Archive through June 28, 2003

hrant's picture

That said, with you help, I'd like to resurrect the optical scaling secrets locked -and never fully used- within the Benton cutting slips.

Will you help me, please?

hhp

serafino's picture

Hrant,

But it couldn't reproduce a sharp inside corner, right?

Wrong, and right. You have to be more specific. Sort of a mood thing. Sometimes it would cut a sharp inside corner other days it just seemed to like outside corners. A little quirkly.

*****

"The pantograph wasn't guilty of anything - the Benton boys even tried to get people to use it properly - but they failed: people used it to save effort/money, nothing more. Even though the pantograph's technology allowed for it, optical sizing died - it simply became too easy not to do it anymore. So this tragedy happened way before phototype."

That's news to me? I understand the easy "not to do it anymore". But that's not what happened. Optical scaling continued until the very last days.

Boy and some people think I am a Ludite! Surprise surprise.

hrant's picture

> A little quirkly.

But you just said it was ultra-precise!

I'm going by what Jim wrote above: "In the corners and pinches, the shapes were terminated with a small radius, because of the revolving cutter on the pantograph." Very logical. And very detrimental to non-mushy designs. And Jim also gave a hint that it might need manual correction: "It seems that Lanston did not deem it necessary to hand-nick out these tight spots." Since Lanston wasn't even interested in maintaining high fidelity to the drawings, of course they wouldn't be interested in what the ink does to it eventually.

> Optical scaling continued until the very last days.

This is contradicted in Rehak's book as well as Cost's article in APHA.

> I am unaware of Benton's efforts to preserve optical scaling

Then what does "One of Lanston's

serafino's picture

Hrant,

But it couldn't reproduce a sharp inside corner, right?

Wrong, and right. You have to be more specific. Sort of a mood thing. Sometimes it would cut a sharp inside corner other days it just seemed to like outside corners. A little quirky.

*****

"The pantograph wasn't guilty of anything - the Benton boys even tried to get people to use it properly - but they failed: people used it to save effort/money, nothing more. Even though the pantograph's technology allowed for it, optical sizing died - it simply became too easy not to do it anymore. So this tragedy happened way before phototype."

That's news to me? I understand the easy "not to do it anymore". But that's not what happened. Optical scaling continued until the very last days.

Boy and some people think I am a Luddite! Surprise surprise.

serafino's picture

Hrant,

Your criticism of the tooling bit is based on a supposition I do not support. It is your problem, not mine or theirs.

Rehak certainly has knowledge of ATF hot metal practices but little of Lanston's although technologies were similar the objectives were not. What I can guarantee is that the work you have shown would not match the requirements of mechanical typesetting. Those technologies go hand in hand in any discussion. To ignore such "realities" in infantile.

If you wish to view problems in technologies just take a close look at the example you have shown and show someone who has not subscribed to hocus pocus and he will tell you the examples are badly flawed. The printed results tell the same.

What Jim is saying is much different than what you are saying he is saying. One has to learn how to listen in order to learn. He is telling you it does not matter and that is why they did not bother.

So you should take the Caslon Challenge and see for yourself.

That will separate the men from the boys. Few find it necessary to have to read with a microscope. If they need to their problems are such that this discussion is the least of their worries.

But your example does not require one. You could drive a truck through the hole.

My advice to your designer is to leave for the moment his interest, which I assume is actually only your interest, alone. He should focus his efforts on avoiding the obvious criticism he has attracted in this discussion.

It is hard to be critical and suggest "the subtle" when the obvious is "so obvious.

Gerald Giampa

serafino's picture

Hrant,

So who do you know who does not think Monotype spacing is better than hand set. Well first of all both can be terrible. You agree.

Well both can be good, and the Monotype system is finer. Try setting a complex spread sheet.

Then ask the pressman who can pick up which forme the easiest. If you find anyone better than Scott Fruetel let me know.

Gerald Giampa

bieler's picture

Gerald

"My advice to your designer is to leave for the moment his interest, which I assume is actually only your interest, alone. He should focus his efforts on avoiding the obvious criticism he has attracted in this discussion."

I'm a bit confused by your statements. This is not a new typeface. Pascal was designed by Jose Mendoza y Almeida in 1960 for Amsterdam. That it carries ink traps, which you deny, are plainly evident, and would be in keeping with the concerns of the post war era.

Gerald Lange

serafino's picture

Gerald

hrant's picture

> Sometimes it would cut a sharp inside corner other days it just seemed to like outside corners.

