Typeface Trickery

12.21.12

Typeface trickery, you’ve probably seen it and didn’t realize it. There are approximately a gazillion typefaces out there today that depict handwriting in some capacity. In the design world it’s common for a client to express they want a certain personal touch which in some cases calls for going with a typeface that appears at first glance to be hand writing. There are some pretty decent ones out there, and there are some that are pretty crappy, much like all typefaces available.

Just the other day I was in a local grocery store and noticed some really fun ad banners spanning the aisles. These ads had what appeared to be hand drawn depictions of the product on sale as well as seemingly had drawn type for text. Now most people in their right mind don’t care whether or not this type is a typeface or hand drawn type but I’m far from normal when typography is involved, so I had to get a closer look. Was it just a typeface or did someone take the time to draw out the type?

I carefully study two of the same letters. Are the two lower case a’s exactly alike or are there subtle differences? In this case, I was pleasantly surprised to see the characters were in fact noticeably different which tends to indicate that the type was hand drawn. I also came to the conclusion that these particular signs were not drawn upon, but someone created a digital file and and reproduced it on a large scale, most likely for multiple stores.

While looking at the same instance a letter is usually a good indication, it’s not always a fail proof method. Some typefaces contain optional letter forms that a designer can select from. Some of the script and handwriting typefaces have a large selection of different letter variations available for usage with optional appearances.

At the end of the day, does it really matter whether a text is a typeface or hand drawn? No, not really. There’s a snobbish elite in the design world that may argue, but from a practical standpoint if the typeface OR hand drawn type conveys the message you’re trying to convey accurately and meaningfully, I’d say mission accomplished. Then again, if you happen to have really great handwriting and a scanner…and a bit of time on your hands, it might be fun to add the personal touch of hand drawn type. I unfortunately don’t have the best handwriting in the world and often resort to printing…when I write at all.