Archive for the ‘Type Design’ Category

Quintet has been released on Photo-Lettering

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

I’m very happy to announce that my own first retail typeface Quintet Script joins Photo-lettering Collection running by House Industries. This typeface was initially made for the Typeradio workshop, titled “Typographic Chinese Whispers” and was held in Feb. 2011, and restarted as the final project of TypeMedia 2010/2011 class at KABK in the Hague, the Netherlands. Quintet for Photo-lettering consists of a combination two exclusive weights (Violin and Cello) and one most heavier weight from the regular family to go well with Photo-lettering’s unique outline download service.

I hope you enjoy this typeface for your graphic, packaging or greeting card project. Its three layers create many colorful combinations or unique arrangement by applying emboss effect or metallic color or gilding to one of three layers. It must be also nice for a screen media such as a titling of video clips or web contents. You can get a lively titling image by applying animation effect to a stroke which looks like a double-stroke but consists of a single-stroke.

I also would like to release original five-layer design as an OpenType font, and now I’m preparing for releasing it but no schedule has been decided. If I’ve got a clear schedule or plan, I’ll disclose it here.

The reserch presentation on the Asahi Shinbun typeface.

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

TOKYO — The presentation on the research for the Asahi Shinbun Typeface was provided by Akiko Nakai, assistant manager of the font division of Asahi Shinbun Co., at BIZ Shinjuku, Tokyo on December 8th. The Asahi Shinbun is the one of major newspapers in Japan and published the first issue in 1888 in Osaka then now became the second largest newspaper company. Nakai joined the font division about two years ago and attended Shinjuku Shijuku: 新宿私塾, literally means the Shinjuku private school and provides one year typography program organized by Robundo, is known as a publisher featuring typography, to get knowledge and skills on typography. The report was compiled as a final project of the curriculum. The presentation was provided not only by a slide show report but also a lot of physical stuffs from letterpress to digital Asahi used. They included many draft sketches and the Kanji letter press pieces including ruby, called Furigana, is a Japanese reading aid Kana characters along with the Kanji for indicating its pronunciation. Besides that, the stuffs marked “confidential stuffs” were also included and Nakai told that it must be rare opportunity to show them since we never took place like this exhibition.

Left: Draft drawing. Right: 35mm film for archive. Asahi sent them to IBM to digitize

Nakai explained in her presentation about the history of the Asahi Shinbun Typeface and showed many photos of the workplace to make the typeface. In the earliest time, Asahi bought typefaces from some Japanese type foundries such as Tsukiji Katsuji or Motoya Matrice, but after the WWII, as the amount of the publish was getting increase, Asahi decided to make an original exclusive typeface.

One of the interesting background stories in the design history was why they started making vertical compressed letters, now is known as a newspaper typical typeface style in Japan. As a possibility going to World War II were getting higher, paper supply and quality went worse. Asahi decided to reduce the amount of the pages per an issue and they made a small typeface, 6.286pt, to keep an equivalent information. But the complaint that the typeface looks too small arose not only inside the company but also from the readers, besides that, the government also required that the newspaper letters should be lager to protect the readers eyes. To solve this problem, the staff considered that the letters should be as large as possible without changing the amount of the information. Unlike Latin language newspapers, Japanese newspapers set text vertically. The staffs came up with the only solution to make the letters larger without changing the text length must be expanding letters horizontally. Considering that the eyes of the human being are on the face horizontally, an expanded typeface could have readability for readers. Since the Asahi Shinbun started using newspaper style expanded typeface, the rest companies followed to use it, and now vertical compressed Mincho style is regarded as a Newspaper style typeface.

Left: Draft drawing of Mincho style. Right: Draft drawing of Mincho Titling style.

Asahi repeated to make the letters larger several times and brushed up them as the typeface has been changed along with the transition of the mechanical three main methods from letterpress to digital.

