Re: fonts, letterpress configuration
- Hi Tom
Well, essentially you want to have the printed piece look like it was
printed with metal. Maybe. But most digital fonts need a slight
weight reduction to accomplish this, to counteract ink spread,
provide an even color to the letterform as well as the page, etc.
More importantly to hold to the original design of the digital face
which can quickly have problems with ink gain and increased
impression. These are problems digital faces do not often encounter,
especially since, except for a great rarity, no one designs faces for
us, the letterpess folk.
Used straight out of the can the results are not often good. But some
faces do perform well, eg the Lanston Type Co issue, dfTYPE's Rialto
(actually designed for letterpress), some of the Monotype Typography
revivals, HTF Didot, etc, and that is why we are trying to draw up a
A more important problem is optical ranging. I will invariably alter
fonts so that I do have an optical sizing effect. Often as many as
four to six variances dependent upon the sizes I will need in the
finished piece. This is usually accomplished in a font-editing
program but there are also some built-in ways to do this, multiple
master fonts, possibly open type fonts, built-in sizing such as with
Justin Howes' Founder's Caslon, etc.
Of course we are not yet talking about printing or printing techniques.
But perhaps we should one of these days.
Both dfTYPE and H W Caslon Co Ltd (Howes) are members here, and would
probably welcome inquiries.
Sort of the short quick response here.
--- In PPLetterpress@y..., typetom@a... wrote:
> << fonts that do not require letterpress configuration >>
> I am not sure what is meant by this phrase. Anyone care to explain in a few
> words? Is this a reference to ink-spread caused by impression? or the
> necessary opening of counters in smaller point sizes? or some other
> configuration issue??
> Tom Parson
> Now It's Up To You Publications
> 157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
> (303) 777-8951
- << most digital fonts need a slight weight reduction ..., to counteract ink
spread, provide an even color to the letterform as well as the page, etc....
to hold to the original design of the digital face >>
Pretty much what I thought you were refering to with the term "letterpress
configuration." In practice, mostly, I tend to work with what is given. If
the digital typeface prints slightly heavier with letterpress, that's what I
plan for in the page design. A type design can be quirky or out of balance in
many ways. Maybe fontographer and editing capabilities of the computer now
allow us to meddle with such things (in ways that the old compositor could
not, short of the kinds of tricks Bruce Rogers became known for). But mostly
I live with it, and try to fit the quirks and design weaknesses into the
typographic decisions -- or I just don't use that font for that situation.
Sure, multiple masters, optical sizing, the wonderful recent work with
Caslon, are the right way to go. A discussion of what makes some digital
fonts work better than others also makes good sense. But I'd hate to dismiss
the fonts and choices we have in front of us -- as if good work can only be
done with perfectly designed fonts. Seems to me the job of the printer always
involves working with necessary compromises. In metal type, the printer
devised letter-spacing to make caps aesthetically pleasing. While he might
have demanded more kerned letters (or more ligatures and logo-types) from the
type designer instead, I think perhaps the letter-spaced setting was a worthy
solution. Conservatively, I am troubled by over-lapped letters (or such
things as letter-spaced italics) now occurring just because the computer
makes them easily possible.
A bunch of complex issues, I guess. In practice, I'd back off the polymer
exposure time if possible and watch the inking very carefully, be aware of
the distortions that can occur, but never decide I can't make good printing
and creative design just because I am given a limitation to start. On the
other hand, maybe you're of a mind to do the William Morris trick, and just
change the whole danged pallette! Press on, press on!
Now It's Up To You Publications
157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
- If it is not too much trouble...what kind of tricks did Bruce Rogers use?
I'm not looking for a complete list...just a few examples.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 10:48 PM
Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: fonts, letterpress configuration
> Pretty much what I thought you were refering to with the term "letterpress
> configuration." In practice, mostly, I tend to work with what is given. If
> the digital typeface prints slightly heavier with letterpress, that's what
> plan for in the page design. A type design can be quirky or out of balance
> many ways. Maybe fontographer and editing capabilities of the computer now
> allow us to meddle with such things (in ways that the old compositor could
> not, short of the kinds of tricks Bruce Rogers became known for). But
> I live with it, and try to fit the quirks and design weaknesses into the
> typographic decisions -- or I just don't use that font for that situation.