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Identifying a Venetian font

From: Choosing and Using Web Fonts

Video: Identifying a Venetian font

Nicolas Jenson's fonts are what we'd call humanist or Venetian fonts. Humanist fonts have forms that were created by the human hand. Today we have a Web font available called Adobe Jenson Pro. Let's take a closer look at it. Immediately noticeable is how much smaller Jenson Pro's x-height is compared to Georgia's. We can also see that Adobe Jenson Pro looks more like it was written with pen and ink. Look at Jenson Pro's lowercase b; look at where the bowl meets the stem.

Identifying a Venetian font

Nicolas Jenson's fonts are what we'd call humanist or Venetian fonts. Humanist fonts have forms that were created by the human hand. Today we have a Web font available called Adobe Jenson Pro. Let's take a closer look at it. Immediately noticeable is how much smaller Jenson Pro's x-height is compared to Georgia's. We can also see that Adobe Jenson Pro looks more like it was written with pen and ink. Look at Jenson Pro's lowercase b; look at where the bowl meets the stem.

We can imagine a pen being pulled up out of the stem then around the bowl, creating this ribboning effect, and where the pen meets up with the stem again, it would create this pool of ink. Now compare it to Georgia's b, where the wide stroke in the bowl is more uniform, and there's a carefully designed spur at the bottom of the stem. Jenson feels more inky and handwritten. You can see the same ribboning in the c, and here in the e. The e is a dead giveaway for a Venetian font. It has a rising crossbar; this is a Venetian characteristic.

Not all fonts with rising crossbars are Venetian, because the characteristic has been borrowed and recycled by contemporary type designers, but all Venetian fonts do have rising crossbar. Now let's look at the original Jenson font. Adobe Jenson Pro, like all digitized versions of old fonts, tries to capture the essence of the original font, but capturing the essence is not the same as creating an exact copy. Look at the e. You can see that Adobe Jenson has captured the rising crossbar.

It also has a similar stress to the original. That is, the angle of the imaginary line drawn between the thin parts is almost the same from one font to another. But Adobe Jenson Pro emphasizes the little bit of ink coming off the crossbar. If we look closely at the e's in Jenson's original font, we can see a hint of this form, but it's not as strong as it is in the digitized version. Also, look at the lowercase a. The digitized version actually looks more ribboned than the original.

Look at the terminal on the Adobe version. It has a shape that suggests a pen stroke ended here. On Jenson's original, the terminal is rounder, a little less pen-formed, and some of the a's don't have an extra terminal at all. Finally, let's look at the lowercase n. Jenson's original n has a thickening where the stroke meets the left foot serif. Adobe's version is thinner; more delicate and refined. But Adobe's version does keep the shape of the right-hand foot serif.

See how it looks like a pen pulled down and to the left, then moved to the right, and lifted up off the page? You can see the same form in Jenson's original. These are just some of the characteristics that make the font feel handwritten. Venetian fonts are sometimes called humanist fonts for this reason, but it's important to remember the digitized versions of old fonts are not a perfect match. Let's back out and look at the two as text. Adobe's version looks more even, and a little heavier.

Next let's look at a more contemporary version of a Venetian font, Calluna, designed by Jos Buivenga. The first thing you'll notice when looking at Calluna is that it looks more like Georgia than Adobe Jenson Pro did. It has a similar x-height, and the letters look more refined. The letter strokes are less ribbony, but you'll see references to forms handwritten with pen and ink. Let's look at the lowercase n. There's that foot serif we saw in Jenson. It looks like a pen was pulled down, over, and back.

And Buivenga also added a similar feature to the bottom of the descender on the lowercase p. Look at the lowercase e, and you'll see the rising crossbar, though it's at less of an angle. Calluna is what I would call a contemporary or modernized Venetian font. The rising crossbar and hand-drawn serifs feel very Venetian to me, even though the bigger x-height and more stylized letters feel more contemporary. If we back up and look at Calluna as text, it is slightly lighter and more open than Adobe Jenson Pro.

It also doesn't feel quite as handwritten as the Adobe Jenson Pro does. It's important to understand that just because a font is classified a certain way doesn't mean it will look like all the other fonts in that classification. We looked at Jenson's original printed font, Adobe Jenson Pro, and Calluna. There are specific similarities that make them all Venetian, but each font also has its own unique qualities that affects how it looks when set as text on the page.

