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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.


“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.


Austin Poster Scene

poster5poster4Austin is a great center for the arts, not only music and film and other performing arts, but visual arts and all sorts of crafts. All these events and shows have to be advertised and the traditional method of getting the word out is through posters distributed all over town wherever people gather.

I like to go around town collecting these posters, or at least photos of them, to provide an occasional look at the Austin poster scene. It’s not to make you jealous, its just to show some neat images and creative use of fonts and art to stir up the imagination.

My current gleanings seem to mostly be advertising art shows and multimedia, which is an interesting change from the endless show posters. Not that there weren’t some of those too, but these were more interesting.  They all have something to offer: the composition of the Color of Noise poster, the hand lettering in the Kay Odyssey poster, the artful backdrop of the Megafauna post, the neat fonts in the Co-Eds poster, and I just like the word-painting look of the Cock poster.


Understanding Font and Image Licenses

I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people seem not to entirely understand the idea of purchasing fonts or images with a license, and I suspect they find the idea intimidating. It’s not surprising, since it’s a bit different from purchasing a toaster or a book, and not something most people do every day.

To help clear up this confusion we’ve rewritten our full EULA (end user license agreement) to include not only the legalistic text of the license itself, but also colored sections which clarify and explain in some detail typical acceptable and unacceptable uses under the license to answer user questions in advance.

The basic idea of a license ought to be easy to understand. While we retain copyright and ownership of our fonts and images, when you buy them we give you a license which includes permission to use those images and fonts within certain parameters defined in the license. Some users get confused because of a superficial similarity with renting something and conclude that this means that there are additional secondary fees, but our licenses are based on a one-time payment and as long as you remain within the terms of the license there are no additional charges. So you pay for the license and as long as you have it you can use the item you bought in the ways it allows.

For example, with a font you CAN:

    Create text and titles in a publication.
    Design logos or business stationery.
    Use in posters or merchandise packaging.
    Make on-screen titles in movie, video or game production.
    Design graphics for publication, online viewing or display in a program interface

But you CANNOT:

    Embed a font in a computer or console game or other software.
    Resell or redistribut the font to secondary users.
    Use the font in the creation of a secondary form of reproduction like rubber stamps, letter stickers or transfer media.

And with an image you CAN:

    Use for illustrations in a publication or media presentation.
    Use for designing logos or business stationery.
    Inclusion as part of an original work of art like a collage.
    Use for personal reference or display by the end user.

But you CANNOT:

    Resell the image in digital format.
    Use the image in publishing prints, postcards or calendars.
    Use ithe image to create a secondary form of reproduction like rubber stamps, stickers or transfer media.

The idea of all of this is to make our products useful to you, while also retaining their value to us and to other users. The license protects our rights, but also protects you by clearly defining what you can do with our products and including in those terms the vast majority of typical uses. If the license doesn’t cover the use you have in mind, we may have a special license to cover that use (embedding, ebooks, stamps, etc) and you should contact us to discuss it.

And also be aware of this important provision in the EULA which exists to protect us and you: “Because this is a software purchase and the product is available for immediate download, the merchandise is non-returnable and we cannot provide a refund, credit or exchange. We will make every effort to make sure you receive your purchase in a timely manner and will provide a reasonable number of replacement attempts if there are delivery problems.”

So when you’re placing an order and the screen asks you to sign off on the license, I hope that the new version of the license, with the explanatory sections will help remove any ambiguity and answer any questions.


Facebook Acquires 2 New Colors and 3 New Fonts for $1.2 Billion

Citing the boring sameness of their web presentation, the management of social media giant Facebook has contacted us here at the Scriptorium to purchase two new proprietary colors and 3 new custom fonts for $1.2 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg observed that now that his company has topped the $100 billion mark it seemed safe to risk investing in a new look and feel. “With global climate change it’s time for a warmer look and feel,” said Zuckerberg. “We’re thinking something in an orange and pink palette and the look of a 14-year-old girl’s handwriting to help us recapture the youth market.”

In a related story, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Warner announced that they were also considering expanding their color palette and font selection, commenting that “We really want to set ourselves apart, so we’ll probably go with a slightly darker two tone version of whatever Facebook does and a font which appeals to Facebook’s current demographic.”

