Italics included

With early italic printing type, like type that Blado printed with, italic lowercase were accompanied by upright uppercase:
Litteratra® is the result of a few things. First, of playing the game that excited early 20th century type designers, marrying blackletter type with roman type. Second, which is implicit in the first, of being intrigued by the fact that early printing type had traits of both blackletter type and roman type – and that it took some time for the distinct and amost canonical styles, as we know them and take them for granted, to emerge. Third, of noticing that, while uppercase and lowercase by now are very much harmonized, this was not the case with the manuscript tradition nor with early printing type. (I may get back to this stylistic tension, between uppercase and lowercase, in another note.) Given that designing Litteratra was about playing a game, with these three things in the back of my mind, it only seemed logical that Litteratra, too, would combine italic lowercase with upright upercase.
Litteratra is the result of yet another thing. Fourth, of FontLab Studio replacing URW Ikarus and Macromedia Fontographer on the font editor side and, more crucial, of OpenType fonts replacing PST1 fonts on the font format side. Litteratra wanted ligatures and abbreviations. (You should try the Discretionary Ligatures feature.) Asked for oldstyle and lining numerals. And small caps, of course. Now that all these could be included in one font, it only seemed logical that italic lowercase would be included too:
And it only seemed logical that these italic lowercase, like any other alternates, would be accessed by way of OpenType features. Upright lowercase, by default:
Italic lowercase, after activating the Italic feature or the Stylistic Set 1 feature:
Separate italic fonts got added later. Designers and typographers either were not aware of OpenType features at all – mind that these were the years around 2005 – or found them inconvenient to use. InDesign was the only application which supported ‘typographic’ OpenType features in a way worth mentioning – OpenType fonts like Litteratra were InDesign-only fonts for quite a few years to come. Of course they needed to work in other applications too. Hence the separate italic fonts.

p.s.

This note is one of three notes, on three aspects of good typography and (inevitably) type, as embodied in our first trilogy of typefaces consisting of Grotext™, Litteratra®, Tiptoe™:
Italics included
Automatic all caps spacing
Punctuation spacing
Our second trilogy of typefaces, of which Kerl™ is the first one published as a retail typeface, focuses on more ephemeral aspects of typography and type.

27 December 2020


All texts & images, unless noted otherwise:
© Karsten Luecke
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