TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Fri Sep 22 09:34:30 EDT 2017

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Variable fonts



[Shown are many instances of C.J. Dunn's Dunbar (2017), one of early Opentype Variation, or simply variable, fonts.]








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Aaron Bell
[Saja TypeWorks]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

ATypI: OpenType 1.8 announcement

The original announcement of OpenType 1.8 that covers for the first time variable or multiple-axis fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Axis Praxis

Laurence Penney's test site for variable fonts. Requires Mac OS Sierra or later, or Webkit Nightly. He writes: Axis-Praxis relies on the font-variation-settings property in the draft CSS4 specification, implemented in WebKit. On the server, it uses TTX to extract the variations information from the font. Once it has this data and has delivered the font back to the browser as a @font-face webfont, the server has no further use for the font so it is deleted immediately. In the browser, the CSS font-variation-settings property of the textboxes is changed using JavaScript when you adjust the sliders or click the named instances. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Christoph Koeberlin
[Sportsfonts]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

C.J. Dunn
[CJ Type]

[More]  ⦿

CJ Type
[C.J. Dunn]

CJ Dunn has a background in graphic design and typeface design, and currently works on typefaces for Font Bureau. He is a graduate of Type@Cooper, a postgraduate certificate program in typeface design, where he also assisted Sumner Stone & Sara Solskone in teaching typeface design. He started TypeNY.com to keep track of type related events in New York City.

In 2017, he designed the stunning 2-axis variable font Dunbar and writes: Dunbar is an exuberant geometric sans with a unique structure, including Tall and Low display versions for large sizes and a Text version for smaller sizes. Inspired by Jakob Erbar's Erbar-Grotesk, it is not a strict revival but interprets the design for contemporary applications, rediscovering some of Erbar's innovative ideas of alternate letterforms and proportions. Dunbar comes in large and small x-heights, Dunbar Tall and Dunbar Low. Speaker at ATypI 2016 in Warsaw on A Proposal for a Common EULA. [Google] [More]  ⦿

David Berlow

David Berlow (b. Boston, 1955) entered the type industry in 1978 as a letter designer for the Mergenthaler, Linotype, Stempel, and Haas typefoundries. He joined the newly formed digital type supplier, Bitstream, Inc. in 1982. After Berlow left Bitstream in 1989, he founded The Font Bureau, Inc. with Roger Black. Font Bureau has developed more than 300 new and revised type designs for The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Hewlett Packard and others, with OEM work for Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft Corporation. The Font Bureau Retail Library consists mostly of original designs and now includes over 1,000 typefaces. In a video made for Mike Parker's TDC medal in 2011, Mike Parker says that David Berlow is the most talented type designer he ever met. David lives in Martha's Vineyard.

At ATypI 2004 in Prague, David spoke about Daily types. At ATypI 2009 in Mexico City, he spoke on The heart of my letter, (and the online version). Since that time he has been very active and vocal on the issue of high quality web fonts. Speaker at ATypI 2011 in Reykjavik and at ATypI 2014 in Barcelona.

David Berlow Type Specimens (free pdf). Another type specimen booklet. Interview by A List Apart in 2009. Speaker at ATypI 2010 in Dublin. FontShop link. www.typovideo.de/david-berlow. David Berlow on web fonts. Interview by The Boston Globe. His typefaces:

