Book Review : Type and Color from Mark van Wageningen

I discovered that book, written by Mark van Wageningen, last year when I was at Berlin Letters. I was really shocked because I worked with color fonts for some months and discovering that there was a book about it was really exciting. I started to look inside and my excitement was getting bigger. First because there were great examples of color fonts, but also because the writer was giving a lot of insights and tips on how to create a color font. I really wanted to buy it but unfortunately, at that time, the book did only exist in german. I do speak german but reading technical information might be an issue. So I decided to wait for the english version I knew was coming out few months later.

When this version came out, I bought it instantly and stop all my readings at that time (yes I do read several books at the same time…) to dig into this new one.

And that was astonishing! When you work on something, all by yourself, with tries and errors, it is crazy to start reading a book that could be so useful. As I said above, the author explains what are color fonts, why they exists, and how we should build them. He talks about layers, giving the opportunity to build several styles with one font. He gives also great insights on how to work with shapes, and how to keep them readable. It is fantastic the number for experiments you can do with them. I really wanted to experiment it too.

Later in the book, Mark van Wageningen talks about techniques : how to build color fonts with Glyphs. He explains how to work with layers, how to implement them in the software. That is where I learned that layered color fonts are different styles of one font that you put on top of each other. I tried one myself on Illustrator. And if the idea is brilliant, making the user implement and use them might be tricky. Also, layering is quite different from a software to another one. But the biggest advantage of that technique is the possibility for the user to change easily the colors of the different styles, which might be important.

The book also gives some info on vectorizing letterforms, how to choose your color palette, for example. Again, great tips there.

To summarize, I would say that “Type and Color” is a really fantastic book for anyone who wants to create layered color fonts. It gives a lot of info, on history but also on techniques, and brings many examples to help you understand. It is a complete book to help you. If you want more detailed info for building your typeface, you can follow that tutorial on Glyphs website. But be aware it might not be easy to create and implement. If you don’t want the user to change colors or if you want the color palette to be the one the user uses, you can also work with one layer, with all colors included, and do it in Fontself. It could be easier in the sense that you will do everything in Illustrator. Both possibilities are interesting.

So, don’t hesitate to buy it if you want to go in the color type design world, here is the link to the publisher website.

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