Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.



  • Maybe color will be the new impression depth? If you know what I'm getting at...

  • Josh_FJosh_F Posts: 52
    I can't even believe the discussion of "color" fonts has gone on this long; it is a completely ridiculous idea. Designers already use color in their work, as it is just another device for displaying hierarchy.

    By adding color to a primary design tool, you are turning it into a secondary tool with less flexibility in its use. Type and color live on a horizontal plane, they can both be used to convey hierarchy. Bold to Book, ALL CAPS to lowercase, Roman to Italic, bright red to black all convey levels of hierarchy. By creating fonts that have predetermined color schemes, you essentially lose all ability for subtlety within whatever hierarchy you are trying to establish. A "color" font is the equivalent of making a font that is ALL CAPS BOLD ITALIC STRIKETHROUGH as default; yes there may be times where that usage is exactly the correct design choice, but for a zillion other cases it isn't fitting.

    The user/designer picks what font to use and what color to use if color is needed.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,860
    Would you be comfortable with a two-tone font with a default palette (stylistic sets?) of this year’s Pantone colours?
  • I can't even believe the discussion of "color" fonts has gone on this long; it is a completely ridiculous idea. Designers already use color in their work, as it is just another device for displaying hierarchy.
    Colour fonts could have some benefits, it's not a completely ridiculous idea, but the idea that they could become the new bold or italic is ridiculous. 

    See this earlier thread for some more discussion on the topic. The last post in that thread gave me the idea that colour could be used for those fonts designed to teach young children how to do handwriting. The letters themselves could be black, while the strokes showing the order and direction of strokes used to write them could be in colour.  
  • Ray, you better make that call.
  • If the type designer has to determine color (color fonts), make the type user have to select weight and width (variable fonts). Just a shift of responsibility ;)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,380

    Robert Bringhurst has used colour in typography, in hierarchical manner.
    I recall one work where the lines of text overlapped, in different colours.

    Perhaps The Blue Roofs of Japan? One of Robert's attempts at polyphonic typography, in which two voices overlap. The original edition used blind (non-inked) letterpress for one voice, leaving a ghostly impression on the page. I believe the later trade edition used a second colour instead.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,402
    My concerns is that when color type gets released to the untrained "masses", we will release on the World an absolute mess of confusing and poorly used type. This may, though, be a good thing. I mean as soon as we see heavy handed over-the-top usage of multi-colored type, we will know it is either spam or garbage.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 965
    edited April 2017
    If color is the "new italic", or the "new bold", then it will be up to the user to decide when letters change color, just as it is up to the user to decide what words are to be set in bold or set in italic. And word processors already let people change the color of text.

    Using color as an element of a typeface, so that one takes Bifur and replaces the areas made gray by being striped by color areas, and similar things, is an entirely legitimate action as well, even if doing so now means that the typeface can't be changed in color and still work properly.

    The problem isn't that making color an element of the typeform, or using it for emphasis, is not legitimate. The problem is that it is being oversold. (That a new idea has to be hyped a bit to get people to pay attention, though, is another issue - one I am not prepared to address.)

    It certainly is true that computers with color displays make it easy to use any combination of colors one likes - recently, I was doing some reading, and I was reminded of the history of artist's pigments. Finding pigments, in the various portions of the range of possible hues, that were resistant to fading under exposure to light, and that were nontoxic, was often very difficult.

    And it is because color wasn't easy to use that it didn't become a routine element of typography. The natural world is a colorful place, books and magazines that are printed by a four-color process, so they can have illustrations and photographs in color are appreciated - so the idea that color should become natural and integral to the text between those illustrations as well... perhaps ought not to be rejected out of hand.

    But just because people enjoy color, of course, is not a reason to employ color at the expense of readability or legibility. The temptation to mix twenty different colors like twenty different typefaces on one page could have similarly bad results. (But hue values, like grey scale values, are part of a continuum, so disaster is not quite as inevitable in the case of colors.)

    The ancient Egyptians, though, used red ink for emphasis. So some limited use of color does have a long precedent.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,255
    One day I might make a leafy font that changes with the seasons and rustles on windy days. It could be used for weather forecasts.
  • Many thanks for all the inspiring and interesting posts. It is a joy and a pleasure to read that color, typography and chromatic fonts is a subject of discussion. 
    To continue the discussion: Would any of the typedesigners, active on this blog, design a chromatic typeface himself?