Industry experts expect Instagram to follow these moves with a redesign using fingerpaints and alphabet blocks to capture the entry-level computer user market.

Grunge Was Never About Typography

I’m writing in response to an article published a while ago in The Awl which looks at the decline and fall of “grunge” typography. It’s a good historical overview of the subject, but suffers from a fundamental flaw. The author thinks that there is such a thing as grunge typography.

Grunge was a design movement and continues as a way of describing a certain style of graphic design, but because of its spontaneous nature and the predicate that everything not look the same and that design norms be deconstructed, you can make type grunge but you cannot make grunge into type. It only works as a one-way process.

Grunge was never about type. It was about what you did to the type.

The author uses Raygun magazine as his point of reference for grunge design.  The cover to the right shows immediately why grunge cannot be typography.  The idea of distorting characters, repositioning them or even removing them entirely defines grunge.  In the example to the right, the “G” and “N” in Raygun and the “r” in bjork are backwards and the “b” in bjork is missing.  This works in the cover design.  It’s not a radical example of grunge, but the light touch of starting with a familiar font, removing a character and distorting or damaging a couple of others makes it grunge.

These elements that make the design grunge are not part of the type design. They are something done to it after the fact and they are unique changes applied in the process of designing the cover.  If you were to take them and actually make them into a typeface, the result would no longer be grunge, it would just be a defective typeface.  Building the variations into a font takes away the aspect of spontaneity which defines grunge.  The concept works if it is expressed as some apparently random changes in a cover design.  But if you are using a font based on the same concept, where every “G” and “N” is backward snad every “b” is missing, every time you type them, then it is not spontaneous and all you really have is a mess.

The article also references the grunge font Morire where every character is uniquely distorted.  Morire had a fad  popularity in the 90s which didn’t last.  It didn’t last because the uniqueness of the font caught your eye the first time you saw it and then every time you saw it again you asked yourself why you bought such a  butt-ugly and inflexible font.  Grunge works because of its inherent impermanence.  Sometimes everything is normal and other times it’s all screwed up and you never know when.  Once you nail down the randomness and make it static you lose the whole point.

This is why a font like Morire really does not work and has a short shelf-life. If every “A” looks like every other “A” and the relationships between characters remain the same every time you type the same letter combination, what you have is just something dull and deliberately ugly, with no real life to it.

The problem with grunge typography is that to be really excellent and creative it has to not really be typography at all. The best designs that fit into this category require a quality of uniqueness which you cannot produce with type alone. It may start with type, but if you deconstruct the type and make it “grunge” then you cannot really reconstruct it as type and preserve that character. Making the unique duplicable and the spontaneous static is a flawed concept.

Grunge is a design style, not a viable category of typography.


Start Your Collection With the Basic Fonts

Click any font to see a larger sample.

You have to start building your font library somewhere, and where better to start than with our Basic Fonts Collection. It’s a great introduction to our wide variety of fonts at a very reasonable price. It lets you get a great set of versatile fonts which represents every aspect of our collection without paying a higher price for more specialized packages. It includes a sampling of text, display, calligraphic and decorative fonts with an emphasis on the most practical and useful fonts to meet a range of needs. All fonts are in both Postscript and True Type format for Windows and Macintosh, and the package also includes shareware and demo samples of additional fonts and graphic arts resources, plus a PDF catalog.

The Basic Fonts collection starts with a set of 10 text fonts which should provide all the variety most users need in this area, from the clear, legibility of traditional serif fonts like Centurion and Marquis to the more unusual and specialized look of the ultra-narrow Everest and the decorative demi-serif Baldessare. It even includes two of our best monospaced fonts, Cincinnatus and Vidilex.

The Basic Fonts collection also includes 8 specially selected display fonts. These are some of our most popular fonts, like the antique lettering of Buccaneer and the striking art nouveau style of Ariosto and Harbinger, as well as versatile display and titling fonts like Academy, Beaumarchais and Mazarin. Most of these display fonts are based on classic 19th century designs, but with all of the improvements and additions to make them truly modern and adaptable. While most of them include full upper and lower-case character sets, some were specifically and solely intended for titling use (Mazarin, Acadian, Primer), so they have more limited character sets.

