Type Talks 2 Live Blog Notes

Usual disclaimer applies – this is all lies and my own personal notes, nothing should be taken as fact.

Indra Kupferschmid (DE): Georg Trump’s less-known typefaces

(Dave Crossland: missed it SAD FACE)

Jacek Mrowczyk (PL): Who is who in Polish type design

(Dave Crossland: missed it SAD FACE)

Martin Tiefenthaler (AT): On the affective implications of good and bad typography

(Dave Crossland: came in 2/3s through, gah)

Ergonomics overall; muscle stress is subtle, often not consciously percieved, and texts – important content – with a very long line length WILL NOT be read. And they effect the perception fo the content; his has been seen in science experiments.

Experiment testing Arial vs Mistral. They did a questionaire afterwards, how easy? Arial people said easy, Mistral said not so easy. But then other questions. Memory, people could remember. How many minutes you will need to follow the instructions writte in the font? 8 minutes ARial versus 15 minutes Mistral. The font effected the content! And how much would you LIKE to follow the instructions? 4.5 of 7 Arial, to 2.9 of 7 Mistral. Same instructions! Then a meal receipe. 22 mins versus 36 mins! What kind of skill level as a cook do you need to prepare the dish? Out of 7, arial got 4 and mistral got 6!

Experiment: long text with no paragraph breaks,

How amusing? One done nicely is seen as more amusing. New useful ideas? More people think so when the typography is nice.

Reading is complex. If you put text in form, with choice of typeface and layout, you INFORM the text; adding extra information. This CHANGES the text, on an unconscious level for the readers.

Lasso @typofi Lamberg (FI): Transformer with a daily deadline

Doing a PhD at Reading, hope to be an academic. Was an artist, journalist, and then designer. Worked in Finland in the newspaper industry. I worked at smaller papers, then news agencies, and then the largest subscription paper in the region.

Graphics can make the news better!

Hard news – the inverted pyramid style writing, headline and then the 5 W and the H – Who what where when why how – and then additional but not crucial informatin and then least important information, so an editor can lop off the end without really changing it.

A simple assassination story from the 19thC.

A complex story on brain cancer radiotherapy; the How is explained in an info graphic and the text covers other issues.

Or a city traffic story. The technical explanation is done with graphical diagrams; how the traffic lights work and vary throughout the day is explained with a kind of GANTT chart.

Rob Waller in 2000 Information Design Journal said a ‘transformer’ is “a skilled pro communicator … ” and the concept is from Otto Neurath and the Isotype stuff.

Experts have secret knoweldge, the transformer gets it from them, and works with specialists (the transformer doesn’t have to be a graphic designer) and they tell it to the public.

Newsrooms are a kind of controlled chaos, where experts speak to writers who pass information to the graphic artist who write and draw to publish information to the public. Editors, photographers and photo editors can also be involved.

Direct access to an expert? NEGOTIATING. People are just people, we all have biases and separating out PR jargon, bias, etc is needed. Writers can think they know everything about everything and look down on graphics professionals. ALso their computer skills may not be advanced. This can lead to awkward problems – time estimates not accurate, using graphics to fill space, and sometimes forgetting impartiality rules that are strong for them in writing; election poll graphics that distort the data and htey say ‘its just a graphic’ 😉 Or forgetting copyright applies to graphics too! But the collaboration between writers and graphic designers can be VERY rewarding! 🙂

Time constraints are a big part of the newsroom. Complex graphics can take 5 days, big ones a whole day, but if news comes in during an evening, its not design, its just shovelling.

Someone gave Lasso a monster A1 diagram 2 hours before print deadline. The writer pitched in with graphics ideas, and we got it in 3-4 minutes to go! Cyan is easy to make work as a background base color, I used that as a ‘go to’ default.

Okay. THis graphic shows all the 9/11 flight paths published as info graphics. ALL DIRETIONS! and this yellow one is the true one. Lesson: Don’t trust graphics information the day after, wait a while 😉

Complex data is Tufte’s area, and for in depth reading then yes, but newspapers want much more simple information. Peter Sullivan in Newspaper Graphics, 1987, says they should be easy to see; “graphs and charts that do not read quickly are quickly forgotten”.

Research shows that people spend on average 36-145 seconds per spread on a broadsheet. 45% of time in scanning to find a reading entry point, then read a few paragraphs, and jump out and scan again.

Tufte is good but contextually not appropriate for newspapers. Sometimes a comparing like . () to show something is small and something else is big is okay. If its to be read by millions of people in under a minute, it has to be extremely clear.

Q: A transformer is responsible; people don’t understand that changing the proportions of the layout is changing the information.

Q: After 6 years, do you have tips for illustrators to help establish our work is important to writers?

