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La Plus Grande Romaine by Hendrik van den Keere

La Plus Grande Romaine

manually digitized

[Posted: Monday June 26, 2023]

Preparations have started for dtl PlusGrande, a revival of La Plus Grande Romaine by the Flemish punchcutter Hendrik van den Keere (ca.1540–1580). This wood-carved display type from 1575 is related to VdK’s Gros Canon Romain from 1573, which formed the basis for dtl GrosCanon. Handmade working drawings of enlarged images of the source model are manually digitized in ikarus format using a lens cursor. Unlike a mouse, the latter has an absolute position relative to an associated tablet and is used for entering contour points. The ikarus system marked the beginning of digital typography in the 1970s and is still supported by dtl’s proprietary font tools.
La Plus Grande Romaine by Hendrik van den Keere
The fact that drawing on paper has become less and less common in the type designer’s profession may be due to a lack of training and thus to the specific skills needed for analog drawing. However, the requirements for a type-design job should dictate what the best digitizing tool is. In some cases, drawing on paper may be more suitable than sculpting outlines on screen, for example, to draw small and delicate details. This is especially applicable to preserve the vibrancy in the source models when creating revivals of historical type.

The reasoning behind the analogous approach is further described in the chapter on type-design education in the booklet Reflections on Type and Typography [Related Matters].

Matrix of Ascendonica Romaine by Robert Granjon

Critical Approaches to


[Posted: Monday May 1, 2023]

From 21 to 25 August 2023, the third edition of the Typography Summer School will take place in the beautiful surroundings of the historic campus of the University of Antwerp. The Critical Approaches to Typography course offers a perfect opportunity to zoom in on the fascinating world of typography –with or without any prior knowledge. Explore the finesse of historical and digital type and investigate the conventions that govern typography and how to challenge them through research.
Gutenberg’s textura type reviewed
The main course program was written by dtl’s founder Dr. Frank E. Blokland and is based on five elementary keywords: ‘Perception’, ‘History’, ‘Convention’, ‘Technology’, and ‘Legibility’. These keywords are largely covered in the booklet Reflections on Type and Typography […], which was written with the Typography Summer School in mind and is essentially intended as basis for further discussion. In addition to theoretical angles to better understand the historical and cultural context of typography, matters are also practically investigated. For example, artifacts from the illustrious type-foundry collection of Museum Plantin-Moretus are scrutinized.

More information can be found on the university website. Applications must be submitted before July 14, 2023.

DTL Rosart Ornaments

Revival of a Punchcutter

[Posted: Friday February 3, 2023]

Between 1740 and 1759, the punchcutter Jacques-François Rosart lived in the city of Haarlem. There he mainly worked for the type foundry of Johannes and Izaak Enschedé. Unfortunately, while he created many sophisticated and attractive type models, he was not highly regarded in his own time. In the exhibition Rosart: Revival of a Punchcutter, contemporary type designers and researchers look again at Rosart’s œuvre and come to a revaluation.
Punch cut by Rosart
New research led to a better understanding of this gifted autodidact, as well as digital revivals of various type models –originally more than 250 years old. The outcomes can be seen in the Janskerk, the public center of the Noord-Hollands Archief, at Jansstraat 40 in Haarlem. The exhibition runs until June 30, 2023 and is open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:00 and every third Saturday of the month from 09:00 to 16:00. Entrance is free. More information about the Rosart Project can be found here.

FM2 2023: Glyph Editor

A TypoMagical 2023!

[Posted: Sunday January 1, 2023]

In an exclusive métier, as always, the Dutch Type Library looks forward to the new year. It will undoubtedly be exciting when it comes to producing new dtl typefaces and releasing fonts that have been in development for decades. For example, for dtl Romulus and dtl Sheldon, part of the Van Krimpen Project, it is definitely time for the finishing touch. In addition, related to historical type, there will be a lot of scope for research on their technical frameworks.
Research and development at DTL
No doubt 2023 will be challenging from a technical point of view. In recent months, many longtime dtl customers have upgraded their PostScript Type1 fonts to OpenType format. Some of them bought the Type1 fonts as far back as the 1990s. After all, the Dutch Type Library has been active in the type business for 32 years. In 2023, dtl will release a series of OpenType Pro fonts and its first variable fonts. Additional support for more scripts, such as Cyrillic and Greek, is also planned for the new year.

Moreover, the Dutch Type Library will further expand its exquisite range of sophisticated proprietary ikarus-based font tools, starting with its flagship dtl OTMaster. These applications are primarily developed for internal use. In 2022, however, many copies of otm found their way around the world. The plan is to formally release a number of other font tools currently in development at the second dtl Type[&]Design conference, to be held in the city of Haarlem this fall.

DTL PostScript Type1 icon

dtl OpenType Upgrade Program

[Reposted: Friday August 12, 2022]

As announced by Adobe, support for PostScript Type1 fonts in Creative Cloud applications will end completely in 2023, to start Photoshop last 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.

DTL OTMaster 8.9: Glyph Editor

otm 8.9 exclusively available

from the Dutch Type Library

[Posted: Monday March 7, 2022]

In the past 32 years that the Dutch Type Library has been active on the font market, the profession has changed considerably. Until the early 1990s, proprietary font formats of the traditional typesetting-machine manufacturers gave way to the ‘universal’ PostScript and TrueType formats, and eventually the OpenType format. The development of new typefaces has been largely done by independent type foundries ever since. New sophisticated tools for the (post) production of fonts also came onto market: dtl OTMaster is one of them.
DTL OTMaster 8.9: Side by Side Viewer
With the expanding font market came distribution by specialized third parties. Contrary to this development, however, the Dutch Type Library now centralizes the distribution of its unique products via its online boutiques. For example, the Dutch Type Library is the only distributor of its exquisite fonts. In line with this, dtl OTMaster 8.9 will be available exclusively from dtl from Monday 21 March 2022.

Customers who purchased otm 7.9 from a third party before this date, are entitled to a free upgrade to version 8.9. Please contact the Dutch Type Library via otm[at]

On the Origin of Patterning in Movable Latin Type

On the Origin of Patterning

[Posted: Tuesday December 7, 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 PhD research at Leiden University by dtl’s founder Frank E. Blokland, which 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.

Peter Rosenfeld and Frank E. Blokland at URW in 1991

Available only from dtl –again

[Posted: Tuesday January 12, 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.

Jacques-François Rosart

Rosart Project Website

[Posted: Thursday December 3, 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.

Stijn Cremers, designer of DTL Estuary

dtl Estuary by Stijn Cremers

[Posted: Monday September 7, 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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