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This video is part of

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Choosing and Using Web Fonts

89 video lessons · 7137 viewers

Laura Franz
Author

 
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  1. 4m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      1m 52s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 47s
  2. 14m 55s
    1. Recognizing the anatomy of letters
      4m 17s
    2. Understanding font classification
      4m 38s
    3. Finding and testing web fonts
      3m 41s
    4. Identifying common problems in fonts
      2m 19s
  3. 43m 43s
    1. Understanding Venetian fonts
      4m 0s
    2. Identifying a Venetian font
      4m 46s
    3. Understanding handwritten letters
      3m 22s
    4. Choosing a Venetian font
      3m 47s
    5. Creating a Typekit account and building a kit
      3m 43s
    6. Adding a Venetian font (Calluna) to your kit
      2m 51s
    7. Applying Calluna to your web site
      5m 54s
    8. Troubleshooting Typekit fonts that don't load
      2m 2s
    9. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      4m 25s
    10. Working with more than four styles in Typekit
      5m 22s
    11. Looking at how using a Venetian font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 31s
  4. 32m 53s
    1. Identifying an Old Style font
      6m 26s
    2. Choosing an Old Style font
      4m 30s
    3. Applying Crimson Text to a web site using Google web fonts
      3m 8s
    4. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      9m 20s
    5. Making various weights and styles work correctly across different browsers
      5m 16s
    6. Looking at how using an Old Style font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 13s
  5. 21m 12s
    1. Identifying a Transitional font
      5m 10s
    2. Choosing a Transitional font
      6m 36s
    3. Applying PT Sans to a site via Typekit
      2m 57s
    4. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      2m 59s
    5. Looking at how using a Transitional font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 30s
  6. 16m 58s
    1. Identifying a Modern font
      7m 50s
    2. Choosing a Modern font
      4m 0s
    3. Using Typekit to find and test web fonts
      5m 8s
  7. 26m 52s
    1. Identifying a Slab Serif font
      4m 30s
    2. Choosing a Slab Serif font
      3m 58s
    3. Deleting a font from your Typekit
      3m 1s
    4. Exploring a font with multiple weights and styles
      9m 41s
    5. Looking at how using a Slab Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      5m 42s
  8. 26m 52s
    1. Identifying "Other" Serif fonts
      5m 28s
    2. Choosing "Other" Serif fonts
      10m 12s
    3. Using a font without an italic
      7m 6s
    4. Looking at how using an "Other" Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 6s
  9. 20m 34s
    1. Identifying a Transitional Sans Serif font
      4m 29s
    2. Choosing a Transitional Sans Serif font
      5m 14s
    3. Changing styling to improve the readability of text
      6m 31s
    4. Looking at how using a Transitional Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 20s
  10. 31m 23s
    1. Identifying a Geometric Sans Serif font
      2m 51s
    2. Choosing a Geometric Sans Serif font
      4m 33s
    3. Downloading a free font licensed for use on the web
      3m 53s
    4. Using Font Squirrel to create an @font-face kit
      5m 12s
    5. Adding the @font-face syntax to the CSS
      2m 57s
    6. Implementing the font family in the CSS
      5m 29s
    7. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      3m 56s
    8. Looking at how using a Geometric Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      2m 32s
  11. 21m 3s
    1. Identifying a Humanist Sans Serif font
      4m 18s
    2. Choosing a Humanist Sans Serif font
      7m 23s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      5m 32s
    4. Looking at how using a Humanist Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 50s
  12. 18m 28s
    1. Understanding handwritten fonts
      3m 4s
    2. Choosing a handwritten font
      8m 17s
    3. Looking at how using a handwritten font affects the look and feel of a web page
      7m 7s
  13. 33m 2s
    1. Understanding what to look for when pairing fonts
      6m 58s
    2. Using one font for headings and another for text
      6m 6s
    3. Using different fonts for different kinds of information on the page
      8m 38s
    4. Mixing and matching fonts within text
      3m 48s
    5. Looking at how using two fonts affects the look and feel of a web page
      7m 32s
  14. 23m 34s
    1. Understanding Script fonts
      2m 19s
    2. Choosing a Script font for display use
      8m 12s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      3m 33s
    4. Choosing a second font to pair with the Script Display font
      3m 42s
    5. Incorporating a second font with the Script Display font
      2m 53s
    6. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 55s
  15. 26m 38s
    1. Understanding Wood Type fonts
      3m 25s
    2. Choosing a Wood Type font for display use
      8m 35s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      4m 57s
    4. Choosing a second font to pair with the Wood Type font
      2m 28s
    5. Incorporating a second font with the Wood Type display font
      4m 42s
    6. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 31s
  16. 14m 58s
    1. Choosing an Art Deco font for display use
      2m 45s
    2. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      3m 51s
    3. Choosing a second font to pair with the Art Deco font
      2m 37s
    4. Incorporating a second font with the Art Deco display font
      2m 57s
    5. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 48s
  17. 27m 38s
    1. Choosing a Futuristic font for display use
      5m 33s
    2. Applying the Futuristic font and changing the styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      6m 40s
    3. Choosing a second font to pair with the Futuristic font
      2m 48s
    4. Incorporating a second font with the Futuristic display font
      4m 21s
    5. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 22s
    6. Looking at the set of four ads
      5m 54s
  18. 7m 29s
    1. Exploring resources and goodbye
      7m 29s

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