Reminds me of my brother's Autobianchi back in Beirut. It was an Abarth, so man did it fly, but the steering wheel had like 45 degrees of play... One summer I crashed it three times in three weeks.

> What is your source material for this?

A while back on Typo-L (or Type Design, I forget) I was complaining that the pantograph (well, its use) ruined type design, and somebody pointed out that so-called "cutting slips" actually helped adapt drawings to different sizes (beyond just primitive scaling). Then I read Rehak's book as well as that Cost article (which is available as a free download on the APHA site), and it turned out that was true. (The point remains, however, that people ended up not using them, instead just doing a straight scale, at most from three master drawings.)

Here's some mysterious cutting slip data from Rehak's book, which he himself apparently couldn't figure out:

http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/atf_tabl.gif

The red decimal points (as well as those two reddish zeros) are mine.

> our methods of optical scaling would be a great contribution to digital typography.

So let's see them!

> Hinting could be achieved strictly with optical scaling.

I have no idea what you're talking about!

> He is telling you it does not matter

What does matter? Smallcaps for example? You'd think so, since everybody and their mother includes them in their fonts now, but... nobody uses them!

So what do you -and Jim- really think matters in type design?
And why does it have to be the same for everybody?
Lastly, what about the reader? Is your Art too high to bother with them?

> that is why they did not bother.

So why does DTL for example -one of the most prestigious font houses out there, with good reason- bother including traps?

Is it not possible to improve on Monotype and their contemporaries? Far from impossible, it's pretty easy.

> Few find it necessary to have to read with a microscope.

What exactly do you know about human perception?
Do you know for example that the fovea can pick up thin cables hanging in the air that no camera any of us can own today can? There is a famous court case where the defense attorney simply couldn't show the evidence: he had to drag the judge and jury to the scene - and they all saw the problem clearly.

> My advice to your designer

Huh?
The traps in Pascal are older than me! And they're certainly too large, but they're not aberrations. I'll show you some other samples soon, at which point you might find yourself having to call Zapf "infantile"...

Monotype spacing: aren't these the people who duplexed the widths of the italics with the roman? Gimme a break. But I can never figure out if that's worse than Linotype's inability to kern. Hello?!

> Has he told you of his intentions?

I have his phone number, but it's in France.

Plus it's possible he wouldn't have had traps in his drawing: it's a technical improvement that the "house" would do. Just like Monotype even did Gill's spacing for him (poor guy).

> Hrant believes bad presswork improves type

Not at all. But I do believe that bad presswork exists, and happens more than 50% of the time. Not including traps (in a text face) is a form of artistic denial.

> I am wasting my time in sharing my knowledge.

Exactly what knowledge is that? All you've shared is your faith that traps aren't just useless (that would indeed be something open to debate), but they didn't and don't exist.

As for bad presswork, I highly doubt that you have ever produced anything half as fine as Gerald does with one hand tied behind his back. If you have, just point to it.

And one more time:
What does "One of Lanston's

Miss Tiffany's picture

**Polite Cough**

I think that it can be said, safely, that both Gerald Giampa and Gerald Lange are very fine printers.

bieler's picture

Hrant

"As for bad presswork, I highly doubt that you have ever produced anything half as fine as Gerald does with one hand tied behind his back. If you have, just point to it."

The way you put this it sounds like I'm the king at making the finest bad presswork, and Gerald is only half as good at it. But, you are a bit off the wall in this regard. I have a copy of the ATF Newsletter (ATF: American Typecasting Fellowship) that Gerald did the cover for. Very, very nice indeed.

Gerald

hrant's picture

OK, granted.
I guess his real problem is essentially that he doesn't realize how rare he and you are. As I pointed out before, Bram de Does is considered a master printer, but even he bloated Fleischmann's type... in a book about Fleischmann!

Over-inking (and especially over-impression) is the norm now (and probably was in the past as well), and a good type designer doesn't live in denial of that. Furthermore, an objective person doesn't deny that other people might have put traps in their fonts (as some continue today), in opposition to their views.

hhp

bieler's picture

"So if the typeface is old, has the designer retired? Has he told you of his intentions? Or are you putting words in his mouth? To be fair to him and me give me his e-mail address and I will ask him myself. If you are right I will agree with the both of you and you will hear no more complaint on this particular issue from me."

Gerald, why are you associating me with knowledge of the designer of Pascal? Don't you read these posts?

