Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aviano Titling Initial Characters


Aviano is an extended all caps face inspired by Trajan. I wanted the face to have extended letterforms for a more “formal” look, and also more geometric and consistent letterforms. This is some early experimentation.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chennai Released


From the description: Chennai is a simplified sans-serif with a full complement of OpenType alternates. The characters are rounded, slightly extended and geometric. The OpenType alternates greatly complement the face. The primary version is more simplified, while the alternate is more traditional. These two “versions” are designed be used in conjunction with one another. For example, the primary version can be used for headings, while the alternate, with its stems and more traditional characters, can be used for highly legible body copy. Please see the PDF sample. Use Chennai whenever you need a contemporary and versatile sans serif.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great Design Links

Just a quick entry today. I want to share a great resource of contemporary web design: Design Meltdown. Frequently updated, the site categorizes some of the best websites on the web into different contemporary design "genres", even splitting hairs down to the all-too-famous "shiny buttons" and "gradient madness!" Joking aside, its worth a bookmark, and they also pass along some information on how to duplicate the look in question, offering books with ornaments to scan or sites with textures to download.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Microsoft Expression

I have been trying out the Microsoft Expression web design program recently. My final verdict: I like it better than Dreamweaver. I’ve been using Dreamweaver for 5 years now, but where Expressions really shines is its handling of CSS, which is, in my mind, quite a bit better than Dreamweaver. My “problem” with CSS as opposed to tables is that with tables you can visualize what you are doing. CSS is a bit more programmatic. Expression helps a bit.

If you are looking to save some money, and you use a PC, you should download Visual Web Developer. You can do some very advanced stuff with this program, and the interface is very much like Expressions. The price is right: free! However, Expression is more intuitive in how it handles CSS.

It’s very interesting how Microsoft is starting to head into Adobe’s turf. Microsoft is working on equivalents to everything in Adobe’s product line. My long term bet is on Microsoft.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Milton Glaser

I have never been a huge fan of Milton Glaser. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, just that he was never a huge "hero" for me as a designer. Now, one of his employees, on the other hand is quite inspiring. Deborah Adler did some really nice work on the Target medicine bottle. That, and she is pretty cute. This idea of simplification inspired me to redesign our lab requisitions when I used to work at a medical lab; I will post more about that later.

Back on track. Here are some very interesting statements, particularly regarding style, made by Mr. Glaser when he spoke at BYU. These comments were recorded by John Dilworth, whose blog I just stumbled across on accident. I had some comments, but I felt that Milton’s words by themselves were perfect, and anything I wrote detracted from the message.

On not developing a unique style: “If people know what you do, they have power over you.”

On style: “I fear arriving at a level of competence (in a specific style) and then being doomed to repeat it forever.”

On intuition: “Our intuition is smarter than our intellect.”

On drawing: “(exercising your drawing skills once a week is) much better than going to the gym.”

On words: “Words are images.”

On art: “fine art is art that has had the impurities removed.” “fine art is art that is created purely with the intent of producing a spiritual effect on the viewer.”

On learning: “(The greatest achievement of my life) has been being able to wake up learn something new each day.”

Friday, January 26, 2007

Chennai Refined Characters


I received some excellent comments regarding the direction of this face. Someone felt that there was something that reminded them of Comic Sans (an unfortunate comparison) I hadn’t really thought about Comic Sans, but could see the point. I think that there IS a place somewhere between Comic Sans and VAG Rounded. One influence is Futura, which probably gives it a slightly “childlike” quality. There was also some discussion about the lowercase “e.” I did some experimentation with it, but I still think it works as is. Does anyone think the e sticks out to much?

Due to the rounded forms, there was more difficulty than normal getting characters not to “float” above the baseline. I think I have the baseline float worked out better.

I made a decision that the more simplified forms will be the dominant ones. To get to the more traditional forms you will have to turn OpenType swash on. How does everyone feel about that? Please ignore the temporary spacing. I’m primarily looking for letterform comments.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Locksit

I thought this was a particulary brilliant idea. Behold the "locksit." The seat folds back to lock the wheel.

Via Core77.

Also, FontFont has released "Die 100 Beste Schriften," that is, "The 100 Best Typefaces." Mein deutch is a bit schlecht, but it helps that there are pretty pictures, although that is a minor gripe; many of the featured typefaces don't have good examples available. You can download the .pdf here.

Via TypeForYou. A lot of great material on this blog, updated very regularly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chennai Initial Characters

This one will be slightly wider than most sans serif faces, but not too much. The endings will be rounded, a recent design trend that has been catching on. I noticed t-mobile has started using VAG rounded here in the states and that got the wheels turning. GE commissioned their own face, using VAG rounded as the base. What is unique about Chennai, as it is tentatively titled, is by using the OpenType stylistic alternates you can change how the face looks. I have always incorporated stylistic alternates in my typefaces, but they work especially well for this typeface. You can see an example above. For example, you could use the more simplified version for headings, but the alternate for text. To be honest, I haven’t decided which version will be dominant.


