01 December 2013

CasaleThree, TFG's final project for a long while

I discovered to much to my abject horror that CasaleTwo is too short! I don't know why I didn't notice it sooner, like maybe when I made CasaleTwo, but the entire typeface is 2 fontstruct tiles too short. So, guess what--time to make it AGAIN!
Yeah cool whatever. "Shout" is still my favo Devo album so I owe it to them to make the font as close as I can to the original logotype.

Anyway, I know I've threatened to stop the NBP collection before and then suddenly I made 10 more fonts, but I'm serious this time. I haven't made a new font since around August, about the same time I posted the last entry here. I've been caught up in other things lately and typography has sort of fallen below the radar. Instead of saying definitively that I'm closing total FontGeek Digital Type Foundry, I'll just say that it's going on indefinite hiatus.
I still get ideas every now and then, but there's "idea" and there's "spend 4 hours on Fontstruct".
So, just in case I never get back to TFG, CasaleThree is going to be a worthy stopping point. Since there's Cyrillic in Casale One, there's going to be cyrillic in CasaleThree-- also accented Latin and possibly greek. I decided to stop making Hiragana and Katakana after a Japanese typography site called one of my fonts "hard to read". I just don't know enough about the letterforms to make it legible.

I guess I should talk about why I'm not doing fonts right now.
First, I got a new job recently-- one of those 8-5 types as a receptionist. It's not all phones all the time-- I do the occasional mail-run and I take the bins to the rubbish and recycling. Basically your standard-issue office grunt.
Next is that Tumblr has absorbed my life like a sponge. I'm managing 3 blogs at the moment and none of them are about typography.
Finally, no one is making any new and compelling fonts anymore. The nearest I've gotten to being excited about using a font was with Fira Sans, the new Mozilla font. Erik Spiekermann, designer of Officina, Meta, and Unit, among others, made that one. On Fontspace, all that's showing up anymore are handwriting fonts and the occasional Fontstruct-build minimalist piece. Not to malign the designers of those fonts, but after sifting through 47 screens of nothing but barely-legible script typefaces, one gets rather bored.

I'll try to make something before CasaleThree, just to say I've done it, but after that... no more. Not for a while anyway.

12 August 2013

New FontGeek resources: PaintFont & FontPunk

The developers of MyScriptFont have branched out into a couple new ventures.

PaintFont is sort of MyScriptFont on steroids-- several improvements here. First is the printable template: instead of the same template for each project (which was noticeably lacking in a few important punctuation marks) it's now customisable by character set. You specify what language you're planning to type in and it adds the necessary characters to the template. You can also manually add characters to the template by pressing keys on your keyboard. When you're done adding characters, print the template and start drawing.
Another noticeable difference with the template is that the cells are larger with marks for the cap height, baseline, and descent. The larger cells mean less distortion when the server-side application generates the font, plus the obvious physical space factor which allows you to draw more complex lettering or dingbats.
The quality of the generated font has also gone up. MSF had a tendency to run strokes together if they were too close. In comparison, my pen was running short of ink when I filled in the PaintFont template and the imperfections in the strokes showed right up in the final product! Also notable is the auto-correcting feature-- if you accidentally mark outside the boundary box or if your printer didn't print the template straight on and everything has a bit of a slant to it, the generator fixes the problems automatically. Gone are the days of having to edit baselines in Type!
One problem I've found is that the website's tutorial page gives you the wrong information in regards to scanner resolution. It suggests 300 dpi, but none of the templates I scanned at that resolution were able to be read by the generator. As soon as I put it up to 400 dpi, that corrected the problem. In terms of what format to scan to, I've had good results with PDF. MyScriptFont wouldn't even look at PDFs, so that's a saved step if your scanner only outputs to that format. No more converting.

Next is a tool called FontPunk. Basically what it is is an effects generator. It doesn't make new designs, it only alters existing ones. It has a number of features to make fonts more flashy, such as outlines and shadows; or more practical, such as line thickness and slanting. However, it has no way of differentiating between fonts you make yourself and fonts by a professional type foundry, meaning that every effect it can apply to your own font, it can apply to any other font on your computer. Purely in the name of scientific research, I was able to make an italicised version of Inspira Small Caps with this tool. So, it's on the honour system-- whether you observe it or not is up to you. Either way, it's another fine tool to add to the list of FontGeek resources.

