I’ve long loved the weird mechanical purring of those flappy-letter signs one sees (or at least used to see) in train stations & similar venues, but I haven’t felt like throwing down the better part of three grand to own a Vestaboard. Now maker Scott Bezek is working on an open-source project for making such signs at home, combining simple materials and code. In case you’d never peeked inside such a mechanism (and really, why would you have?) and are curious, here’s how they work:
And here, for some reason, are six oddly satisfying minutes of a sign spelling out four-letter words:
Having a train-obsessed 11yo son who enjoys exclaiming things like, “Hey, that’s Cooper Black!,” this tour of railroad typography is 💯 up our family’s alley. (Tangential, but as it’s already on my clipboard: we’re keeping a running album of our train-related explorations along Route 66, and Henry’s been adding things like an atomic train tour to his YouTube channel.)
From the typesetting video description:
Ever since the first train services, a wide variety of guides have helped passengers understand the railways; supplementing the text with timetables, maps, views, and diagrams. Typographically speaking, the linear nature of railways and the modular nature of trains meant that successful diagrams could be designed economically by using typographic sorts. Various typographic trains and railways from the 1830s to present-day will be evaluated in terms of data visualization, decoration, and the economics of reproduction. Bringing things up to date, techniques for typesetting emoji and CSS trains are explored, and a railway-inspired layout model will be proposed for wider application in the typography of data visualization and ornamentation.
<Old Man Nack voice> In my day, it cost $2,500 to buy the Adobe Font Folio—but Kids These Days™ (and the rest of us) get fonts on demand, right through the air. I enjoyed the type & illustrations in this little promo piece:
While camping at the funky Sierra Circles sculpture garden/pottery studio/winery, this past weekend, we came across an old Linotype machine hanging out in a field—one of 40+ presses that once existed there, before most were sold to China for scrap. Here’s a tiny gallery I captured:
I’ve long, long been a fan of using brush strokes on paths to create interesting glyphs & lettering. I used to contort all kinds of vectors into Illustrator brushes, and as it happens, 11 years ago today I was sharing an interesting tutorial on creating smokey text:
Now Adobe engineers are looking to raise the game—a lot.
Combining users drawn stroke inputs, the choice of brush, and the typographic properties of the text object, Project Typographic Brushes brings paint style brushes and new-type families to life in seconds.
Man, who knew just how much cultural identity could be wrapped up in a style of printing?
This excellent 99% Invisible episode covers the origins of blackletter printing (faster & more reliable for medieval scribes), the culture wars (from Luther to Napoleon) in which it battled Roman faces, its association with (and revilement by!) Nazis, and more.
Bonus: stick around for a discussion of revanchist, Trumpian mandates around government architecture, featuring that delightful term of art, CHUD. *chef’s kiss*
The primary innovation in Sononym is something called “similarity search”, which enable users to find similar-sounding samples in their sample collection based on any source sound. Essentially, a bit like how Google’s reverse image search works, but with audio.
The initial release focuses strictly on the core functionality of the software. That is, to offer similarity search that work with large collections of samples. Technically, our approach is a combination of feature extraction, machine learning and modern web technologies.
Not entirely dissimilar: Font Map helps you see relationships across more than 750 web fonts.
“Material Theming” effectively fixes a core gripe of the original “Material Design”: that virtually every Android app looks the “same,” or made by Google, which isn’t ideal for brands.
The tool is currently available on Sketch, and you can use it by downloading the “Material” plugin on the app. Google aims to expand the system regularly, and will roll out new options such as animations, depth controls, and textures, next.
“I designed the font when I was 23 years old. I was right out of college. I was kind of just struggling with some different life issues, I was studying the Bible, looking for God and this font came to mind, this idea of, thinking about the biblical times and Egypt and the Middle East. I just started scribbling this alphabet while I was at work and it kind of looked pretty cool,” Costello said.
He added, “I had no idea it would be on every computer in the world and used for probably every conceivable design idea. This is a big surprise to me as well.”
First they add an actual Glyphs panel, now this? Dogs & cats living together, mass hysteria!
In this one-minute video, Adobe Creative Cloud introduces you to ‘Variable Fonts’, an open-type font format that allows for easy weight, width and slant customization—just drag the sliders until you get desired results.
It makes me sad that after 10 (!!) years of having 3D in Photoshop, I can’t think of a single time I’ve created good-looking text in it, much less anything else 3D of value. Given that PS includes a whole 3D engine, I hope that someday it’ll include easy ways to make attractive text.
In the meantime, amidst sometimes literally cheesy results, Art Text 3 ($29.99) produces some rather impressive pieces. Maybe Adobe could just license & bundle it as a plug-in. Hmm… (No, I don’t know anything you don’t know.)
Imagine WhatTheFont not only identifying fonts in images but then installing them directly into Photoshop. That’d be pretty badass—and is what’s now working in Photoshop. Here’s a demo from Julieanne Kost.