More on the GE branding.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Koelle Ornaments


Koelle Ornaments is complete! From the description: The Koelle Ornaments series is based on the etchings of Chris Koelle of Portland Studios. This is the second collaboration between insigne and Portland Studios; the first yielded the inky and active script Blue Goblet. Chris has a unique style where he “frames” his work with small icons related to the story or subject. These are now available as Koelle ornaments. Koelle Ornaments have a gritty, used appearance, and have a late 70’s stylistic feel to them.

There are 145 highly detailed illustrations in the entire pack, separated into four different fonts. These illustrations can be resized without any loss of quality, and can be easily converted to outlines and modified. Some of the ornaments have a Christian theme, while others are more generic.

To view what ornaments are available and the keys they map to, please view the sample pdf. The sample .pdf is an excellent reference guide, and we encourage you to print it out to quickly refer to your favorite ornaments.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Long Tail

Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

I recently stumbled across a business/statistics term I hadn’t heard of before; the long tail. It was just recently coined by Chris Anderson in 2004. On the supply curve, it is the products that are out of range of the sweet spot or the most popular products. In the future to survive, businesses will have to offer more choices to their customers and become specialized, essentially flattening the demand curve. The internet has allowed the chance for more specialized products to be distributed at affordable prices. In a bookstore you only have so much space for your product; Amazon has unlimited space. In the type design world, smaller foundries are essential to this process, offering more and more choices and specialization. Don’t let anyone tell you we have enough fonts.

Wired article
Wikipedia article

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Soviet Bus Stops

This one has been making the rounds, but I am sure there are a few that haven't seen these yet. Behold, Soviet bus stops. It seems the CCCP invested a fair amount of their GDP in producing these. The workers united to produce some genuinely unique bus stops, and some could use some "usability" analysis. Lets take a look, shall we?


The central committee, in their wisdom, decided that birds were a must, roofs were optional.


Vladimir, enough paint. Lets just stand these two concrete slabs on end and call it a day.

Is it an overpass or some sort of Soviet skate park? In all fairness, I actually like this one.


Doubles as a kiln.



Nice composition. Not sure how the guy riding the bike really works with the geometric thing they have going on here, but hey. Maybe the artist just really liked those old-timey bikes.

More of the triumph of socialism here. The photographer that took these is named Christopher Herwig. He compiled these while living in central Asia for a few years. He has an interesting portfolio that is worth a look.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Lexus LF-A

I like to draw inspiration from a wide range of art forms. This brings us to a new regular feature on the site I will be labeling "Inspiration." Inspiration will feature something well designed or crafted, either a product or piece of art, or even just an idea that has nothing to do with graphic communication.

This week, we have the Lexus LF-A. Most of the time, if find Lexus and Acura design rather passe in comparison to BMW, but the Lexus LF-A concept looks very interesting indeed. Have a look.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Koelle Illustrations

For my next project, I will be working on digitizing a series of illustrations/etchings from Chris Koelle of Portland Studios. This is my second collaboration with Portland, and I was lucky to go to college with these talented illustrators. Our first collaboration resulted in the inky and playful script Blue Goblet. Chris has a unique style where he “frames” his work with small icons related to the story or subject. Recently, the guys at Portland Studios have been commissioned to create some Christian themed art that is available for purchase, and you can see an example of Chris's style on 12stoneart.

These illustrations are so detailed, when I try to compile the font as OpenType FontLab crashes! Thankfully, TrueType has no such problem, and both Macs and PCs can use the format. To give you a taste of what is to come, here are a few of my favorite “icons” that will be available in dingbat-like format. Some of them have a Christian theme, and some are more generic so I will be separating the two into their own typefaces. The Christian themed one should come in handy for church groups, and as you can see the generic ones work great just standing alone.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lorelei Released

Insigne is pleased to announce that Lorelei is now available for purchase. Lorelei is an exuberant and bouncy script. The ink seems to be slathered onto the surface in a casual and spontaneous manner, making for a flowing and feminine script that is perfect for invitations or greeting cards. The script also contains a large number of OpenType alternates and ligatures to extend the impulsive nature of the lettering. Lorelei is named for a young German maiden that supposedly threw herself into the Rhine. For more information and purchase options, please visit insigne.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Colour Palettes

I must admit that color usage is a bit of a weakness for me. So says my graduate review, although that may have had more to do with the Epson printer I was using. I also was using generic Ebay cartridges, which was pretty brain dead. The prices Epson charged for ink were horrendous. I recall a photography student telling me that one of his professors did the math and came out that that Epson ink is literally more expensive than liquid gold; one reason I am a proud owner of a Canon i9900.

Now days when it comes to picking out a color palette, I immediately head for the Pantone color recommendations. You can download the latest at Fashion Trendsetter. They also have palettes from other sources, but I feel the Pantone ones are best.

Now I see there is a new tool online from Adobe. It’s entirely free, it’s flash based, and helps you develop color palettes quickly. It also allows you to share them with the community in real time. It’s called Kuler, and it’s my new one stop shop for color palettes. Check it out. Another great resource is ColourLovers, but their palettes are bit to avant-guard for me.