  • AgencyFB.
  • Amstelvar (2017). a variable (or parametric) font at Font Bureau. Contributors include David Berlow, Santiago Orozco, Alexandre Saumier Demers, and David Jonathan Ross. Open Font Library link, where one can download the font. Github link.
  • Apres (2008, a sans with 40 styles). David Berlow and staff drew Apres as part of a series designed originally for the Palm Pre smart phone, for use both on the device and in print marketing. Simple, open letterforms and generous proportions provide a clear, comfortable, and inviting experience for navigation and readability.
  • Belizio (1987-1988), a beautiful slab serif modeled after the 1958 original slab serif by Aldo Novarese called Egizio Corsiva Nero. Claudio Piccinini would have liked Font Bureau to acknowledge Aldo Novarese's Egizio as the source of this family.
  • Belucian (1990, by David Berlow and Kelly Ehrgott Milligan. Several weights exist, including Demi and Ultra.
  • Berlin Sans (1997).
  • Bureau Grotesque (1989). This 27-style family is now called Bureau Grot. Font Bureau's blurb: The current family was first developed by David Berlow in 1989 from original specimens of the grotesques released by Stephenson Blake in Sheffield. These met with immediate success at the Tribune Companies and Newsweek, who had commissioned custom versions at the behest of Roger Black. Further weights were designed by Berlow for the launches of Entertainment Weekly and the Madrid daily El Sol, bringing the total to twelve styles by 1993. Jill Pichotta, Christian Schwartz, and Richard Lipton expanded the styles further, at which point the family name was shortened to Bureau Grot.. Note: there is a custom version called M&C Saatchi Grotesque with truetype data created by dtpTypes in 1998.
  • CalifornianFB.
  • CheltenhamFB.
  • Custer RE (2014), a typeface for small on screen use. The Font Bureau blurb: In 2009, a book from 1897 in the library of the University of Wisconsin caught David Berlow’s attention. It was set in a clear text face---a predecessor of Bookman---cast by the Western Type Foundry who called it Custer. Upon noting how well the typeface worked in point sizes of 6 and 7 points, Berlow developed it into a member of the Reading Edge series specifically designed for small text onscreen. Custer RE is a broad and approachable typeface drawn large on the body with a tall x-height to maximize its apparent size when set very small. The minimal stroke contrast and the hefty serifs let it stay exceptionally clear down to a font-size of 9px. Font Bureau.
  • Decovar (2017). A variable font. Github link, where one can freely download the font family. See also Open Font Library.
  • Desdemona (1992). An art nouveau face.
  • Eagle (1889-1994). This art deco typeface Font Bureau Eagle was started in 1989 for Publish. David Berlow designed a lowercase, finished the character set, and in 1990 added Eagle Book for setting text. In 1994, Jonathan Corum added Eagle Light and Eagle Black to form a full series.
  • Eldorado.
  • Empire.
  • Esperanto (1995).
  • ITC Franklin Gothic (1991). In 2008, David Berlow added Condensed, Compressed and Extra Compressed widths to Vic Caruso's 1979 ITC Franklin interpretation (which had Light, Medium, Bold and Black), and Font Bureau sells a complete ITC Franklin now. In 2010, Berlow completed his definitive revision of ITC Franklin, a single new series of six weights in four widths for a total of 48 styles. Typeface review at Typographica.
  • Giza (an Egyptian family.
  • Hitech (1995).
  • Juliana Text (2009), a rebirth of Sem Hartz's Juliana (1958, Linotype), a popular narrow legible paperback text face.
  • Kis FB (2007): a revival of old style types by Nicholas Kis from ca. 1700.
  • Letras Oldtsyle (1998). Letras Oldstyle was commissioned by Letras Libres, the reigning literary magazine published by Enrique Krauze in Mexico City. This garalde series was inspired by the earliest typefaces cut in the Americas in the early 1600s by printer Henrico Martinez. Proofs survive in the Biblioteca Nacional. Letras Oldstyle stands as the first typeface ever cut in the Americas, the root of American type design.
  • Meyer Two (1994). Based on a 1926 type by L.B. Meyer.
  • Millenium BT Bold Extended (1989, Bitstream). Also known by insiders as Starfleet Bold Extended, this font was used on federation starship hull markings until episode ten. MyFonts link.
  • Moderno FB (1995): an exhibitionist didone in 32 styles, for Esquire Gentleman. In 1996 Berlow cut new styles with Richard Lipton for El Norte. In 1997, Roger Black ordered new weights for Tages Anzeiger. It grew further when the Baltimore Sun, with FB Ionic as text, was redesigned. The whole series was then revised for Louise Vincent, Montreal Gazette, with further styles added in 2005 for La Stampa. [It is my favorite type family at Font Bureau.]
  • Nature (1995).
  • Numskill (1990).
  • Old Modern.
  • Online Gothic (1995).
  • Ornaments.
  • Phaistos (1990-1991). A flared angular design done with Just van Rossum, and inspired by Rudolf Koch's Locarno.
  • Poynter Agate.
  • Reforma: Based on Giza.
  • Rhode (1997).
  • Romeo.
  • Scotch Roman (1993).
  • Skia (1993, Apple). A Greek simulation sans, in the style of Twombly's Lithos, co-designed with Matthew Carter for Apple's QuickDraw GX project.
  • Skyline.
  • Titling Gothic FB (2005): Berlow spent 10 years developing FB Titling Gothic in seven weights of seven widths each for use as display and headline romans. It was inspired by the popular ATF Railroad Gothic and grew out of Berlow's own Rhode.
  • Throhand: a classic family based on metal type found at the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
  • Truth FB (1995).
  • Village.
  • Vonness (2007): a newspaper sans family. Font Bureau: Vonness was designed by David Berlow working closely with Neville Brody on corporate redesign for Jim Von Ehre at Macromedia. Core weights are loosely based on Bauersche Giesserei's Venus, 1907-1910. Berlow expanded the ideas behind the series to 56 fonts.
  • Yurnacular (1992, part of FUSE 4).
  • Zenobia (1995).

