My Interests in Fonts, Letterforms and the Beauty of Writing & Calligraphy

On this page, you will find examples of some of the fonts I have created, my writings on calligraphy and beautiful alphabets and pictographs from around the planet. Fantasy artwork on letterforms and non-western languages and some of my favorite links out to some fantastic foundries.

 

With the proliferation of fonts on the web and the many applications that allow anyone to create their own fonts, there has been an explosion of digital typefaces. Many can be found for free and collected over decades.

 

Creating a font requires excellent design and engineering work, creative talent and often a touch of genius for something memorable and unique.

A Brief History Lesson of Digital Typeface Evolution

1975: Ikarus is a type design and production software developed by URW foundry, for converting existing typefaces and logos into digital format for use on computer-driven printing, plotting and sign cutting devices. A complete Ikarus digitizing system cost over $100,000. Ikarus was its own format, intended to be a sort of digital master; and could be converted to other vector or raster formats as needed.

 

It was licensed by major foundries such as Agfa-Compugraphic, Autologic, Berthold, ITC (International Typeface Corporation)Letraset, Linotype, Monotype, Stempel, and others.

 

Note: At this time, most designers are using press type and photographic processes at the local typesetter's shop to paste up type on keylines for the client and internal approvals. Sending out copy to the typesetter is a regular chore that can take days to get back. Re-kerning and adjusting leading is a common practice.

 

1980s: By the 1980s, a huge library of typefaces and logos existed as photographic film and needed to be input into computers for the latest generation of printing and sign-making devices.

1985: PostScript, Desktop publishing, and the PostScript Type 1 and Type 3 vector outline font formats, thanks to Adobe, Aldus, and Apple. Around this time a bitmap font editor called Fontastic appears, from Altsys.

1986: Fontographer arrives, bringing vector outline font editing to normal people, where previously Ikarus cost as much as a house. Thus begins the democratization of type design. Initially, Fontographer only handles Type 3 fonts, not Type 1.

1991: TrueType (Apple and Microsoft) and Adobe Type Manager (Adobe) bring WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) to fonts on screen. Yes, NeXT and others had done this before, but these were the first mainstream technologies. Adobe publishes the previously secret PostScript Type 1 specification. Secret font formats are never mainstream again.

1991: Multiple Master Type 1 fonts are introduced. MM will eventually die as an end user format, but the interpolation techniques used in MM remain mainstream in type design.

1995: Apple introduces GX Typography. Later rebranded Apple Advanced Typography, it is still in use by Apple for system fonts, this powerful approach is used by few fonts other than Apple’s own.

1996: OpenType is announced by Microsoft and Adobe, based on Microsoft’s earlier TrueType Open technology. With a slow build-up, it takes until 2000 for the first significant numbers of OpenType fonts to ship. OpenType handles similar problems to GX, arguably in a less elegant way, but is more widely adopted thanks to broader support from software, operating systems, and font vendors.

1998: Microsoft shows ClearType, a screen rendering technology that uses sub-pixel rendering in ways that take advantage of the peculiar structure of LCD screens. It first ships in 2000 and becomes the default Windows rendering with Windows Vista in 2007. Other vendors (such as Apple and Adobe) develop their own LCD-optimized sub-pixel rendering schemes in response.

 

2000: Around this time, FontLab becomes the dominant purveyor of professional font editing tools because Fontographer hasn’t had an update in years. It will hold this position without significant challenge for over a decade, eventually acquiring and reviving Fontographer, until new apps come out after 2010.

2004: The first version of UFO, the Unified Font Object format, is published. UFO is intended as “a cross-platform, cross-application, human readable, future proof format for storing font data.” It gradually becomes more popular over time.

2005: By about this year, OpenType, with either TrueType or PostScript outlines, has become the de facto standard for new fonts.

2007: Håkon Wium Lie publishes “CSS at 10” calling for browsers to support the @font-face CSS syntax for web fonts. Over the next four years, web browsers do so. Oddly, Opera, the browser Lie is CTO for, is the slowest to get there. By 2014 web fonts are an integral part of web design. Designers can use arbitrary fonts instead of only ones already present on end users’ computers.

2009: The WOFF format for web fonts, a wrapper around a TrueType or OpenType font, is created. It enjoys rapid adoption.

