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Just how tough can it be to design a typeface?

So, just how tough can it be to design a typeface?

Bruno Maag dropped by to enlighten us.

The day to day anxieties affecting the modern typeface designers are myriad but digital design is all pervasive, and times they are a changing.

He immediately got The Team’s attention by letting us know in no uncertain terms that ‘negative kerning’ is not to be encouraged. Apparently, smashing together the flawlessly considered letter-forms of ‘Gill Sans Light’ does not further the case for discern ability. Who new? Guess I’m just going to have to reevaluate my approach to leading and/or kerning…

Bruno then went on to discuss his approach to designing for digital devices.

Establishing an optimum screen resolution is essential. Desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet or e-reader, exactly what the majority of the audience is using, what resolution and in what proportion is crucial. He then explained that a fonts discern ability is not the same for a media device that is on its side, rather than being viewed vertically, so a font’s design needs to be considered from both perspectives.

Also affecting design is the global sensibilities of a font. India has over 22 major dialects, each with a unique character set. Often these will appear together, on a road sign for instance, where four or five languages may appear at once.

Then there is China. A single Chinese character set will contain up to 50’000 different fonts. This will potentially mean the font comes in at around 13MBs. Nobody wants to sit around whilst their simple website loads up 13 Megs of font. So that needs thinking about.

Then we have questions on cultural identity. How can we ensure that a specific people’s ideas and forms of communication thrive whilst we promote universal principles of accessibility?

A typical project designing a font family with three weights at Dalton Maag will take around four months…

I can see why.

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