The report was well compiled as an company history featuring its typeface, but I was a little bit disappointed that it didn’t deal with the detail of the design transition so much. Nakai showed some references using some Kanji letters, for instance “朝” that is the initial Kanji letter of the Asahi Shinbun, but I wanted to know how the Kana design transition had been made and the what the future typeface design will look like to fit the screen media as the Asahi Shinbun eager to make web site and smart phone applications to provide its issues.

Some of attendees who I met after the show told me that it was very good presentation, which was interesting. They seemed to be satisfied that the presentation. But I doubt it.

Asahi Shinbun typeface must have an equivalent design history to the Shueitai typeface, which is the one of main stream design typeface in Japan and turned centennial last year. The exhibition to cerebrate the centennial of Shueitai showed the long history and tremendous important stuffs. I’m sure Asahi also has the equivalent stuffs like Shueitai has. I hope they will publish the book on the Asahi typeface and provide more detail information in public.

Pre event talk show for Zapf Exhibition.

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The 6th Type Talks featured the Zapf Exhibition “Hermann Zapf & Gudrun Zapf, the World of Calligraphy” form 13th Sept. 2011 in Tokyo organized by Akira Kobayashi and Japan Letter Arts Forum (J-LAF), which includes some Calligraphy works and type design works. About 80 attendees were gathering to the ABC Aoyama Book Center and enjoyed interesting topics related to the Zapf’s works.

Minako Sando, is a calligrapher and representative of J-LAF, and Yukie Hoshi, is also a calligrapher and core member of J-LAF, explained the background stories of the preparation for the show and the visit to Zapfs’ house in last January to pick up their works. They talked about the meeting with prof. Hermann Zapf and Gudrun Zapf von Hesse with some interesting photos and the selection in their archive rooms. And then, explained some high lights of the works in the exhibition. She analyzed the letter forms and techniques in the works one by one from the Calligrapher’s point of view and explained the difference between letter forms focusing on the lowercase “d” in the Hermann work Quotation by Walter Crane. It has almost 30 variations “d” like the long ascender and the alternative letter form which has a curly ascender stroke. One of the examples showed the terminal of the loop ascender stroke looks continues to the following letter e and r. She guessed the order of the strokes if the e was written after the r or the stroke just looks connecting to the r. (Oh, hard to explain without the image!)

A Calligrapher and type designer Ryuichi Tateno, is a designer of Pirouette and Stevens Titling from Linotype, explained and demonstrated the Zapf’s techniques, a so called piano technique (means pen pressure transition during drawing the terminals of a stroke) and drawing strokes which was introduced in the book Creative Calligraphy published by Rotring in 1985, and the famous short movie The Art of Hermann Zapf by Hallmark cards.

And at last, Akira Kobayashi joined the talk via Skype from Bad Homburg, Germany, and talked about the high lights of the type design works by Zapfs, mainly the collaboration works with Zapfs, such Diotima and Optima Nova.
He mentioned about the design transition of the lowercase “g” of Diotima in developing phase for the metal type to the digital revival Diotima Classic. He happened to find a document file of Diotima in the Linotype archive room while he was preparing for the Helvetica exhibition in 2009. He realized the lowercase g had been changed several times during the developing process for about few years. And it continued in the collaboration works of Diotima Classic with Gudrun. Almost of the works he introduced in the talk show will be displayed in the exhibition. I learned a lot of high-lights of the works today, which must be helpful to admire the exhibition works.

In fact, Minako and Yukie came by to see me in the Hague during visiting to the Zapfs’ house as I was joining TypeMedia KABK. I was very glad that they somehow took a time and came to the Hague even though they were supposed to be busy preparing for the meeting and had to back to Darmstadt right away. They told me about the visit but seemed to be nervous to see Zapfs because Akira Kobayashi couldn’t join the meeting due to a cold even though they expected he introduced them to Zapfs. I just made a wish everything would go well and I was very glad again to hear yesterday that everything went well and they got a great experience with Zapfs.

