sets including many eastern European languages, but lack the polytonic Greek and extended Cyrillic support of Minion, as well as some other unusual characters. Minion also has optical size variation, real small caps and other typographic extras.
I concur with Jasper that Crimson Text, despite the name, is more of a display face, while Crimson Pro is sturdier and would certainly outperform its predecessor at text sizes, especially small text sizes.
Note the quasi match in widths and sidebearings. And many differences are just consequences of the scale down, like the descender of y, which follows the angle of the right leg. The same with x.
There are small differences in ascender serifs, g's ear or Q tail. The a is the only letter that departures a bit more from the matrix, but Crimson seems to me essentially a modified Adobe Text. Even kerning values are similar, with the same naming schema of kerning classes.
I hope you consider this enough to prove the "genetics" I mentioned.
It's a very old type designers tradition to copy each other just enough so the new typeface can play the same role as the original. The art resides on introducing a few modification on the new font, just enough to get away with it.
There is an old discussion about if Caslon copied the Dutch or not... I don't want to get into that as the discussion will go on and on forever and will never end... But is very obvious that it also copied the specimen format.
When putting fonts on top of each other, try to appreciate the little differences "even more" than the similarities. Its a very fun way to learn
- Lexicon Italic vs Requiem Italic vs Poetica
- Sauna Italic vs Tisa Italic
- Collis vs Elena
Also its q good idea to focus not only on the letter shapes, but on blocks of text (a few paragraphs) so you can see if they are similar -or different- not only on the letter shapes, but also on the way each font work, on the way they set text on a page.
A really good ripoff will have different letter shapes but similar paragraphs... once you manage to do that you can be considered a profesional type designer
If plain words: Different just enough so colleagues type designers cant complain, but similar enough so normal people reading printed text wont notice the difference.
I can't remember this quote exactly, nor the quote author, but goes something like this:
"In order for a new typeface to be good, only very few should notice its novelty"... (or something like that, can't remember now, but you get the idea)
Making fonts that are both "different & similar" at the same time is an art form in itself
I avoid the approach you have used, because it is hard to tell the real degree to which the shapes underneath are the same or different, where they are overlaid. My brain’s natural tendency is to do a kind of visual fill-in, which assumes the overlaid parts are pretty much the same, but that could well be misleading.
I believe it is much better to either do your overlay _with transparency_ in the sample overlaid on top (50% transparent plus a radically different color is good). I did this in my recent report for Gorbachev v Guriev, for example.
If the sample text is large, as in this example, I also find good results from converting the overlaid font (and the bottom one, if possible) to a lightly-stroked outline, with no fill at all. Then the similarities and differences will be especially obvious.
The original assignment was to clean up Crimson Text. Sebastian Kosh, the original designer had made a newer version and we were thinking of taking the qualities of both designs to make the newest version.
During the process I made some sketches to test the scope on how far we could go. One of these sketches was very promising. Since it was too far out of scope, yet a very good addition to GF, we decided to continue with it. And it became Crimson Pro.
I used it myself in some print jobs and it worked quite well actually.
Real smallcaps aren't included in Crimson Pro.
Since the design is so far from that of the original Crimson Text, the name Crimson Pro seems strange, even confusing. ‘Pro’ suggests an extended version of a design—as Adobe established use of the term in the late 1990s—, but in this case it is really a very different design.
What was the thinking behind this naming? Was it your idea, or Google Fonts’?
I understand the confusion due to it's name. To be honest I can't recall how the name has been chosen. I looked through my files and it actually had the working name "Crimson Text New" for almost up to the end.
@John Hudson At the end of the thread you will find why we called it ‘Pro’