Type On Screen
Brighter Lighter Blackletters
Wednesday 25th June 2014
Blackletter was the first style of type to be printed from movable metal type back in the 15th century but fell out of favor with the arrival of the more legible Roman type. Fast forward to now, and it seems to be reserved for a peculiar selection of applications: newspaper mastheads, rap and metal albums, and bottles of Jägermeister. But there are still a lot of possibilities for blackletter, with a number of newer takes designed in a more legible and modern style—often adding humanist elements. Here are five I recommend taking a look at.
Eskapade Fraktur was a blackletter designed for contemporary use rather than being created as a faithful revival of an old typeface. It’s more legible than you might expect and has a great rhythm to it. It also has a Roman counterpart that’s ideal for pairing. Try the Fraktur in headings and the Roman for body text.
JAF Herb has to be one of my favorite typefaces of all time. It packs in the gothic cursive blackletter personality, and it’s readable and friendly too. It was designed to have all the properties of a blackletter without appearing conservative, aggressive, or intolerant. I think subheadings set in all caps look particularly nice.
While it airs on the side of a calligraphic script thanks to its broad nib strokes, Kingthings Petrock Pro still has an unmistakable blackletter feel. It is based on letterforms found in a small church in Exeter, UK. This would be a great choice if you’re after some of the flavor of blackletter typefaces without having to go full on gothic.
Ode is based on the early textura blackletter type, given a fresh start. It was designed by Martin Wenzel with an aim to overcome a number of design disadvantages (as well as negative social connotations) of the earlier broken Fraktur script—the poor legibility of its repetitive strokes, the low readability of its heavy weight on the page, and its initial association with the Third Reich (which was later rejected). Ode takes influence from other models and the result is a blackletter that doesn’t appear severe or old-fashioned, but is actually extremely readable and easy going.
If you need a workhorse blackletter, look no further than Moyenage. It’s a dynamic typeface and I think a great example of what is possible with an alternative blackletter. Whereas you’d typically get four variations to choose from, Moyenage has 25—each with small caps and alternate characters to match! Particular attention has been paid to its uppercase characters, too, making them more Roman-like and less embellished. And it looks great combined with contrasting script or calligraphic typefaces, like Feel Script or Respective for example.
For more web font recommendations, check out the other posts in our breaking stereotypes series: Masculine Scripts and Clean, Lean Serifs for Science & Tech. Or browse the rest of our Type on Screen collection. We’d also like to extend a big thanks to our guest author Jake Giltsoff for writing today’s post. Guest authors are paid for their contribution, and all opinions are their own.