I’m the one of big fans of Hermann Zapf, so I’m looking forward to the show. I’ve never seen of their works firsthand, so it must be a rare chance to take a close look at them. I have some Hermann Zapf’s books but I can tell the differences between the original and the picture. I wish I can steal their techniques;-)

The exhibition was planned in last March, but it had to be rescheduled in September because of the Higashinihon earthquake (the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11). The show starts on 13th Sept. until 25th at le bain in Nishiazabu, Minato Ward, Tokyo, Admission 1,000 yen. It includes more than 50 pieces, Handwriting, Replica, Materials for font development, Metal typesetting, etc. A special program is also scheduled to show the DVD movie “The Art of Hermann Zapf” produced by Hallmark Cards Inc. on 18th and 25th Sunday 13:00 / 15:00 (twice a day). This show is highly recommended and don’t miss it.

AXIS Latin Pro won a Good Design Award

Friday, October 1st, 2010

AXIS Font Latin Pro won a Good Design Award 2010. The design farm of this font, Type Project won the Good Design Award straight three years since AXIS Compact series got it in 2008. Driver’s Font, which was collaborated with Denso, also got it last year.

AXIS Latin Pro is the basically developed for Japanese font named AXIS Font in 2001 as a Latin portion. AXIS Font was designed by Isao Suzuki of Type Project. Suzuki was a former type designer of Adobe Japan and joined the design team that developed Kozuka family. He started AXIS Font project in 1998 for an exclusive font for AXIS magazine, is one of famous design magazines in Japan and mainly features architect, product and industry design. After he left Adobe Japan, he concentrated to make AXIS Font. After a while he started this project, he asked Akira Kobayashi, is now a type director of Linotype, to make Latin parts for this font. They developed this family, contains seven weights, for about three years, AXIS magazine started using this font when the magazine turned 20th anniversary and renovated its design format in 2001.

After AXIS magazine used it exclusively for about one and half years, AXIS Font was released in public in September 2003. It was widely used in several kinds of design field or a corporate use because of its high design quality. Apple Japan (Japanese character only), Mazda, Nintendo and some other major worldwide companies use AXIS Font for their corporate or branding images.

After AXIS Compact series released in 2008, AXIS Latin Pro was planed since the needs for multi language text setting are getting increase and widely required for the company and design farm which need to have communicate with customers and users across world.

After Akira Kobayashi left for Germany to join Linotype in 2003, Suzuki was looking for a new type designer who would be able to make Latin parts, then Kunihiko Okano joined Type Project in 2005 to make Latin part of AXIS Compact series, then continued to make AXIS Latin Pro family. After Okano left type Project in the end of 2007 and he started his design office called Shotype Design, he keep continue to make them and finally released in September 2009. To release this font as a Pro version, Okano developed Italic style, small caps, old style figures and specific characters, and compiled 36 styles, Roman & Italic, seven weights(UL, EL, L, R, M, B, H), three width variations (Basic, Condensed and Compressed), which create richly expressions and fulfill versatile typographic demands. Besides, more over than 700 characters supports 41 Latin alphabet languages across the world, so you can use them for the items, applications and medias which are available to use all over the world. This is the rare case, might be the first case, that the Latin part of the Japanese font released independently as a retail font.

AXIS Font exclusive dealer www.axisfont.com

Type Project: AXIS Font developer.

AXIS and AXIS Font are the trademarks of AXIS Inc.

Three font-related works got the Good Design Award

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization announced the results of the Good Design Award 2009 on October 1st. Good Design Award is the only annual comprehensive design commending system in Japan, and the award-winning works get the right to show the G-mark for its promotion on the several kind of media by paying annual fee. The award winning works in 2009 contained three font related works.

Driver’s font
Driver’s font designed by Type Project collaborated with Denso, is the supplier mainly car equipments and air conditioner, got the Frontier Design Award.

Driver’s font was designed to support car drivers in 2007 as a prototype work, which is now in progress to develop, based on the assumption in light of the research for driver’s situation.

