Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil is a “slog”: a slow blog. It does not get updated daily or even on a regular schedule. Instead, it gets updated when there is something of value to be posted. Postings often take a long time to prepare and appear at intervals of a few weeks or even months. Sometimes there is a flurry of postings within the span of a few days. Blue Pencil may be unpredictable in its frequency, but not in its purpose. Blue Pencil is fiercely dedicated to the 3Rs: research, reading and writing.

Blue Pencil no. 21—Zapfiana no. 2: What Our Lettering Needs

Cover of What Our Lettering Needs by Rick Cusick (2011). Design by Rick Cusick.
What Our Lettering Needs: The Contribution of Hermann Zapf to Calligraphy & Type Design at Hallmark Cards
Rick Cusick
Rochester: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011
136 pp.
6.75 x 10 in.
introduction by Sumner Stone
designed by Rick Cusick
set in Crown Roman and Italic
full color

What Our Lettering Needs: The Contribution of Hermann Zapf to Calligraphy & Type Design at Hallmark Cards by Rick Cusick, a Hallmark “lifer”, is also published by the …
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Blue Pencil no. 22—Zapfiana no. 3: Works and Typefaces

The publication of About More Alphabets by Jerry Kelly spurred me to create this third Zapfiana post which lists books by and about Hermann Zapf and typefaces by him (as well as pirated copies by others). The latter is, unfortunately, incomplete as gathering information on them has been very difficult. But it is a task that needs to be done.
Last updated 13 December 2012.
This is a list of the most important texts by and about Hermann Zapf arranged in chronological …
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Blue Pencil no. 20—Zapfiana no. 1: About More Alphabets

Title page spread, About More Alphabets (2011). Typography by Jerry Kelly.
About More Alphabets
Jerry Kelly and Robert Bringhurst
Rochester: The Typophiles and RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011
Typophile Chap Book New Series no. 3
112 pp.
4.5 x 7 in.
[updated 7 December 2012 to reflect corrections pointed out by Jerry Kelly]
Hermann Zapf (b. 1918), widely considered to be one of the preeminent type designers of the 20th century, has continued to design new typefaces and revise earlier ones in the 21st century. His career …
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Book Review—Type Revivals

Title page, Type Revivals
Type Revivals: What are they? Where did they come from? Where are they going?
Jerry Kelly
New York: The Typophiles, 2011
Typophile Monographs New Series no. 27
Based on a talk given at the ATypI congress in St. Petersburg, Russia 2008
Design & typography by Jerry Kelly. Set in Adobe Garamond Premier types.
16 pp. 6″x9″. Black and white; illustrated. 300 copies printed.
Blue Pencil has not previously tackled monographs or articles, but there is no reason that they should fall outside of its …
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Blue Pencil no. 19—Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual p. 45 “Color-coding 1 11/16" discs”
Wade Penner recently wrote to point out that, “the order of the discs on the cover [of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System] does not match the 1970 Graphic Standards manual [sic], alphabetically GG comes before HH.” He is absolutely right and I am surprised that no one has brought this to my attention before. But even more surprising is that no one …
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Blue Pencil no. 19—Lettering by Andrew Haslam

Lettering: A Reference Manual of Techniques
Andrew Haslam
with photographs by Daniel Alexander
London: Laurance King Publishing, 2011
produced by Central Saint Martins Book Creation
design and diagrams by Andrew Haslam
jacket design by Jason Ribeiro based on an idea by Andrew Haslam
senior editor: Peter Jones
picture research: Suzanne Doolin and Andrew Haslam
copy editor: Melanie Walker
240 pp.
hardcover with jacket
8.25 x 10.625
full color photographs
Jacket for Lettering; design by Jason Ribeiro based on an idea by Andrew Haslam
This dissection of Lettering includes an assessment of each of the …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum postscript from John Downer

John Downer has responded to my discussion of his essay “Call It What It Is”. He believes that I misinterpreted his words. Here is his rejoinder. (My original comments are in quotation marks followed by John’s responses.)
“Downer does not use the term pirated but counterfeit is surely the same.” The word “pirated” was consciously avoided not because there wasn’t room for it, but because I did not mean that only a counterfeited font can qualify as a pirated font. …
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From the Archives no. 26—Helvetica and Univers addendum

