Digitization Advice

Shrdlu's picture

Hello, I'm working on a visual translation of a Russian Futurist book—Tango with Cows—and so I need roman equivalents of the cyrillic used in the book. For one of the cyrillic faces I have a specimen of a matching roman face printed on coated paper. I'm seeking advice on how best to digitize it. I'm pretty sure the face hasn't been digitized but if it has been, this is somewhat of a moot point.

Here are some factors:

1. I'm mostly interested in this as part of my larger project, so I am not that concerned with making a font good enough to license.
2. I'll probably only need upper/lower case, a few numerals and a question mark.
3. I'm planning on making photopolymer plates to print the final piece, so ideally I'd like a digitization of the shape of the metal type, not the ink on paper. The coated paper helps in this regard to lessen ink spread, and I'm planning on doing some tests to understand more precisely what happens in the bezier curve—>plate—>ink on paper process.
4. The specimen I have was printed by me from metal type not issued by the manufacturer, so the type is actually somewhat worn. This isn't necessarily an issue because the type used in the original was also somewhat worn (I think) and definitely not printed so carefully, but I'd like to avoid the cliché of multiple identical instances of broken type. I'd also like to avoid things looking too obviously digital.
5. I'd be willing to spend some money to save time and/or for a better job, but I wouldn't have a huge budget, I have some bezier curve drawing experience but not a huge amount, I do have access to fontlab, but I haven't used it.
6. I have a 3200 dpi scan of the specimen, it's 30 point Antique Extra Condensed

and options I've been thinking about:

1. Just plugging away myself, using either Illustrator, Fontlab, Inkscape with Spiro.
2. Hiring some fly-by-night masking service to get the outlines mostly done, then tweaking it myself.
3. Hiring an actual type designer, what would be a reasonable price to pay? I could also trade services, in case someone wants any letterpress printing done.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Hi Daniel. I’d be very interested to take on this project. Mind if I contact you offline?

1985's picture

This sounds like a really interesting project. From what I have seen here on Typophile frode frank is very capable.

.00's picture

Daniel.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you as well.

James

Shrdlu's picture

Thanks for the interest, just contact me so we can discuss this offline.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Thanks Andrew. The same goes for James. His experience exceeds mine.

.00's picture

But you have youthful enthusiasm. Go for it!

James

Maxim Zhukov's picture
  • a Russian Futurist book—Tango with Cows

For all curious of the original of Daniel’s translation: a low-rez PDF of that landmark of Russian poetry/typography can be found on the Web site of ImWerden, a non-commercial electronic library of Russian classics.


Daniel, there are lots of fonts used in that book…

Shrdlu's picture

There is also a good facsimile on the Getty's website:
http://archives.getty.edu:30008/getty_images/digitalresources/russian_ag...

There are actually fewer than it might appear at first glance, I've actually made a concordance of all the glyphs in the book, and sorted them all into typeface families and then individual fonts. There are about 10 families most (if not all) of them are Cyrillic equivalents of Berthold faces. There are a lot of sizes and weights of Akzidenz, and of Berthold Latinskaya derived from Berthold Lateinisch. The rest are all display faces, and most are only in a couple sizes except for the cyrillic of Herold Schmal. It was a lot of fun deconstructing all the type as it was as though I was looking into a small print shop in Moscow, a hundred years ago.

Do you know of any good book for information about Cyrillic types, typography, or the printing industry at that time, 1914? Even if they are in Russian, any information would be helpful.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

I know the Getty facsimile, and I find it inferior to ImWerden’s. Anyway, there exists one monograph, Русский типографский шрифт. Вопросы истории и практика применения, by Abram Shitsgal, devoted to the history of Russian printing type. Its second edition was issued in 1985.


Russian types of late 19th–early 20th centuries are discussed, rather briefly, in Chapter 9 (pp. 163–176). The good news is, it has a decent ‘further reading’ list at the end (pp. 245–252).

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Daniel, do you know this edition (Paris: Éditions Petropolis, 2000) of Khlebnikov’s zaum poems in French?

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