While driving a car, a driver needs to concentrate gazing forward and have to glance at information on the equipment panels such a speed mater or car navigation system. The driver recognizes the information by remembering the image what the panels showed after glancing at the panels. The driver repeats these actions concentrating forward. The interval to check panels will change depends on its car speed. To keep the impressions that driver imprinted, the letters needs to be required clear legibility and generating strong impressions. Driver’s font gives driver stabilized visual images by modulating letters along with car speed. When the car in high speed, the letters become a bit bolder to enhance strong images to the driver, on the other hand, the car is staying, the letter looks calm by showing the letter thinner.

Driver’s font has three styles, Urban mode and Enthusiast mode, plus Enthusiast Italic “Power Band”mode for Sports mode. The letters in Enthusiast mode enhanced the characteristics of the letters such as the terminals and thickness of the strokes and serifs, compared with the Urban mode, which helps drivers be able to easily catch the letters on the panels in high speed.

Reference: AXIS magazine vol. 136 contains an article on Driver’s font.

Iwata Universal Design font
Iwata Universal Design font got the Life-Scape Design Award. This font is the pioneer of the Universal Design font trend in Japan. Universal Design font, abbreviated UD Font, is becoming popular in Japanese typeface market after Iwata’s UD font was released in 2006. Above all, Product design field welcomed to use UD fonts designing products with Universal Design philosophy. Iwata collaborated with Panasonic, is the major home-electronics, audio and visual device maker, to make its UD fonts in order to help those with weak-eyes and aged-eyes. The other type foundries followed to make UD fonts.

Fontpark 2.0
MORISAWA Fontpark 2.0 designed by Yugo Nakamura (tha ltd, yugop.com) in 2008 is a unique attraction interface. User can play to draw a picture using strokes and elements of letters from Morisawa Font Library. And it is available to save the picture to the web site, then visitors can watch the archives replaying making process of the work. Enjoy this font park.

Kinshachi Font Project

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Cityfont.com announced that the Kinshachi font project has started and will out draft sketches for the Kinshachi font on November 1st. The teaser advertising for the project designed by Openends also showed on its web site, which has a major impact. This striking and interesting photo was taken in front of the Kinshachi.

What is the Kinshachi? Kinshachi, abbreviated from Kin-no-Shachihoko means a Golden tiger-headed with a dolphin body, is a symbol decoration usually on the top of the Japanese old castle. The gilded body Especially, the pair of the ones on the top of Nagoya Castle, located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture,  central part of Japan, are the best known ones in Japan. So speaking Kinshachi, it reminds me of Nagoya Castle.

The cityfont.com organized by Type Project started the project to make a font for a city in Japan. It launched about three months ago and now they are looking for the city which wants to make an original font.

The founder of the cityfont project, Isao Suzuki, is also a founder of Type Project, started this project with the designers who will join the Nagoya Design Week and those who based in Nagoya city. Suzuki also came from Nagoya city and now bases in Tokyo. In 2010, Nagoya city will mark the 400th anniversary of the old Nagoya Shogunate town launched in 1610. To mark the occasion, they planed this.

Making an original font for a city becomes one of good solutions for the city which is likely to have its own specialty. A city font will work like a dialect which expresses a specific characteristic of the region, which will work as a tool of the brand identity. That’s why, it makes sense to use the Kinshachi as a motif to express Nagoya city.

I’ll follow the project and report it when the draft sketches out.

Meeting with a graduate of MA Type Design at Reading

Monday, September 7th, 2009

At the Shakujii Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, I was waiting for a graduate of Reading University in UK, Émilie and her friend Xavier to have an afternoon meeting. Since Émilie designed Japanese characters for multilingual font as her graduate work, she wanted to ask Japanese people about her design during her private trip to Japan.

Last week, Kimura, who is my junior in Kyoto City University of Arts, told me about Émilie. As Kimura had been in Typo/Graphic Studies in London College of Printing, now known as London College of Communication, he got email from his former-classmate in UK that Émilie wanted to ask Japanese about her design when she come to Japan. It would be nice but I thought she supposed to ask her request with type designer for Japanese font in order to get proper advice, so I arranged to visit Type Project, is the foundry known for making AXIS font, plus asked a type designer Okazawa of Yokokaku, who left Jiyukobo and started his office last month, to join our meeting because I hoped the meeting would be a good chance sharing type design topics.