Indra Kupferschmid was in New York today and we had lunch. She provided me with a document that indicates that the idea for renaming Neue Haas Grotesk as Helvetica did not originate with Walter Cunz as the Mergenthaler Linotype advertisment states but with Heinz Eul, a sales manager at D. Stempel AG. (Eul gave the document to Erik Spiekermann who kindly provided a scan of it to Indra.) The story is told in Helvetica Forever: The Story of a Typeface …
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From the Archives no. 26—Helvetica and Univers

During a visit to the Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union I flipped through some early issues of U&lc. In the first issue (vol. 1, no. 1 1974) I came across a three-page advertisement from Mergenthaler Linotype (labeled an article by them) in which the first page (p. 43) was devoted to an announcement of two new weights of Helvetica. Entitled “Everything you ever wanted to know about Helvetica—but were afraid to ask” (a nod to the popular book Everything …
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Tutorial no. 7—Making a g

I was invited by Bill Moran to take part in Wayzgoose 2011 at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin this past weekend. I demonstrated calligraphy on Friday and provided an introduction to Western writing with the broad-edged pen to participants on Saturday. During my Friday demonstration I began making a series of lowercase gs and Laura Lewis managed to capture a small part of my writing on video. Although it is only a snippet it does manage …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum no. 4

I recently received an email from Robin Nicholas, Monotype’s Head of Typography in the United Kingdom, shedding more light on Monotype’s attempt in the 1950s to redesign Monotype Grotesque to satisfy the needs of German and Swiss customers: 
The saga of these fonts [three “New Grotesque” fonts] was rumbling on when I joined the TDO [Monotype’s Type Drawing Office] in 1965, although I did not get directly involved. It began in 1956 with a request from German and Swiss customers …
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Tutorial no. 6—Tight but not touching kerning

This tutorial was sparked by “The Kerning Game,” my review of Kern Type in Imprint. The 1970s were the heyday of what Hermann Zapf disparagingly called “sexy spacing” but what trade typographers called TNT (“tight but not touching”) typography. The designer who led this revolution was Herb Lubalin (1918-1981). Although the notion of “tight but not touching” typography is associated with the acceptance of phototypography in the 1960s and 1970s Lubalin’s exploration of the style began during his tenure …
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Tutorial no. 5—Calligraphy: The Basics of Italic addendum

The posts on The Basics of Italic became very convoluted once I tried to verbally describe the ductus of each letter. My 1993 ACI sheets did not include basic ductus information for some reason. (Maybe because the audience were calligraphers and I assumed they could figure out the rudiments of making letters from models.) But that assumption won’t fly with readers of this blog who have no experience with writing with broad-edged tools. So I am making available here as …
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Tutorial no. 5—Calligraphy: The Basics of Italic 4

The Basics of Italic: SwashesThis post, the last of The Basics of Italic, shows the rudiments of creating swash Italic letters. Most swash letters are ascenders or descenders since swashes need room to breathe and the most commonly available free space is in the margins and between lines. Swashes on ascending strokes, both vertical and diagonal, are shown in Row 1. b d f h k l—The swash replaces the entry stroke at the top of these letters (with …
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Tutorial no. 5—Calligraphy: The Basics of Italic 3

The Basics of Italic: Entry/Exit Strokes The previous two posts paved the way to making a “serif-less” Italic with the broad-edged pen. By “serif-less” I meant that the letters were missing entry (entrata) and exit (uscita) strokes. In calligraphy, Italic letters, other than some capitals, do not traditionally have serifs. But entry and exit strokes function in a similar way visually. They are both visual aids and physical/kinetic ones. Entry strokes allow the pen to more easily begin a …
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Tutorial no. 5—Calligraphy: The Basics of Italic 2

The Basics of Italic: Stress
These tutorials on the basics of Italic began with a monoline skeletal letter to establish the basic forms. But Cancellaresca corsiva, the original Renaissance name for Italic, is traditionally made with a broad-edged pen. The broad-edged pen creates thicks and thins (stress) as it moves through space in different directions. This gives the letters much of their magic. (A good theoretical analysis of the effects of the broad-edged pen versus those of the flexible pointed pen …
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