View David Berlow's typefaces. Another catalog of David Berlow's fonts. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

David Jonathan Ross
[DJR Type]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

D.B. Latner: Critique on Variable Fonts

D.B. Latner writes: I am glad Multiple Master fonts was mentioned, as this is remarkably similar to that technology from the mid-90s. But I am worried that many of the same reasons that MM failed (as well as the Panose numbering system) will play out again in this century, including:

  • Too much choice can cause more frustration rather than less.
  • Hard to create consistency throughout a publication.
  • Very difficult to spec the type ("no, I told you to use Helvetica 105cba7, not Helvetica 105a9e!")
  • Hard to create a good UI, so only the hard-core font geeks get around to using it.
  • Hard to convince software companies to include a technology that only font-lovers see the value of (look how long it has taken for even some basic OpenType formatting to catch on).
  • Hard to design these fonts, so there end up not being very many of them.
I am very excited to read about this reintroduction of what is essentially MM fonts, because I LOVED that technology. But it's hard to think about without feeling a little sting of remembered pain from MM's death two decades ago. [Google] [More]  ⦿

DJR Type
[David Jonathan Ross]

DJR Type (Deerfield, MA, and before that Los Angeles, CA, and before that, Lowell, MA) stands for David Jonathan Ross Type. Originally from Los Angeles, he was a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where he studied information design and typographic tradition. After graduation, he joined Font Bureau as a junior designer and was assisting with custom projects and expanding Font Bureau's retail library. Soon after that, het set up DJR Type. In 2016, DJR Type joined Type Network and pulled all his typefaces from MyFonts. His typefaces:

  • Manicotti (2010). An ultra reversed-stress Western saloon style typeface that won an award at Modern Cyrillic 2014. DJR Manicotti won an award at TDC2 2007. For a free lookalike, see Plagiacotti (2009, Saberrider).
  • Lavinia.
  • Climax Text (2006) is a text and display series that was designed for Hampshire's student newspaper.
  • Trilby (2009, Font Bureau). Trilby is based on a 19th century French Clarendon of wood type fame.
  • Condor (2010, Font Bureau). This is a 60-style art deco family.
  • Turnip (2012) is an angular and manly text face, also published at Font Bureau.
  • In 2013, Ross revived Nebiolo's Forma for the redesign of Hong Kong Tatler, a fashion mag, supervised and commissioned by Roger Black, who was then based in Hong Kong. Read about the whole process in this piece by Indra Kupferschmid. Page specially dedicated to DJR Forma.
  • Bungee (2013, Google Fonts) won an award at TDC 2014. This homeless typeface, which comes in Regular, Hairline, Inline, Outline and Shade versions, is free: Bungee is a font family that celebrates urban signage. It wrangles the Latin alphabet to work vertically as well as horizontally.
  • In 2014, David Jonathan Ross created the formidable 168-style programming font family Input (Font Bureau). Input is free for private use. It won an award at Modern Cyrillic 2014 and in the TDC 2015 Type Design competition.
  • Gimlet (2016). A 112-style Opentype family loosely based on Georg Trump's 1938 typeface, Schadow, and advertized as funky and functional. Ross writes: Gimlet is half Schadow, half imagination, and nothing else. And like its namesake beverage, Gimlet is a a little tart, a little sweet, and can really pack a punch.
  • Fern Micro (2014, Font Bureau). A Venetian typeface designed for screen.
  • Output Sans.
  • Fit (2017). A tall black display family that runs from ultra-compressed to very wide. It screams Use me for the Oscars! Fit was first developed as a variable font.
  • DJR Lab, or Lab Variable (2017), is a free pixelish variable font.
  • Under miscellaneous, we find an untitled French Clarendon and an untitled semi-serif.