A: Collaboration is key, but it takes times. Maybe what I said is a little pessimistic. People train at very different institutions and meet at work, that’s a big reason for it I think. For some people its perfect. Type design takes a few years, but many writers leave the office and stop thinking about work; its gone to print and there’s no going back. I’m something of a failed designer at this.

Q: Did newspapers get letters from readers about graphics?

A: Very little. No feedback, its okay; its only when you mess up do you hear from people. In the science section, we did a graphic on groundbreaking HIV medicine; we got a call from an medicine academic who wanted to use the graphic in his slides! 🙂

Lucas de Groot (DE/NL): Designing large type families

(Dave Crossland: missed first 5 mins)


I got 20,000 gilders for improving a humantist sans, for a Dutch ministry. The old style numbers had no relation to the ascender/descedner.

I used Freehand, a great illustratoin app from 100 years ago. Did the regular and bold. light and black were interpoalted. Live extrapoliation! Before other tools could do this; fontographer was the type tool. Fonttudio, 1 floppy, class kerning, great stuff.

U had the ‘e’ and did an analysis of the stroke width along the curve and then unrolled it.

So then I elaredn TrueType hinting; designing bitmap fonts to all sizes. Took me 2 years to learn the process. Accents were hard in FontLab 3. And ist arted to look nice! You can see the 14px jump where stems become 2px wide.

Its different today, but this screnshot of FL3 shows hinting mode there.

So I could use it as a system font in Windows 98; Her’s a screenshot of my W98 desktop. Here’s a comparison of hinted and unhinted. The unhinted wouldn’t be nice to use.

In 1997 Agro Font was finished; a very nice 20 edition specimen book showing the agro ministry identity guidelines.

Nice animation with each char in the alphabet incrementing weight but the next one is one weight less, looping.


I did a range of weights; I also made Condensed. I made quick interpolations, very rough but with some tricks, to see what proportions worked well.

A Dutch Metro newspaper designer called me up, said that the Extra Bold was too bold and the Bold wasn’t enough, and Condensed was too condensed. I said no problem, I have the Multiple Master sources so I can make any width and weight you like. Then he said, the contrast is too low for headlines. So I started making a MM font with 3 axes, and I can show you live in Adobe Type Manager on Windows 7 – still working! – and he was on an old mac back then (MM is dead in Mac OS X) so he was happy.

Later I added another axis. Here are the 8 masters on top. You have to do kerning, spacing 8 times. The classes, when you make such a family it must be well organized. I have a list of what was done, on what date, and by who. The OT features are here. I did a lot of punctuation kerning; this is class kerning for the US market. I made an exception for Të

Naming of fonts get complicated, so I had a combinated system to show charset, default number styles, smallcaps, and so on.

Here is Corpid Hair Three, and I really like to finish this one. Here’s the Extra Black draft. I did an extended one for a particular customer.

I did a nice workshop here in Poznan just a month ago. I took my calligraphy tools with me. First time in Poland! All students managed to make a complete font in a week. This was my best workshop ever 🙂 (Dave Crossland: and they are GREAT)

If you look at type in a mirror, the contrast may appear higher.

My first trip to a Cyrillic using country was Ukraine. Great concrete monuments with Constructivist lettering. Some very nice lettering in shops signs. An american cafe in Ukraine has these great ‘coyboy’ lettering.

Cyrillic italics are VERY different forms. ‘T’ with teeth has a small cap style lowercase, but an ‘m’ form for italic.

Here is the BULGARIAN form of Cyrillic. The proportions are different. Looks more friendly in a way; I hear most of my Cyrillics have a little Bulgarian feeing.

Thesis: Thesans, Themix and Theserif. 144 PostScript fonts in all. Berlin city corp ID. Dutch, Irish, German usage. Shampoo, Soap, toothpaste, condoms, jam, Romanian newspaper uses it.

So, I thought they were finished, but I soon found they were not. Office series for office documents; including a Mono that was monoscaped and proporationally. And a typewriter style. A hairline weight for all. I made the THINNEST font you can make; this has a little contrast, from 1 unit to 2 where the broadnib pen would put weight. A lot of work. It took 9 months; at 1,000pt size the font is 1pt thick 🙂 Here is the ø with some optical adjustments at the intersections that are 1/10th or less of a point.

So in 1994 there were 8 weights, in 2004 I have 17 weights. 1 width, 2004 has 9 widths. 580 glyphs to 5,230 glyphs. The red ones are not finished, the hebrew was just started last month. We did African; this needed some programming. Africans don’t buy fonts, but its fun to make these glyphs, I love to make letter for them.

Here is a huge family tree diagram, showin what is finished and what is not.

At the same time, the design changed over 13 years. This test print is from a few months ago. I am amazed at how BADLY I did these fonts back then; I was satisfied at the time.

Interplation curves; I use Freehand MX for Windows in VMWare.

