View Full Version : Long-serif atlas font?

10-07-2011, 12:30 PM
I'm looking for a kind of font, to capture some of the vibe of delightful atlas maps from the 1800s. The examples I snagged are on wikimedia commons, scanned by user Olhaus (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Olahus) . His page of uploads has quite a lot of maps. These seem to be mostly German cartographers - I don't know how widespread the exact font and style were.

I've googled among the universe of free fonts, and on boards like Typophile. Closest I could get with Identifont is Linotype Modern (http://www.identifont.com/list?17+id+0+29M+3+L00+4+5DW+4+1W81+9), which is still a pretty modest serif. Best general description I would give is Roman, very long serif. Some tend to be straight, others toward pronounced upcurls on the trailing end. I know - the best way to duplicate this is with a Speedball no. C2 nib and a bottle of ink. I could probably do that, eventually - I once had a fair calligraphy hand - but the sheer amount of lettering on such a map is daunting. At my age and amount of spare time, I need to find shortcuts, not the scenic route!

To capture the whole style I'd need upright, italic, and reverse-italic (nice standard once used to denote water features). Anybody know where I could find such a font or fonts? Truetype or Opentype, free would be good, or not terribly expensive -- this is for fun, not for sale, and my budget is limited.

Some examples - all hand-lettered, rougher toward the top, closer to typeset toward the bottom.


Here's the exact maps these are snipped from, same order top to bottom.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Romanian_Schools_for_Aromanians_and_Meglenoro manians.JPG

I know it's not an ideal cartographic font - the long-serif bit gets illegible quickly. But it's a cool look, and one that I'd like to try to duplicate. And particularly if it's a bit irregular, it screams Period Stuff, Hand-Done!

10-07-2011, 12:58 PM
It's called a "Hairline" serif. It's a common feature in Didone/Didot/Bodoni typefaces.

10-07-2011, 04:38 PM
Map Vandal uses a bunch of these type of fonts but I don't remember where he got them or what they are named. You might want to look thru some of this threads, mostly challenge threads from this past year, or drop him a message. And, make sure to tell me what they are as well 'cuz I want them too. :)

10-07-2011, 09:48 PM
Map Vandal uses a bunch of these type of fonts but I don't remember where he got them or what they are named. You might want to look thru some of this threads, mostly challenge threads from this past year, or drop him a message. And, make sure to tell me what they are as well 'cuz I want them too. :)

I had pm'd him with that question after his last map and here is his (disappointing) reply:

I have a collection of old maps that I sample the lettering from. I do not use a font. I use the clone stamp or healing tool on each letter to make the words I want or sometimes I will be able to find the complete word and use it. It is a long process but one I actually really enjoy.

-Rob A>

10-08-2011, 10:27 AM
Wow ... umm ... it might actually be simpler to make a font yourself than go through that whole process. I'm no good at making fonts myself, but basically once you have the font vectors you just need something like FontCreator to turn it into a font. There's a lot of fiddling involved, but definitely less than cloning all that ...

Edit: Apparently windows has a crappy font editor already installed: Private Character Editor (Windows)

"To access it, just click the Run command from your Start menu. In the window that appears, type "eudcedit" (without the quotes) and click the OK button. The editor is primitive at best. Information about how to use it can be found in the Help menu of the program." (quoted from the net)

10-08-2011, 02:29 PM
Thanks, guys. I looked up Map Vandal's awesome Aerie Fief (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15584-August-2011-Entry-Aerie-Fief&p=162473&viewfull=1#post162473), Two Earldoms (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15043-WIP-Two-Earldoms), and Hogsmeade (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15570-July-August-Challenge-Entry-Hogsmeade&p=161720&viewfull=1#post161720) maps - you're right that italic is pretty much what I want. I knew I was in trouble though when he commented in the Hogsmeade thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15570-July-August-Challenge-Entry-Hogsmeade&p=161725&viewfull=1#post161725) that the only font he'd used was the title :-b... and your intel, Rob, clinches it. It works for him, but like a2area's method of stitching together real-life satellite imagery, it's too much for me to contemplate enjoying.

Hai-Etlik, armed with the term "hairline serif" and the Bodoni/Didot family of Modern fonts, I did turn up a useful approximation: Walbaum.


Click that - it gets muddy at thumbnail resolution. It doesn't have the hyper-exaggerated serif tails seen in places on those example maps, but it's the right direction. Too, its italic serifs almost all curl up - the lower of those example mapsnippets were penned with a classical italic like that, also like Map Vandal's sampled old-map lettering. But the topmost of my above examples have an idiosyncratic italic with many of the same extended-straight hairline serifs as the neighboring upright letterforms. Guess what I want is a hand-penned Walbaum :-). Things like Bodedo (http://www.dafont.com/hvd-bodedo.font) are too distressed, but do have a little variation. Though I guess that example says "roughly typeset" instead of "hand-penned".