In fact, I knew Émilie because her classmate Eben Sorkin, who I met at TypeCon Seattle two years ago, emailed and asked me to help Émilie for making Japanese characters last year. I couldn’t get any reply for a long time, but I was glad to hear she would come to Japan.

The meeting began with the presentation of the cityfont.com web site that Type Project launched last month, and then Suzuki of Type Project introduced about the Driver’s font. We asked Emilie some questions about the type design trend in European countries and the situation type designers are facing now. As I was also interested in the curriculum of the MA type design course of Reading, I asked her about it and the difference with the one of KABK.

We talk about Émilie’s work.

Émilie introduced her type design named Coline showing her great small specimen book. It was really nice and interesting work, I thought there’s no Japanese typeface like this style, and Coline might be fit for a magazine that featured natural organic items or casual fashion which women are interested in. When I saw the letters in large size, strokes seemed a little too dynamic and wild for the body text, but small size letters set in the column box, it seemed to be natural and calm, and strokes created comfortable rhythm.

She asked some questions about what the key factor is for making proper Kana forms, then, Suzuki mentioned that the importance to think about the order of the strokes in Kana because the stroke consequences came from the order of strokes would affect the forms of Kana letters. And added some tips for designing Japanese letters.

Left: Émilie explained about her design. Right: Left to Right, Xavier Antin, Émilie Rigaud, Satoru Kimura, Isao Suzuki of Type Project, Hideyo Ryoken of Type Project, Yoshihide Okazawa of Yokokaku.

It was only for three hours visiting in Type Project but we enjoyed having chat with them, and Émilie and Xavier also seemed to enjoy this meeting. I hope the meeting would help for her work and we hope to meet again in future. It would be nice we could meet again somewhere in the world, say at a type conference. And I’m looking forward to seeing Coline will be released.

Speaking a type designer based in overseas who designed Japanese font as a non-native speaker, it reminds me of Joachim Müller Lancé, who got Morisawa Award. I know the difficulty of making typeface in non-native language as I’m also one of designers making Latin alphabet. I expect those try to design Japanese font like Mr. Lance and Émilie will gradually increase, and I also hope I’ll be able to use Japanese font made by a designer who is non-native Japanese language. I’m sure they bring new styles which I have never seen to Japan.

The specimen book of Coline. The PDF of this specimen is available to download from HERE.

Torinoumi gave a presentation at UD publishing collegium.

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

The talk show began with showing a photo taken Mt. Chokaizan volcano, located on the border Yamagata and Akita Prefecture in Tohoku Region, the Northern part of Japan. Snow on the top of the mountain is brilliant and beautiful, rice fields spread around the foot of the mountain, beautiful rivers run through the field. This place is known as the location of the Academy Award winner movie Departures. Torinoumi was born and raised there.

Osamu Torinoumi is the head of Jiyukobo Inc. (字游工房), is known for designing Hiragino font family bandled on Mac OSX. After working for Shaken, was the biggest photo-type setting machine maker in Japan, as a type designer, he was the one of two co-founders of Jiyukobo under ex-boss Tsutomu Suzuki, was founder of Jiyukobo and passed away in 1996, and now leads the office.

When Torinoumi was a student of Tama Art University, he visited Mainichi Shinbun Co., Ltd., (The Mainichi Newspapers), to see a workplace for making typeface for its newspapers. Torinoumi decided to become a type designer by the word from Masahiko Kozuka, a type designer giant in Japan and worked for there at that time, that “For Japanese people, Letter is like rice and water.” He might remember the scene in his childhood.

Left: The event was held at Japan Braille Library (日本点字図書館) in Takadanobaba, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. Right: The event room displayed the slides Torinoumi provided.