I also made these porno cartoons which are interpolatable with the glyphs. This is Adobe Flash animations showing the interpolation; I made the interpolation in freehand.

Q: Piracy?

A: I have no idea who has a license really, there are so many distributors. I get documentation about the big multiuser licenses, but you can feel safe if you have no license, I don’t care about small infringement.

Q Claus: Have you considered alternatives to MM like Superpolator?

A Lucas de Groot: I have a family with 4 masters, and the FontLab interface isn’t suited to this. I wanted another axis, and so I added ANOTHER 32 masters and that was when I started to use Superpolator. This has 5 axis. I don’t like it though, its very slow compared to FontLab. I only do this for interpolation when it is needed. I prefer to do my work with FontLab. I have used FontLab for nearly 15 years now. There are some tricky you need to know to use it well, but I like it.

Adam Twardoch (PL/DE): Automated high-end typography: a field report

I write talks by starting with the title. Automoting high end typography! I will be talking about the stuff that I actually do; typesetting. I didn’t think I could do high end typography; so I thought I would automate other people’s high end typography.

I have no talent, so I get some creative people and convince them to do something that I would like.

So there was a project, a website with classic literary works in Polish; copyright free, public domain works. Its an online library. Wolne Lektury. Its run by a famous libre advocate. He could convince me to libre my grandmother.

They was making PDFs and HTML and their typography was done by software developers. That had no money, but they said they’d make us famous. So I agreed to help them! 🙂

This is the website today. The books are HTML, PDF, EPUB and TXT. Its also annotated.

Their initial data representation was with WL XML, a stylistic-structural tagging, that’s publicly documented. There are surely problems with it but in generaly it is good.

TXT is easy, stripping tags and adding white space, more or less. EPUB is a little more complex, but also being XML its easy to translate. XHTML the same. This is what the HTML looks like. This is the PDF originally; typeset in Computer Modern, the default font of TeX, a libre typesetting system. This is all done with TeX. Its a command line tool that you feed syntax and out comes a PDF. If you set the right parameters, the result can be a high quality complex typeset book.

I didn’t like it. We put in new tools: XeTeX, Librarian, TeXML, Python. XeTeX is a TeX system that can use OpenType fonts. Librarian is a program they made for doing the conversion; its libre and the source is on GitHub.com/fnp/librarian – it uses lxml, python library, and then TeXML a XML version of TeX, and then XeLaTeX to produce the PDF.

Its a libre project so I needed a libre typeface. Junicode, OpenType, Garamondish, made by Peter Baker, a linguist, and GPL licensed.

I forked it; I called it JunicodeWL originally, but then made enough changes to change the name, to Libremond.

I added small caps. Then I realised I didn’t like the default small caps. I wanted them larger, more than the x height but smaller than the caps. Then I redesigned the ogoneks, lslash. The old style 1 looked too much like a smallcap ‘i’. Here’s the full charset original and mine which had the glyphs I added and stripped the ones I didn’t need. I did the same thing with the italic.

Since it was meant for web use too, I made a web font version! So there is a small web font, 25kb, with just the glyphs for Polish, which is smaller filesize on the web, and then if you need more, you download the bigger font. EOT, TTF and WOFF formats and the desktop font is a TTF used in the PDFs.

Here’s the CSS stylesheet linking to the font, so instead of Arial, this uses LibremondWebMini first, then LibremondWeb, then Garamond Premiere Pro, and then Times 🙂

I used WordPress for the new website, I used some WordPress plugins for better web typography – hyphenation, full justification, small caps.

Web pages printed also look poor, like a webpage that is printed. The site has this workflow, but I have wordpress. It makes no sense to convert the WordPress HTML into TeX and PDF for printing.

Then I remembered PrinceXML. So I made a WordPress plugin in a few days, badly since I’m no programmer, and so if I change anything in WordPress, I get a NICE looking PDF instantly. Its almost all libre parts; WordPress, the font, but PrinceXML isn’t libre – that’s the only part that’s not libre, but for non-commercial usage its gratis and it just puts their logo on the document.


XML and TeX, they were using already. WordPress, a few libre plugins, and Prince, a LITTLE bit of CSS coding, and you can have typographic results that you want in parallel for web and print!

Q Dave Crossland: Why not use browser’s own CSS print module?

A: The browsers are unreliable. Even if I use CSS Print, browsers will not use web fonts, they put a border around it or weird page numbers. I wanted the same high quality as the web version. It doens’t do what it should!

Q David Brezina: Paul Stiff commented on automated typography, that we acknowledge that form follows from content, and what you are saying and what Petr van Blokland is that its not that weget the content and then think of the form, but we think of the form first, and fill it in. Do you think this will be a trend?