Because calligraphic fonts are our specialty, the Basic Fonts package includes a selection of our best calligraphic fonts, from the Roman period with fonts like Procopius, through the Middle Ages with the classic black letter look of Burgundian and the more fanciful style of Cymbeline, to Renaissance lettering in Magdelena and Palmieri and early modern italics like Terpsichore and Iphegenia. It even includes our very popular and more modern Allembert brush script calligraphic font. Together these fonts represent a tour through calligraphic history and a useful range of styles with a selection varied enough to fill any need you have for decorative text or titling with a hand-drawn look.

Finally, we’ve included a few of our most generally useful decorative initials and art fonts. Parsifal and Jongeleur are two of our most attractive and most adaptable decorative initials styles, and their style is highly compatible with other fonts included in the package, like Burgundian and Cymbeline. Sigil and Emblem are essential art fonts, with a wide variety of decorative symbols and motifs which will add character to any document.

The Scriptorium’s Basic Fonts package is a great way to start off your font collection at an exceptionally reasonable price. The package includes the 30 fonts shown here, plus shareware versions of a selection of our most recent fonts and images. It includes a little bit of everything at a total price per font which comes to only a bit more than a dollar, at $59 for the package either on CD or as a quick download from our server.

To order online just go to our ONLINE STORE.

In Development: Crane Initials Font

One of our upcoming fonts is the result of an interesting project, developing original initials based on designs by Walter Crane. We recently acquired an obscure edition of French tales of Reynard the Fox illustrated by Crane with a series of square black and white illustrations of forest animals.


They were just the right size and shape for the backgrounds of decorative initials characters, so we are adapting them to be the basis of a new decorative initials font with the letter forms provided by our Crane Gothic font. The initial character designs look excellent and the font should work really nicely in conjunction with our other Walter Crane fonts.

Look for the new font to be released soon.

Recreating the Django Font

Since there seemed to be some real interest in seeing a fully developed font similar to the one used for the titles for the new Tarantino movie Django Unchained, I decided to take it on as a project. This kind of project always involves a lot of research, and in the process I learned more about Django than I ever expected to.

The new Tarantino film draws on a legacy of an entire genre of Django films with a long history which goes back to the original 1966 Django directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Franco Nero. It was one of the most successful early spaghetti westerns and spawned over 30 unofficial sequels, including A Few Dollars for Django, a quick ripoff which appeared in the same year as the original, A Coffin for Django (1968) and Viva Django (1971) which both starred Terrence Hill, whose more famous Trinity films are very much in the Django tradition. The only official sequel was Django Strikes Again which has a script by Corbucci and in which Nero reprises his role 20 years later. Tarantino’s Django Unchained would be most accurately classed as a tribute to the entire Django genre, borrowing from many different films, including the original Django and They Call Me Trinity. Interestingly, it’s not the first first Django tribute film Tarantino has been involved in. He appeared as an actor in Takeshi Miike’s Japanese tribute to the Django genre, Sukiyaki Western Django in 2007.  There were many other Django films and Django ripoffs and they became so iconic that in Italy and Japan the name Django came to be applied to the entire genre of spaghetti westerns.

I had originally thought that I’d have to go to the Tarantino film for source material for a font, but as it turns out, the main font Tarantino uses in the title and on the posters for his film is actually derived from  hand lettered titles in the original Django.  It’s actually one of several lettering styles used in the trailer and also for the main titles in the film itself.  If you wait through most of the scenes in the trailer, it’s the lettering used for the names of the cast at the end, shown in a mustard color rather than the orangy red in the Tarantino film.  It’s also the style used in the titles of the film itself, but the quality of the lettering in the trailer is much more consistent than in the film. The facts that the style of the titles predates the Tarantino film and that it was originally hand lettered actually add a lot of appeal to the project, because it makes it a much more interesting and original work of research and recreation.

You can watch the trailer for the original Django above and to the right.  If you want to see the whole film you can find it on IMDB and most of the other Django films are on YouTube if you look around for them.

The next step is taking the images of the letters in the trailer and picking the best examples and expanding them into a full character set, using our Madding font as a guide for the general weight and shape of the characters.

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