The talk show had three parts. First, Torinoumi introduced the history of Letter in China and Japan briefly, then talked about the issues titled “About the topic on the body text which make users feel annoyed.” He showed the tips for how to choose a proper Japanese typeface for body text comparing several kind of typefaces, for example, the balance of black and white, body size and the balance with the Latin alphabet. As for the balance of black and white, usually, Kanji letter becomes darker as its number of strokes is increasing. When setting all Kanji characters, you have to pay much attention to the contrast of the texture. If the contrast is high, it’s not good for a body text. The typefaces Jiyukobo made were really well-balanced and moderate texture. The references he showed were very clear to find the differences among the typefaces.

“I believe that typefaces for body text have played an essential role for developing Japanese culture after Meiji era. In order to provide the contents on the several kinds of medias such as books, comics or magazines, typefaces on these medias must have clearly showed its contents to readers, which means typefaces were a pillar part of Japanese culture,” Torinoumi said. “I hope to make a typeface which can be used for these medias for a long time,” he continued.

In addition that, he told us an interesting episode about typeface design. “I can say typeface has dignity because I know most of people think typeface has dignity,” he said looking back the presentation he gave before. “I asked the attendees whether you think Ishii Ming-cho from Shaken (well known for one of the excellent design) has dignity? then, ninety percent of them answered ‘yes’. I thought it meant typeface is able to have dignity. In order that typeface lives for a long time, it needs to have dignity, I thought we have to take care that point when we design fonts.”

Torinoumi also mentioned about the UD fonts (Universal Design font). UD font is becoming a hot topic in Japanese typeface market because of the design trend in Japan. Especially Product design field tends to design products with Universal Design philosophy. About the trend, “I hope you had better to take care where the UD fonts should be used. I don’t think the UD fonts are versatile. Some of UD fonts might be good for titles, signs or interfaces for electronic devices, but I don’t think they would work for body text of books or magazines,” Torinoumi said.

The second part was a presentation about the project making original Kana font for the printing company, Caps inc. The project started by the request from Caps Inc. for its exclusive use. Torinoumi made two sibling Kana fonts, the one named “Bunrei-Kana (文麗仮名)” is for Japanese literature, especially early-modern literature, the other named “Soukyu-Kana (蒼穹仮名)” is for translated foreign literature. Because the word came from overseas such as character’s name are expressed with Katakana in Japanese language. There are thousands of Katakana words in the sentences on Translated literature. Soukyu-Kana featured distinguished Katakanas compared with Bunrei-Kana.

Before starting to make letters, he read the book titled Kokoro by Soseki Natsume, the one of famous Japanese old literature, to develop design images. The story described character’s compassion, so Torinoumi wanted to make letters one-by-one with much compassion.

Usually, Torinoumi draws draft design with a lettering method. But in this project, he decided to challenge the way he never tried before. First, he drew the skeleton of letter on the 20 millimeter squared guide lined paper with pencil. Then he drew draft design with a brash with method of Calligraphy. By drawing letter with a brash at once, he thought the letter got natural forms featured specific brash movement. At that moment, he thought “I’m fabulous and no type designer who is able to draw such these excellent letters.” However he had to change his mind soon.

Left: The draft design on the drawing paper with 20mm-square guideline. Right: After enlarged them to 48mm square, then input them into PC.

After digitizing the draft letters as a prototype font, the result of the setting was really worse, which made him disappointed. The Kanas he had thought excellent were no good at all. Torinoumi analyzed the reason and found that the draft drawing based on brush handwriting was too close natural forms of Calligraphy. Typeface had to work not as Calligraphy but as a typeface. Having too much handwriting letter forms didn’t contribute to readability. Calligraphy method didn’t work to design Kana letters than he expected. He repeated to revise them, and the revision counted 13 times, which created sophisticated design and elegant forms.

And at last, he demonstrated inking Bunrei-Kana letters with brush.

Above: Demonstration an inking letter technique for the draft drawing. No straight line in almost of Kanas. To keep the draw point head-on, he rotated the paper. He learned this method at Shaken Inc.

