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Walter Crane’s Pan Pipes

For years we’ve been adding to what has become an outstanding library of illustrated books by Arts and Crafts era designer Walter Crane, and all that work has come to fruition with the release of selected Walter Crane material in outstanding packages customized for contemporary designers who want to incorporate his unique aesthetic into their work. We started with our collection of Crane’s The Baby’s Aesop and followed with The Baby’s Opera, and now we’re going to an even higher level with one of his most ambitious illutrated works, Pan Pipes. Pan Pipes is a collection of popular folk songs of the late 19th century, including many which are still well known today like “Barbara Allen,” “Greensleeves” and “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” all beautifuly illustrated and decorated.

Like the The Baby’s Opera, Pan Pipes includes the complete words and music to more than 30 songs, but they are songs for adults rather than children with beautiful period illustrations and done in a larger format which leaves room for some really outstanding decoration and calligraphy. It is arguably Crane’s most impressive work.

Our presentation of the book follows the model of our other recent Walter Crane package. It includes a complete 60-page print-quality PDF facsimile of the book, plus high-resolution graphics of every page and illustration including the covers, all digitally corrected for superior color quality. In addition there are emblems, borders, decorative elements and other resources which we have taken from the book and cleaned up and made ready to use for other purposes. All of this comes with a license allowing you to incorporate the material in your own designs and creations.

The Pan Pipes package is only $49 and you can order online and download the package immediately — but be warned, it’s a very large download if you don’t have high-speed internet. To see a complete slideshow preview of the book in video format click on the video link at the head of this article. The video doesn’t include the frames and graphics, but some samples can be seen here.

We’ve developed quite a large collection of Walter Crane packages. You can see links to all of them HERE.
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Death and Taxes Sale

vulturemanThere are only two things we can really be sure of in life, death and taxes.  This is the season where we are most reminded of the grim specter of the tax man lurking just around the corner.  We can’t take away his burdensome presence, but maybe we can making it a bit lighter by reminding you that your investment in fonts may be tax deductible as a business expense and by offering a special discount through midnight on the 15th.

Use the coupon code TAXMAN and take 30% off the price of any purchase of any number of items, but the coupon only works once per customer.  Just browse around the site, find the items and then check out in our ONLINE STORE.

Classic Font Revised: Cymbeline

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Cymbeline was one of our earliest font designs and has been fairly popular over the years, but some of the shortcomings of the font came to our attention after seeing the font on a book cover, so we decided to work it over and see if we could produce an improved version, while preserving the calligraphic look of the font.

The resulting revised version of Cymbeline has improved character outlines and spacing with special attention paid to the relative weight of the characters. It also has a number of additional alternate characters.  The result is a much more polished and complete font which still has the personality of the original. The new version also includes custom bold and italic versions.  It takes it’s name from a legendary British king immortalized in the Shakespeare play of the same name.

You can purchase and download the full and revised version of Cymbeline today.  It will also be in our forthcoming Arthurian Fonts and Art package.

Sighting: Cymbeline Font in the Bookstore

siegeI was browsing through the new release section in my local bookstore, enjoying the nostalgia of the printed book, when my eye was caught by an historical novel called “The Siege Winter.” More specifically the cover design drew my attention, because it used one of our earliest fonts, Cymbeline. More particularly I was struck by the shortcomings of the font and by a glaring layout error in the cover design.

The font actually looked pretty good. It’s authentic medieval calligraphic character was enhanced by some of the rough areas of the outlines and structural inconsistencies. But it’s a sad commentary on the lack of attention to detail applied to book design at HarperCollins and other publishers, that such a glaring error on the cover could slip through. I know I’m picky, but it ought to stick out even to a casual observer. Take a look at the word “winter” and you’ll notice that the dot on the “i” is lower and father to the right than in the word “siege.”  This probably resulted from laying the cover out on Photoshop and deciding to move the text up and to the right, and missing the dot on the “i”, and rushing it to press without really looking at it.  Yes, I’m a pedant.

This kind of thing goes hand it hand with the lousy standards in proofreading these days.  Publishers don’t have the money to hire recent college grads at slave wages to do scut work anymore, so a lot of errors slip through the cracks.

On the upside it drew my attention to the Cymbeline font which haven’t touched in about 10 years, and given me a reason to address some of its flaws and imperfections, especially in character size and weight,  for a new release.

Paul Woodroffe Illustrations from “The Tempest”

woodroffe16At the dawn of the 20th century there was a real boom in the market for high end books.  This created demand for really exceptional book illustrators and many traditionally trained artists brought their skills to publishers and were very well paid for their work.  New printing techniques made it possible to publish very high quality editions of classic works of literature and reproduce illustrations brilliantly in full color.

The most famous artist to emerge in this period was Arthur Rackham, but he was joined by many others like William Russell Flint, Eleanor Brickdale and Frank Brangwyn, some of whom were incredibly talented in their own right.

One standout among these illustrators was Paul Woodroffe, and English artist who also worked in stained glass. He started out illustrating fairy tales and moved on to works on Roman History and was particularly known for his illustrations of Shakespeare.

