Dilemma: Need a substitute for DTL Prokyon

NiceTry's picture

I designed a logotype for a client based on DTL Prokyon small caps. We offered several logotypes, but the Prokyon is what they want (coincidentally, the decision-makers are Dutch). To make things nice and neat, I have been exploring the possibility of using the Prokyon Pro family for the client's identity, since underneath the company name is one those descriptor lines that we all love so much. They would probably end up using the chosen type for all sorts of design-free internal projects, like presentations, and we would be using it for all collateral, signage, and so on.

Admirers of DTL all share the inevitable heartbreak of facing the prices on DTL fonts: €100 per font, per weight, per style for PS1, €250 per font, per weight, per style for OTF. Hence, these typefaces are encountered about as often as one encounters a Bugatti 57SC Atlantic. What's more, DTL fonts are sold as individual licenses, not the usual 5 CPU license, with the price decreasing by about half for each additional license.

Assuming the client balks at the exorbitant fee, which is likely and not wholly unreasonable, I will need a substitute font to match the logotype. The distinct features of the letters of Prokyon which I am using are the katana-like leg of the R, the gentle outward swelling of the counters, and a generally glyphic character. Being in small caps lends a slightly gawky-eyed, extended feel to it. Two substitutes I think may be close are Monotype Gill Sans Pro (the R is too weak) and FF Nexus, which is close but doesn't have the range of weights I would like.

Can anyone suggest some possible substitutes?
The font comes from here:
And it looks like this:

Miss Tiffany's picture

Jeremy Tankard's Bliss is a little less costly, but equally good.

William Berkson's picture

I adore Bliss, and you may like it for your purpose, but it is also very expensive, though much less so for the open type.

Stephen Coles's picture

If you like FF Nexus Sans, consider FF Scala Sans, which has a broader range of weights (the OT version includes small caps.

Stephen Coles's picture

Also, Tschichold. Luckily we're not trying to match Prokyon's lowercase here, which is much more distinct.

Stephen Coles's picture

"katana-like leg of the R"


Stephen Coles's picture

Sticking with the Gill proportions: ITC Johnston

Gareth Colgan's picture

I've been hunting your straight-tailed R and venture to suggest that Thierry Puyfoulhoux'a Alinea Sans is worth a look along with the same designer's Tschichold mentioned above, or even his Ubik, though this may be a bit squarish. If it were only caps you wanted then (staying in France) you could try Parisine, but no doubt that would be inadequate to your requirements.
I had first thought of Stone Sans which has that straight tail, but on going to look realised it was not that similar generally.

NiceTry's picture

Thanks for the suggestions. Bliss costs a freaking fortune too — I have always been a bit wary of Jeremy Tankard's type, not sure why.

It seems difficult to find the right match without treading too near Gotham territory. Scala was one of the first ones that came to mind, since it's just a short leap from Gill, but it was just used on an excruciating project so I'm taking a break from it. The R is very no-nonsense and a bit narrow.

Tschichold and Nexus seem the closest. But neither really has the subtlety of the DTL fonts. Or maybe we're conditioned to think that because they cost so much.

Miss Tiffany's picture

What about FF Absara Sans by Xavier Durpré?

What do you mean by "wary"?

claes's picture

i'm all for type designers making a decent buck off of their hard work, but €250 for one weight for a single user? that's just crazy. particularly for a font the Average Joe couldn't even tell apart from Gill Sans.

crossgrove's picture

Not sure if you need it right away, but if you could wait until mid-May, Mundo Sans OpenType Pro will be released about then. There are 7 weights, small caps (italics too), oldstyle figs, etc. and the style, though less suave, is similar (both are fully humanist). Instead of slightly bent stems, Mundo has slightly flaring stems. You mention a number of diverse uses the final candidate will be put to; Mundo is designed to perform in text and display settings; a utilitarian sans for all purposes.

William Berkson's picture

Yeah why 'wary'? (Tiffany--I see I posted the same thing overlaping with yours--'great minds think alike'!)

Visa used it in their ads for the Olympic broadcasts here in the US--it looked great, I thought. You can see some of the ads here.

Chris Keegan's picture

Mundo looks really nice. I wasn't familiar with that one...

