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FAST CLASS: Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 5 of 7

OpenType Demystified


FAST CLASS: Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 5 of 7

OpenType Demystified


Lesson Info

OpenType Demystified

so most people have or are many designers and people have heard of open type, but they don't really know what it is, and they don't know the potential features. What is open type open type is a font format jointly developed by Can you believe it, Adobe and Microsoft, of all people who knew they'd ever worked together. Okay, we like to describe them as a kind of a super set of the older technologies, which are type one and true type with added enhancements. The added enhancements for open type are they are platform independent. They have the capability of having an expanded character set, and they have the capability of having glitz substitution, all of which I'm going to explain. Platform independent means the same font. The same exact font will run on both a Mac and a PC. Yes, the same exact fun. And the reason I make such a big deal of it is because fonts are considered software. Do you know any software that you cologne on a Mac and a PC? Now there's nothing else. Everything else yo...

u have to buy separately. So, um, there is 11 file for an open type font and the oh, that you see here is what is the symbol for open type and what you will see very often. If you look into your font menu in a lot of software, a lot of times it will show you an icon, so it will tell you which are your open type fonts. And if it has an A, or to tease, it's type one or two type. So this is one way you can tell when using your software. Most open type fonts and the ones that you will most likely be purchasing will have the subjects of O. T. F. Meaning open type font. There are some open type fonts that are TTF, which technically means true type font or true type flavors, We like to say sometimes and those those are the system fonts um, that are that are designed a little bit differently so that they have better screen um, reproduction. And so, without getting overly technical, it's not important for you to understand why that's a T, but the most of them are gonna be o. T. F. So an open type font can contain thousands of characters from the 256 of Type one and True type, which was not very much to Can you believe an open type font can contain up to 65,000 characters? But don't freak out because I only know one font that has 4000 characters. It's not like everyone's doing it, but just to give you a quick history. The reason Microsoft and Adobe work together is because first, Microsoft was looking for a font format that could accommodate language systems that have thousands of images such as, Let's say, kanji or Devon agree, or these other languages that don't just have, you know, 26 letter alphabet and then you make everything out of lower case and caps. Okay, so they were developing a system to accommodate these characters. And then Adobe joined them because they said, that will be awesome for our graphic design professionals, because there's lots of characters we can't now fit in a type one or two type fund. So that's how that came to be. That's the reason for that. So an open type fund can contain thousands of characters, and those extra characters can include most of these things. These things we will be talking about today or at the next session, lining old style figures proportional on tabular spaced figures standard and discretionary ligatures squash. An alternate characters. True drawn small caps, fractions, dingbats, ornaments, symbols and extensive language support. All in one fund. Okay, so how do you access all these extra characters? Um, again, these things we're gonna be talking about over the next today in the next session. Um, you can access them globally via the open type panel. Most of the software, um screenshots I'm gonna be showing you are from in design. Um, illustrator does support many if not most of the open type features. Thea others. Um, it depends on what version? And not and not so much. Okay, um, it's mostly in design. Okay, so if we're looking at this thing is the character, um Tab. And most people are familiar with this because you press this and you see, you see all this stuff, but a lot of people don't realize that if you go toe open type and you click on this, this is the open type panel. That is what is critically important to where you can globally access any of these characters okay, Or you can you can insert them. So, for instance, if you're doing a global insertion, you're going to either click on the text box or highlight a certain number of characters and you can collect. You can click on something here that is not bracketed. If something is bracketed, it means they're not available in this particular font. So this is showing Adobe Gary Wan pro Dobie Gurman Pro does not have squashes does not have contextual alternates, but it does have small caps. Does have different figures. Does have discretionary ligatures. The other way you can access these characters is individually using the glyph panel, so I'm sure you're all familiar with the glyph panel. If you're not, you're really should be, because it's critical and it's in. It's in every design software, uh, that, at least you know in some