Ferdinand I Font Friday

A fascinating article about calligraphy for the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, in the waning days of hand-lettered books, from Noor Al-Samarrai at Atlas Obscura.

See a Dazzling, Exuberant Renaissance Calligraphy Guide

A masterclass in script, illuminated with an array of curiosities.

Lettering and illumination were done 30 years apart, but are in clear conversation.
Lettering and illumination were done 30 years apart, but are in clear conversation. GETTY MUSEUM OPEN CONTENT PROGRAM4,223

Foot Font Friday

"All Is Fair in Love and War" foot tattoo

A lot of people seem to get type tattoos on their feet. Judging by images online, most of the tattoos are on women, and are inspirational (“Live Laugh Love,” or a serotonin molecule labeled “Stay Positive”). Some are foot-specific (“These feet are made for dancing”) and a few are names (“Amanda”). Many of them use the swooping, unreadable script I mentioned in my blog post Flash Font Friday. A large number of the tattoos are on the side of the foot, possibly so they’d be hidden by most women’s shoes.


"Live Laugh Love" foot tattoo

Continue reading “Foot Font Friday”

Fenotype Foundry Font Friday

Fenotype Font Company is the type foundry of Finland-based type designer Emil Bertell. Bertell started Fenotype in 2012 and has designed hundreds of typefaces since then. You can see all his fonts at http://www.fenotype.com/font/fontpage.htm and download the free ones there.


Below is a short article from MyFonts, where Bertell’s commercial typefaces are available. His typefaces there are often script, or have script variations, often with swash and alternate versions.  Continue reading “Fenotype Foundry Font Friday”

Flash Font Friday

"Mom and Dad" tattoo

Typefaces in tattoos, flash or custom, fall into two main groups: block capitals with thick, filled-in verticals and/or mid-height serifs, or swooping, unreadable script. Most type in knuckle tattoos and banners is in the former camp; most type in large back and chest tattoos in the latter. See my blog post Foot Font Friday for script tattoos on feet.

Some examples:

"Ride Free" knuckle tattoo

Another classic:

"Mom and Dad" tattoo

Others range from the unconventional…

"Bookworm" knuckle tattoo

…to the insufferable:

"Born Poet" knuckle tattoo

Kind of a hybrid between capitals and script:

"Patience" knuckle tattoo

A few examples of script:

"Rodriguez" back tattoo

This  says “Memories Over Material.” Honest.

"Memories Over Material" chest tattoo

No idea what this one says. Let me know if you do.

No idea what this says

And this one which is totally awesome. You figure it out.

"Art & Science" which reads "Philosophy" upside down

You also get anomalous typefaces such as this:

"Thug Life" knuckle tattoo

and this:

"I love beards" knuckle tattoo

and this:

"I heart Zombies"

And of course some goddamn designer had to go and get this piece proclaiming their love for their favorite typeface. It’s set in Helvetica, naturally.

"I love Helvetica" tattoo

Extreme Typographic Nerdery, Part 1: Making Sense of Type Classification

Collage of names of classifications of type

By from SmashingMagazine.com:

In my previous article on Smashing Magazine (“Understanding the Difference Between Typography and Lettering”), I wrote about how understanding type terminology can help us better appreciate the arts of typography and lettering. This article again deals with terminology, probably more specifically than most designers are used to, and the title gets to the heart of what I’m communicating in this article.

Everyone knows their serifs and sans, slabs and scripts, but most classifications go much deeper than that. Type classification, while helpful, is often convoluted, confusing and even controversial. This article, distilling some of the complexities into a more understandable format, lands somewhere in the middle between the basics and genuine type nerdery — the perfect level for a practicing designer.

Making Sense of Type Classification

Why Classify Type?

There’s a certain intellectual delight in knowledge, particularly knowledge about one’s field of work and study. More importantly, perhaps, there is a way in which seemingly impractical knowledge of one’s profession lends more credence to the designer. That being said, what you’ll read here is by no means impractical. It really comes down to solid design choices.

Sets film in 1920′s uses typeface from 1975.

A good grasp of type history will help you avoid typographic anachronisms, which, although often lost on the general public, do not escape the notice of many designers, as demonstrated in Mark Simonson’s article on the 2012 Oscar winner for Best Picture, “The Artist,” and his other typographic scrutinies of popular movies and media.

It’s not exclusively about the history of type, however. Type classification is also helpful in pairing typefaces for projects, sometimes based on historical proximity but also by noting similar features that unify the typefaces, such as axis or x-height. In some cases, by finding enough disparity in the small features, very different typefaces become complementary.

Most importantly, perhaps, this article will not only familiarize you with general type history and commonly used terminology, but also help you learn to look for and recognize important characteristics of type and the inexhaustible minutiae that make typefaces unique, as well as arm you with useful descriptors of type styles.