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,849
    edited April 2017
    Would any of the typedesigners, active on this blog, design a chromatic typeface himself?
    Only once there’s worthwhile support in Adobe’s software. Worthwhile means a user-friendly interface, one that enables users to edit the color palette, and is implemented consistent across the suite. Not another halfassed implementation like what the Photoshop team crapped out. Without a decent UI color fonts are one more OpenType feature most people won’t learn how to use. So there won’t be enough sales to justify the effort. I can’t count on web designers to buy color fonts because many web designers still can’t code. So they can’t build color mockups in their favorite Adobe application.
  • Would any of the typedesigners, active on this blog, design a chromatic typeface ?
    I already have (actually more than one), but it was only to test FontCreator, and to learn how to do it. Until I see more support for it in the applications that I use, and find a good reason to spend time adding coloured glyphs to fonts.

    It's not particularly difficult or time-consuming to do, but it does increase the size of the fonts, so there is no reason to do it. Your book does not convince me at all that it is worth doing. 
  • Apology accepted. I would design a color font, if 1) a client asked for it, or 2) I was inspired to. I can't say either has happened yet, but I wouldn't close the door on the possibility. 
  • Interesting to see how the use of color/layers effects the design of the lettershapes (for example, perfectly circular bowls actually work):
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,193
    Would any of the typedesigners, active on this blog, design a chromatic typeface...
    I'm waiting for the next TransType update before I do any more with color, apart from continuing to make separate layer styles.
  • Rodrigo SaianiRodrigo Saiani Posts: 77
    edited April 2017
    @Nick Shinn @Craig Eliason - this is an excellent book on this competition.

    I see real use of color fonts for branding projects in which the handoff of layered proprietary typefaces could be smoother than how it currently is.

    One recent case from my studio: could definitely benefit from an easier way for the school's designers to apply the fonts in their preferred software.

    And we're going for another chromatic typeface (just not fully approved yet). On this one, the vowels would receive a layer of color in the counters/white space. It fitted our concept perfectly, but making it work in the workflow of their team (all made of non-designers using non design tools) will be the hard part.

    Maybe color is not the new bold in editorial design, and it may get tired just like any other overused graphic language in other environments such as advertising and brand identity, but to have that as one more tool in designer's disposal is a good thing - even a crude CMYK, no color changing font would suffice in many cases.
  • To continue the discussion: Would any of the typedesigners, active on this blog, design a chromatic typeface himself?
    Although I share Mark’s enthusiasm for color typefaces, I have my doubts when it comes to his ideas about the application of color as replacement for italic and bold. Because Mark is a EcTd-student of mine in Antwerp, we had some opportunities to discuss this and so far he did not convince me. That being said, I think it is a bit of pity that the focus is now on the italic/bold issue and not on Mark’s experiments with color fonts. One interesting aspect of color fonts is that fore- and background, i.e., strokes and counters, can be colored, something Mark also clearly shows in his book.

    Matyáš Bartoň, a second-year student of mine from the KABK LetterStudio, worked this semester on a color font based on a medieval manuscript. Matyáš went to the Royal Library in The Hague (mandatory for the assignment) and made photo’s of the original document. He selected a hand-colored page from a manuscript that contains an explanation of the gospels ascribed to Hieronymus. It was written in Burgundy, probably at Fleury, in the first half of the ninth century.

    In his paper Matyáš wrote: ‘Then I started with scanning the colored page and I used Photoshop to edit brightness and exposure. My intention was to get the most balanced level of deepness of black and white. All this to make it ready for vectoring. Unfortunately the result didn’t look as I wanted it to be, so I took a black marker and carefully etched in the spots by hand to fill pale and invisible parts of letters. Then I scanned this and did a few vectoring tests while using different applications. I tried Glyphs first, which gave me rough shapes but not as precise as I wanted, same as with Illustrator. What worked the best for me was the autotracer of GlyphMaster. Then I edited some of the vectored parts of letters to make the letters ready for further development in Glyphs.’

    Matyáš made a start with the development of a color font based on the medieval manuscript letters, named Hieronymus. He used a three-colors scheme (plus black for the contours), according to the original image and he was very pleased with the layering in Glyphs which made the production of the SVG font fairly simple. The result is preliminary still and perhaps Matyáš polished the letters slightly too much, but he will continue to work on the typeface.

    FYI: with the kind help of his uncle, who teaches Greek and Latin, Matyáš translated the text ‘Incipit expositio quatuor evangeliorum’, which means ‘The Explanation of the Four Gospels’. ‘Incp’ is a common abbreviation for ‘Incipit’, and the decorative wings above ‘cp’ serve as so-called Titles: it is a shortcut.*

    *From Matyáš’ paper.
  • Perhaps tellingly, the Twin typeface was never deployed...

    (As an aside, before one too zealously corrects "him" with "him/her", consider the viewpoint of [sufficiently] non-binary people.)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,860
    edited June 2017
    IIRC, the Process entry (by local designer Eric Olson) was used by the city/cities, but not now.

  • Many thanks for all your interesting opinions about chromatic fonts. This article by Rick Manning about the support of color fonts for Windows 10 may be an interesting read for all followers of this thread.
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