way you have to be able to access that. So this is the cliff panel. It's showing the entire font. This happens to be Adobe Castle in pro. So if you didn't want to turn on all of the let's say discretionary literatures or all of the swash is, you go to your text, you highlight a word or a character. You find it here and you click on it and it will insert it individually. So it's not globally. It's individually, Um, just before we go on to this. By the way, when you're doing that, understand that you could use both at the same time. In other words, you could turn on Ah, feature globally, but then and go in and change one character individually, using the glitch panel so they can overlap. Okay, just a little bit on the's font. Identify IRS, and most of these aren't used so much. But a lot of like I said, the other one was Adobe Gary Wan Pro. You see pro is probably the most common. Identify or you'll see okay, but there are. There's pro their standard. Occasionally you'll see calm. Occasionally, you'll see 2.0, okay. Many open type fonts don't have any identifying at all. Okay, you just have to know from the manufacturer. Standard means it supports Latin based languages standard, which is Western, you know, English, Central European, a few Turkish, Eastern European and Baltic characters. So that's that's your sort of I don't want to say that you're plain vanilla font because some might not have that. But those are the characters that are normally in even the older type one and type fonts. Okay, pro. Many people misunderstand what they think pro. What pro means pro of pro font just means it supports non Latin typography, usually Greek and Cyrillic and possibly some others could be a lot others. What many people think it means is it has a lot of bells and whistles. It has squashes, it has ornaments. It has altered all this stuff. Well, it can. But technically, when you're buying a pro font, technically from a manufacturer point of view, that's not what it means. But it's very possible when you're deciding upon buying a standard or a pro version of a font. The pro version might have MAWR stuff in it, so usually the foundry will show you a list or a chart of what's in it. 2.0, is another way of saying pro. Only certain manufacturers use that some independence. Um, com. A line I know, Line of type has some fonts. I believe it refers to the word commercial, and it supports 48 language. So if you're doing multi language, uh, usage. Then you might look for a calm font so you can set everything in the same type style with different languages. So fun identify IRS are inconsistent at best. Not every foundry most foundries air using the word pro that's become Adobe started them. And most people have adapted the word pro because it's becoming commonly understood. Okay. Ah, lot of foundries will have standard and they'll have pro because what started? Uh, the way it all started when open type became, um uh and accepted font format about 10 years ago. Or so is that libraries such as Adobe were converting quickly, converting all of their back library to open type, and they weren't adding anything extra. It was like we got to get this out. We got to just, you know, put it through them, you know, get it done and get them all out. Then when they called those standard, then they went back to certain fonds, and they added all the extra characters okay or added a bunch of extra character. So you were very often find ah standard and a pro version of the same font available at a foundry Okay, Um, I did mention a lot of extra characters, uh, standard ligatures versus. So what's the different standard versus discretionary? We didn't have those two terms prior to, um, open type. They were standard ligatures, which are usually was the f ligatures, um, plus others that tend to correct or improve crashing character pairs. So here's an example of some F ligatures in addition to a th ligature. Once again, Adobe Garry Mahon Pro. So it's starting off with the F f and the F I. And these were the only two ligatures that were typically available in the type one and true type font, and they're typically turned on by default because they're important to improve the look of text. But now that we have room for lots, ah, lot of manufacturers and type designers are adding mawr. The reason you have these is because, for instance, the dot of the I might crash into the top of the F and the Saref on the I might crash into the cross bar of the F. So it creates an ugly connection in a lot of typefaces. So these are meant to improve the fit and the overall look the same thing here. E mean, that's tasteful. But it looked worse if you didn't have that. Okay, so then, of course, you've got f f I f f l. There might be some that you say. Well, what word does that? It's not all for English. I mean, there's other, you know at languages that use the same letter forms that might have very common, um, pairings. And th is just a real problematic combination. So it's nice to have that. So those air standard ligatures they're often turned on by default and the character palette. So again, this is not the open type palate. This is the character palette. So you can see and it's it's most likely going to be selected or turned on with a check by default. Discretionary ligatures, arm or decorative in nature. Um, use at your discretion. Okay, so here