And if I lived in the UK I could color the cool way. Most of this colourful stuff comes via TypeForYou. Also, you may have noticed, I have implemented Snap previews for hyperlinks. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Protection of Creativity

Recently, I had a unique opportunity; to start my own business, selling my products on the internet. There is no other time on earth people have had the opportunity to create new products as the internet age. Companies can be formed without much of startup costs and risks involved with starting a new company and distributing products in the old era. Unfortunately, stealing their products is also much easier. Recently, I found a website that specifically asks to steal my typefaces. Another typeface designer found entire CDs of his work being sold on Ebay. This designer created some sort of installer program, and caught a lot of flak for protecting his creations from fellow designers. Here is my response, supporting his efforts:

It amazes me that designers, people who sell their intellectual property to make a living, would jump all over a company that wants to protect its business by protecting its product. Maybe Letterhead’s method isn’t foolproof (from the designer standpoint, it sounds like it has some major issues), but I commend them for taking the first step. The real solution here is that Adobe/Microsoft/Apple need to get together and extend the OpenType scheme to have some sort of native DRM so that designers can protect their work from criminals that justify stealing with “I didn’t decrease their sales, so its ok.” and other pathetic excuses for their inherent lack of morals. It’s saddening to see this in the creative community.

I recently received a book from my sister, named“The World is Flat.” It confirms what I have believed for some time. America’s role in the world is to create new and innovative products. Our main exports are weapons and entertainment, essentially products born from creative problem solving. We don’t do cars all that well, but we make some ripping airplanes. Senator Feinstein, being from the state that is host to Hollywood and all, is supporting a bill called S.256, the PERFORM Act. It is a step in right direction for protecting digital music. Will it work? Probably not. There are too many ways to bypass DRM systems, but it is a step in the right direction. It sends a stronger message. Even through digital property is easy to steal, it is still not right. Some “evildoers” (I say that partially in jest) have created a site to urge senators to reject this bill. I have a different idea in mind. Using their website mechanisms, you can draft a letter urging your senators to confirm this bill. Here is a brief little letter I have composed. If you would like, please use it as a base for your own letter.

As a constituent and creator of digital content, I urge you to CONFIRM the perform act. Those that oppose this bill are essentially asking Congress to put a stamp of approval on their illegal activities. America needs its creatives and entrepreneurs now more than ever. Rejecting this bill would cripple the creation of digital content of all kinds and cause innovation to be stifled. I find it shameful that some persons have created a website to convince Congress not to confirm this bill. Please send a strong message that stealing for content creators of all kinds is illegal and immoral.

I would love to see DRM incorporated into typefaces by Microsoft/Adobe/Apple. I plan to push for this as much as I can. Lets see if the system works.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Adrian Frutiger

I am a huge fan of Adrian Frutiger. Most of my favorite typefaces are his creations. Some are “undiscovered gems” that I have never seen used in anyone else's work. Others are ubiqutous; Frutiger and Univers.

Some of his lesser knowm work:

Vectora. Has a high x height, giving it a unique and refined look.


Meridien. I used Meridien once for a high class travel magazine I was designing. The typeface worked equally well for body copy, and the italics were interesting enough to work well as headlines.


I would have to say that Frutiger got me started on type design; I was working on a poster for a class that required that we choose a typefaces and only use elements from that typeface when designing. Initially, I struggled with the project, but eventually hit on the idea to use the U forms to frame the main piece. The center is a motion blur abstract also based on one of the characters. Although I was just starting as a designer, five years and an undergrad and masters degree later, I am still proud of the result. It probably has more to do with the quality of the typeface than any actual skill.


Adrian is now 79, but is still (!) designing. HowDesign has a nice article on Capitalis and Adrian Frutiger here, and you can purchase Capitalis from Linotype.

I also wrote a large portion of the wikipedia article on Adrian Frutiger.

Informal Script Font Progress

As you can see, things are coming along with the "Informal Script Font." I will name it this evening.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Informal Script Font, Initial Characters and Commentary.

The next release from insigne will be an informal script font. For those just now tuning in, insigne releases at least one script font a month. The market demands it, so we must comply. Actually, it's amazing what you can learn from a script; the variations on the letterforms can sometimes work in unusual settings. "Upright Italics" are all the rage now days, and unique letterforms can actually enhance legibility. I think I will write an extended feature on the "upright Italics" in coming days, so stay tuned.

Love this...

I have seen a few examples of these, (one poster commented that this method is becoming overused) but I have never seen one in real life here in the USA. Every example I have seen so far has been European judging from the plates and truck types. Someone here in the states should change that...



Original Post on I believe in adv

How Magazine

I was browsing through Barnes and Noble today and saw that How had a special issue on typography. I decided to pick it up, as it had a few interesting articles on typography and type design. There is a whole article on taking advantage of OpenType features; something I recommend for every designer. Insigne typefaces take advantage of many OpenType features such as old style figures and small caps that can really give your designs some extra polish. Alas, insigne wasn't mentioned, (Trust me, I scoured the magazine throughly) but there is always next year, right?