Tag Archives: typography

Say it in zombie

Many thanks to my friend Corey, who passed along a link to Zombie Font, which allows you to type anything and have it displayed by undead bodies.

It’s perfect for Halloween!

Corey wrote: “Saw this, and thought of you and your love of fonts, kerning and such. This one, although not terribly practical, is fun.”

And he’s right. This isn’t the most … legible of fonts. Could you tell that it spelled out “stagger… lurch… brains…” above? And I can’t see anywhere to download it as an actual for-your-computer font, so good luck using it in your Zombie Walk poster.

Although, they do have a storefront, selling T-shirts and iPhone cases and the like, so who knows. Maybe they’ll sell you the font, if you email them.

They, by the way, are also the ones who brought you Llama Font.

You liked kerning, eh? Try creating letters

Earlier this month, I was introduced to the fact that there was an online kerning game. “Goodbye productivity,” I tweeted.

Several of my Twitter followers (I work in journalism, type nerds are (relatively more) common here) picked up on it, but it was kind of a nine hours’ wonder.

Well, here’s another nine hours of wonder for you — a game of Bézier curves and letterforms.

Think you’re a type nerd? Or a type geek? Or a type pseudo-intellectual? See how you fare at a game that looks like this:

It’s called “Shape Type“. Go on, give it a go!

Manual kerning, the poster

I was absolutely entranced by this post on Quad Royal – a Vintage Poster Blog, taking a look at something they found rolled up in an old tube.

They found two posters — one white, one black; one full of an upper-case alphabet, the other, lower-case. What were they? As it turned out, instructions — spacing rules, to be exact. Or, kerning.

[T]hese instructions are by the great graphic designer Jock Kinneir. He’s best known for designing the template and typeface for Britain’s road signage along with Margaret Calvert (the Design museum have written an interesting piece about it if you want to know more). But in 1964 they also designed Rail Alphabet, as part of the Design Research Unit‘s rebranding of British Railways.

So that’s what I think this is, particularly as the posters came as part of an assorted lot from the Malcolm Guest sale. I imagine that, given their battered and used state, they were up on the walls of a design office somewhere in the British Railways system.

Now of course rendered obsolete by the computer. But a rather a fascinating bit of graphic design history nonetheless.

What I’ve also discovered in the course of writing this post is that Rail Alphabet wasn’t just used by British Railways, but also by Gatwick Airport and the NHS too, right up until the mid 1990s.  So it’s more than just a typeface, it’s the written identity of the post-war British state.

So, not just a really cool-looking poster (click over to the full post, where they’ve got photos of the full things), but also an important historical artifact. The blog says they will be donated to a museum.

I would love to have them re-printed.

(via @Coudal)

A better way to browse your fonts

We’ve all had the experience of trying to choose a font — especially when setting up a logo, for example — and typing out a word, then laboriously changing the font, working your way through from Arial to Zapf Dingbats until they all look the same.

Well, here’s a better way: Wordmark.it. Type in whatever word you want, and the web-app will display it, in the fonts that you have installed on your computer.

As noted in FastCo Design, it is such a simple process, the fact that it isn’t offered as part of standard applications is min-bogglingly frustrating:

You can enter your own text at the top, so you can see how the fonts actually look before choosing one.

You can flip the contrast with one click, to see if the font looks better in light or dark.

You can choose a few options and isolate them to compare next to each other.

Wow, a font choosing interface that isn’t an ophthalmological nightmare.

Here, for example, is a slice of “Absurd Intellectual” choices:

I am indebted to Brian at StateoftheCity for tweeting about this.

A hiſtory and uſage of the ſ (long s)

I’ve long been aware of the “long s” — which is an alternative, archaic variation on a lowercase letter s and looks similar to the letter f — but never really paid it much mind. You can see it in this close-up from the U.S. Bill of Rights, above. It’s also in the Jagermeiſter logo

But although I knew about it, it was always just an obsolete holdover — quaint, but unremarkable.

That was until I finished reading two fantastic posts by one Andrew West about the ſ.

In “The Long and Short of the Letter S,” he writes about the history of the ſ, its origins in Old Roman Cursive from the first century and its relationship with the German eszett ß.

And, in “The Rules for Long S,” he attempts to divine rules for using the ſ. In this post, he also traces the typographic ups and downs of the character, using Google Books Ngram Viewer to trace when it fell out of favour. Interestingly, this is kind of a “hack” of Google Books. Since the computer scanners can’t tell the difference between an f and an ſ, what West does is search for words like “afk” and “hufband.”