One of his most impressive works was his illustrated edition of the “The Tempest.”  It features 20 striking illustrations originally printed on tipped in plates.  It’s a great example of Woodroffe at the height of his talents before he turned mostly to working in stained glass late in his career.

We have collected Woodroffe’s illustrations to “The Tempest” and are making them available as a mini-package of high-resolution digital reproductions licensed for you to use in your design projects.  The whole set is only $12 and can be purchased in our online store and downloaded immediately.

Selected samples of the illustrations are shown below.

Review: ‘Use Any Font’ Plugin for WordPress

We have seen many efforts to bring customizable fonts to the web, from primitive rasterized characters in the early days to Macromedia/Adobe’s SWF fonts and Google’s Webfonts, which are probably the most successful mass market implementations. The goal has always been to take your fonts and make them appear the way you see them for everyone who accesses your website.

Traditionally this has been challenging, limited to fonts on the user’s computer or requiring them to download and install fonts from some source on the web. Google’s Webfont system is probably the best implementation, with lots of fonts available, but not working with just any font unless you upload and convert it. They’ve made this very convenient to do, but it’s still an extra step.

The ideal solution for a website operator would be to be able to install fonts in his web hosting software and have it use them in the layouts for their web pages seamlessly, while retaining the security of the font files. Previous implementations of this, such as Cufon, have been slow and awkward, but with so many clever minds working on the problem a solution was inevitable.

There may be other solutions, but right now the “Use Any Font” plugin for WordPress is the best I’ve seen, combining ease of use with a fairly seamless implementation and fairly robust features.

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“Use Any Font” is simple and follows the implementation pattern of other WordPress functions, like the image gallery. You click the “Add Fonts” button, use a standard dialog to find a TrueType or OpenType font on your computer and save it with a name of your choice.  The font is then added to a list of installed fonts.

To use a font, you assign it to a html tag. You can pick a number of tags, including h1-6, hyperlinks and several styles of text. This means you could use several different fonts on the same page with no problem.  When you save your selection the fonts are immediately in use on your site.  The only real shortcoming of this system is the restrictions inherent in html tags.  You can’s specifically change one section of text unless you have a tag to use, but the higher numbered title tags (h5 or h6) are usually not used for other purposes so they can fill that need.  A real improvement would be to let you define new html tags to expand the number of fonts you can use.  But for most users that’s more than they need.  The use of tags is universal, so the fonts you assign to them will also work in comments.

You can see “Use Any Font” in use on this site.  We’ve assigned Folkard Caption to the primary title links and to hyperlinks and assigned Ripley to h6 for special uses. Don’t over use it, but the ability to use custom fonts can add a lot of panache to a page.

“Use Any Font” is available through the WordPress plugin manager. Once you have it installed it requires an API code for activation at a cost of $30.

April Fools Highlights

anonymooseEvery year we try to amuse with some sort of April Fools prank.  Last year visitors to the site were first greeted by what looked like a hacker takeover, a modest joke, but we’ve done some even bigger and sillier things in previous years. Here are some examples preserved as best we could.

1998 April Fools Page
1999 April Fools Page.
2000 April Fools Page.
2001 April Fools Page.
2002 April Fools Page.
2003 April Fools Page.
2004 April Fools Page.
2006 April Fools Page.
2008 April Fools Page.
2009 April Fools Page.
2012 April Fools Page
2015 April Fools Font

Hope you find them amusing. 1998 and 2002 were probably the biggest hits – certainly my favorites as well. The 2002 page actually results in several calls from churches looking for baptismal fonts every year. Nothing is available for 2005 or 2007 because both of them consisted of joke fonts which did horrible things when you tried to use them. 2015 was the Marquis Greeking font, but imagine it taking over the entire page.

Dave

Special Font: Marquis Greeking

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Marquis Greeking is unreadable.  It is supposed to be unreadable, because it is a Greeking Font, a font designed specifically to check layout and overall appearance without the distraction of the actual text.

It contains variations of actual characters from our Marquis text font, with the exact spacing and kerning of the original, but used to approximate the look of the font without the distraction of legible text.

Greeking fonts are useful in doing practice layouts and testing how a page of text will look, or they’re great for just confusing people.

You can download the full version of Marquis Greeking for free.  If you like it, check out the real version of Marquis.  It’s one of our best text fonts.

New Font: Tantalus

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Tantalus is a display font for titles with a basic Roman design and elaborately embellished characters. It features the more decorative versions of the characters in the upper case positions and a plain caps set in the lower case positions.

It’s a neat whimsical font and if you need a compatible lower case character set of additional characters it works well with the Diomedes font. The font takes its name from the the son of Zeus who was condemned to Tartarus where he had to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit ever eluding his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink.

You can try the DEMO version of Tantalus for free. The demo version has a limited version of the outline character set. Or you can ORDER the full version for only $24.

L. E. Wright Borders

border1Here’s a little something from a more innocent age, a set of three decorative floral borders designed by L. E. Wright for the book Mary’s Garden a collection of nursery rhymes together with explanatory/elaborative stories also by Wright.

There are just three borders, so it’s not exactly enough for a package in its own right, so we’re just making them available here to download for free.

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