The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'fonts'


Priori Acute, a new display typeface by Johathan Barnbrook (best known for Exocet and Ma(n)son Serif), and published by Emigre, has a nicely Escheresque look to it.

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This looks cool; it's a web/DHTML-based bitmap font editor, like those ones they had in the 8-bit days. Once you've finished your font, press the button and it sends you a TrueType file of it.

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The Times' Weekend Review has an interesting piece on the influence of fonts:

Dr Sigman has studied the emotional impact of fonts and is convinced that they constitute a second dialogue. After analysing stern letters from bank managers, he concluded that they are increasingly using fluffy, friendly fonts in a vain attempt to humanise their message.
Font experts in the type-obsessed world of advertising advise against such obvious clashes between meaning and typography. I hate it when banks talk to youths in yoofy typefaces, says Julian Vizard, of the St Lukes agency. Its like William Hague turning up at the Notting Hill Carnival in a baseball cap.

The print edition also has a whimsical inset matching fonts to personality types. Apparently the font of choice of bloggers and web types is Verdana, Courier is used by embittered old journalists, people with an affinity for Gill Sans are "tasteful, design-conscious, probably gay or bi-curious and have a lot of brushed stainless steel in [their] kitchen" (umm...) and Comic Sans people desperately want to be loved. Oh, and the Prince of Wales is said to like Helvetica; that really says a lot.

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A quick review of various items which arrived at my PO box today:

  • Various artists, "Romantic and Square is Hip and Aware": a Smiths tribute album featuring mostly guitar-based jangly indie-pop bands who can probably trace their lineage back to Manchester's Finest. They're not bad, though many of them don't add much in the way of new ideas to the originals; don't look for too many radical reinventions here. Brazilian band Pale Sunday's bossa-tinged take on I Know It's Over is quite good, Anglo-Spanish popsters Pipas do a slightly dubby take on This Night Has Opened My Eyes and Jason Sweeney does a good Morrissey impression over bedroom electronics. Meanwhile, Australia's national indie band The Lucksmiths' take on There Is A Light That Never Goes Out sounds much like the original, only as a duet, deviating from the master about as much as Neil Finn's version from some time ago, while The Guild League's take on Panic has a jaunty, slightly brass-bandish take on it. The liner, by someone from The Snowdrops (who cover Bigmouth Strikes Again) notes are much the usual autobiographical tale of growing up awkwardly in the bedsits of Thatcher's England with one's Smiths records. (via Traffic Sounds.)
  • Harvey Williams, California: I had the MP3s for this, and decided to get the CD. In the decade or so between Another Sunny Day (who brought us bedsit anthems like Anorak City and the unforgettable You Should All Be Murdered; check the filesharing nets for them) and this 1999 release, Harvey Williams had mellowed somewhat, bringing a CD of piano ballads, both touching and satirical, with a wry, and very English, turn of phrase, about the usual boy/girl situations. In a parallel universe, some of these have probably been picked up by Working Title for a London-based Gwyneth Paltrow romcom and Harvey has become the next Badly Drawn Boy. But there are some nice tracks here; the Bacharachesque instrumental Introducing..., for one.
  • The Autocollants, Why Can't Things Just Stay The Same?. Lo-fi sweet indie-pop which starts off OK, though sounds a bit samey in places. Perhaps it's the production (the guitars sound like they were recorded on a four-track in someone's bedroom), or perhaps Laura Watling's voice is just that much too breathy for prolonged listening.
  • Stereolab, 2004 Tour CD: whilst the groop don't look like visiting Australia this year, a copy of this 3" disc has made it into my hands courtesy of an American source (ta, bfd!). Contains three tracks, with the exquisitely Labbish titles "Banana Monster Ne Répond plus", "Rose, My Rocket-Brain!" (subtitled "Rose, Le Cerveau Electronique De Ma Fusée!"), and "University Microfilms Limited". And, yes, it's quite good; this isn't mere filler. The first track has an epic, multipartite quality akin to the best of the Lab, in its 5 and a half minutes, the second one sounds like the output of an automatic Stereolab song generator (in a good way), and the third one's not bad either.

I also got a copy of that CD of HP Lovecraft-themed retro fonts. Had I paid any more for it, I'd be disappointed; some of the letter spacing is a bit inconsistent, and more annoyingly, all the fonts have "HPLHS" as the style (where "Bold", "Italic" and so on should be), with the different weights and slants in each family showing up as separate faces. I suspect that the designers are not professional typographers (btw, who would call a font "Italic"?)

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Via the Viridian mailing list, of all places, a collection of H.P. Lovecraft prop fonts; or, more precisely, a handful of 1920s-vintage American typefaces with authentically rough edges, a few old blackletter faces, and some of Lovecraft's handwriting. These fonts are sold on a CD for role-players and the like to make game props with, and licensed for private use only (not including theatrical productions), though may be useful things to have around. Even if not, the type samples on the page are certainly entertaining.

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Many years ago, I was playing with Fontographer and created a font named ModeSeven, based on the Teletext character set (and named after the BBC Micro screen mode using the Teletext chipset); it may be found here. A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone at TalkbackThames, a London-based TV production company, informing me that they had used the font on a DVD and asking for an address to send a complimentary copy of the disc in question.