18 June 2013

SooBawlz NBP is now total de-vo!

Not as in "it's the Total Devo logotype" (which kinda looks like Balloon LET) but as in... well, this!
Devo recently performed a concert at the Natural History Museum in LA. Naturally, they needed an event-specific teeshirt for it. Whenever I make a Devo-inspired font, I always tell their graphic designer, Michael Pilmer (aka DEVO-OBSESSO) about it, mostly because he is a fellow FontGeek (his website led me to IBM Orator, a monospaced font I didn't know about before and that I use alot now) Here's the story. Michael says,
"The museum asked me to use a 'funky' font on the shirt. I couldn't think of anything funkier than the Hardcore DEVO font!"
I still have several more Devo-inspired fonts and more designs where devolutionary sentiments render nicely.

Ever since Depeche Mode's designer used ErbosDraco on their Countdown website, I've been aware that people actually USE my fonts, something I'm still not quite used to.... before Fontstruct I would make things with the knowledge that no one would ever even see it. Even though I feel very honoured to be a contributor to my favourite band in history, I think my ultimate contribution to typography will be when I see one of my pixel fonts on an electronic sign. I can stop making fonts after that because I won't be able to do anymore for typography.
Oh, and here's the other sleeve.
 SooBawlz is available now on FontSpace.

14 April 2013

My favourite NBP fonts

Since I've already pointed out the NBP fonts I wish I could delete, let's try this now. Here are the NBP fonts that I think turned out rather nicely.

This one's obviously at the top of the list because it's a better version of the Shout font. Shout is still my #1 Devo album. Plus, I like how the letterforms are all in perfect proportion with each other.

This design was inspired by Skyhook Mono (free from Fontsquirrel) It's basically Skyhook-on-Fontstruct. I was seeing how much of it I could make. It's an incomplete characterset that's likely to remain incomplete, but I still like it for headings. It's got all the basic punctuation and numbers anyway, so that's good.

FortySeven Micro
Maybe because it's my 47th design (well 48th actually, since it came after FortySeven) but this one's my favourite of all my pixel fonts. It's really too bad people don't use pixel fonts much anymore because it would be perfectly suited for menu text on Nintendo DSi or 3DS.

Skyline Beach
This is like the best parts of Russell Square combined with Ubuntu and a bit of Arial added for good measure. The banner art on Fontspace shows it being used on a SketchUp-built signboard because I honestly think it would work famously for extreme-scale graphic design or signage. There's also art there that shows it on the opposite extreme, at pixel font size. Since I didn't use any half-blocks in Fontstruct to make Skyline, it could be used for small displays just as well as large ones.

Grishenko Novoye
I don't know why I didn't just make Grishenko unicase to begin with. It totally looks better that way. I mean, with the correct application of ALteRNaTInG CaPs, you can make it unicase but Grishenko Novoye does it for you. I'll admit that look is sort of becoming a bit dated now, but I don't really care. I'll stay with a design trend until I tire of it and I'm not tired of unicase just yet.

Same reasoning here. It's like Spire and Grishenko Novoye got married and had a son who turned into a spiteful anarchistic teenage rebel. Anyway, I'm sure that the Bopomofo characters don't look a thing like Bopomofo should, but the thought of being able to spell "mindfuck" (check spelling) in Chinese was quite appealing to me at the time.

AWODEX: Absent without a decent excuse

I haven't been doing much FontGeekage lately. Mostly we can blame Tumblr for this. I discovered recently that Tumblr is a much more exciting place than Fontspace or Fontstruct. Not only are there fellow FontGeeks there but representatives of all my other interests too. Poetry, visual art, stickfigures, Devo, that kind of thing. Beyond that, I've been busy making my Fantom X sound like a Fairlight CMI rhythm sequencer. So I guess I've been busy with other things is what I'm trying to say. Just to show that I haven't totally abandoned typography, here is some of the type-related stuff I've been posting to Tumblr.

02 April 2013

Too bad Fontspace hasn't got a DELETE button

If Fontspace had an option to delete things, I would dispose of these fonts quicker than you could say "waste of bandwidth".

This was my very first design. And it shows. CasaleTwo is the better version of the Shout font, besides you can't even type DEVO properly in Casale 1. A few of the lowercases border on the illegible.