is some discretionary ligatures from Dobie Castle on. If you're not familiar with this aspect of the glitch panel, um, you don't you there are subsets. If you click here, you're going to see a whole list of subsets that's very similar to the open type panel. So if you want to look at all the discretionary ligatures, all the standard ligatures. All the swash is it's a lot easier if you look at a subset instead of looking at that whole big chart, which is is overwhelming. So these air historic forms don't ever make the mistake of thinking these air f ligatures because whenever you see what seems like an f with a missing right crossbar and ain't no f as be very unprofessional for you to use that it's a historic form. It refers to an S a long s. So if you have ever seen some old, you know, printed old pieces where you see letters that don't you know, you see this and you you know you can't read it or it reads funny or it looks funny. It's because this is S l to S s S t S h s. I. So they're usually under discretionary ligatures. But on some funds there, for some reason, understand, Erred on then they might not necessarily automatically substitute, but you'll sort of get one up on, uh, on your instructor on your employer on whomever If you know a little bit about some of these characters, even if you never use them. Okay, so the discretionary ligatures are located here once. Okay, this is Expo. Serve sands again. Remember to go, then this is in. Remember, it's an in design. It's a little bit different. And illustrator illustrator actually has an open type tab which has a combination of icons to represent things like squashes and small caps and also has a pull down menu on the side. So if you're using illustrator, explore the interface, it's slightly different from in design. This is never going to be turned on by default because it's a discretionary. It's an optional thing. Okay, Figures what? One of the most important in one of my favorite, um, options in many open type fonts on. Before you understand that an open type why, it's important that open type contains four styles of numerals. You have to understand what they are so and they happen to be located at the bottom here. Okay, if they're bracketed, they will be bracketed in any type one and true type font. Okay. And they might be bracketed in an open type font if that doesn't have them. Okay, but what are they Okay. There's two different styles There's lining figures and there's old style figures lining figures What you see on the top, generally a line on the cap and the baseline. Granted in Garman they're not completely aligning. They have little. They they extend a little bit, you know, the three, the five a teeny teeny bit. But in general, these are the lining figures and most lining figures. A line perfectly old style figures or what you see on the bottom. Old style figures Approximate lower case letter forms in that they have an X height, ask centers and D centers. Okay, so those are the two styles of numerals, numerals, numbers, figures. It's all the same thing. Okay, But as I mentioned before, I said there were four styles. Okay, The other two styles relate to the spacing. So for lining figures, you have tabular figures and proportional figures for old style. You have tabular and proportional tabular means every individual character has the same total with total with referring to the width of the glitch. If the drawn character plus the space that's assigned to the right and left so that it doesn't crash into other characters, the purpose and the use for tabular lining figures is so they will align vertically in tables. Tables. Thus the word tabular. That's how you could remember it. Okay, so, um and and the proportional style means everyone has just the right amount of space so that if you combine the numerals, they're gonna look good. Okay, if the fun also has tabular old style, which you don't use that much But you might see some at, you know, things like annually reports, priceless invoices, things like that. And you can clearly see that the tabular figures or more open and you can better see it in this example where you see every character has the same total with. Remember, I said, the with is the the width of the cliff, plus the space. Okay, so if these air aligned vertically, they're going toe all align, and these won't. So if you use tabular lining figures and you're setting prices, everything's going to align, even though the ones might have open spacing. If you don't use it, you're going to get that. And that's not the way uh, columns of figures should be set. So which style is a default? Unfortunately, in most fonts, it is the proportional lining figures, which is probably what you're only gonna use 5% of the time. Okay? So unless you're setting columns of figures, you might want to change the default. This is one of the features that people overlook. They don't know it's there. They don't remember to change it, and it could make a huge difference. Old style figures look really great in running text, for instance, much better than lining figures. Unless you're specifically trying to call attention to numbers. Okay, so once again, it's low located right here. The bottom of the open type panel. Okay, change the default toe. Whatever you want. You can use to styles in one document if you have to. If you have a letter