Speaker at ATypI 2016 in Warsaw and at ATypI 2017 in Montreal. Klingspor link. Home page. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

InstaVar

A plug-in for Glyphs that allows you to add variable font axes to glyphs or points. [Google] [More]  ⦿

John Hudson: Introducing OpenType Variable Fonts

John Hudson's informative introduction to OpenType variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Marlene Arnold

Marlene Arnold's Masters Thesis entitled Dir Rolle der Typografie im Internet der Dinge (HS Mainz, 2017) covers variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Monotype on The History and Future of Variable Fonts

An article by Jason Tselentis in February 2017 on variable fonts through the eyes of Monotype's Tom Rickner. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Myles Maxfield: Variable Fonts on the Web

Myles Maxfield explains variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Nick Sherman: Variable Fonts for Responsive Design

Nick Sherman writes about variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Saja TypeWorks
[Aaron Bell]

Aaron earned a Bachelor's degree in Asian Studies, with a minor in Japanese, at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Aaron is a graduate of the University of Reading in 2011, where he earned an MA in typeface design. His graduation typeface was Saja (2011), which covered Latin and Korean. In the Fall of 2011, he joined the Microsoft Typography team.

In 2015, at Microsoft, he designed the free sans typeface Selawik, which is metrically compatible with the infamous Segoe UI. Selawik now also exists as a variable font.

In 2016, het up his own typefoundry in Seattle, Saja TypeWorks. At Saja TypeWorks, he published the sans-serif typeface Salish, which is inspired by the art of the Salishan tribes in the Northwest Americas: It draws heavily on the concept of the ovoid, a wide ovular shape that is flat on the bottom and top heavy, that is central to the art style known as Formline. Language support includes some 200 Latin-based languages as well as the necessary orthographies for all Salishan languages, including: Comox, Sliammon, Klahoose, Pentlach, Sechelt, Squamish, Halkomelem, Nooksack, Straights Salish (Saanich), Lushootseed, S'Klallam, Quinault, Upper Chehalis, Lower Chehalis, Cowlitz, Bella Coola, Ditidaht, Tseshaht, Nuu-chah-nulth, Ehattesaht-Nuchatlaht, Kwak'wala, Shuswap, Lillooet, Thompson River Salish, Coeur d'Alene, Columbia-Moses, Colville, Okanagan, and Montana Salish. Haida (a non-Salishan language) is also supported.

At FontStruct, he designed Syzygy.

In 2017, he published HWT Aetna at P22. Aetna is a sturdy roman wood type first see in William H. Page's 1870 specimens.

Speaker at ATypI 2012 in Hong Kong: Seeking the Korean true italic. Speaker at ATypI 2013 in Amsterdam: Directionality in Korean type design. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Simon Cozens: How OpenType Works: OpenType Font Variations

Simon Cozens explains variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Sportsfonts
[Christoph Koeberlin]

German typefoundry, est. 2016 by Christoph Koeberlin, whose passion for FC Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga led to the creation of Sportsfonts. Koeberlin previously designed retail typefaces such as Fabrikat and FF Mark (the latter with Hannes von Döhren and the FontFont Type Department).

His first typeface at Sportsfonts is the 24,000-glyph 49-font athletic lettering superfamily, Winner.

In 2016, he created the free variable font typeface Gingham. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Terrance Weinzierl

Grand Rapids, MI-based graphic designer. Terrance worked as a graphic designer for the university book store while earning a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in graphic design from Grand Valley State University in 2008. After graduation, he joined Ascender Corporation where he worked closely with Steve Matteson.

