Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Typography for Illustrators: 9. Script Classifications

Script

Script types are translations of handwriting styles for the typesetting process. Typestyles that have handcrafted characteristics are also included in this classification. Movable type scripts were a natural extension of medieval and gothic calligraphic alphabet form and technique.

The characteristics that make up many of the script typestyles are almost as varied and personal as individual handwriting styles themselves. Some types are faithful interpretations of formal handwriting and calligraphic style, while others represent an informal side to handwriting and handcrafting letters. Script styles can be rather simple, or refined and elegant, or quite ornate, or brash and intuitive, or even very expressive. Movable type Script fonts began to be used in the mid 15th century and have proceeded to the present day.

Cursive

Cursive is somewhat of a catchall phrase that is used for both Italic types and Script. It is derived from a style of penmanship where letters within a word are joined one to another. Although connected writing had been around before the 18th century, it was then that the term Cursive was invented. This writing style is also referred to as Joined-Up writing. As it is difficult for movable types to appear as they are joined, the creation of Cursive functioning fonts presented quite a challenge to type designers and producers.

Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Chancery

It is the Vatican that can be credited with the development of the Chancery hand style of writing as the name suggests. Chancery Script shares the same origin as the Aldine Serif Italic type being based on Humanist Miniscule writing. However, Chancery retains the pure form of a handwritten type, whereas the Aldine Italic blends in ancient Roman styled letterform structure.

Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Miniscule

The original lower case letterforms, Miniscule is a Script style that was developed by Alcuin of York during the reign of the Emperor Charlemagne. It was invented to satisfy Charlemagne's devotion to improving literacy across all the regions within his sovereignty. It was widely used from the late 8th to the 13th century. Miniscule letterforms were a simplified, easily legible, and quickly drawn adaptation of Roman Serif style type forms. Prior to Miniscule styles words were only composed using capital letters. Scripts that are known as Uncials are also classified as a Miniscule style.

Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Roundhand

Initiated by handwriting masters John Ayers and William Banson in the mid 16th century, Roundhand is a style of calligraphy produced with the use of finely crafted divided quills or split metal point pen nibs. It’s extreme elegance of form and refined relationship of thick and thin strokes brought instant popularity to the style, which was later adapted to movable type fonts. By the middle of the 18th century, Roundhand was the most popular form of writing in Europe largely due to the publication of The Universal Penman, a book displaying sample penmanship written by George Bickham the Elder.

Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Illuminated Initials

Illuminated types are simplified descendants from illuminated letterforms in medieval manuscripts such as The Book of Kells. These highly ornate interpretations of letterforms are used sparingly, usually as an initial or single word for special applications requiring emphasis and imagery. Originally only appearing as hand-illustrated letters, Illuminated initials have been cut into wood and metal for movable type printing applications.

Cheshire. Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Arabesque. Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Handstyle

Handstyle as a term has been around for hundreds of years and is used to classify a form of Cursive that is particularly individual and personalized. It can be described as a kind of signature or non-formalized kind of writing. Presently, Handstyle has become part of graffiti jargon as a term to describe tag lettering. This form of Script style is fast being developed and becoming available for current type setting applications.

Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Format courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.