"I realize that Hrant believes bad presswork improves type...."

Hrant has never said this.

"I am concerned that I am wasting my time in sharing my knowledge. Certainly you two are wasting your time in advocating bad presswork."

Once again, where have I ever said here that I advocated bad presswork? What the...?

Miss Tiffany's picture

"So if the typeface is old, has the [type][ designer retired? Has [type designer] told you of his intentions? Or [is Hrant] putting words [into type designer's] mouth? To be fair to [type designer] and [Gerald Giampa] give [Gerald Giampa] his e-mail address and [Gerald Giampa] will ask [type designer] myself. If [Hrant is] right, [Gerald Giampa] will agree with the both [type designer and Hrant] and [Hrant] will hear no more complaint on this particular issue from [Gerald Giampa]."

I think Gerald (Giampa) was referring to the designer of the type.

Miss Tiffany's picture

myself = himself (see above)

Miss Tiffany's picture

"I realize that Hrant believes bad presswork improves type...."

I don't think it was intentionally written that way, but referring back to the damaged car remark, I think in a way it was written that way. I meant to ask about this. Hrant, did you mean that it improves type to remember that people do bad presswork? Meaning, if type designer's keep bad printer's in mind, perhaps their type can always look good?

hrant's picture

> did you mean that it improves type to remember that people do bad presswork?

?
It improves the result (generally) for the type designer to account for the reality that most letterpress output has a lot of gain. That's not infantile, that's pragmatic. Just like my willingness to drive a beat up car to work (which I don't do in any car anymore, happily) instead of staying home - which is what the car thing was actually about.

> perhaps their type can always look good?

No, never say always! For example the way Gerald (maybe both of them) ideally likes to print, traps should be much smaller than the way most people like to print (or more like: end up printing).

The more you know about your user, the more focused you can be about fine-tuning your work. If you're making a font for a phone book for example, you put very large traps. But usually, the only vague thing you know about your user is that he has little idea what gain is, and will introduce a fair amount of it when printing. The reason is that too-light printing is more objectionable to your average printer than too-dark. But that results in deformed type outlines. Hence, moderate trapping (not to mention use of a lighter weight, as explained in Lange's book).

hhp

Miss Tiffany's picture

You are right. I shouldn't use the word "always".

I suppose adding traps does make basic sense, but on the other hand, traps can be such an ugly pain. I think it is safe to say that traps, while useful in instances mentioned previously, can also be a reason that some designer's don't buy them as they might be seen as an "ugly defect". Before I knew what traps were, and before I stopped trying to use Futura X-Black Condensed on everything, I would remove the traps in the N and the Z because I thought they were ugly. Although I still do find them to be ugly.

Hrant, you have also pointed to me instances when some designer's are using them as an effect and not utility.

Couldn't it be said that most type is printed on decent paper or rather most type is not printed on newsprint. So most type does not need traps. Oh wait. I just remembered that I'm thinking offset and not letterpress. Apologies. I'll go back to my corner now.

hrant's picture

> can also be a reason that some designer's don't buy them as they might be seen as an "ugly defect"

Yes, that's a good point. On the other hand... Futura! One of the most popular fonts out there. And Speikermann's highly-popular stuff has trapping too. And -like you say- they can even double as aesthetic devices. Maybe not in a Garalde, but certainly in something like Proforma for example. And then there's Amplitude of course!

> So most type does not need traps.

Considering that most type is printed [well] in offset, that would be true... but really the trick becomes to balance any aesthetic negatives of traps that are too large against their functional benefits in lower fidelity printing. Since it doesn't seem to me that too many people mind small traps even in very large point sizes, I think small traps do have a place in almost any text design.

And there's something else: traps aren't just for fighting gain, they also help optically, in small sizes.

So my basic conclusions are that:
1) A good text face generally has some light trapping.
2) In some cases (letterpress, bad paper, very small sizes) you need substancial trapping.

hhp

plainclothes's picture

> "And there's something else: traps aren't just for > fighting gain, they also help optically, in small sizes."

Hrant is absolutely right. traps apply almost as often in offset as they do in letterpress, IMO. if you're using Futura Extra Black at relatively small sizes (say, 14pt and under) then those traps are going to do much for the overly heavy shapes -- gain present or not.

when you get into display type, the absence of optical masters really becomes problematic for traps (or too often, the other away around). those great traps in the obese Futuras become quite awkward. I'm glad to hear that you went about correcting the problem for your clients, Tiffany!

serafino's picture

Hrant,


serafino's picture

Gerald

What did that guy say about the Benton that pissed you off. He does seem to have lot of opinions about metal type, but appears to have no experience with it.