2013-14: Competing standards for multi-color fonts begin to emerge, including one from Google, one from Microsoft, and one from Adobe and Mozilla. Apple has their own but doesn't push it as a potential standard. Each is built on the container that is the basis of TrueType and OpenType, and most are extensions of OpenType. It appears that more than one of them will become official standards.

 

Credit: Thomas Phinney, Typographer and Type Designer, CEO of FontLab and Wikipedia

 

On to the more font format evolution like true 3D fonts and type created to be produced on 3D printers and perhaps holographic font technologies...

A Calligrapher's Guide to Writing Systems

Click to Download PDF File

I created a PDF file for download that you can read at your leisure. It contains many writing systems from around the world and details on how to write them, read them and use them for your font creation designs as inspiration.

 

It contains information of Asian writing systems like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Additionally, there are many cross-cultural linguistic families like Georgian, Mongolian, Arabic, Sini, and European alphabets too.

 

I hope you download this and enjoy reading it. If you do, let me know for my own interest and perhaps we can trade some fonts?

Font Foundry & Typography Links

Some of my favorites and some recommended links from my readers provided here for your bookmarks...

Add them to your collection and

download them from there

Font Meme

Vistawide

My Custom Fonts Section
 Inspired Font Creations

I offer several fonts that I have created based on inspirations from others. You can use them for your personal use only. They are not commercial licenses. These were created on the MacOS® platform and they do work on the Apple Macintosh®. I have not tested them on Microsoft Windows® and do not plan to anytime soon.

 

This is the general formatting to the font characters so you can tell how complete the typeface is for your projects.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

   1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Font Installation Instructions

Click for Instructions on How to Install These Fonts

Allosaurus Typeface   

1 Font in the Family: Inspired from Artist Rodney Matthews hand-drawn letters. He has created several typefaces over the years and holds the copyright to the designs. The name of the font and spacing was done to create a font that has an oriental and primal feeling at the same time. It is designed to have a slightly rough line to it and looks to be hand painted in the Japanese bamboo brush style. This design is capital letters only.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} / ? ; : .' "

My Jungle!

Example:

License: Private Use Only

Siagon Tech Typeface   

1 Font in the Family: Inspired from an old woodblock print book from Dover Publications. This was a fun font to work on and it comes across as an oriental steampunk typeface until you spend a few seconds looking at it and you realize that its actually readable English. Modern and digital but still has a traditional feel.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

   1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Example:

The Cyber Cafe

License: Creative Commons

Siagon Old Typeface   

1 Font in the Family: Inspired from an old woodblock print book from Dover Publications. Developed for its elegant flair on the English letterform and a fun brush script with a traditional oriental feel. Though this is an all capitals typeface, there are some alternate characters between the Cases that offer variations in letters.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

new Year's jOy

Example:

License: Creative Commons

Dungeon Blocks   

1 Font in the Family: Inspired from an old woodblock print book from Dover Publications. I often find it ironic that some of the coolest fonts were done back in the 1920s and '30s. There was a huge amount of experimentation with fonts and typestyles during this time and all signs were lettered by hand. Sign painters traveled around the country and some became famous for their lettering and artistic skills. This craggy font comes from this historic time.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !$&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Example:

Home is my castle

License: Private Use Only

Cirth (Tolkien Elvish Font)   

1 Font in the Family: Inspired from Tolkien's writings on the Elvish language. Many, many fonts exist today, but back when I did this on in the 1990's there were only a few that were available and they were pretty ugly. This was a hard one to do and I drew it out in Aldus Freehand® (for those of you who remember that program) and then brought it into Fontographer® to create the font. Designed to look as it was written from a feather quill.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  ab defghijklmnopqr

  1 2 3 4567890 ! () [] /?;:.

ELEGANT ELVISH FONT

Example:

License: Creative Commons

Darkspike Typeface   

1 Font in the Family: Created from Artist Rodney Matthews hand-drawn letters in one of his older art books. I loved the dark and forbidding, futuristic tribal nature of the typeface and I wanted a version for some of my personal designs. Again, this is considered his intellectual property but you can use it for your personal fun.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Example:

Tome of Ancient Evil

License: Private Use Only

Coastal Wizards Typeface   

2 Fonts in the Family: This font is partially inspired by Wizards of the Coast work on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons materials, but only partially. Some of it is also created from older, unknown swash calligraphy characters to combine, mix and add interest to the font. With some work on character spacing and kerning it does create some beautiful word/letterform mixtures. It is not designed to be a type and go font. It requires some tweaking and playing with the angles to get it to be what you want as a custom gothic calligraphy font.