headed an invoice, maybe in the address you wanna use three old style figures, you may be in an ad, the address you want to use the proportional old style figures and maybe in the columns of figures telling them how much they owe you. You want to use the tabular lining, it's okay to combine. Also, if you're familiar with styles if you're not, don't even worry about it. If you use paragraphs and character styles. Um, in in design, Note that you can make selections of all these open type features. Anything you want. So, um, it's easy to apply that when you're using styles fractions. Okay. Prior to open tight, the most fractions of font could have were a quarter, a half and three quarters. It's all that could fit in some of the type one and true type funds. Many, but not all. Open type fonts contain a broad range of pre built diagonal fractions. So they'll usually it's not random. They usually consists of these, okay? And how? You know, Goto cleft palate. So if they're there, Okay. But what if you want to set some arbitrary factor like this? Okay, here's where we we go in a little bit. Thio. A glimpse substitution feature. I'm gonna talk about that more in a moment, but some open type fonts can build what we call arbitrary fractions any fraction. That's something that not out of the ordinary number on the fly. Okay, It's really great because you wind up using fractions more than you think. If you're doing a recipe measurements manuals and they look like crap like this, I mean this notice. This isn't even. This is a a slash. This is a fraction bar. I mean, everything is different. Okay? Some funds have the ability. If you set this in your document and you highlight it and you go to fractions in the open type panel, it will convert automatically. I don't care if it's 57 827th. Okay, so this is a really good feature, tohave, especially if you know, you're setting a lot of fractions, but unfortunately, um oh, what did I say? Keep your fingers crossed because not every font has them. And I don't know of a way to automatically know it's pretty much try a land error. Okay, so I know from from, you know, like Adobe Castle on could do it when I tried. Gary Monnet couldn't do it. So a lot of these things are trial and error. Okay, But if this is important to you when you're selecting and purchasing a font, try to find out ahead of time, whether it means contacting the manufacturer, whatever, because this could be critical. What if you're just doing magazines with recipes or doing recipe books or lots of measurements okay. Trial and error is the only way. I've not found out that you could know if this feature exists. Okay? Stylistic sets. You know what? It's not critical. I know there's a lot of this information. I just want you to be aware that this stuff exists, and one day you're gonna have the time to explore. Okay? So stylistic sets are pre selected groupings that allow for the global insertion of anywhere from 1 to 20. Alternate. So eliminating the task of selecting an alternate individually again, something most people never notice. Okay, this is James Model Bonner's Trilon of terminal design. He's an incredibly talented designer and a wonderful foundry. Um, okay, so go to stylistic sets and you see, there's set 1 to 20 anything. That's bracket. It means that designer is not making use of that feature he has forced set. So what does that mean? Well, these are the standard characters. Okay? He's got two story G two story. A talk about that later. Okay? He happens to have three alternates. I'm showing you here for a reason. We're starting here. He's goes from the two story A Here he has the once G two story G to one story. G two story A. He's got a one story, a alternate and a diagonal G. He's got kind of a more vertical. Why? Okay, so what if you on Lee wanted to substitute the G, but you didn't want to do all the others. If you just clicked on alternate, you'd get them all and you'd have toe search and replace every little thing. It would be crazy, Right? So in stylistics at one, he just put this g in stylistic set to he just put that a three. He just put the why, and four, he put them all. But guess what? You could use more than one of these. So if you wanted the G and the Y, and you didn't want the A, you click on this and you click on that and you'll just get those two. So I think you get the idea that this could be an incredibly useful tool, which not enough in my observation, not enough type designers or taking advantage of, but it's very powerful if you have a lot of alternates and you wanna make things faster for designer. Okay, so this is what this study. And also, if you want to know what's in the stylistic steps, once you can glyph pound the panel, if there are any, it's going to appear in this drop down menu and you can see what's in there. Okay, so now for the for the sexy stuff Okay, I'm gonna show you kind of like some before and afters. So this isa setting set in Latin Pro Another Mark Damra. Lovely typeface from type culture. That's he's sort of an independent foundry on. And this is using the media metallic and the bold now, using some of the features that people don't even know they have. Look, what a good turn into using swash is swash is fabulous. That's that's great. I mean, look. And these air true drone small caps. Big difference, right? Okay. And that does not a time