Yeah, Lukc, it might be less effort to just DO a font. I was daydreaming of how to get the variety - I'd do maybe THREE versions, all the same except for variations in crookedness and serif-length, and I'd randomly vary which font was used for a given label, and of course tweak the angles and paths a bit, and do some smudging and warping, and I could do a left-italic for rivers, and and and.... which once again drags me back to lettering with that Speedball nib (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=390&attachmentid=30812). I really, really shouldn't delve into font design; I tend to obsess over things and I can sense it being a black hole I'd not emerge from for years. An enjoyable black hole, but still. *cough* Anybody seen Gidde lately? *cough* :-)

10-08-2011, 03:39 PM
You should check the fonts here (http://iginomarini.com/fell/the-revival-fonts/). Other useful fonts are Bedini (http://www.searchfreefonts.com/search/?q=Bedini"), Dustismo Roman (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Dustismo-Roman), Bentham (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Bentham), Dubiel (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/DubielPlain), Latin Modern Roman (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Latin-Modern-Roman), Old Standard TT (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Old-Standard-TT) and Playfair Display (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/playfair-display).

Edit: Theano (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/list/style/Serif/50/50) is also really nice

10-09-2011, 04:16 AM
Actually, with open type, you don't need to do three fonts ... you just add variants to the font itself. Check out some of the Adobe Pro fonts, for example.

10-09-2011, 03:44 PM
I've been looking for this type of font too. Many months ago I went onto the typophile forum and the ones they suggested didn't really match what I was looking for. I'm trying to make it myself, but I got distracted half way through. I found that to get it right, you can't rely on using the 'auto' italics and also it's primarily designed for a capitalised word (as you'd expect for a city or town). So that means if you want to use all caps, you will need another font set (because the hyper extended serifs interfere with the preceding letter). It's a hard slog but I'm getting there (very slowly). When I'm done I'll probably release this for free for CG members and make it 'to pay' for others.

Below is a sample from letters I've done, but it's still pretty ugly.

10-10-2011, 04:26 AM
It looks good so far. What about adding some longer serifs to the right sides of the "d" and "h" glyphs? Particularly the "d" seems to need something to fit with the "a" better.

10-10-2011, 07:49 AM
Yeah, it definitely needs that cursive 'tick' that the other lowercase letters have. I've been trying to slavishly reproduce the exact letter forms of a map I have ( I think that one doesn't have a curved serif on the bottom right of the d) but looking at it, I think I'll have to work on more consistency. I'm glad this thread came up, it will give me an extra boost to go back to finishing the set.

Map Vandal
10-10-2011, 02:16 PM
I searched for quite some time for a font that I could use to match old atlas maps and found nothing that fit my needs. That is why I ended up using a sampling and clone process to create the lettering in the maps I made in that style. Nothing else seemed to wolook authentic. Thank you all for the nice comments.

I have always wanted to make a font but I don't really have any idea where to begin the process. I will look into it as it would probably have been a lot easier than the process I did to make my maps. If I do create on, I will gladly share it with everyone here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ravells, your font is looking really good.

10-11-2011, 01:11 AM
Galli - thanks - those are useful fonts, though not perzactly what I'm going for. But the Latin Modern Roman you suggest is a find: it was developed for typesetting using TeX, so has a gazillion variants, including, tadaaaaa .... oblique and slanted, as distinct from italic. I needed to understand those terms. That tells me precisely how to describe what I was looking for, which is probably half the search done. Oblique or Slanted seems to mean the same general serif forms as upright (mostly flat, parallel to baseline) rather than the many additional ones that turn upwards in a typical italic.

I dummied up an example - ignore the blurry cartography, I just blew up a snip of an old map I did. These labels are sort of what I want, though NOT a way I'm likely to tackle en masse: I laid them all out in DrawPlus, where I can easily put text along curves. Then with a half-pixel line I just manually extended some of the serifs. In the time I spent fooling around with that (admittedly trying it with several different fonts as base) somebody like Diamond could've produced a whole regional map from scratch :-). But I learned something, so that's OK.


The cool thing Freodin is doing (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14563-Andurien-WiP&p=166796&viewfull=1#post166796) with one of the Fell typefaces (http://iginomarini.com/fell/) is close enough to the look I want that I may settle for it to do 19th century atlas maps.

edit: oh, and ravells, I'm looking forward to seeing what you finish up with, on that font. nice stuff! Anything that'll help us do stuff like Vandal's delights and those old atlases is a good thing :-).

10-11-2011, 03:28 AM
I've been thinking of doing a font as well, for ages literally. This might spur me to actually make one ... ;) Glad you found your font jgibson.

10-11-2011, 04:00 AM
Those IM Fell fonts are great! And freely editable under the SIL license which is cool!

02-15-2015, 10:44 PM
I realize this is an old post, but it doesn't appear that the font has been found or created. I've spent way too much time searching on My Fonts and trying to create/modify an existing font. Did anyone make any progress on this since 2011?

02-15-2015, 11:10 PM
Finding a specific font is not easy but you can try this : https://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

02-16-2015, 02:07 AM
I haven't found any more than the ones already mentioned in the thread. Nor have I dabbled in font creation... yet...

02-26-2015, 04:30 PM
I used Im Fell Double Pica for my copy of an 18th century map.