Lecture at agIdeas by Dr. Nadine Chahine

on YouTube

In April this year the Lebanese award-winning type designer, Dr. Nadine Chahine, gave a lecture at agIdeas in Melbourne as part of the Design Matters initiative. Her presentation took a look at the way politics and culture affect Arabic type design. She presented her work including the typographic re-design of the largest Lebanese daily newspapers and argued how a country’s political background can strongly influence design.

Nadine studied at the American University of Beirut, the University of Reading in the UK, and Leiden University in The Netherlands. In the course of her career she has specialised in Arabic type design and among other achievements she designed the best selling Frutiger Arabic and Palatino Sans Arabic and was named by Fast Company as one of its Most Creative People in Business in 2012.

She works at Monotype’s Bad Homburg office (formerly Linotype) and is responsible for Arabic related projects. The subject of her doctoral thesis, and one that she has been concerned with since she began her career as a designer, is the legibility of Arabic typefaces.

So, to return to her lecture at agIdeas – Nadine poses the question as to what modern Arabic typography is today and how should it develop given the new technological freedom. Should typefaces go back to the traditional and complex calligraphic styles or stay with the contemporary simpler designs?

Nadine’s legibility studies showed that the complexity of design decreases the legibility of Arabic typefaces. However, there is great beauty inherent in the calligraphic forms and there is still a place for that level of complexity. There is also beauty in the simplicity of form and an example of that are the typefaces developed for the An-Nahar newspaper: simple, bold, and sculptural in approach.

That typeface was meant to symbolise strength and to give a strong and powerful impact. The design was a statement supporting the freedom of speech and of opinion, which must exist, despite or perhaps because of the political situation in the Lebanon.

For Nadine is of the opinion that type design cannot be divorced from the reality it lives in and to be able to design for a certain culture one needs to understand and analyse the larger context in which typefaces come to life.

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Agmena by Jovica Veljović – a diversified book font

Agmena was designed as a book font in 2012 by Jovica Veljović, a Serbian type designer who currently lives in Hamburg. Although no specific typeface was used as a model, its form is reminiscent of an Antiqua font of the Renaissance. Veljović himself claims that his main purpose in designing Agmena was to create a new book font that would remain legible even in the very smallest point sizes. This has been achieved by means of the use of large x-heights, generous counters and the provision of clearly defined, open letter forms.
But the single most defining feature of Agmena is its wealth of detail apparent, for example, in the differing ascending strokes for the ‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘h’, the variation in form and length of serifs and the rounded tittles over the ‘i’ and ‘j’. The punctuation marks have the diamond shape characteristic of quill script. Although these details may only be particularly evident in the larger point sizes, they also provide text set in smaller font sizes with a vibrant, poetic feel.

Agmena is available in the styles Book, Regular, Semibold and Bold and each of the weights has a matching italic. There is also a wide range of variant glyphs – every style comes with small caps, different numeral sets, alternative letters and ornamentations. In addition, the Latin alphabet is supplemented by a selection of Cyrillic and Greek letters.

Click here for more information on Agmena, and to see sketches, drafts and examples of Agmena in use at Linotype.com.

You can also read the text of an interview with Jovica Veljović that provides more background details on the designer and his new font.

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For all fans of film and typography:
the typefaces used on posters for the latest films

The “Movie Fonts” feature at Linotype.com has been specially designed for all lovers of film and fonts. This has been recently supplemented by a detailed article on the fonts used on posters for the latest cinema hits and with this in mind we have been looking at what fonts are most similar to those used on the film posters.

This is a congenial way to discover not only more about current movie trends but also to explore how fonts are used and their historical contexts.

Are there, for example, fonts that are more frequently used in connection with certain film genres? And, assuming this to be the case, what is the supposed effect of the selected fonts? And do they really have the intended effect on us? Accompany us on a typographic tour of discovery through the world of the latest films.

Click here for a list of recent movies and their poster fonts.


Humanistic typeface meets
technical flair – the Yalta Sans

With the Yalta Sans, the font designer Stefan Claudius has created a cross between a humanistic font and a square sans. The latter introduces a technical character, which, when it encounters a humanistic typeface, produces a very readable result.
The sans serif is available in eight font styles and ranges from Thin to Black. The dynamic aspects of the font, which prevent it from assuming too formal an appearance, are particularly striking. Some of these aspects are, for instance, the conical terminals of the ‘b’ and ‘d’, as well as the curve on the foot of the ‘l’. In addition, there are the numerous slanted line ends, which produce an almost calligraphic character, and the rounded off points.
This designer from Essen has really put his effort into the Italic font. For here he has designed two sets of uppercase letters at once and has made his Italic font resemble more closely a true cursive font than a sans serif. Thus, the ‘a’, for example, is transformed to a closed form and the ‘f’ is given a descender. The accentuation of the horizontals and the subtle contrasts in the stroke weights make the Yalta Sans suitable for numerous applications, even in small font sizes, in the text and display area.

Further details of the Yalta Sans can be found here.

Read also the interview with Stefan Claudius.