consuming thing. You just have to look for what's there thes air. All the swash is if you wanna go. What? What's in there? Okay, it looks like a lot. They're mostly because it's a pro font. They're mostly the foreign language versions with the accents, But here you can see the A through Z and all the options you have. Okay, Avant garde. Got sick. Is Ah whole another story? This is a typeface that was original drawn by, um, her bluemel on originally based on a 19 sixties very avant garde magazine. Very right wing magazine called Naturally Avant Garde. And so, but it had all these kind of crazy linkages. You see, all this angle type, and it's actually sort of making a comeback. So originally, this typeface was digitized and released, but there was no room for all those extra characters which actually were available in the prior font format, which was fota type. But once it was converted to digital, all those things were missing. So once open type came about I t. C remanufactured it as a pro and included all these alternate. So now you could set that this was set with the digital font, which you weren't able to do prior to that. Lots of all, they're actually called discretionary literatures. Keep in mind a lot of what you're seeing are these accented because this is a profound okay, but still, I mean, it's impressive. You have choices and I'm telling you guys and I'm telling everyone watching you have fonts on your system that has features that you don't know about. So when you're done today, it makes sense for you to explore the fonts. You have to take full advantage of the features and the extra characters you might have. Okay, so here's Dobie Gary Wan, Premiere Pro. It's different from pro. So using the regular Roman and the italic Look how cool this could be. Okay, Kind of boring. Pretty neat. Of course we're using Swash is ligatures terminal. This is a terminal swash because you wouldn't want to use that d anywhere else. It would take up too much space. S t is, uh, discretionary ligature. The I s is a contextual alternate. Don't worry. Not gonna overload you with definitions of all these things. Just play with them. Uh, dingbat True drawn small caps, old style figures. Look at the look at the figures. Okay, Just to go back to look at that again. Plain vanilla. I don't know. Banana split or something. Ornaments in that font. Some cool things in the font. Okay, love this one. How many of you have heard of Pickem script? Okay. Ah, lot of people have heard of it. Sometimes I think it's on a lot of people's computers. Um, but a lot of people, because they made a number of versions and and people just don't only have the opportunity to use it, you don't know what it's in, what's in there? So I did this little example which was not quick to dio. Okay? And I'll show you why, But from this using a font What? What I did. I mean, when anyone could dio Okay, okay, that's just using Swash is alternates and flourishes. This font has about three different cap versions for everything. It has 19 ages. This is not an easy thing. You have to think like a lettering artist. You have to really use your design chops to go from this to this. But guess what? It is fun. It's ah, lot of fun. You have tools. I'm not saying you never need to use a lettering artists, But look what you could do with some of these funds, and they're getting bigger and better all the time. Um, even some of them, uh, this is James Montalban was Giacomo. He's that uses 2.0, instead of pro. So this particular font has Cyrillic. So I would love to be able to tell you I highlighted this and clicked translate, but doesn't work that way. You know, maybe one day it will, um it is. And I really I had to find this quote that I found on the web that had the translation, but once it did, I was able to use the same exact font. Just had the full Cyrillic character set.

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Full-length class: Typography Fundamentals with Ilene Strizver

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  • Select the best typefaces for your design
  • Work efficiently with OpenType
  • Think and approach projects like a type designer
  • Identify and remedy common type crimes


Typography is an essential element of design: it should communicate your message effectively, and with purpose. Yet, even professional graphic designers can lack the “eye” and deeper understanding of type aesthetics.

In Typography Fundamentals, author, educator, and expert Ilene Strizver teaches you how to take full advantage of the power of type. You’ll learn not only the fundamentals of typographic design, but also how to “see” type through new eyes - all to make more sophisticated type choices that will open doors and set your work apart.

With your enrollment in Ilene’s class, you’ll also receive access to a webinar hosted by renowned designer Gerard Huerta.

Check out Ilene’s related course, Advanced Typography: Fine Tuning & Finessing.


This class is designed for creative professionals of all levels working with type, whether you are brand new, or just want to build on your existing knowledge and fill in the gaps. In-house design teams, web developers, motion graphic designers, recent graduates, freelancers and illustrators working with type: don’t miss your chance to learn from one of the most respected educators in the field.