Zapfino, the typeface with built-in magic

Zapfino is one of the most spectacular typefaces you’ll ever get to use. It’s a calligraphic tour de force, a typeface designed by the prolific Hermann Zapf, the man responsible for Optima, Palatino and a great many other well-known fonts. Zapfino is specialit’s a swash-rich design with a range of styles and options beyond almost…

Helvetica: still pulling its weights

Helvetica is the world’s most popular typeface. Not everyone likes it, often precisely because of this, but it’s everywhere you look: shop signs, clothing labels, corporate logos, packaging of all kinds, the iOS interface – and now of course Mac OS X itself. One of Yosemite’s many changes was the booting out of Lucida Grande…

Comic book and showcard fonts

One of the first projects I give my Magazine Publishing students involves creating an eight-page graphic novel, done in teams of two. They can use any story they like, anything from a re-imagining of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull story to their bus journey to college. The main focus of the assignment is production and project…

Creative Design Briefs

In which Keith explores the answers to a question and finds confirmation in a particular typeface design… I was asked an interesting question the other day. “Do you believe that creative briefs hinder the artistic mind?” This had the feel of a set question, and it turned out that this was the case; it was…

Type is the clothes our information wears

Typefaces dress our words and tell the reader what kind of thing to expect. Like clothes, the typefaces we choose help say things about the words before anyone even begins reading. The thing is, while we all have our favourite bits of clothing, things we feel particularly comfortable or confident in, we don’t wear the…

Graffiti creativity

“Graffiti is a creative art form.” “Graffiti is destructive vandalism.” “Graffiti is gang-related.” “Graffiti is about individual expression.” Which of these statements is true? The reality is one, some, all or none, depending on which particular graffiti you’re talking about. Yes, there’s a lot that’s just territory marking, but there’s also work that is individual,…

Design a new character for a typeface

Designing the character behind the face. Of all the design discipline specialities, typeface design is probably the most monastic. Creating a new font takes skill, serious attention to detail, and a perseverance that a medieval monk would respect. Not only do you have to consider the aesthetics of stroke weight, overall form, and the effect…

The copyright © symbol

First things first: I’m going to talk about copyright. But not copyright law – or at least I’ll try to avoid it. On this occasion it’s the copyright symbol that interests me more than the whole legal shenanigans; I’m curious about the ‘c in a circle’ thing. The copyright symbol has been around for approximately…

Placeholder text and pangrams

When you need to see how a typeface works you use dummy copy. But there’s more to life than lorem ipsum, as pangrams can be fun, too. If you need to fill a text box with words but you don’t have final approved copy or you just want to see how different type settings look,…

ASCII and emoticons

The peculiar art of making faces with type Lol, ;-) If you’ve never used either of the above in an email or text, you’ve either avoided the Internet altogether or you really are a bit of curmudgeon. A text-only medium blocks the non-verbal, unspoken emotional indicators that give a richer context to our communication. The…