Font Style - Children's Picture Book - Rich Images

romiko's picture

Hi,

I am publishing a children's picture book, and am thinking of use Century Schoolbook Font.

the images are very rich, and think maybe something more "blobby" would work. I would really appreciate advice on the font choice, so that I can get maximum benefit. I attached some images from the book, so you have an idea of what Font might go well with it.

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J. Tillman's picture

I don't know what "blobby" means, but if you're looking for a richer font to go with the richer pictures, how about Dolly.
http://www.underware.nl/fonts/dolly/features/

hrant's picture

The perfect font for this just came out!
http://blog.daltonmaag.com/?p=1437

hhp

romiko's picture

Thanks for the ideas, here, the blenny is really nice, but not sure if kids will find it easy to read. I sent an email to Underware, to see there thoughts on possibly using Dolly, it looks nice.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

Blenny is cute for a short title but it is hard to read. How about the semibold of this ?
http://kltf.de/kltf_grotext_weights.shtml

donshottype's picture

Designed for children's story books in a handwritten "blobby" serifed Roman style popular in the 1920s and 30s, Besley Hand

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/juraj-chrastina/besley-hand/
Seems to me that this would be an excellent match to your illustrations.
Easy to read standard letter forms that worked for generations of children.
Don

romiko's picture

Hi,

I really like this one, Besley :) Its easy to read and stand out, when needed. brilliant on top of coloured back grounds as well.

romiko's picture

Hi, I am keen for a Serif Font, so leaning on Besley at the moment :)

romiko's picture

THX Don for the help, I bought Besley =D

donshottype's picture

You're welcome Romiko. I love this design. It really stands out from the flood of cookie cutter designs. BTW, there are other great handlettered children's books from the interwar era crying out for a good digital interpretation of the lettering. Yet another unfinished project...
Don

Nick Shinn's picture

The scratchy “natural” pen finish of Besley doesn’t match the linework (smoothly stroked paths) of the illustrations, it’s an awkward contrast of technologies.

Comic Sans would be better.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

Yes Comic Sans matches the illustrations perfectly..but then how many prospective readers of the book will 'see' these subtilities?

oldnick's picture

Comic Sans is quite legible and is, in fact, a very decent design. It's gotten a bad rap because so many people use it inappropriately.

J. Tillman's picture

Nick Shinn, how does Grotext, suggested above, work instead of Comic Sans, in your estimation.

General question. For a children's picture book, who is the target audience? Is it the adult buyer and out-loud reader? Or is it the four year old who is just starting to figure out what these letters look and sound like? If there is a compromise, which way do you lean?

donshottype's picture

I disagree with the resident gurus who propose Comic Sans. Using it with these illustrations turns the book into a McBook, quickly forgettable and something less likely to attract sustained interest. It also precludes the opportunity to encourage children to be able to transition from unstructured lettering to the serifed fonts used in most adult books. Finally, as a parent, I would go stir crazy reading Comic Sans day after day to a child. I can't see any charm of a child's fantasy world in Comic Sans.
Don

hrant's picture

Yes, avoid Comic Sans please.

hhp

J. Tillman's picture

Donshottype, you mentioned "the opportunity to encourage children to be able to transition from unstructured lettering to the serifed fonts used in most adult books." Where does Besley fit in here, as it seems to be neither simple unstructured type nor the type of serif used in adult books? Is Besley a good font for beginning readers?

Vladimir Tamari's picture

The illustrations are adequate but rather bland, and in that sense I said they match Comic Sans. But then the best comics of 1950's had superb drawings, someone should check whether Comic Sans may have homogenised the lettering of those days?

JamesM's picture

> Is it [the target audience] the adult buyer ...
> Or is it the four year old

It's the adult making the purchase, but the child may influence the decision.

hrant's picture

Yes, in terms of looks, design the front cover for the child, the back cover for most parents, and the inside for discriminating and/or frugal parents. :-)

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

I don’t believe I actually recommended Comic Sans, I merely said that it would be better than Besley.

Without seeing the page layout, size, and the amount of text on a page, I would be loth to recommend any particular face.

However, I will say that I think it is really stupid to use fonts that have been created by ham-fisted adults to look as if kids drew them. It shows zero respect. After all, most adults’ writing is just as terrible as most children’s, and yet we honor adults with the sophistication of Bembo and Garamond.

Looking back at my favorite books when I was a child, they were set in the same fonts as adult books. Garamond, Baskerville, etc., including Century Schoolbook, of course.

This “cloisonné/coloring book” technique of illustration reminds me of the Mr Men books I read to my children in the 1980s, for which the typeface was Univers, IIRC.

