Upcoming Typography Basics On The FontFeed

With TYPO Berlin 2010 – Passion imminent The FontFeed is bound to be less active this week. I already leave on Tuesday evening (if Eyjafjallajökull permits of course) plus I still need to work on the presentation I am giving Thursday evening. The downtime will be an investment though, as I will repurpose the material of my presentation for The FontFeed afterwards. One important thing – my lecture is aimed at a general audience, so it is likely to be less interesting if you are a type designer. I’d hate to feel guilty afterwards if you turn out to have been bored out of your skull.

Some people have asked me if I would do any live Twittering, which appears to be the next big thing at conferences these days (I guess saying this officially made me an old geezer ; ). I am not sure you can do a presentation justice in 140 character sound bites, so I haven’t made up my mind yet. Furthermore I think it’d be a bit like extensive photographing or filming – you think you’re recording something for posterity, but you don’t notice you experience it less and actually miss a lot.

Upcoming Typography Basics

I thought I’d have another go at Typography Basics soon. I was put off from writing those because comments in the past made it appear as if we are nitpicky know-it-alls here at The FontFeed. You have to know I am obsessive-compulsive to a certain degree, which translates in me being a perfectionist. Although I learned how to manage it so it doesn’t interfere with “normal life”, my wife and children may agree it makes cohabiting with me a little harder than it is supposed to be ; ). This character trait has helped me in my work as a (typo)graphic designer – it’s all in the details. I am convinced this is not a bad thing for these type tips neither. If The FontFeed wants to add something worthwhile to the multitude of tips and tricks and tutorials already out there on the web we can’t but follow our own high standards – see the whole Font or Typeface discussion – and do it thoroughly. Lowering those standards for the sake of convenience, or because “everyone else” does so, would result in mediocrity.

One thing that worries me is that I come from a print background. Yet I think many of our readers will be interested in type tips for web solutions. I will do my very best to transpose to the web as many tips as possible. However if I occasionally do get something wrong, or if you know of better solutions – be it more efficient or more elegant ones – please feel free to correct me and I’ll amend them to the post. I wouldn’t mind this becoming a collaborative project. I’ve mentioned it before: the best part about this gig is that I learn every single day.

OpenType Support in Adobe CS5

The first topic I will be looking into is OpenType support in Adobe Creative Suite. I will stick to the print side, because I have no experience whatsoever with the web aspects. The location of OpenType features in the various programs of the Adobe Creative Suite is not always logical nor consistent, which is why some can be difficult to find and are rarely used. That is a shame, because they can make your life so much easier and allow for better, professional typesetting.

A lecture of mine made me decide to dedicate a post to this topic. Although I have talked in the past at TypeCon, a couple of ATypI conferences, and Typo Berlin, I only started doing presentations for non-type-centric audiences two years ago – for now art and design schools and a mini-conference organised by a paper company. For these I assembled a lecture about Type Selection (I never “write” lectures; I just gather lots of images and then talk about what’s on the screen). Stephen Coles also presented it at Justified West, last year’s one-day typographic event organised by Langara College in Vancouver, BC, Canada. With everything currently being written on how to properly use fonts it’s surprising how little attention is spent to the actual selection of typefaces. Along the way this introductory presentation touches upon various aspects of digital type, one of them being the OpenType font format.

One of the criteria for selection I touch upon is the completeness of the character set and the availability OpenType features. That’s where I noticed many people know little about the possibilities of feature-rich Opentype fonts, and a recurring question after my presentation is where the heck those OpenType features can be found. At my last couple of presentations I even paused halfway through and popped open Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to show all the relevant windows and menus. And when last month Adobe launched the new CS5 Twitter was flooded with a deluge of requests for a Glyph Palette in Adobe Photoshop. I will spotlight where OpenType features can be accessed in the Adobe Creative Suite programs Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop. No QuarkXPress unfortunately as I don’t own a license and haven’t worked with it for years. I know they’re “Revolutionizing Publishing. Again.” (yawn), but it’s too little, too late for me.

There is one problem. I have already started working on this and the sheer volume of text, samples and screenshots is becoming rather intimidating. To avoid this becoming a massive and unwieldy post, I’d like to break it up in about three episodes. I have two options for this. Either I subdivide the OpenType features in a couple of logical groups, and in each post I compare their use in the three programs. Or I do one post per program, but then there will be quite a bit of repetition between the three entries. The jury is still out.
Header image: Audience in TYPO Hall © Frank Grießhammer

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