What did you mean when you said they were "afraid to ask you"?

Jim Rimmer

I think Hrant means well. I agree he has little experience lots of opinions about hot metal. Probably none. Still others read these discussions, I don't think anyone is fooled. Not for long anyway. In fact I believe that a lot of good will come out of it. That people should learn and that Hrant is giving us an opportunity to teach a little about typefounding. Some lessons need not be re-learned, not unless you like to do a lot of spinning. You may have noticed the ink spread theory is in shambles. It is no longer a preferred design attribute. John Hudson changed his mind. That's a good thing.

So don't feel intimidated by anyone in particular. Hrant is actually an interesting guy. He is a good sport, stubborn but it comes with the territory. I hope to meet him eventually. Maybe the fall. I wonder if Hrant and Gerald like boating.

Hrant seems intensly interested. Interested people are generally worth the time. I am going to see him through with this matter and try to arrive at some productive conclusions. I hope.

But you should just sign in. They won't be afraid of asking you after you introduce yourself. Gerald Lange, as you already know, is an excellent letterpress printer.

Do you like poetry Jim?

Gerald Giampa

serafino's picture

Hrant,


2) In some cases (letterpress, bad paper, very small sizes) you need substancial trapping.

serafino's picture

Gerald

John Hudson's picture

But do you think Hudson is a hack too?

Probably. But then I'm a jobbing type designer: have beziers will travel. I have even been known to give the client what he wants when it isn't what I want. What would Porter Garnett say!

hrant's picture

Dear Gerald (Giampa),
I've been advised to completely ignore you outright. But I maintain that you can be useful, even though it increasingly seems that your only real reason for being here is to "celebrate" what might be seen as your former self, and lambast anything that might show any shortcomings of your Glorious Past. It's like a religious festival for you. But not for anybody else here. Few people really care about your past - I certainly don't - I don't even care much about mine. The past is only relevant to the extent that it helps make a better future - the rest is merely nostalgia. And for you to participate well in creating the future, you have to be capable of learning. There is no teaching without learning. You need to do both, but have done neither so far, at least not here.

Know that my role isn't to correct your behavior here - I am not your mother (and no, I don't like poetry). But if you resist the urge to submerge yourself in this quicksand of your making, you can be useful not just to yourself, but more importantly, to the craft of type design. To be useful, you have to maintain a certain objectivity, a certain cool analytical attitude that's borne of fairness. When you:
- Completely distort what I say (eg: gain is good; optical spacing is bad)
- Leave important questions hanging (eg: that quote from your site)
- Totally contradict accepted facts (eg: the well-known limitations of Monotype and Linotype)
- Flip-flop your position (eg: the pantograph's precision)
then you don't help anybody or anything - you hinder.

I will not let you distract me from making this discussion useful. The questions (many of which are thinly veiled attacks) you have asked that I have decided to ignore simply don't deserve [direct] answers. And when you say things like "Hrant likes imitating ink smear", I have to simply gawk in amazement and wonder how somebody with a brain could claim the opposite of the truth and expect people to take him seriously.

With that out of the way, let me try to separate the wheat from the chaff.

--

There is increasing confusion about what we're really discussing. That's typical of discussion lists, and once in a while -but not too often- it's best to reign things in and focus a bit.

Some of the questions -directed at anybody- might be:
1) When did trapping start?
2) In what circumstances is trapping useful?
3) Is it useful just for fighting gain, or optical aberration, or both?
4) Did the pantograph have a limitation when cutting inside corners?
5) What are those things in the Pascal 60 scan?

Please choose any/all of those questions, and answer them as carefully and as elaboratively as you can.

--

As for Jim Rimmer, I appreciate his generous attitude. But I also note a trace -fortunately only a trace- of the smug self-celebration in him too. It's OK, pride is important. But really, nobody is being "fooled", and if that's what it is, then indeed people are being "fooled"! So please, let's approach this with enough self-confidence of character, but not too much of [past] practice. First, one must realize that there is more trapping these days than there has been for decades.

Also, I wish Jim would stop participating by proxy. Once is OK, but more is damaging, especially when the editing is so poor that one can't tell where Jim stops and Giampa resumes.

