query: source for swelled rules

Terrence Chouinard's picture

I know this will sound utterly lame, but does anyone know of a digital source for English or swelled rules? Someone's going to say "just make em in Illustrator," right? My answer? Me and illlustrator? Not so good. Suggested sources or how-to tips welcome.

kentlew's picture

ITC Bodoni Ornaments has a swelled rule. There is a PDF specimen at Sumner Stone's website: www.stonetypefoundry.com

However, when I was setting swelled rules in Wild Moments (Storey Publishing), I found that to get the proportions I wanted, I had to create my own.

I chose to make up a dash in font format (Type 1: this was several years ago) so I could have it run along easily in text and be easier to implement than manually embedding a graphic over and over. There were hundreds of rules throughout the book. As a character in a font, I could also easily implement it in manuscript by running a GREP search sequence on the tagged AHs prior to importing.

I wanted the rule to be flexible and not fixed to a certain width, so I drew the rule to 2000 units (2 em). Then I used horizontal scaling in the app to adjust the rule to full measure. I had to experiment a little with the proportions between the swell and the thin ends and with the degree of taper. (It looks a little ragged in this screen-res rasterization, but it was fine in print.)

Setting the font size established the actual thickness of the rule and scaling set the width. I don't remember offhand the exact settings I wound up using, but the math was pretty straightforward because the width was twice the em and the swell was a known proportion of the em. (I do recall coming up against an upper limit on horizontal scaling.)

I defined the size and scaling in a paragraph style, for easy application and formatting through tagged text.

This probably sounds a lot more complicated than it actually was. Perhaps there's an easier method these days. At the time, I thought it was a rather elegant solution to achieve a classic decoration that you don't see much any more -- precisely because it can be so tricky to implement in current technology.

-- K.

Terrence Chouinard's picture

An inspired response! Thank you Kent. ITC Bodoni Ornaments does indeed have a swelled rule, and oh so much more. A steal at $39. I'll have to buy it just to give adjusting its point size and horizontal scaling a try.

If that doesn't work to my satisfaction, I may very well turn to my old Linotype catalogs and scan some samples. Perhaps I can still salvage my relationship with Illustrator.

Thanks again, and by the way, Wild Moments? Very nice, elegant.

Syndicate content Syndicate content