Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Brian says: "Not all fonts are created equal"

Font Tip: Are all fonts created equal?
By Brian Tippetts

As we introduce a new script font family named Infinity to our wonderful audience, I am reminded of the many hours and precision (especially with a script like this one) that it takes to create a font.

However, it is more than just a nice script font with two weights—regular and bold. When you look inside the font at the content or the character set included, a new reality sets in. Which also explains why fonts differ in pricing and how useful they are.

So, what are the differences and why are some fonts around $100 and some are $3. This is a very good question with a variety of answers. Let me go through some of the differences to help you better understand.

A little digital font history

When I first started my collection of fonts, they were very expensive (over $100 per font family) and could only be purchased through a limited number of font vendors. The main ones were Adobe, Agfa, Bitstream, Linotype and a few others. The fonts were designed and crafted over an extended period of time, usually months, and by well-known type designers, like Matthew Carter and Carol Twombly. Eventually, when the software became available to the mass, many new font foundries opened shop and started creating fonts. The software was still quite expensive, so only the passionate type designers were getting involved and the resulting fonts were still expensive.

Then came software for the masses and the font scene exploded with fonts available for every known occasion. I even joined in by creating international language fonts for a software company that are standard now on every computer.

Now, with the ease of making your own fonts, we can find thousands available online for every price including free fonts. So, why did the prices fall? Well, the time put into the font, quality of the font and what is really included. What is comes down to is what you are getting inside and out.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck—NOT TRUE.

From the outside, fonts look pretty much the same. They have a name followed by an extension, either TTF or OTF and they install the same. Even when you preview the font with the following text, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” it is still impossible to tell the difference. By the way, do you know why they use that particular phrase to preview fonts? It is because that phrase uses every letter in the alphabet.

So, the first sign that the font could be different comes when you are writing about your summer trip and showing the cost of items that you purchased during the trip. As you type in the keystroke for the “dollar” sign or look for the “cents” character, you notice that they don’t exist in that font. Then you realize that when you add an en-dash or an em-dash that those characters are not there too. Then panic sets in. You try the “®” and the “©” symbols are they are missing too. What you find is that your new font only has uppercase, lowercase and numerals, but is missing many symbols and most punctuation. "How could they do this to me?"

To show what I mean, let me show you the character sets of three different fonts.

The first font is one that is no longer part of our collection and is named CK Tea Party. As you can see, the character set has the basics—uppercase, lowercase, numerals and limited punctuation. The cost of the font was $3.

The second font is the latest release from ScrapNfonts and is named Infinity. It comes in two weights—regular and bold and includes uppercase, lowercase, numerals, full punctuation and symbols and all international characters, including “e acute” used in résumé and “n tilde” used in piñata. Also included are fractions that look so much better than just typing “1+\+2”. The Infinity font family (regular and bold) cost $10 as a bundle or for a limited time, only $8 for the two weights.

The last font that I wanted to show you is a font named Feel Script. The creators of Feel Script decided to utilize the new OpenType font technology and add hundreds of characters to the character set. Included is uppercase, lowercase, numerals, punctuation, symbols, international characters and many alternates, ligatures, swash characters, and so much more. The set is very complete and a typographer’s dream. With all the included characters, it only makes sense that it cost $99.

It is easy to see why, based on the number of characters in the set, fonts vary in price. This doesn’t even take into consideration the quality of characters or how they connect, any kerning or spacing pairs and whether the font is corrupt-free. I’ll save these discussions for a later post.

At scrapNfonts, our goal is to provide you with fun fonts for your creative projects that have complete character sets, so you don’t have to scramble to find a missing character or punctuation, all at a price that is very reasonable.

We hope you agree and will continue to support the time and effort that goes into creating a world-class font, like Infinity.


Bonus Tip: Font Aid IV

If any of you font lover’s are still looking for a way to help with the crisis in Haiti, there is a font that has been created which includes close to 400 different ampersand glyphs (each from a different person) and proceeds from the sale of the font will go to Doctors Without Borders. For more details, go to: http://www.typesociety.org/fontaid.html

PS- As always, I've included a free download for this month, featuring word art designed with the new Infinity fonts. You can download it here. And in case you were wondering which fonts I'd recommend using with SNF Infinity or SNF Infinity Bold, check out LD Blankie, LD Modern Sans and LD Woodland. I think any of these three fonts will compliment the swirls, loops and script style of Infinity.

1 comment:

Melby from Gold Coast said...

WOW - that was such a great clear and yet eye opening explanation for the TTF and OTF differences - your knowledge is amazing as are you for sharing it. (ScrapNGal and Brian) Thank you.