NiceTry's picture

I don't know. There's just something about his type... something off. I wasn't implying there was any danger in using them. I have Aspect — it's cool, original and it functions beautifully, but it is missing something. Bliss is quite nice, but it carries a strange smirk. That's why I say I am wary of Tankard's types.

Anyway, I'm new here. I'm not trying to offend anyone, we all take this stuff pretty seriously, so I hope I haven't made a bad impression.

Chris Keegan's picture

It's my opinion that any type that is used in a corporate logotype should be used ONLY for the logotype and nowhere else. You will diminish the impact and uniqueness of the type by using it on all the corporate materials. I would instead think about finding something that compliments, but doesn't compete or duplicate the logotype. Any other opinions on this theory?

claes's picture

It’s my opinion that any type that is used in a corporate logotype should be used ONLY for the logotype and nowhere else. You will diminish the impact and uniqueness of the type by using it on all the corporate materials. I would instead think about finding something that compliments, but doesn’t compete or duplicate the logotype. Any other opinions on this theory?

i agree with that, although it can work pretty well if you use perhaps a black variant for the logo and a regular or light version for everything else.

hrant's picture

> coincidentally, the decision-makers are Dutch

If Prokyon is anything, it's German.

BTW, this rules:


peterbruhn's picture

I love Salamanca, even though maybe it wouldn't work that well as a coroprate face?

I would suggest Mundo as well – Swedish gastronomy magazine "Gourmet" is using it in their re-design, and it looks really nice. And it als holds references to Gill Sans and some of the others typefaces mentioned above.

(Sidenote for Carl: In the preword Mundo is mentioned as "possibly the most beautiful typeface in the world")

kris's picture

Easy on Hrant! I have to finish the thing first.

Soon, my pretties, soon…


William Berkson's picture

>Aspect — it’s cool, original and it functions beautifully, but it is missing something. Bliss is quite nice, but it carries a strange smirk.

I also have some reservations about many of Tankard's faces as being too self-conscious. I think this limits their range of applicability. But not Bliss. Bliss I think has restraint, and the distinctive features are very well chosen, and the result is just a beautiful sans with a pleasing liveliness and wide applicability.

John Nolan's picture

One font that shares some of Prokyon's characteristics is Storm's Etelka.

You might also considered Vista Sans.

Neither of these could be mistaken for Prokyon. I'm not sure if they'd suit at all.

NiceTry's picture

I think claes' theory can go either way. I prefer to plan out the type system as a serif and a sans, preferably of the same basic design or designer. At least the same x-height. Ideally there would also be a couple of display faces thrown in for larger projects, like magazines. The alterations I made to the original Prokyon are not easily reproduced by simply typing out the letters. But for the most part, I agree that there should be a level of contrast. In fact, I would prefer to use something that is visually concussive.

In this case I am sticking to a one family system. It's for a company that designs, builds and sells modular buildings. Since there are other companies that have the same name that do other things, as is often the case, they have a descriptor line under the company name to specify which "Company X" they are. The logo was designed as a three-color, type/bug pair, and with the descriptor below the type it starts to get pretty busy. So I am opting for a single type family because anything else would be visual suicide.

Another option is to use a typeface that is nearly invisible, like Akzidenz-Grotesk. But it is a different kind of sans, and it just seems plain silly to mix a humanist with a grotesque.

NiceTry's picture

John: I tried Etelka, but the OTF font doesn't work on the Mac. I have been emailing Frantisek Storm and he is trying to fix it. Really a great design, it just doesn't work. I am itching to get my hands on the 3/4 height figures, small caps and ornaments. I would be happy to pass along to anyone the copy he sent me (with Storm's permission, of course) that has the proper software and technical ability to get a Unicode glyph palette to activate in a font that is behaving like a Postscript font. He got it working for John Sans and Metron (both are a lot of fun to use, by the way), so I don't see what the problem is here.

William Berkson's picture

Etelka falls into a category of 'squared sans,' of which there have recently been a series of good ones. My favorite so far is Klavika .

paul d hunt's picture

I tried Etelka, but the OTF font doesn’t work on the Mac.

what do you mean by "it doesn't work." Zero functionality? Zip? Nada?