Joshua K.'s picture

Here you can find some nice hand-lettering fonts, which are better alternatives to Comic Sans:
http://comicraft.com

I also think a font with cleaner outlines than the rough Besley should be chosen to better match the illustrations.

Besley is for sure a nice typeface in other circumstances, so the money on it isn't wasted anyway. :)

donshottype's picture

Other than being more polished, would people agree or disagree that this specimen of capitals has some similarity to the tone of the letterforms in Besley Hand


Don

Joshua K.'s picture

However, I will say that I think it is really stupid to use fonts that have been created by ham-fisted adults to look as if kids drew them. It shows zero respect. After all, most adults’ writing is just as terrible as most children’s, and yet we honor adults with the sophistication of Bembo and Garamond.

Normally, hand-drawn letters are technically not as perfect as printed letters. That doesn't mean they can't be perceived as beautiful. Many people, especially parents, may find children's drawings to have some kind of beauty in their own right. Now I think it shouldn't be forbidden to show such pieces of beauty or wake associations with them by similarly-styled drawings or fonts. An image like that reminds me of the fun children have scribbling and drawing and of their creativity. It doesn't remind me of limited abilities.

Of course, that doesn't mean these associations are appropriate in every case that involves children. It may be that such "childish" fonts are used too often. But still, I think it's perfectly acceptable to use them if they fit the topic. Just as it's acceptable to use imperfect adult handwriting fonts in some cases!

Nick Shinn's picture

Actually, I think that kid’s art, lettering and writing is lovely, not terrible.
That was also the sentiment of artists such as Picasso and Klee, who sought to capture some of its naive quality in their own work.

But a font like Besley is a poor emulation, most obviously because it has no “pseudo-random” quality.
For instance, it makes no sense that the glyphs are supposedly imprecisely drawn, and yet you get two /l’s together that are absolutely identical!
And everything adhering to rigid baselines.
It’s a travesty of what it purports to represent (unless the typographer goes in manually to bounce, rotate, and scale letters so that they vary each time).

It’s purpose in a book like this is to signal “this is for children”, not “this is to be read by children”.

The bad writing of adults, whether innate or feigned, is quite a different thing than the emerging ability of a child.

Why not hand-letter or hand write the text, or get a child to do that?

Joshua K.'s picture

Nick, I agree with you. But:

Why not hand-letter or hand write the text, or get a child to do that?

Money, and time.

PublishingMojo's picture

Nick is right that the lines and fills in the artwork have a smooth digital finish, and so should the type. I thought Les's suggestion of Maiandra was good--it's got some personality, but it doesn't fight with the art.
Romiko prefers a serif, though. And low contrast with blunt serifs is one way of interpreting blobby, so maybe this is a job for Souvenir or Cheltenham, both designed by Morris Fuller Benton, who also designed Romiko's first pick of Century Schoolbook.

dezcom's picture

I designed Dez Petranian for story telling. Take a look at:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/dezcom/dez-petranian/

donshottype's picture

Chris, nice work on Dez Petranian. Works for me as a story telling font.
Don
Note: corrected spelling of Chris. Apologies.

PublishingMojo's picture

What Don said.

spiral's picture

I have two suggestions:
Cabrito, which is made specifically for children's books:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/insigne/cabrito/

And if you're looking for a comic like font, I'll plug my own jollygood sans:

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/pixilate/jollygood-sans/

donshottype's picture

I agree Cabrito works, but I find that it is rather bland like a machine text and unlikely to stimulate the child's imagination. Also, for an adult reading to a child the monotone style might be reminiscent of reading something produced on a typewriter. Perhaps not a problem for younger adults who have never seen a typewritten page.
Don

Joshua K.'s picture

Don, could it be a problem for people who have seen typewritten pages? I think typewriter appearance to be nice, because I associate it with individual, hand-made documents (in contrast to machine-made documents like serial letters, advertising, etc.). It has a more personal touch in my eyes, which is the reason why I use typewriter-style fonts for printed letters.

Cabrito’s unagitated style (to avoid the term “bland”) is, in my opinion, in line with the illustrations. I think rich colours and image contents can still provide a lot of fuel for imagination.

donshottype's picture

I would hope that fuel for the imagination in our image obsessed era would not be structured so as to neuter the Gutenberg galaxy. _O tempora o mores_!
Don

JamesM's picture

I like typewriter type and own several vintage typewriters, but I don't think typewriters have been in common usage in the U.S. since the late 1980s. Typewriter fonts used to be a common graphic design look, but not so much anymore (except in certain specific situations). I still like the look (I'm in my 50s), but anyone under 35 or so may have never used one, so it may have little meaning other than looking retro.

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