Whitman Display Italic looks good on screen!

dezcom's picture

I never thought an italic face would work well on screen but this recent featured face Whitman sings sweetly, to me.

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

Sure does! But then I am a member of the Whitman fan club :)

jupiterboy's picture

HintMasterFlash

dezcom's picture

Looks like Kent did some great work on all the other weights and styles, too! I love the bold condensed.

ChrisL

pattyfab's picture

Very nice.

hrant's picture

It's a beautiful italic.

But what size on screen are we talking about?
Can we see it at like 12 and 16 ppem?

hhp

nina's picture

Well it looks pretty maltreated in the lil' box on the right hand side (where it says 'Featured Face'). It's lovely in the titles, though.

will powers's picture

Why does Whitman Display Italic have that wretched apostrophe in the header to the Zeno thread?

powers

William Berkson's picture

I think that using the straight apostrophe is a result of the limitations of Flash. IIRC it also doesn't do kerning and has other limitations.

kentlew's picture

> But what size on screen are we talking about?
> Can we see it at like 12 and 16 ppem?

Ahh, give the poor little font a break, Hrant. It's Display Light Italic, after all -- "Display" as in headlines (maybe 48 pt or larger), not as in monitor.

;-)

-- K.

BlueStreak's picture

Moderno still stands out as the best fit for the design of this website, to my subjective and bloodshot eyes, but Whitman Display Italic looks like a beautiful fit too.

Very nice. I'd love a chance to see how Whitman Display Condensed would look/work here.

hrant's picture

Kent, I was being nice to Chris, not unnice to the font.

"If you just want to say something nice, don't say anything at all."

hhp

dezcom's picture

I was referring to the size used up in the thread title--not to 12/16pt text sizes on screen. Kent's italic is a gentle slope and typically angles near vertical but not exactly, tend to get stair-steppy in low resolution. Whitman seems to overcome this problem quite nicely.

ChrisL

xtianhoff's picture

Apparently the theory of "crisp finish" which Dwiggins preached about transfers nicely to screen. Not to diminish Kent's achievement as simply formulaic (and someone else's formula at that). Instead, I see it that he achieved the aspirations of a important type pioneer.

hrant's picture

But is this specific to italics?

hhp

xtianhoff's picture

That's a pretty good question, presuming I understand what you're asking. I'd have to review the Dwiggin's letters, by which I mean correspondence. I think his call for "crisp finish" would apply to roman or ital equally. You'd like it, Hrant. It could be seen as move from chirography towards the "machine age" as it was then seen.

hrant's picture

I actually know about it, and am indeed a big fan. And considering that Kent is a big WAD fan, I'm sure the influence is there.

> It could be seen as move from chirography towards
> the “machine age” as it was then seen.

Indeed; towards a separation of the two edges of the black. The paradox is that Dwiggins was majorly chirographic! Maybe he didn't realize the true nature of what he had discovered. He did have incredible instincts though.

hhp

xtianhoff's picture

I did assume and erudite fellow such as yourself would be at the least acquainted with it.

I think you do WAD a bit of disservice by referring to his instincts, though. He thought everything through and was endlessly experimental. He ended up places through thought.

More to our original point, he was involved in every level of the production and wanted to know about the process and the technology. What I'm getting at is that while his roots (and, perhaps, his instincts) were chirographic his experiments and interest in the production process probably led him away from purely chirographic forms.

xtianhoff's picture

...and we're now hijacking a thread that's really about how good Whitman Display Italic looks on screen. Ooops.

hrant's picture

I have trouble reconciling WAD's amazing results with some almost as amazing -if few and far between- bits of what I can only call ignorance. One that stands out for me is his belief that extenders play no role in readability whatsoever, that they just make text look pretty or something! I mean, sheesh. The only way I can perform this reconciliation is by highly valuating his instincts; that he knew what needed to be done even without realizing the logic.

hhp

billtroop's picture

>The only way I can perform this reconciliation is by highly valuating his instincts; that he knew what needed to be done even without realizing the logic.

I imagine it was Griffith who saved Dwiggins from himself, n'est-ce-pas? Griffith was the boss, after all.

xtianhoff's picture

I would suggest that this is the flip side of the coin of how experimental he was. Not every experiment yields fruit, or at least the fruit we expect. That's how I reconcile it or, more properly, explain it. He explored some hypotheses and found them incorrect.

In the case you cite, he wondered if Uncial forms would be more "natural" for the reading of English, thinking that the Latin forms would be better suited for, well, Latin presumably, and I guess the romance languages.. So he experimented to see if Winchester Uncial would yield revolutionary results in legibility in setting English. It didn't and he said so, but Winchester without the uncial forms is actually a really charming face and he did some great work in Hingham with it. I don't think the digital versions really do it justice.

Truly, Hrant, WAD was a kindred soul to you. He worried about and was involved in every step of type production; he took careful consideration of legibility AND readability; he wasn't afraid to explore radical ideas (including the abandonment of many chirographic forms).

[As an aside, weren't uncial forms originally Roman anyway and brought to the British Isles during the Roman occupation? They may have then hit an artistic peak as Insular majascule etc,... but it seems like WAD was really off base on that one.]

xtianhoff's picture

Griffith was boss and more, absolutely. But, still, one gets the feeling that WAD pursued his whims if he felt strongly enough about them with Griffith struggling to pull him back onto more commercial projects. Here I'm thinking of the Charter experiment and, again, the WInchester Uncial (and non-uncial).

hrant's picture

I just wish I had his talent though!