NiceTry's picture

The Problem with Etelka:
When it is installed in a font manager, it shows up. The font files are even listed as .otf files. The problem manifests itself that when you try to use it in an application — in my case, Illustrator CS on OSX — it behaves like a Postscript font. When you switch to small caps, it makes the fake small caps out of the full caps. Selecting any alternate figures produces no result. All OpenType options in the OT palette, including all standard ligatures, are greyed-out and disabled. The only way to access any character that deviates from the standard 256 PS/TTF character slots is to insert it manually from the glyphs palette. Furthermore, switching to a different Pro font, including other weights of the same family, causes some characters to change into different characters. For example, the 'st' ligature changes into an 's' with a caron, and an alternate ampersand turns into a percentage sign or lozenge. Thus the Unicode glyph maps are inconsistent. The multiple language support (it has full-on cyrillic built in) may have something to do with it.

Storm says it works fine on a Windows XP box, but that does me little good. I think he was in a rush to release it in OpenType, and did not test it properly. Fortunately, all his fonts carry a lifetime guarantee.

paul d hunt's picture

Re: Etelka OTF

More likely this is a bug between Adobe & Mac probably involving Cyrillic. But that's just a hunch. Try installing the font to your Adobe Fonts folder and see if that clears up your problems. I'm interested in seeing what's up with this.

NiceTry's picture

@ Paul:
How do I install the font to my Adobe Fonts folder? I am using Font Book presently. Do I just drop the font into the Applications > Adobe Illustrator CS > Fonts folder? There's a 'Composite Fonts > Temp' folder in there with which I am unfamiliar.

paul d hunt's picture

Try copying the font file to:

Mac Harddrive > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Fonts

NiceTry's picture

It's not showing up in either Illustrator or InDesign when copied into that folder.

paul d hunt's picture

how very odd. i've had similar problems in the past where this happened with OT fonts generated from FLab on Windows but when generated on a Mac they worked fine. I don't know what mister Storm uses to generate his fonts, but this may be the root of the problem of the font not showing up when installed to the Adobe folder. someday they'll figure all this stuff out. sorry i couldn't be of any help.

John Nolan's picture

Okay, that's odd...I have one weight of Etelka (actually I have the version named Elektra, dated January 06) and it functions as Opentype in Illustrator and InDesign (latest versions). I tried it in the Adobe folder, activated by FontAgent, and placed in user/Library/Fonts. All seemed okay. The only thing I noticed was that the smallcaps aren't available in the "fly-outs" from the caps glyph in the glyph palette, but they _are_ activated by applying the smallcap format. I haven't looked at it in FontLab to see what's happening.

thierry blancpain's picture

didnt the update from FL4.6 (or what was it?) to FL5 solve this problem?

NiceTry's picture

Another strange thing: the Etelka preview sample shows up in Font Book only in Cyrillic, and almost all Storm fonts show up in the bottom of the menu in Illustrator with the other foreign language fonts. Perhaps this is a language/keyboard issue?

paul d hunt's picture

Perhaps this is a language/keyboard issue?

my hunch is it is this: Mac + Adobe + OT with cyrillic = OT issues. Which can usually be resolved with the fix of installing to the Adobe Fonts Folder. But, when the OT font has been generated by FontLab for Windows, this fix doesn't work, and the font won't show up at all when installed to the Adobe Fonts Folder. I've seen this behavior before, so in a way i'm glad it's not just me going crazy.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I disagree strongly with the "hunches" above. Adobe has done a LOT of testing in this area, and never encountered the sorts of problems mentioned. Far away the most likely culprit is bugs in the fonts.

One exception is the menu sorting question, where we continue to improve things.



NiceTry's picture

Happy day! The client bought DTL Prokyon, and I am now using it. Fortunately they turned out to be reasonable people who see the value of superior type. It's my first DTL font, and it works like a charm. Perfect spacing, 3/4 height numerals, gentle but serious expression. Lovely. A genuinely exceptional font. Anyway, just wanted to share that with someone, no one in the office seems very excited except me.


jupiterboy's picture

Yay! Glad it worked out.

My Etelka does the same thing BTW.

Anneka Cerny's picture

Has anyone solved the Elektra/Etelka problem. My problem is with Microsoft Word. After setting a paragraph in Elektra, if I then click on any word in the paragraph, it suddenly switches to Times!!! And, Elektra is listed at the bottom of the font menu with the foreign languages.

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