Archive for July, 2009

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.