(x) Riddle - extended Futura Condensed {Hrant}

hrant's picture

I was going to put this in Critique, but since I didn't make it maybe it's better here. Can you figure out what it is? But besides that, I'm really wondering what you think of it.

trick.gif

hhp

Stephen Coles's picture

Quick guess: the ATM substitution font?

Stephen

hrant's picture

Nope. But I guess now I don't need to ask you what you think of it...

BTW, from now on I won't reply if it's just to say "no" to a guess.

hhp

hrant's picture

OK, I guess you guys give up.

So, you know how typophiles cringe when they see a monoline sans condensed to fit a measure and as a result acquire a highly uncomfortable horizontal stress (because the vertical stems become too thin)? Well, I was thinking, what about the other way around? With some horizontal expansion you would quickly make a monoline sans acquire contrast, and *that* would actually be usable.

So what you're seeing is Futura Condensed, 150% wider! A nice surpise, huh? It seems to work out fine, even in the diagonals. Basically, a completely new style of letter in 2 seconds. The only real problem is characters with (necessarily) unconventional stress, like that clunky "s". But still.

hhp

Stephen Coles's picture

It looks like poo to me. But that was a dandy experiment.

fonthausen's picture

HHP:
you earned 10.00$ in just 2 seconds. Your clients won't be able to tell the difference.

How will you name your newborn clone?

Jacques

hrant's picture

Fartura.

hhp

hrant's picture

> Squarish thing

Interesting. And it implies that the intent was to combat distortions from horizontal compression, which is of course the most common way users torture type: gotta save that space! (Which makes me realize: maybe they should try using vertical compression for a change, at least when it's not a gotta-fit-it-on-this-one-line deal; especially since vertical savings always matters, whereas horizontal savings can come to naught when you hit a paragraph break, which is very common in a newspaper - a consideration Tracy has pointed out).

So I guess the features of a font that help preserve its integrity/character when compressed are:
1. Good stroke contrast.
2. Vertical stress.
3. Squareness.
4. Slight darkness.

hhp

hrant's picture

Huh, I just thought of something else:
You know how Excoffon's Olive has a funny lopsided stress? I wonder how it would look when expanded... (And the same with Bloemsma's Balance.)

hhp

Miss Tiffany's picture

As requested by Hrant:

olivetoo.gif

Miss Tiffany's picture

bigger than i thought. sorry.

Stephen Coles's picture

Yikes.

Miss Tiffany's picture

how about some text?

olivetext.gif

hrant's picture

Thanks Tiffany!

I can't tell much from the text blocks, but the first image is pretty revealing. The narrowest style (#6) looks usable even at 200% I think. And at 150% the lightest weight (#1) sort of validates my original suspicion: Olive seems to become a nice monoweight sans.

BTW, I hadn't realized that in the darkest weights Olive's lc "s" goes to a "rationalized" stroke distribution.

hhp

hoefler's picture

Matthew Carter did some investigations into scale-proof lettering around 1970, essentially trying to see if it was possible to shore up a design against horizontal scaling. (I seem to recall that "Video" might have figured into the name of the design, but that doesn't sound quite right.) If I recall, Matthew (and Linotype) decided to scuttle the project, but there were some interesting proofs published in the Journal of Typographic Research. Squarish thing with a bit of contrast, somewhere on the Melior-Eurostile-Folio continent.

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