“The death knell,” he writes, was finally sounded on September 10th 1803 when … The Times newspaper quietly switched to a modern typeface with no long s or old-fashioned ligatures (this was one of several reforms instituted by John Walter the Second, who became joint proprietor and exclusive manager of The Times at the beginning of 1803).”

Interestingly, the Ngram graphs he provides show that the ſ stuck around in English for longer than it did in other languages, having been mainly dropped in French by 1780 and even earlier in Spanish.

West writes the truly remarkable BabelStone blog, where he is currently mid-way through a six-part series (plus appendix) on the lost Chinese game of Liubo. Part One, on the funerary statuettes, is here. Warning: It is extensive. Weekend-wrecker material.

Darth Vader’s head as Star Wars script

This image of Darth Vader’s iconic head (technically, his mask) has been created out of the script of the original “Star Wars” movie, which is pretty cool.

I think this new drawing-in-text fad is kind of cool — it’s the new pointillism — but doomed to be a fad.

Still, the creator of this piece, David Johns, is offering very large poster prints for ya.

(via Geekologie)

A typography anatomy lesson

Yes, I am aware that I am a bit of a typographile. But I can’t help slightly drooling over this letterpressed poster of full-on awesome. They call it a typography anatomy lesson, and it truly is — breaking out every piece of every letter with its proper name.

Here’s a look at the full poster:

They were — were! — on sale for $75 apiece, signed and wax-sealed, but they are sadly, sold out. I hope they do a new run, although I would definitely settle for a print rather than a signed original.

I love the detail, as cited on Ligature, Loop & Stem, where you could have bought one:

Typographers refer to elements of a letterform using a variety of terms that align naturally to architecture or the human body—eye, ear, foot, arm, lobe, leg—and we’ve captured many of them in this modernist-style limited edition print.

Each individually numbered 12″ × 16″ print is reproduced in Toronto by Neil Wismayer at Lunar Caustic Press on 130lb Strathmore Natural White wool finish stock in black and PMS187 red inks. Prints are hand stamped with an official red LL&S wax seal.

There are a number of close-ups (poster porn?) at Flickr, where one of the creators, Grant Hutchinson, has a small photostream.

Web-based promotions for “lost” World’s Fairs

The concept of a World’s Fair seems somehow anachronistic to me, like the byproduct of a more optimistic era.

That said, I love the idea of a World’s Fair. But apparently the Olympics have kind of won out the battle for international event of note.

So it was kind of nice to see promotions for World’s Fairs that never were. To experiment with some of the new typography possibilities with online open fonts, the Friends Of Mighty have created online “posters” of sorts for Atlantis (1962), El Dorado (1924) and the Moon (2040).

They’re fun to scroll through — but work best (actually might work only) in a modern browser. So if you’re stuck at work on IE6, I’m very, very sorry.

I particularly like scrolling all the way down to Atlantis, and watching the little man in the elevator tube come too. But, at the Moon, it was neat to actually stretch out your browser window, left and right, to see an astronaut appear and disappear.

Cool stuff!

See them all here.

Typo-shaped movie posters

Jerod Gibson makes posters based on movies, posters that take one iconic image — say, a bar of soap — and then fill them with iconic quotes.

I like. Besides Fight Club, he’s also done Clerks, The Hangover, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Star Wars … and I like his take on The Goonies, below.

Hit the jump if you want to see The Simpsons and Pulp Fiction. Or see them all at his site, where he continues to post new ones regularly and where you can buy prints for $25 or $30. Worth it!

Continue reading Typo-shaped movie posters

Deli van based on deli font based on deli sign

It’s like a Mobius strip of art imitating life imitating art.

A couple of years ago, a font designer looking for inspiration felt drawn to a neon sign outside a deli:

He blogged extensively about the process of turning a few letters of neon into a full-blown font, but in the end he was happy with the result, a font he called Deliscript, in honour of its origins.

Not only was he happy, but Deliscript was a winner in the Type Director’s Club font design competition “TDC² 2010”. So it’s a pretty good font.

Then, something weird happened: he got a call from one of the deli’s owners. She had Googled the name of the deli, and had found the designer’s font.

She wanted to hire him to design the graphics for a gourmet food van, which would be associated with the restaurant.

Read the whole story at the AIGA Los Angeles site.