Before getting into the whopping world of Multimedia, I had absolutely no idea that there were different qualifications when it came to fonts. As any regular citizen that is not quite involved in the tech field, it never even crossed my mind to think that there might be fonts outside of the library we can find in, lets say, Microsoft Word. Nowadays, I have come to the realization that, although I have learned a great deal about this important element of design, there is still a lot of information out there about fonts and typefaces I have yet to discover. Nonetheless, today we will talk about the essential fonts that you should know as a Multimedia apprentice in order to make it out alive in this industry. Let’s start!
First things first… As far as types, there are three that are important to know and understand.
Before these fonts were created, it was pretty complicated and inconvenient to design anything that needed to have scaled lettering in it. This was because back then, fonts were formats designed for one specific size and style. When they were manipulated, their quality would decrease terribly. Luckily, Adobe stepped in to make our lives easier in the 80’s, when they came up with what we know today as Postscript Fonts. The biggest improvement from the old fonts to this typeface was that Adobe developed this new format to be vector graphics, thus allowing users to exploit the letters to their liking without worrying about loss of quality. In addition, these fonts were rendered for both screen and print jobs.
Subsequent to Adobe’s genius creation, Apple decided to come out with Postscript’s prodigy child: Truetype Fonts. These consist of different styles of typefaces that are used by monitors to display text. Just as Postscript, they are scalable to all sizes without loosing value. Essentially, there is not a lot of difference between the two formats other than their creators, and perhaps the final usage you give to the fonts. If you are looking for fonts that are easy to read and print, stick with Truetype. If you are going for a more professional look for a printing job, you will want to use Postscript.
If you ask me, this font is the coolest one of them all due to its versatility. Created cooperatively by both Adobe and Microsoft, it is a format that supports unicode. Unicode is an awesome composition that allows for full editing range on one single typeface. In other words, Opentype can contain more than 60,000 glyphs for an exclusive font, which enables these typefaces to be used in a variety of different languages. As a result, this font are very popular globally.
Now that we know the essentials of fonts, it is also important to understand the “politics” behind them. Unfortunately, in the United States, typefaces are not fully covered under the Copyright Law. However, many graphic designers convert their fonts into vector graphics so as to be able to manipulate them to their liking, and create an “original” work that will keep them out of lawful issues. This being said, fonts can be free and/or licensed as well for commercial usage. When downloading a font, whether it is royalty free or bought out, the vast majority come with licenses that thoroughly explain how they may or may not be used, and all the legal specifications linked to the specific font.
Considering everything, it is critical for a Multimedia Designer to understand the rules and consequences that come with each font that is being used. Although not a lot of people are aware of the laws that protect these formats, there is always lawful risks involving them, being that they too are individual forms of art created by someone that reserves the right to claim for their work.