Type Classification Systems

Over the past century, quite a few classification systems have been proposed. Most are generally believed to be subjective and incomplete, and many of them use the same terms for similar but slightly different classes. The impossibility of a truly complete classification system has led many people to dismiss any attempt to classify typefaces — there are simply too many variables to make anything close to a practical, comprehensive system. Essentially, classification describes typefaces; it does not define them. It’s not inflexible, and is more of an aid than a rule. However, for the reasons given above, I believe there is value to be found in it. Below are a few examples.

The primary “official” classification system currently is the Vox-ATypI system. Originally put together in 1954 by Maxmilien Vox, it was adopted in 1962 by the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI), which made a minor change at the 2010 conference (appropriately, held in Dublin) to include Gaelic as an extra category. It classifies typefaces in 11 general categories, with some subdivision. Its Wikipedia article provides an excellent overview.

The British Standards Classification of Typefaces, adopted in 1967, is also based on Vox’s original classification. It is slightly simplified and has remained essentially unchanged since its adoption.

Bringhurst, in his Elements of Typographic Style — perhaps the standard in typographic textbooks today — categorizes typefaces loosely after periods of art history; for example, Baroque, Rococo, Romantic, etc. A book designer himself, Bringhurst focuses on text typefaces and practically ignores display type.

Others are much more general. An early system by French typographer Francis Thibaudeau, which provided the base for Vox’s later more thorough classification, includes four broad categories: Antiques (sans serifs), Égyptiennes (slab serifs), Didots and Elzévirs (faces with triangular serifs).

Gerrit Noordzij, while at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the Hague, held that typography was essentially an extension of handwriting, teaching typography using loose categories of letters that might be written with a broad-nib or pointed-nib pen, as well as interrupted or uninterrupted strokes, with varieties of both serifs and sans falling into each category.

These are just a few of the ways people have classified type over the years. In this two-part article, I will condense the various methods slightly and present what is at the very least generally accepted as legitimate (as there will always be a few out there who refuse to give up a particularly unusual classification method, or who decry any method at all).

[Full article]

Amazon launches Storyteller to turn scripts into storyboards — automagically

Sample storyboard

Amazon launches Storyteller to turn scripts into storyboards — automagically

Upload your script, choose some backgrounds, and magically created a professional-looking storyboard of your movie. Or the graphic novel version of your text-based anything.

Amazon Studios released Storyteller today to allow writers and filmmakers to quickly, easily — and cheaply — storyboard their scripts. I’ve tried it, and while the service is still in beta, it’s surprisingly good.

And it can be used for much, much more than just scripts.

“We’ve found that many writers want to see their story up on its feet in visual form but find it harder than it should be to create a storyboard,” Roy Price, Amazon’s director of Studios said in a statement. “Storyteller provides a digital backlot, acting troupe, prop department, and assistant editor — everything you need to bring your story to life.”

You start by uploading a script to Amazon Studios — or by playing with one that’s already there. Then simply page through the script paragraph by paragraph. Storyteller will try to match up characters, props, and background with the words in each chunk of text, and it does a surprisingly good job. In the script I tried, there were some scenes on a ranch, and Storyteller found some backgrounds with a farmhouse, horse corral, and mountains. For other indoor scenes, Storyteller supplied an in-house view.

But if you don’t like what Storyteller gives, you can choose from its library, or even upload your own custom background or characters. Currently, the software has a library of thousands of props, characters, and backgrounds, Amazon says, and that is probably increasing all the time.

I think this could be useful for a lot of people in situations far beyond movies and scripts.

You need a visual story? Storyteller can help. You want to create a quick overview of your long, in-depth essay or paper? Storyteller can help. You want to make your business report come to life? Storyteller would be an interesting way to create a graphic novel approach to communicating the dry facts.

The obvious question, of course, is: Why is Amazon creating a storyboarding tool?

Amazon is pushing into original film and TV shows, and the company believes this is one way to essentially crowdsource new content from the grassroots up. Anyone, Amazon says, can upload a script, and it will be read by someone, and if it’s optioned, they’ll be notified within 45 days. And, if you choose to make your script public, you’ll also get feedback from the Amazon Studios community.

Storyteller allows you to select characters ... or customize them

Storyteller allows you to select characters … or customize them

Just last week, the company said in its release, “Amazon Studios greenlit its first-ever original series, including comedies Alpha House and Betas, and kids series AnnebotsCreative Galaxy, and Tumbleaf.”

They’re original to Amazon, and will premiere on Prime Instant Video in 2013 and 2014.

Who knows — perhaps your script will too.

Image credits: Amazon, John Koetsier

[Full article]