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On the Origin of Patterning in Movable Latin Type

On the Origin of Patterning

[Posted: Tuesday 7 December 2021]

A little over five years ago, On the Origin of Patterning in Movable Latin Type: Renaissance Standardisation, Systematisation, and Unitisation of Textura and Roman Type was published. This dissertation is the result of research by dtl’s founder Frank E. Blokland that lasted a total of almost ten years. This research was conducted to test the hypothesis that Gutenberg and his colleagues developed a standardized and unitized system for producing textura type. In addition, this advanced system was extrapolated to the production of (morphologically related) roman type in Renaissance Italy. For this, humanist handwriting was in principle cast with intrinsically predetermined standardized proportions.
Roman and rotunda type from Hendrik van den Keere
This ongoing research aims to prove that the technical constraints of Renaissance font production had a direct impact on the proportions of movable type, and, to some extent, ultimately determined the conditioning that formed the basis of our perception of type and typography. More than 300 printed copies of the dissertation have been sold to date, for example through Lulu’s on-demand print service. An English summary (pdf) can be found on the repository of Leiden University.

More information about the research can be found on the LetterModel website.

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DTL PostScript Type1 icon

dtl OpenType Upgrade Program

[Posted: Wednesday 28 July 2021]

As announced by Adobe, support for PostScript Type1 fonts in Creative Cloud applications will end completely in 2023, to start Photoshop this year. One of the first preparations leading up to the establishment of the Dutch Type Library in the late 1980s, was designing the colorful Mac OS icons for the three components that include Type1. Those were the days. These vintage icons now form small markers of changing technological times.
DTL Type1 additional icons
With PostScript Type1 being phased out, registered users of dtl fonts in this legacy format can upgrade to OpenType through a special program. The same goes for licensees of single-byte TrueType variants. A relatively low fee is charged for upgrading. The dtl OpenType Boutique can be used to check the availability of OpenType versions.

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Peter Rosenfeld and Frank E. Blokland at URW in 1991

Available only from dtl –again

[Posted: Tuesday 12 January 2021]

For almost 30 years urw and dtl worked closely together, mainly in the development of the dtl tools for professional font production. Both companies share a long history: for example, urw and dtl presented together at Cebit in the early 1990s and later organized special conferences on type and related technology in the Netherlands and Germany. Moreover, urw was also the only type company in the world that was allowed to distribute the exclusive typefaces from the Dutch Type Library.
        Despite the intensive collaboration, both companies have always remained completely independent. The cooperation was above all based on the friendship and mutual interests of the respective owners. In the photo above, Peter Rosenfeld, then the type manager at urw and later co-owner, and dtl’s founder Frank E. Blokland in 1991 discuss type.
        Today urw no longer exists as an independent company following the acquisition of its font library by one of the major players in the type business. Consequently, dtl fonts can –again after 30 years– only be obtained directly from the Dutch Type Library. Former urw customers can therefore contact the Dutch Type Library for support for dtl fonts purchased in the past.
DTL Font Tools development team
The development of the dtl font tools is continued by the small team of experts involved from the start. The versed programmers on the team have been working on ikarus-based applications for three decades or more. The first edition of dtl FoundryMaster and version 8.6 of dtl OTMaster will be released soon.

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Jacques-François Rosart

Rosart Project Website

[Posted: Thursday 3 December 2020]

Recently the highly informative and richly illuminated new website for the prestigious Rosart Project was launched. This project, on the subject of the 18th-century punchcutter Jacques-François Rosart, originated in the Expert class Type design (EcTd) 2014–2015 course at the Plantin Institute of Typography under the roof of the illustrious Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp. The website describes the processes involved and shows the results of an intensive typographic adventure of the talented EcTd laureates Walda Verbaenen, Michel Paré and Lukas Schneider.
        The EcTd course is led by Dr. Frank E. Blokland, who initiated the investigation into Rosart’s types.
Punches cut by Jacques-François Rosart
As stated on the website, the Rosart project required hundreds of hours of in-depth research, painstaking drawing, discussion, testing and refinement. This ultimately resulted in a vast array of cutting-edge digital revivals –arguably the largest and most comprehensive collection of fonts to date, based on the work of a single punchcutter. To this end, the historical type foundry artifacts in the collection of Museum Plantin-Moretus and the Noord-Hollands Archief in Haarlem, where the Enschedé Collection is housed, have been carefully examined and translated into digital fonts.