Left: Inking with a guide scale, Japanese Menso painting brush and Japanese ink. He inked the Kana with superb skills about 5 or 6 minutes per letter answering visitor’s questions. He rotated the guide scale along with the curve of the letter. Right: After drew outlines, filled inside. You can see a wonderful technique from here (Note: QuickTime Movie).


Left above: The specimen book of Bunrei and Soukyu that Caps Inc. provides. Right above: Bunrei-Kana. The consequence stroke form at the top of letter ”あ” in the draft sketch was erased.
Left bottom: ぶんれい Bunrei-Kana. Right bottom: そうきゅう Soukyu-Kana.

Related article: Type seminor in Kyoto
Related article on Jiyukobo Inc.: Talk show with two type designers, Kataoka & Okazawa.

Shueitai will bundele on Morisawa’s Passport.

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Dai Nippon Printing Co.,Ltd. announced that Shueitai 秀英体 Ming-cho font family will be available to use with Morisawa’s Passport program. For a starter, Shuei Hoso Ming-cho (Light weight) will be released with Passport in this Autumn, and the rest of the Shuei Ming-cho family, Chuu Ming-cho (Regular), Futo Ming-cho (Bold) and Shuei Shogo Ming-cho (秀英体初号明朝) will be released in 2010. Normal family suite pack will be also released from Morisawa. Dai Nippon Printing, abbreviated DNP and is the largest printing company in the world, has been revised its exclusive font series named Shueitai to release as a retail font, and at last, decided to collaborate with Morisawa for providing Shueitai font series. Shueitai is known for one of two origins of Japanese typefaces, the other is Tsukiji-tai, which has been exclusively used for the products that DNP printed such novels, magazines, dictionaries, packagings and digital contents for over one hundred years.

Shueitai is known as an exclusive font for a long while, but, in fact, DNP already licensed Shueitai to the photo-typesetting maker Shaken few decades ago, which could be widely used for design works, especially publishing field. So designers who were familiar with Shueitai with photo-type setting would like to use them as digital fonts. To answer that request, DNP started the project called Heisei no dai kaikoku 平成の大改刻, means ‘The revival project for Shueitai in Heisei period’ in 2006 to revise Shueitai family for release into public as retail fonts.

Left: Morisawa’s leaflet for Shueitai. Right: DNP provided the catalogs and specimen sheets of Shueitai family to visitors to the business show, Tokyo Digital publishing fare to be held at Tokyo Big Site from July 9th to 12th.

Inside of the small specimen book in the above right photograph. Left: Shueitai Shogo Ming-cho’s Kanji characters. Right: A composition Shuei Shogo Ming-cho’s Kanji and Kana.

Shueitai has really handsome and classical typeface design. It contains Ming-cho (Serif), Gothic (San serif) and Maru-Gothic (Rounded), each style has two or three weight. Ming-cho style’s (serif style) Kana has Calligraphic strokes. Especially Shuei-Shogo-Ming-cho, is a Display Heavy style, keeps sequences of the strokes to emphasize the handwriting stroke forms like East Asian style Calligraphy. On the other hand, Kanji has also dynamic strokes, and I hope you take a look at the detail of the outlines of straight strokes, you’ll be able to find they are not straight but smooth and slightly curved, which gives Kanjis an enriched image and much beautiful impression.

I also would like to show you about what the Passport is. Morisawa’s Passport program is annual license system. It is available to use all of fonts which are included in DVD media by paying license fee (¥52,500 includes consumer tax.) every year. The Passport DVD contains over 350 fonts, not only full Kanji and Kana fonts but also Kana fonts for swapping Kana part of Japanese fonts. This license system is very useful and helpful for users who want to have a lot of fonts at once because it takes about 10,000 yen to 30,000 to buy an average full Japanese retail font. To collect all of fonts covered several kinds of styles, it will take over a few million yen. I can’t afford to buy them!

Left: Moriswa Passport Font Library Poster. You can use all of the fonts in this poster. Right: Fontworks LETS catalog and specimen book I’ve got last year. If you think Japanese fonts are too expensive, I recommend you consider to try Morisawa’s Passport or Fontworks’ LETS license system.