[F]ind similar Typekit fonts, apply alternate on-screen with one click, and font matching to help identify similar typefaces found in images.
It’s “a design geek’s paradise,” the Verge writes. Check it out:
The new Google Fonts is now in line with the company’s Material Design guidelines. It has both a new logo and a far easier way to test out new fonts, compare them with others, and change preferences on the fly while viewing sample text in a four-font grid. You can filter by categories like Serif and Handwriting, sort through trending and popular fonts, filter by language, and toggle between different degrees of thickness and slant. Each of the more than 800 open source fonts available now also contains bio information on its designer, as well as statistics on its usage and a list of popular fonts to pair it with. Google Fonts will let you either download the font or give you the code to directly embed it into your site.
The view counter to date might make even McDonald’s insecure:
Wow—this app, which lets you interactively vary all manner of type characteristics, looks rather delightful to explore. I wonder A) how many people would take the time to use it, and B) whether the uniformity of its output makes type purists want to throw up. In any event I’m eager to try it out.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” — Steve Jobs
Willem Rabe’s typographic illustration serves as the interface to the biggest online archive of Russian frontline letters from WWII in the project Living Memory developed by agency Friends Moscow for Google Russia.
We made a Mac app that let you try fonts in your favourite application for free. If you like the fonts, rent them for just a fraction of their regular price. And if you continue to use them, get them for good after a year.
Earlier this year I wrote about how much my wife & kids were enjoying the beautifully crafted Metamorphabet app. Now you can take it for a spin via your (Flash-enabled) browser and download a copy for Mac & Windows.
Stephanie from Houston misses her astronaut father working at the International Space Station. Watch how her special message, written by 11 Hyundai Genesis, was delivered to her father in space. This message was officially acknowledged as “The largest tire track image” by the Guinness World Records.
There are over 600 typefaces in the Google web fonts directory. Many of them are awful. But there are also high-quality typefaces that deserve a closer look. Below are examples of these typefaces in action. Click the examples to get the typeface from the Google web fonts directory.
Seems quite well done. The question, of course, is whether anyone cares/needs this. I’ve seen Notegraphy, Pictual, and other well executed mobile typography apps come & apparently go without causing much of a stir.
This site features lovely details (e.g. your cursor becoming a stylized fox head, vainly chasing “sour” grapes) while presenting good font pairings:
There are over 640 Google web fonts available for free. Problem is, pairing typefaces isn’t easy. And, many of the fonts in Google’s library don’t work well when applied to typical webpage (desktop) layouts. Part of the 25×52 initiative, this collaborative, ongoing project helps provide typographic inspiration for using Google’s web fonts for web applications.
People used to ask about this all the time. Previously little hacks existed, but as of the Photoshop CC release, you can set a default type style for real. Julieanne Kost explains how (jump to just before the 6-minute mark):
Check out Julieanne’s blog for lots of details on exactly how type styles work.
Spend two delightful minutes with Thibault de Fournas’s grad-school ode to typography. Make sure to stay at least until the middle, my fellow ADD sufferers, or you’ll miss the neat nods to tilters from Saul Bass to Kuntzel and Deygas.
Adobe and Google today announced the launch of a new open-source font for Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) languages that covers 65,535 glyphs, making it one — if not the — largest font to cover these languages. The font, which was optimized for both print and screen, is now available for free through Google Fonts and through Adobe’s Typekit, where it is included in the free tier.
The entire family rounds out at just under half a million total glyphs. Never before has a typeface family of this magnitude, development scope, and value been offered via open source — which makes it a no-cost solution for designers, developers, and everyday users who need a font supporting a broad set of languages…
This is a rather large undertaking for any type foundry, and we couldn’t have done it without Google as a key partner.
Homeless Fonts works with homeless people from the streets of Barcelona to translate the handwriting they use on their signs into typefaces. The hope is that advertising agencies and corporations will use license the resulting works, with the proceeds going back into programs to help the homeless. The results are often distinctive and quite elegant.
Nice, understated typography for Adobe’s 99u conference:
Each year at the 99U Conference we feature a motion reel of inspirational quotes from our speakers that plays in a loop throughout the conference.
How do you create a reel that you don’t get tired of? We focused on telling a story.
In past years we relied on the use of depth of field and 3D effects moving on changing axes. However, this year we focused on very few elements and simple 2-Dimensional designs that could morph into each other seamlessly, making the objects not only design elements but ‘characters’ of the story. We drew a lot of inspiration from movie title sequences we love and to the master of it all: Saul Bass.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the huge menu of possibilities when choosing a font? A simple menu of fonts made sense when there were 20 fonts on our computers, but now we have hundreds and even thousands. Online font repositories have over 100,000 fonts. Our interfaces our based on the idea that fonts can be described with attributes, like “friendly” or “legible;” We use crowd-sourcing and machine learning to compute attributes for any font.