His typefaces include TW Geo Slab (2007), Dux (2007, ornamental Victorian type), Wingman (2006, handwriting) and Weinzierl Slab (2006, see also here). He joined Ascender and created there the stencil blackletter typeface Stenblak (2010), informal script typeface Rebus Script (2009, with Steve Matteson) and Romany (2009), a non-connecting script which was originally designed by A.R. Bosco and released by American Type Founders in 1934.

In 2012, he created Feldman Engraver and JMC Engraver.

Fonts from 2015: Kairos (Monotype: an octagonal typeface based on 19th century Grecian wood type). In 2015, Monotype set out to remaster, expand and revitalize Eric Gill's body of work, with more weights, more characters and more languages to meet a wide range of design requirements. As part of that project, Terrance Weinzierl designed Joanna Sans Nova (2015: sixteen fonts, loosely based on Gill's slab serif, Joanna, so technically, this is not a Gill revival, but a Gill extension. A well-balanced family with a medium-to-large x-height. But the italic g is disturbing).

Fonts from 2016: Terry Junior Basic (free), Kairos Sans (which accompanies his 2015 typeface Kairos; both cover Latin and Greek). The octagonal typeface Kairos Sans became Monotype's first variable font---it is freePizza Press (2013) won an award at TDC 2014.

Klingspor link. Linotype link. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Tom Rickner on Variable Fonts

Monotype's technical font guru, Tom Rickner, discusses the 25 year history behind the events which led to the OpenType 1.8 variations announcement. Follow-up article from December 2016. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Travis Kochel: I Can Variable Font

Travis Kochel explains variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Twitter: Variable Fonts

Twitter news on variable fonts. Edited by Nick Sherman. [Google] [More]  ⦿

TypeDrawers: Variable Fonts

Discussion on Typedrawers of Variable Fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

TypeKit Blog: Variable fonts, a new kind of font for flexible design

TypeKit (Adobe) reports on variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Variable Fonts: Adobe Typekit Blog

Tim Brown (Head of Typography for Adobe Typekit & Adobe Type) takes us in September 2016 on a tour of the new proposal for Variable Fonts. This new format in which one font file represents multiple fonts, is jointly developed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe. He argues that at this point in time, we need (1) fonts, (2) rendering engines for the fonts, (3) browsers to support the rendering engines, (4) tools for designing the fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Variable Fonts: Genesis

The text below is quoted from "Introducing OpenType Variable Fonts" by John Hudson. Version 1.8 of the OpenType font format specification introduces an extensive new technology, affecting almost every area of the format. An OpenType variable font is one in which the equivalent of multiple individual fonts can be compactly packaged within a single font file. This is done by defining variations within the font, which constitute a single- or multi-axis design space within which many font instances can be interpolated. A variable font is a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts.

There are numerous benefits to this technology. A variable font is a single binary with greatly-reduced comparable file size and, hence, smaller disc footprint and webfont bandwidth. This means more efficient packaging of embedded fonts, and faster delivery and loading of webfonts. The potential for dynamic selection of custom instances within the variations design space---or design-variations space, to use its technical name---opens exciting prospects for fine tuning the typographic palette, and for new kinds of responsive typography that can adapt to best present dynamic content to a reader's device, screen orientation, or even reading distance.

The technology behind variable fonts is officially called OpenType Font Variations. It has been jointly developed by Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Adobe, in an unprecedented collaborative effort also involving technical experts from font foundries and font tool developers. In addition to specifying the font format additions and revisions, the working group has also committed to the goal of interoperable implementation, defining expected behaviours and test suites for software displaying variable fonts. This should be welcome news to font developers and users, who have often struggled with incompatible implementations of earlier aspects of OpenType that were left to the interpretation of individual software companies. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Variable Fonts: John Hudson's introduction

John Hudson introduces OpenType Variable Fonts on Septemer 14, 2016. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Variable Fonts: Video announcements

A Youtube video of the announcement of Variable Fonts at ATypI 2016 in warsaw. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Wired: Tech Giants Team Up to Fix Typography's Biggest Problem

Wired magazine reports on variable fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Yuwsuke Kieda

Developer and maintainer of Variable LM (2017), a package for scaling the Latin Modern fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