A: For me, its the case that I want to blog on typography with a proper blog and proper typography. Its like, I wanted to feel like I could SHOW and not just talk about the things. Like going to a mapping conference with a poor location map! And printing was about form; printing books. And the first printed books were the ones that were already manuscripts. But the tool produces forms, and then lots of people could write and publish. So that always happens. The form can source the content.

Q: Does it support kerning?

A: Yes, depending on the brwoser. Some do, some don’t. If I make a PDF, I have a HIGH degree of control about what it will look like. With HTML+CSS I have lesser control, I can tell the browser to do certain things, and if it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t. I say ‘this is what it SHOULD look like’ and not what it WILL look like.

Q: Should you pay to download the PDF?

A: Prince have a service, you give them a URL and they return a PDF to the best they can. I hope more people use it, they deserve the licensing fees.

Akiem Helmling, Underware (DE/NL): Carry on

I’m part of Underware. David Horvitz is an artist, and he has a $1 thinking service. If you send him $20 he will try to go as far as possible with the $20 and then send you an email describing the experience. $1,626 he will go to a special island containing these amazing tiny shells and send them to you.

“You can make anything happen at any time …”

“Everything that can happen in day”

Put your head in a fridge, title the image 241543903 and put it online. A lot of people have!

For this artist, ‘The process is the result’

Andreas Slomonski, made a work, “The Ladder” – a ladder in a gallery room. For the work they cut the walls so the ladder could be brought in horitzontally. Then he took it out normally, and the wall was repaired. Then he made “Wall made from Top to Bottom”.

The invisible is as important as the visible. The process is more important than the result. What you see is not what you get.

This sometimes happens with design. The mayor of a tiny germany island’s corp ID.

Papa Bello Pizza wanted to use Bello for their ID. The Bello pub used it too!

Invisibible versus half visible. A german castle, that’s now a big museum, and in the middle there is a stone plate with a metal circle, and its called ‘one vertical earth kilmoeter’ – its a brass tube that goes down 1km. From the 1970s.

The earth has 6 geological layers; 79 days to build, 1977 $419,000 or $1,X2,358.35 in 2011.

Linkse Hobby; the important dutch politicians were asked 3 months ago to decide what galleries and museums to close to cut gov spending; these are Google Mapped. The Den Haag museum of the book will soon close to the public! People don’t liek this, so www.slashart.nl is set up about it.

Where does it comes from? What You See Is What You Get Society? People are focused on results.

The redesign for the Dutch government; a new typeface and logo. It was 60,000 euro for minor tweaks. No result seen means nothing done? But in fact there were more than 10 government logos, and they

We were asked to redesign the MyFonts logo. Its like a supermarket that sells all kinds of things. The FontShop logo is good, the yellow/black with 2 different fonts. So we wanted an ‘überfont’, a proto font, the font of fonts. Hard!

An artist crossbred two chickens, Belgian and French, and then added an English chicken. Finally he crossbred it with a chinese chicken. (Dave Crossland: WOW this is AMAZING!)

But you can’t do this with fonts. You never get a good result. So in the end, we made a script style logo.

Type designers said the M swash was not calligraphy okay…

Handwriting vs digital fonts. In Liza we wanted it to be more human, so we did a lot of alternates. People get tattoos with Liza.

We call it ‘live script’ because Liza will adjust the alternates to the word context.


There is a start glyph, glyphs are added,


and then after a few glyphs, you are ‘out of ink’ so the l doesn’t join


there is now room for the y to have a loop


there is now even more space for a nicer bigger loop


es is a common combination, so there are several variants of those


So all this intelligence is made with ‘programs’ in the OpenType feature file.

‘Out Of Ink’ is simple; the joins will have gaps after a few letters.

‘Penetrator’; there are small caps, there are lots of variations, and we don’t want too much repetition. There is an ‘Eye Shock Factor’ – how strange is this variant? We count he letter frequency in language dictionaries, and ensure that they dont appear too often.

A typeface has 3 stages for Underware: Germination, Assumilatio, Completion. The 3 of us have undefined roles, there is a lot of iteration in the process, because we’ll often find something good but its not the thing we want.

This is very unproductive. But its okay! And fun to do 🙂

And there is no ‘post event depression’ – for people who do big projects, they finish and then there’s sadness. Its like a first marathon; people want to run another immediately, but its not healthy 🙂

Q Dan Reynolds: Did you get funding from the Dutch Government?

A: When we started, we got funding for graphics artists, its normal in Holland when you have a clear idea, and we had a clear idea to start making typefaces. We used this money to make the Dolly book, which was very expensive to make but we could afford it with the government money, and we didn’t ask for funding again. We could ask again, but didn’t.

Q Dan Reynolds: So the cuts will effect future generations of designers?

A: Yes, some things are clear and others less clear. There will be less who get such finding. The Museum of the Book have found they will get no money. The exact amount is not clear.

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