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An online article on William Caslon
provides a fascinating portrait of
London’s first major letter founder

The author describes how Caslon began life as a metalworker and engraver of letters on gun barrels before setting up his first letter foundry in 1727, at the age of 35, in London’s Clerkenwell. It was from here he began to sell the types that were later to be known by his name, Caslon. This represented something of a minor revolution in Britain, as the British had previously paid little attention to typefaces and the art of founding type and imported most of the type they needed from abroad.

The Caslon typeface become so popular that Benjamin Franklin actually selected it for the printing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

To read the original article on William Caslon, click here.

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The book “Mr. Typo & der Schatz der Gestaltung” explains the world of letters

The title “Mr. Typo & der Schatz der Gestaltung” (Mr Typo and the Treasure of Design) might suggest that this is a book for children.
It is actually a picture book for adults – a kind of typo-graphic novel.
It has been written and drawn with the non-professional and professional in mind who would like to learn more about the world of typography in an enjoyable and entertaining manner. And this is exactly what the publication by the Italian font and graphic designer Alessio Leonardi does – in a relaxed and humorous but also informative style.
On its nearly 100 pages, its hero Mr Typo with his dog Chien and a mouse explore the history of typography and find out about the forms and structures of letters. And in their company, the reader, almost without realising it, quickly learns about the fundamentals of typography.
To what extent does typography influence us? What are the structural components of a letter? What are the correct and the most important terms for typographic elements?
Thanks to the amusing and yet educational nature of the book, the reader can get answers to questions like this with no effort on their part.
Only available in a German language version.

The book can be ordered from its publisher, Hermann Schmidt-Verlag in Mainz.

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More than 500 high-quality Japanese fonts
are available as of now on Linotype.com

Many of these designs, which have just been integrated into the font portfolio, are available outside Japan for the first time and originated from the prestigious Japanese font suppliers, Iwata, JiyuKobo, Motoya, Ricoh and Type Project.

These fonts, which have recently been included in the Web shop are available as desktop fonts and web fonts, as well as for mobile applications, electronic publishing and web-based services, and also for OEM and consumer device developers.

The high quality, multi-lingual font collection covers a broad range of styles, including classic Mincho and Gothic designs in various stroke thicknesses and brush and deco styles. The fonts have been developed both for maximum readability and for use on screens, as well as for printed materials. And several of the fonts are also laid out as “Universal Design” (DU) and offer simplified forms and further details to give the clearest possible representation on electronic screen displays.

The new Japanese fonts from Iwata, JiyuKobo, Motoya, Ricoh und Type Project are found here:

Iwata http://www.linotype.com/search/iwata

JiyuKobo http://www.linotype.com/search/JiyuKobo

Motoya http://www.linotype.com/search/motoya

Ricoh http://www.linotype.com/search/ricoh

Type Project http://www.linotype.com/search/TypeProject

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The game ‘Type:Rider’ is an odyssey through the evolution of typography

From prehistoric rock-painted symbols through Gutenberg’s revolutionary moveable type to state-of-the-art pixel fonts – with the ‘Type:Rider’ app you can learn through play how images became letters and typefaces. In this jump ‘n run game, you pass through various epochs of typography and using your game skill and dexterity – there are obstructions to be overcome, doors to be opened, rooms to be passed – you can gain access to information. You begin with two dots that accompany you on your journey through the world of the game. On your search for the third dot, you discover when, for example, a particular form of writing was developed and what it represents. Each level is part of a chapter and you play through what is in effect a whole book.

‘Type:Rider’ is currently available for iOS and Android in five languages at a cost of 2.69 USD/EUR. Created by the game developer BulkyPix in collaboration with the European cultural TV channel Arte, the first five levels of the game can be played for free online at Arte.


eText fonts for optimum on-screen display quality

Whether on smartphones, tablets or eReaders, texts can be optimally reproduced on-screen with the aid of eText fonts. In the past, it was difficult to present text in a suitable form on screens with small dimensions. For this reason, fonts have been modified so that even in small point sizes they remain clearly legible, thus making sure that reading is no longer strenuous or tiring.
This has been achieved with the help of the technique known as “font hinting”. This means that information is supplied on the number of pixels required to display each character in the best legible form on low resolution screens. In addition, line thicknesses have been emphasized manually and x-heights have been marginally adjusted. The open counters present in letters such as C, c, e, S, s, g etc. have been slightly expanded so that these retain their character even in small point sizes. Many typefaces, including numerous classics, are already available as eText fonts while others are continuously being added.

You can find more information on this subject and a list of all currently availabe eText fonts at Linotype.com.

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“Scribe” – the latest book by John Stevens

In his book “Scribe: Artist of the Written Word”, the American calligrapher John Stevens provides a retrospective of the highlights of his typographic oeuvre. His work in the realms of calligraphy and letter design passes in review on its 264 pages. He provides the reader with insight into his sources of inspiration and approaches to creating his elegant letterforms – covering his personal, artistic and commissioned work.
Click here for more information on John Stevens and his book.

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