In Japan, an annual license font system is getting popular among designers in recent years. Fontworks inc. is the first provider to start the annual license program known as LETS, Leading Edge Type Solution, in 2002 before Morisawa started Passport program in 2005. Then, some of font vendors followed using similar annual license system. TypeBank and Iwata provided their fonts with LETS. Not only Japanese type foundry but also Housei, mainly deals with Chinese fonts, and JIKJISOFT, is a Korean company, also provides fonts with LETS.

Related article: Visiting the show room of Shueitai typeface.

Visiting the show room of Shueitai typeface.

Friday, September 12th, 2008

I got a chance to see the show room that introduced Shueitai 秀英体, is the one of originate of Japanese typeface designs and exclusive typeface design for Dai Nippon Printing Co. 大日本印刷 abbreviated DNP. Shueitai was named after the Shueisha 秀英舎 which was the predecessor company to DNP established over 130 years ago.

I got together with two type designers, the one was Naoyuki Takeshita, who was former type designer of Morisawa, related article is here and here, and the other was Yutka Ozawa, who was former type designer of Adobe Japan, at JR Gotanda station, was near the Gotanda branch of DNP, Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo. Masaki Itou and Ai Sasaki, are the staffs of Shueitai project team, invited us to show the show room. Unfortunately, it was not in public.

After check-in the entrance, and then waiting for a while, Itou came and take us to the show room on the second floor. I was astonished the show room was really beautiful. The glass-walled room and white display cases are really cool and modern interior style, which had several kinds of unique gizmos. Some LSD displays show the demo animation introducing Shueitai.

Then, Itou started introducing the history of Shueitai and he explained the three generations of the media of the hot metals, photo type and digital watching composition with three medias and demonstration movie that showed by LCD monitor. Takeshita and Ozawa asked a lot of geeky questions to Itou, but he answered everything clearly and made us sure the detail. I enjoyed their dialogs because I could get information that I’ve never known. ‘I need at least two hours to talk about this presentation booth,’ Itou said with smile. It sounded like a joke but I thought he seemed to be serious and felt like talking about it. I believed he was the last person to introduce about Shueitai, as he had remarkable ability for Shueitai. They really love to talk about Shueitai.

Left: In-use example of Shueitai Shogou for a packge of ramen noodles. I think Shueitai is very useful for the food package, especially Japanese foods. Right: The leaflet of the Shueitai revival project. The lovely duo mascot named Katsujii and Tombo-chan introduce about Shueitai.

The room in the end corner displayed a lots of stuffs for the letter press printings and some old Shueitai specimen books that DNP used to use . The show case had some drawer cases. Visitors can open them one by one. The most interesting device was the digital archive finder for transition of Shueitai letter forms. The archive showed the transition along with the time line. I could see the Shueitai has been changing its letter forms gradually. ‘However, the skeleton of the Shueitai has never been changing.’ Itou said.

After seeing the show room, Itou showed the design of Shueitai which was going on revising. DNP is going on the project called Heisei no dai kaikoku 平成の大改刻, means The revival project for Shueitai in Heisei period, to revise all of the Shueitai family includes three styles, Ming-cho, Gothic: Sans-serif and Maru Gothic: Rounded. Itou showed us the design that had been drawn before. He also showed some candidate Latin alphabet fonts for Shueitai fonts. ‘It was very difficult to choose the Latin font that suited with Shueitai fonts,’ he said, showing some specimen sheets of the candidate Latin fonts that composed with Shueitai fonts.

DNP announced that Shueitai fonts will out from the beginning of fiscal 2008 year, but the plans seemed to be delayed and the release date is not clear yet. Of course, I’ll show the Shueitai fonts for sure if they were out.

The Shueitai specimen poster contains all characters of Adobe Japan1-5. Sasaki told me that ‘You should put it on the wall of toilet in order that you can memorize where every character is while you are in the toilet every day.’