The Dutch Type Library is proud to participate in this project: more information can be found here.

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Stijn Cremers, designer of DTL Estuary

dtl Estuary by Stijn Cremers

[Posted: Monday 7 September 2020]

It is an absolute privilege to work with highly talented next-generation type designers such as Stijn Cremers (photo), who has spent approximately ten years developing the contemporary and refined dtl Estuary. The result of this long process is a contemporary serif typeface, which is suitable for book, magazine, as well as newspaper typography.
Lowercase a of DTL Estuary
Stijn Cremers has a keen eye for details. If one looks, for example, at the finishing of the serifs, the very subtle counters of the capital letters, and the playful but delicate combination of round and sharp elements in the terminals, one can find ample proof of this. Despite the carefully worked out details, however, in principle dtl Estuary is suitable for all kinds of typographic purposes, in both display and text sizes.

This remarkable typeface is now available as OpenType ‘Standard’ and ‘Pro’ fonts in dtl’s online OpenType Boutique.

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GI48 Type Mould (Museum Plantin-Moretus)

dtl [Gros] Canon Project

[Posted: Monday 20 April 2020]

dtl’s [Gros] Canon Project continues with the reproduction of the Giet Instrument 48 by expert Hugh Macfarlane. The ‘gi48’ (photo above) is probably the oldest surviving type mould dating from around the second half of the 16th century. It is part of the illustrious collection of Renaissance type-foundry material in the Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp.
        The gi48 replica will be equipped with movable registers, while the original has fixed ones. The work on the mould is progressing well: the guides are now finished and will be pinned to the carriage after the machine marks are polished out. The registers will need a slot machined into them, so they can be adjusted.
GI48 Type Mould Replica (in production)
The first part of the dtl [Gros] Canon Project included the digitization of three types by the Flemish Renaissance punchcutter Hendrik van den Keere (ca.1540–1580): Gros Canon Flamande (textura type, 1571), Gros Canon Romain (roman type, 1573), and Canon d’Espaigne (rotunda type, 1574). The latter is almost ready for release, which will complete then the first part of the project.
        The reproduction of the historical type mould is the second part of the project, along with master punchcutter Stan Nelson crafting a small number of punches (based on dtl’s aforementioned digital revivals) and striking related matrices. The matrices will be adapted by Nelson to the constraints of the mould.
Parts for GI48 Type Mould Replica
The goal is to use the gi48 replica for casting the type from the matrices, and to distribute the foundry type to the customers who have bought one of the three digital revivals of dtl’s [Gros] Canon Project.

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Reflections on Type and Typography: cover

Reflections on Type and
Typography [Related Matters]

[Posted: Wednesday 15 January 2020]

A booklet by dtl’s founder Dr. Frank E. Blokland that was written with the Typography Summer School 2019 at the University of Antwerp in mind. On this course the value of research for typography was investigated and discussed. The five keywords of the course were: ‘Perception’, ‘Convention’, ‘Legibility’, ‘Technology’, and ‘History’. These subjects are largely covered in this concise publication. Reflections on Type and Typography [Related Matters] is meant as basis for further discussion and was used as such at the summer school.
        Perhaps some will consider the booklet’s content (slightly) heretical, or even that it befogs the readers’ minds. After all, it contains statements such as: ‘However, one can apply legibility research on type in use today, but it is very unlikely that Jenson and Griffo in particular did any legibility research before they developed their archetypal models for roman type.’ And: ‘Instead, type designers seem to rely purely on the eye, but, […], what they see is the result of conditioning. One can simply conclude that conditioning is based on conventions, and conditioning preserves conventions. Thus the snake bites its own tail; to rely on the eye, one has to be trained to look at type in a certain way.’ And so on…
Reflections on Type and Typography: cover
In the last two, somewhat more personal, chapters of the booklet Blokland reflects on the more recent changes in the type business, which he joined in the early 1980s. For example, in the Licensing Exclusivity chapter, he explains that the production of high-quality fonts requires a major investment of efforts and resources. In these volatile times it sometimes looks like not everyone in the graphic-design métier is fully aware of this. After all, not all fonts are for ‘free’, quality comes at a price, and paying for a product or service is the foundation of the profession of the graphic designer.

One of the two of promotional posters in a1 format for the booklet, with the young Eleonora Auguste (who holds her father's ‘provocative’ publication in her hands) in the lead, is shown at the top. The booklet costs €12.50 and is available via dtl’s online bookshop. It is also available as free downloadable pdf.

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