Dilithium Pixels
The idea behind this one was a pixel font based on the Star Trek logotype that would work on the Super NES. Of course, no one makes Super NES games anymore (they haven't for about 15 years at this point) I never had much of a use for this font personally and it was the first one of mine that I uninstalled.

One Time
I was running out of ideas. So I turned off ClearType and typed the alphabet into Wordpad with 12pt Trebuchet italic. What I saw, I put into Fontstruct but I altered a few things to make it not exactly like pixel Trebuchet. I don't remember why I chose that font or why I even bothered saving it when I was through, but I don't have the least idea what anyone could ever do with it.

Sharp Objects
Another font made by a Fontstruct n00b. I was too lazy to make lowercases or numbers, so I made roman numerals, which of course you can't properly render numbers in.

Basil Gothic
As a pixel font, Basil Gothic works fine. 12 point size only. Anything above that just looks wrong somehow. Schutzgitterhaus-Grotesk showed me that the 45 degree angles in Fontstruct aren't the same width as the vertical and horizontal lines. I guess I forgot or disregarded that fact when I made Basil Gothic. It's not a very good heading font anyway. I'm disappointed that I named such a bad font after such a talented performer.

It's not necessary anymore. BrightonTwo is better. Of course, there couldn't be a BrightonTwo without a Brighton 1 I guess.

Same reason as above. It's not needed anymore.

Meyer Gothic
Yes this is the one I just made. It's got the same problems as Basil Gothic really.

Sebastian Gothic
This was the result of Schutzgitterhausifying Guru Meditation (just like how I added slants to Smart Patrol and made Schutzgitterhaus-Grotesk).

Erbos Draco
I made this without doing any research first. Apparently, I managed to make a type design that is almost the exact same character height and width as FF Call One. If type designs weren't inherently uncopyrightable in the US, I'm sure I'd have heard from FontFont about copyright infringement by now. Somehow it's managed to be my most popular design. WHY? Please to be answering that question! What are you people using it for, anyway?! What's Erbos Draco got that BrightonTwo hasn't? Or Grishenko Novoye? Je ne comprends pas.

And finally, the most depraved fonts I've ever made...

Recombo Round & Square
More n00bism. If I ever saw Recombo on a sign someplace, I'd hit the designer with a magazine and say, "Dude seriously. Just use Comic Sans. It looks better."

25 February 2013

Arial: Just a cheap knock-off?

Alot of professional FontGeeks are split between Helvetica and Arial. Some who use Helvetica claim that Arial was just a cheap knock-off. Some who use Arial claim that Helvetica has a dated look and is dying a slow death.

Have you ever heard of Monotype Grotesque? Probably not. It's like Akzidenz-Grotesk-- it just kinda faded away for some reason. It was made by Frank Hinman Pierpoint in 1926 for Monotype Corporation. In 1982, Monotype was supplying IBM with bitmap fonts for a line of computer printers-- one of them used Helvetica which MT licensed from Linotype and the other used Arial (called "Sonoran Sans" at the time) which was made specifically for the project by a 10-person team at MT and used Monotype Gothic as a basis.
In 1990, Arial as we know it was made into TTF and licensed to Microsoft.
Really, it's Microsoft's fault. They called Arial "an alternative to Helvetica". If they hadn't said that then no one probably would have thought to compare them. By a co-incidence of universal proportions, Arial's TTF outline managed to almost match Helvetica's character height and width. No one at MT planned that or said "Let's mutate Helvetica!" They say that there's no such thing as a truly random occurrance but this really was.
So now it's just like everything else. You're either Sony or Nintendo. Pepsi or Coke. Burger King or McDonalds. Mac or Windows. Arial or Helvetica.

Even so, alot of computers have both typefaces. Mine does. All Mac OS Xs are. IMO both Arial and Helvetica are overused. Fortunately, Microsoft made the solution in 1997.
Microsoft Sans Serif is the perfect midline between Helvetica and Arial. It has similar features to both, but still enough new designs to make it interesting. The lowercase a manages to accomplish what neither of the older types could. So does the uppercase R. It's 100% computerised. No personality of any kind. Bland enough to work famously with any heading font.

Here's an interesting TFG factoid: Since Microsoft licensed MS Sans Serif to Apple, there no longer are any Windows-exclusive non-bitmap typefaces. (incorrect: Windows 8 introduced several non-Latin designs that are not available on Mac)

So, is Arial a cheap knock-off? No more so than Comic Sans is a cheap knock-off of One Stroke Script.