As a consequence, today I received in the mail a copy of the DVD of the BBC Look Around You comedy series. This is a series of 9-minute segments parodying British educational TV programming from the 1970s (right down to vintage calculators used), only wildly inaccurate in a somewhat Pythonesque sense, with plenty of howlers and made-up words used. (For example, dissolving iron with acid creates a substance named "bumcivilian", whose creation removes all sound from the air for some seconds.) Somewhat amusing, though probably more so if you went to a British school in the 1970s. The disc also contains other features, such as an entire set of fake Ceefax (i.e., BBC Teletext) pages with news stories such as the scrapping of the trans-Atlantic British Rail route and the replacement of small-denomination coins with a dust worth a certain number of pence per gram, as well as Look Around You quizzes. (They seem to have used the DVD menu facility to recreate the teletext pages, and done so quite convincingly.)

(Where was my font used? In the optional DVD subtitles, which are designed to look like Teletext captions for the hearing impaired.)

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Apparently MacOS 10.3 doesn't come with Microsoft fonts, consigning users to Helvetica Hell. Until web designers start taking advantage of the rather nice fonts that OSX comes with. (There should be more Gill Sans in the world, I think.) (via MeFi)

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I've just been informed that a font I did some years back (Mode Seven, a simple tracing of the BBC Micro Teletext font) has just been used on a DVD of the BBC's Look Around You comedy programme, a copy of which is on its way to me. Which, I think, is pretty cool.

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Bitstream and GNOME have released the Bitstream Vera font family, which may be freely downloaded for use with open-source projects. Vera is a scalable font family optimised for screen display at integer pixel sizes. (via Slashdot)

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No War Font, a set of freely-distributable fonts of anti-war stencils (in German and English), images of politicians, radical-leftist agitprop and miscellaneous items. Suitable for everybody from churchgoing pacifists to Spartacist bampots. (via 1.0)

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King George, hipster typographer Chank's tribute to the Commander-in-Chief of the Free World. Part of his American Propaganda font pack, specifically designed for morale-reinforcing posters. (via Largehearted Boy)

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Now from crap homemade geometric fonts to exquisitely well-drawn fonts; a Swedish type foundry named Fountain is selling three font sets based on historical type forms: Baskerville 1757, Montrachet and Monteverdi. They come with small caps, lowercase figures, and lots of ligatures, and look absolutely gorgeous. They're not cheap, but you get what you pay for. I'd be tempted to splash out, if I wasn't already skint from my trip abroad. (via Cos)

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Whether the London Underground is the greatest public transport system in the world is debatable, but it certainly seems to be one of the most branded. The range of Tube-brand merchandise you can buy is astounding; it ranges from T-shirts and fridge magnets to saucy underwear and tea. The only thing that seems to be missing is Tube toothpaste.

Also, the mythology of the Underground extends beyond its history and famous ghost stations; in the London Transport Museum shop, there were not only books on the history of the Underground (quite a few of those, going all the way up to expensive coffee-table books), and books on the history of each line thereof, but books on the history of the famous Tube map, and of the typefaces used for signage. Not to mention a boxed PC/Mac version of the Tube font itself (Johnston Underground, from US type foundry P22), which appears in the new title graphic of this page).

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The Smaller Picture, an exercise in evolving a bitmap font one pixel at a time, using input from the public. (via bOING bOING)

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Get your Microsoft Core Fonts here. (ta, Richard)

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Microsoft discontinues free fonts, because they come with Windows XP and MacOS (the two legitimate operating systems) already, and thus in Redmond's book, there is no legitimate reason for anybody to not have them. So unfortunately, Penguinheads and the like will have to make do without Comic Sans from now on. Oh, the humanity. (via cos)

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Doovy-font-of-the-week site Fontomas is back. This time they've got 10 fonts for the taking, for a limited time only.

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The Alphabet Synthesis Machine, a Java applet which interactively evolves random alphabets and lets you download a TrueType font when you're finished. They don't look anything like any existing alphabet though. (ta, Ben)

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Useful: Identifont, a web-based tool for identifying fonts by answering questions. (via Meg)

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Via Lukelog, this piece about typographical anachronisms in films, from newspapers being set in fonts which wouldn't exist for 20 years to bloopers like building sign in Tim Burton's Ed Wood which is made of great big metal TrueType Chicago letters. (That's the old Macintosh System 7 screen font.) Reminds me a bit of Kibo's USENET rants about typography and bad films.

And then there's this piece about the scourge of Arial, or how the ubiquitous font originated (designed not for its original charm but as a third-party drop-in replacement for Helvetica), how it got everywhere (on the back of the Beast of Redmond), and why it's more evil than Helvetica.

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This week's Fontomas font is a potentially useful one, in a bitmap sort of way.

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An interestingly geeky piece from USENET about those video screens at Melbourne railway stations, and how they were designed back in the late 70s/early 80s. Turns out that they displays are driven by custom 8080-based microcomputers, and that the font rendering was all put together by hand:

The characters were not scanned, they were made by choosing the largest available Letraset, sticking each character on a piece of graph paper, tracing the outline, ruling lines every eight columns, getting a secretary to type the resulting 0's and 1's into the source file as data statements. Then an architect... flew up from Melbourne and told GEC to add or remove bits until the letters looked just right to him. Perhaps it really was worth all the fuss if people still think that they look good.

They just don't do things that way anymore...

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This week's Fontomas font is not bad.

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Oooh, nice.

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A psychological study commissioned by printer manufacturer Lexmark claims that the fonts you use reveal your personality. Courier is conservative, used by "old-school" journalists, Helvetica shows that you're "in touch with contemporary issues" and Times New Roman shows trustworthiness and compromise between old and new. And presumably all of the above show that the user is too apathetic to actually find and install some less overused fonts. (via Meg)

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Fontomas is releasing a CD of their fonts, so if you missed some, you will be able to get them.

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Oh yes, and Graham has two new fonts up. Not to mention some more interesting type samples. I guess I'll have to do the Mac versions sometime, as Wintendo Fontographer's Mac export function is broken.

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