Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter...

Brought to you by the Letter: B
Old Standard TT, Regular, uppercase B

Of all the Google Font Directory typefaces, Lobster has got to be the most wide
ly used so far online. Or maybe it's just so distinct that I notice it more often than say Old Standard TT. Lobster, by Pablo Impallari, is a really fun decorative script font. Something about it feels like summertime. The details - the loops and thick curves, the way the letters run together as there's something a little urgent and exciting. It all feels very vintage to me, maybe the 70s? I want to see the words Psyche! and Chill and Get Down written in Lobster in shades of burnt orange and mustard yellow with thick white strokes. And then it sort of hit me, Lobster reminds me of the typeface for the logo of those colorful Spanish lollipops, Chupa Chups. I can see some resemblance in style:

Extra awesome about the Chupa Chups logo: it was done by Salvador Dali in 1969. Thank you Wikipedia.

But on to the Lobster, regular uppercase B. I started doing some digging and Lobster is not only a very
pretty font, but a very well-made font. I say this because a lot of care was taken into creating alternate versions of the letters (79 ligatures so far) that help finesse the font's handwritten feel. For example, notice the details of the B above: The stem and the curves connect in only one place, both bowls are open. However, notice the differences among the B ligatures below (These are displayed in Photoshop if you want to see it for yourself). The black type shows Contextual Alternates, the red type shows Standard Ligatures, and the blue shows Stylistic Alternates. Notice on the blue type how the bottom bowl connects to the stem. (More changes occur with the other letters, but I want to stay focused on the B.) This attention to detail is what makes Lobster stand out as a well-designed typeface, and it makes sense why everyone is jumping at the chance to use it.Courtesy of Google Font Directory, Impallari.com:

Design Foundry: Impallari
Designer: Pablo Impallari
Date: 2010
Classification: Decorative - script

You can find a lengthy and interesting description about Lobster from the creator himself here. An excerpt explaining what I mentioned above about the ligatures more in depth:

"A common problem that affect most script fonts, is that each letter must be draw in a way that connect with the next and previous letters. And that's quite difficult.

By having 26 lowercase character, that gives you more than 600 possible combinations for each letter (and arround 15600 for the whole alphabet). It's next to impossible to make it always connect seamesly whitout compromising the shape that each letter was originally intended to be.

That's why trying to make script fonts works it's like magic."

Impallari also released the typeface at Typophile, and it's interesting watching it develop in this forum here. The one thing I've gathered from the writing about Lobster, is that it is very much a collaborative effort. Although Impallari may have been the only one touching the letters, commentators and typography gurus had a lot of influence on the final design.


Pablo Impallari said...

Hi H.
Thanks for writing about the Lobster. It's really nice to see that people notice the little details on the font.

And as you say, it resemples the chupa chups logo, and many many others (Budweiser, Wilson, Coca Cola, Lays and many many others)
. Its a typeface thats is new, but at the same time is like if it was always among us.
Enjoy it!

h. van de mark said...

Hey, thanks for leaving a comment! You're definitely right about it being new but feeling like it's always been around. Congrats on making such an awesome typeface. Was this just a stroke of luck or are you interested in developing/becoming a typography designer?

Pablo Impallari said...

I worked pretty hard. But also was very lucky to have many talented people kindly helping and correcting things release after release.

Right now I'm working as a Php programmer, but will love to become a fulltime type designer. Maybe sometime in the future.