This autumn I was lucky to teach type design to a group of talented graphic design students at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno. Their first exercise was to build a simple element-based font that would be tailored to work well with handjet printers. The handjet’s 32-pixel vertical matrix defined the constraints, the only contour to draw was the shape of the element, and the rest was “only” a matter of placing the elements on the grid to form letters. The clocks were ticking and the students were fierce. Most of them had their first font with basic English and Czech alphabets done by the end of the day!
Upon realizing the task could be taken even further, I set out to design my own font. I did not leave the house that weekend and ended up with a complete pan-European Latin. A couple of days later I had Greek and Cyrillic too. It was hard to stop. The resulting Handjet system contains eleven elemental shapes. Each shape is available in nine weights. Plus, there are two main variants. The first one is honest, with elements set on the 32-pixel grid perfectly; two elements next to each other to form a stroke. The second one is a cheat, the elements seem to be following a 16-pixel grid, but break away as they please. All of these working within a single variable font, allowing users to interpolate between the shapes and produce custom variations.
The fonts (one variable font or 198 single-style fonts) are provided for free, for a limited time, without any artistic aspirations, assumptions of originality, or kerning. I hope you will have as much fun using them as I had designing them.
P.S. If you want to do this exercise with your students, have a look at this Glyphs tutorial.
P.P.S. To be perfectly clear, I went way overboard of what Handjets’ grids permits. Hence, only some of the fonts are actually good-looking when used with the printers.
Design: David Březina
Assistance: David Březina, post-production
Assistance: Maria Doreuli, Cyrillic consultancy
Assistance: Irene Vlachou, Greek consultancy
Assistance: Johannes Neumeier, Font engineering
Assistance: Khajag Apelian, Armenian consultancy
Assistance: Meir Sadan, Hebrew consultancy
Assistance: Borna Izadpanah, Arabic consultancy
Publisher: Rosetta Type Foundry
License: SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE
David Březina is the managing director of Rosetta Type Foundry. While you may know him as the designer of the award-winning type family Skolar, he has also worked on custom typefaces for Adobe, Linotype, and Microsoft, and others. So far, he has designed typefaces for Cyrillic, Greek, Gujarati, Devanagari, and various extensions of Latin. David holds master’s degrees in Informatics (Masaryk University, Brno, Czechia) and Typeface Design (University of Reading, UK). He has also been actively involved in writing, presenting, and conducting workshops on type and typography around the world.
Source files: Handjet | GitHub