New Additions: October 2015
6th November 2015
We add hundreds of fonts to the Identifont database every month. Most of these are recent releases, and some are simply new acquisitions from foundries who were not yet represented on our site. Stephen Coles gives his take on the most interesting recent additions.
Shanks Antique 5 AOE is a revival and expansion of a mid-1800s typeface by English type foundry Stevens, Shanks & Sons. The design has many of the hallmarks of a formal 19th-century face, a thick-thin slab serif with spindly features and slightly angled terminals. It could be seen as a classier Clarendon — a slab for perfume labels and elaborate stock certificates, not the bold, brashness of a wanted poster. Brian J. Bonislawsky’s release is not the first digital version of this Stevens, Shanks face. Jordan Davies of Wooden Type Fonts issued his Antique Five over a decade ago. The difference is that the AOE interpretation is more balanced and refined, perhaps derived from metal type rather than the wonky wood of the WTF version. Shanks Antique 5 is also far more complete, with small caps, arbitrary fractions, tabular & proportional figures, and Central European language support.
There is no shortage of pillowy signwriter scripts, and Bali Script isn’t particularly special, but its relatively upright forms have a legibility make it work for a wider variety of enviroments than most. One bonus: the Highlight style can be applied on top to achieve a bubbly gloss. As expected these days, there are bunches of alternates and ligatures. Fortunately, the swashes do not go overboard, and the variety of brushy underline lengths (applied with a stylistic set OpenType feature) is handy.
The more impressive new release from Schizotype is the cleverly titled Mastadoni, an ultra-high-contrast Didone known traditionally as a “Fat Face”. The family is uncommon in that the styles are not conventional weights but rather optical sizes, or more specifically, grades. In many ways, this system is more useful than a set of Bold, Heavy, and Black because an extreme contrast design is all about the weight of the hairlines: how thin can they get in a given setting without disappearing? There are five notches in the Mastadoni belt: G1 has the highest contrast, suited only for the largest sizes; while G5 retains the showy thicks and thins but has enough heft in the hairlines for mid-sized heads or white-on-black printed type. There are many digital Fat Faces but Mastadoni is the only one, besides the wackier Grumpy Black, to offer these grades. Besides that, it’s just an attractive face, and a unique celebration of the obese Modern.
A thoughtful set of alternative shapes further enhances the family’s utility, such as a less decorative ‘4’ and a balled ‘K’. The italic has even more alts, like swashes for all caps and many of the lowercases. There are also alternate forms without ball terminals for a more conservative look. I only wish there was such an alt for the italic ‘s’ — its huge balls create a density that feels out of balance with the rest of the lowercase.
Ludwig Übele describes his Brenta as “a crisp typeface with open counters and compact proportions.” This is true. It’s an accomplished, well-considered design as we’ve come to expect from LudwigType. The crispness comes from prominent ball terminals, narrow joints, and wedge serifs that are unusually long and sharp. Some of these features are found in other text faces, but generally to a more subtle degree. Brenta cranks the effects up to eleven, and sometimes I think that might affect its readabilty in body copy. While these sorts of exagerrations tend to soften at small sizes, from what I can tell in a paragraph at 10–16pt on screen, Brenta’s details sparkle to a distracting degree. On the other hand, not every serif face needs to be optimal for pages of book text. Brenta is a dazzler, and that’s fine. And how can you not love Saskia-like alternates?
Rob Leuschke got his start in lettering at Hallmark, and it’s easy to see that heritage in most of his typefaces: gentle, casual scripts that have that greeting card handwriting feel — in some middle ground between casual and formal so they can express sympathy for a death just as well as they say “happy birthday”. The oddly named Comforter, though, is not Leuschke’s typical fare. It has a high energy that’s not quite nervousness, but certainly not the calm, breezy tone of his other work. To me, this makes it a bit more interesting. It’s not hip by any means — the foundry’s sample images imply that the font is what you should expect to see on the window of a strip mall chain store or printed on novelty joke mugs — but there are certain combinations of glyphs that feel fresh, especially in all-lowercase.
Setimo is basically what appears at first glance: a basic, clean, unoffensive, 21st-century Humanist sans serif. So: no, it’s not exciting. But it’s a very sound design, and there is just enough personality to make it more interesting than Segoe and other banal Frutiger followers. Unlike the typefaces in this category that try to set themselves apart with minute quirks that are too small to really be noticed at most sizes, Setimo’s character comes a few well-placed and visible alterations: stems sliced at an angle; protruding diagonals in the ‘A’, ‘N’, and ‘W’; and a barred ‘J’. All this adds up to a functional six-style family that can quietly do a lot of jobs without boring everyone to death. If I needed something in this genre, though, I’d reach for something with a bit more flavor, like Monitor, Gemeli, or Queue.