Normal:

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Example:

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Alternate Swash:

 

 Coastal Wizards

License: Private Use Only

Runeface (Norse Futhark) Typeface   

1 Font in the Family: This font came from my research into Norse Runic writing and the meaning of these runes. It is one of the world's sacred alphabets, sharing the tile with Hebrew and Vedic Sanskrit writing systems. While the invention of alphabetic writing is attributed to the Phoenicians, Viking runes have special respect in the Germanic writing systems which include English as a direct decent ant of old German. The capital letters are designed to represent Icelandic Futhark runes and the lowercase is stylized to make the letters look as if they are painted onto stone tiles for runic fortune casting. It is designed to look rough and rustic by nature.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1 2 3 4

FUTHARK IS sacred

Example:

License: Creative Commons

Bardic   

1 Font in the Family: Created from an old Coreldraw font that only worked on the Windows side, I felt I wanted to recreate it for the Mac platform. I liked its hand drawn and old time feel and I have used it on several occasions to set the proper mood for a map, a letter and as a wizard's handwriting.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Radagast the Brown

Example:

License: Private Use Only

Hebrew Thick  

1 Face in the Family: Created from an old Jewish styling guide and I was commissioned to work this font out so that several of my friends could use it for their personal font and I have also used it for Bar Mitzvah invitations that I assisted with. While I am not Jewish, I do love sacred alphabets and all alphabets we use today are derived from the first culture to create an alphabet writing system - the Phoenicians.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Example:

ABCD EFGHIJK LMNOP

License: Private Use Only

Blackstone  

1 Face in the Family: Created from Artist Rodney Matthews hand-drawn letters in one of his older art books. I loved the craggy, rock-like lines of the typeface and I wanted a version for some of my personal designs. Again, this is considered his intellectual property but you can use it for your personal fun.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

  1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

VOLCANIC ASH MELT

Example:

License: Private Use Only

Blackletter Grotesk  

1 Face in the Family: Created from the Special Collections archives from Michigan State University. The inspiration was a copy of a page that I kept because I thought this font was extremely Blackletter and extremely cool. I felt that it was a shame that the only way to get to many excellent typefaces is to go to the "special archives" and check out a book while the librarian watches you intently until you return it. If only these archives could be made available online so that anyone interested can look them up via a Special MSU Collections portal...

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

   1234567890 !@#$%^&* () [] {} / ?;:.'"

Example:

 

 The Duke of Earl

License: Creative Commons

Gygax  

2 Fonts in the Family: Inspired from old Dungeons & Dragons magazines, and the many articles that Gary Gygax worked on. Gygax consists of a regular (quill pen) version that has the feel of the handwritten typestyle Old English mixed with a straight vertical pen style that intrigued me from the magazine series. In addition, I created a swash stylized version that is part of the same family so you can mix and match the two versions. The swash version is mostly intended to be used at the beginning and end of words, but it can be mixed in to create variation and mixed letter combinations. Experiment with it to see for yourself. Both are full glyph sets with accent marks.

Regular:

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

   1234567890!@#$%^&* () [] {} /?;:.'"

Swash:

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Example:

 In Memory of Gary Gygax

License: Creative Commons

Phoney-eshain  

1 Face in the Family: This is a font inspired by my recent addition to the Book of Gods' page. I saw some other fonts that kind of looked like this, but they were not as clean or did some odd things, like no lowercase. I created this font from the earliest alphabet known to man, the Phoenician writing system, that was the mother of the western tradition of alphabetical writing. It is designed to look like it is handwritten, or perhaps carved in the sand with a stick. It is runic, modern, and archaic at the same time. It has many accent characters in its glyphs.

• ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

   abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

   1234567890!@#$%^&* ( ) [ ] { } /?;:.'"

Example:

The Princess loves to party with dragons.

License: Creative Commons

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©2017 by Brad Zylman