BTW, I've long thought that uncials would work great as caps for the conventional lc (because the classical caps -as august as they are- are really so foreign to the more important lc). But maybe it's not so bad having two styles in one alphabet (at least when it comes to text). Well, three styles if you count numerals! :-/

hhp

xtianhoff's picture

That talent was towering.

William Berkson's picture

Did Dwiggins distinguish readability and legibility? I always thought that the distinction goes back to the 30s, but I don't know.

xtianhoff's picture

I believe he did when discussing Winchester, which would have been during the mid- to late-forties. I'm not betting the mortgage on it, though.

eliason's picture

Did Dwiggins distinguish readability and legibility?

Back in this thread I quoted Dwiggins from 1947, suggesting the answer then would be no:

"A type face is good if it is easy to read. No concession that interferes with ease of reading may be made either to beauty of appearance or to mechanical felicity. Legibility is the basic law, the sine qua non."

xtianhoff's picture

I'll see if I can find the quote/line of reasoning that I was thinking about. The above quote certainly makes it sound like he saw them as synonymous.

kentlew's picture

Dan (BlueStreak) -- When asked what style I thought should be used here, I had originally thought one of the heavier condensed [newspaper headline] styles. I also thought maybe one of the heavier italics, which get funky and chunky (Cyrus called them "tasty"). But after that rich, chewy Beorcana, I thought in the end that something light and airy might be a nice change, and so I suggested the Light Italic.

Hrant -- I was being only half-serious (and taking you only half-seriously), thus the smiley. No worries.

Regarding WAD, I think I would agree with that he was very instinctive in his work. And at the same time, he was very thoughtful. I think his thinking tended to follow his instincts. He could indeed be very right in his instincts and at the same time amazingly off-base in some of his ideas. But that is part of being a great thinker.

Dwiggins was a complicated mix of thinking and feeling, contemporary urges and historical respect. He even makes fun of himself in this regard through his alter-ego, H. Püterschein. In the Caledonia specimen, in "Notes on the Designer" Dwiggins-as-Püterschein writes about Dwiggins-the-designer, protesting that he is not really very "modern" at all:

"He creates an illusion of machines. But his machines are a masquerade. There are men inside of them. [. . .] Dwiggins pretends to love steel. He deceives nobody who thinks steel. He deceives his friends -- Victorians like himself. He does not deceive me. . . . Dwiggins loves the forms of his youth -- split-rail fences, the dust of the road, shady farm-lanes, hills, clouds, sunshine, rain, a simple breed of semi-barbaric rural morons -- all the sentimental hogwash of the days when he was young."

He was a complicated and contradictory man.

kentlew's picture

My goodness, seven more comments since I started my last post. I can't keep up with you guys.

Christian, I think it's overstating the case to say that Griffith "struggled to pull him back." WAD was always concerned about the commercial viability of what he did. That didn't stop him from experimenting at all. But he was also always saying to Griff -- You tell me if there's any value in continuing this, or just put it "in the attic" (as he would say).

Thing is, as evidenced by the Charter and Winchester examples you mentioned, he was always pulling things back out of the attic and dusting off pet ideas, revisiting them again and again. You know . . . so many ideas, so little time.

But hey, it's a good thing he didn't have to draw every size and style and cast everything all himself, right? Or it might have taken him four years to release one family too ;-)

-- K.

xtianhoff's picture

Yeah, I made it sound like a continual struggle when it was occasional. Dwiggins could be very practical and also respected Griffith's opinions greatly.

My main point was that when we struggle to reconcile a man both instinctive and deliberate, it's not really THAT contradictory. His instincts led him to want to try out many things (some fairly outlandish) and he then experimented, displaying his deliberate and thoughtful nature. We can snort in derision at some ideas, but that's always the case looking at experimental pioneers of the past.

kentlew's picture

Christian -- Agreed.

And I think it's fair to say that Griff respected both aspects of Dwiggins equally. He obviously admired WAD's talent and creative impulses. He also respected WAD's analyses and theories. He was often asking WAD's opinion about other faces in production or sending him articles to comment on.

He did not always agree with all of WAD's theories. (I'm thinking about the long debate regarding approaches to fitting that I alluded to in another thread.) And I think CHG undoubtedly felt that some of WAD's design experiments were pretty outlandish, being a pretty practical man himself. But clearly, he felt that there was great value in having someone relatively unfettered in the MLCo camp doing the equivalent of "R&D." In this regard, I think Griff deserves a lot of credit for being quite visionary.

-- K.

Sye's picture

hi kent, just wanted to say whitman look great, well done!

kentlew's picture

Thanks, sye. We got a little side-tracked with all the Dwiggins talk, eh?

BTW, since the Display is the linked featured face, folks might have missed that the original Whitman text family has also been expanded with several new weights, including a full range of italics that folks had been requesting.

-- K.

dezcom's picture

"just wanted to say whitman look great"

Ya damn betcha, it does! :-)

ChrisL

Sye's picture

kent, how does whitman perform in extended texts like books?

hrant's picture

Better than on screen? (It's a wonderful font overall.)

hhp

kentlew's picture

Simon -- You shouldn't take my word for it. I'm obviously biased. ;-) Ask someone like Will Powers; he's worked with Whitman in books.

Or better yet, judge for yourself. You can download my original Whitman PDF specimen, which has several bookish text showings in different sizes. You'll find a link here: http://www.kentlew.com/WhitmanOverview.html

(Note: the specimen is old and hasn't been updated to reflect any of the expanded styles.)

Also, on the In Use page, you can find a list of some of the books that I know have used Whitman. (And actually, I only designed one of these myself; although I did oversee development on a few others. ;-) If you can get your hands on any, then that will provide even more evidence for you to judge from.

-- Kent.

Sye's picture

thanks kent, i'll do that.

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