BTW, I'm not hiding anything about the limited nature of my experience with metal type. I have spent a total of only about 60 hours working with foundry (not hot) metal and letterpress, but since they've been spent under the guidance of Gerald Lange, they've been productive hours, and have involved getting a feel for the relationship of inking and pressure, as well as looking very closely at quality types from all over the world. I have a lot to learn, but I'm very happy to have started with a clean slate: it helps me avoid hand-me-down "religions" that cloud the objectivity of otherwise intelligent people.

--

> But do you think Hudson is a hack too?

Not at all. I think he should be admired for his dedicated craftsmanship, and his open willingness to both teach and learn.

hhp

serafino's picture

Hrant,

Do you have questions you wish to ask Jim Rimmer? I could give his e-mail address. Still waiting for the phone number speaking of proxy.

We agree that Hudson is anything but a hack.

Much to do today. I have been thinking about your theory and the impact it may have on typography if you convince everyone of the merits of deep cuts into their type designs.

For the sake of avoiding argument I am prepared to say that your idea does not stink! They could be useful in preventing clogging ink into type crotches when printing newspapers etc. And other low end printing technologies.

By the way is this type face
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/Pascal60.jpg
intended for newspaper technology? Or lunch bag printing? It looked rather nice to me, I am somewhat surprised. Mistakenly I thought they invented mechanical typesetting by 1960, silly me.

Which bag company did he design it for?

I had a feeling you didn't like poetry.



Gerald Giampa

serafino's picture

For those of genuine interest in hot metal knowledge.

Below is written by Jim Rimmer.

The first time I became aware of the principle of ink-trapping was in the late sixties, where in lithography, it was applied to a few situations, not especially typefaces. It was something that never seemed to catch on; it was simply though of as having no particular merit. In those days of crude (by today's standards) technology and processes, many things were tried to improve the quality and sharpness of type. One thing was to ADD mass to letters in certain spots. With my lack of ability to scan something and show you I will have to verbalize: On the corners of letters (particularly things like big blocky stuff like Helvetica Extra Bold, lettering artists (I was one of them) were paid good money to blow up the stats of the type and actually brush in spurs onto all of the corners. The feeling was that the camera was guilty of burning off the corners of all the angles, and in an attempt to counter that, the spurs (added matter) were painted on.

If the type went down in size from the 288 point size to 18 or 24, the corners looked great, and you couldn't really see the little spurs. However, if the same art was used larger, it used to completely piss off the unfortunate client. Well meaning art director and account execs had to spend a lot of time convincing the client that weird was good for them.

I think that this a little like ink trapping: If it works at ten point . . . great . . . but you can't use the same font at 36 pt. or bigger because the behind-the-scenes bits start to show up.

Regarding my comment that the pantographs at Lanston left a small radius that Lanston did not see fit to nick out with a graver, let me qualify that.

The radius we are considering is no more than .003". Just so were are on the same page, that

hrant's picture

Jim,

> but you can't use the same font at 36 pt. or bigger

Of course you can't - Tiffany covered that already. But you also -if to a lesser degree- can't use a 10-point font at 36 point anyway! Or vice versa. Optical scaling rules.

And of course in metal, you physically can't do any scaling, so it's even safer to use traps.

> that

serafino's picture

Hrant.

So since Giampa had previously agreed that 1 mil of ink gain requires weight compensation, he must also agree that the pantograph's precision was lacking.

quadibloc's picture

Monotype spacing: aren't these the people who duplexed the widths of the italics with the roman? Gimme a break. But I can never figure out if that's worse than Linotype's inability to kern. Hello?!

No, it was Linotype that duplexed the widths of the italics with the Roman.

Monotype spacing divides the em into 18 units. However, a Monotype machine is routinely adjusted for the em width and the actual point size of the character separately. So a 12 point typeface can be 11 3/4 set, which means that 18 units will equal an 11 3/4 point em.

ATF foundry type, on the other hand, is designed so that the width of every character in every point size is an exact multiple of 1/4 of a point.

So Monotype divides the point into 72 equal parts, although the characters of any given typeface in any given size must be multiples of a larger unit. Typically, that unit will be larger than 1/4 of a point - but the good thing is that characters divide the set width into 18 parts whatever you set that width to, so they scale properly.

The 9-unit system of the Selectric Composer (achieved by squeezing the M and W; it's equivalent to 11 units in a Monotype em) isn't visibly coarse, so 18 units to the em is likely quite adequate.

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