History - Parachute® on Tuesday, November 06th, 2012

In 1936 the German Standards committee Deutsches Institut Normung (DIN) officially proposed DIN 1451 as the standard type of lettering to be used in the field of road traffic. The purpose of this standard was to lay down a style of lettering which is timeless and easily legible. Unfortunately, these early letters lacked elegance and were not properly designed for typographic applications.

Ever since, several type foundries adopted the original designs for digital photocomposition. The first digital versions were released in 1990 by Adobe but only in four basic variations. Similar ones were also released by URW.
By early 2000, it became apparent that the existing DIN-based fonts did not fulfill the ever-increasing demand of complex corporate projects for more weights and support for additional languages.

Parachute® was set out to fill this gap by introducing the DIN Text series which, ever since, has become the most comprehensive and sophisticated set of DIN typefaces. It was based on the original standards but was specifically designed to fit typographic requirements. Completed in 2002, it was first released in 2003 and published in the award-winning catalog IDEA as a group of 4 separate families (original, condensed, compressed and a special display version) each with 12 weights, including true-italics, for a total of 48 weights and support for Latin and Greek.

By 2005, all families were upgraded to include 14 weights each, opentype features (small caps, etc) and extended support for all European languages including Cyrillic. Later, an additional Hairline weight was added to all families. Eventually, each superfamily ended up with 15 weights and an average 1280 glyphs per font. Finally, in 2010 Parachute® released 4 new families DIN Monospace, DIN Stencil, DIN Text Arabic and DIN Text Universal.
Altogether the Parachute DIN series is a set of 8 families with a total of 96 weights.

The DIN Text Pro has lowercase ascenders that are higher than the capitals, varying letter proportions and italics that are not a mechanically-obliqued version of the regular weights, but rather true-italics.

The letterforms divert from the stiff geometric structure of the original and introduce instead elements which are familiar, softer and easier to read. The other two superfamilies Condensed and Compressed share the same attributes as the original.

DIN Display Pro, on the other hand, was designed as an alternative to the DIN Text Pro series. While DIN Display seems to retain DIN’s basic characteristics, it shines with its sharper corners and contemporary look. This superfamily, just like the other three, is enhanced with true-italics.

PF DIN Mono is one of the latest additions to the ever-growing set of DIN super families by Parachute®. It was based on its proportional counterpart DIN Text Pro, but was completely redesigned to reflect its new identity. DIN Mono is a monospace typeface which is comprised of characters with fixed width. In the world of proportionality, DIN Monospace stands out as a fresh new alternative to the popular standard, particularly for publishing and branding applications. The Monospace family consists of 12 weights including true-italics.

Despite the fact that over the years several designers have manually created stencil lettering for various projects based on DIN, there has never been a professional digital stencil version of any DIN-based typeface. The DIN Stencil family manages to preserve several traditional stencil features, but introduces additional modernities which enhance its pleasing characteristics and make it an ideal choice for a large number of contemporary projects. Furthermore, the spacing attributes of the glyphs were redefined and legibility was improved by revising the shape of the letterforms. The DIN Stencil family consists of 8 diverse weights from the elegant Hairline to the muscular Black.

In 2010, Parachute® released -in collaboration with designer Hasan Abu Afash- 2 new versions. DIN Text Arabic is the basic Arabic version which includes Latin and supports all variations of the Arabic script such as Persian, Urdu and Pashto. The second version DIN Text Universal is the most advanced DIN superfamily ever. It combines the powerful DIN Text Pro with DIN Text Arabic bringing the number of glyphs to 3320 per font. It is also enhanced with 30 advanced opentype features and kerning for all languages. All together it supports hundreds of languages, proving to be an essential tool for corporations which operate internationally. The whole family consists of eight weights from extra black to hairline.

competitions - Parachute® on Thursday, May 03rd, 2012

Seeking global recognition for your type design project? Granshan 2012 has announced the 5th International Type Design Competition for non-Latin typefaces. Entries can be submitted until May 21, 2012. The categories include Cyrillic, Greek, Armenian, Indian, Arabic as well as Latin typefaces. Type designers from all parts of the world are invited to participate. Eligible are all typefaces that have been designed or digitized after 2001 and meet the competition requirements. The organizing committee of Granshan, has decided for this year to hold the competition in Yerevan, Armenia celebrating the 500th anniversary of the first printed Armenian book and the declaration of Yerevan as World Book Capital 2012 by UNESCO. The winners will be announced at a press conference held by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia in Yerevan in the month of June. Following the announcement, winning works and further selected entries will be exhibited in Yerevan and subsequently shown in Munich during the month of November and in Hong Kong during the month of October at ATypI conference.

Further information can be found here: www.granshan.org

Publications - Parachute® on Thursday, June 09th, 2011

As the world comes together, western companies are branching out into new markets to expand brand recognition and sell their products. In that respect, designers are asked to create matching campaigns in various languages which are aesthetically appealing, culturally appropriate and typographically correct. Arabic though, being one of the hardest languages to learn, has been a major obstacle for western designers.

Cultural Connectives is an essential introduction to written Arabic and an invaluable resource to typographers and designers. Author Rana Abou Rjeily presents Arabic from a new perspective by comparing and contrasting the essential elements of Arabic and Latin scripts. This book makes written Arabic accessible to those in particular who do not speak Arabic.

Cultural Connectives will help you understand the basic characteristics of the Arabic script and alphabet by comparing it to Latin. Presented in a plain and understandable manner, this book will help you avoid common mistakes and get a grasp of how the written language works.

Rjeily explains the language by applying Arabic rules of writing, grammar, and pronunciation to English. She starts the book by presenting the Arabic writing system and its various letterforms. Then she moves on to illustrate Arabic’s lack of separate vowel forms with a page of English text that has all the vowels removed and raised above the words. In following chapters she explains quite successfully the use of Arabic diacritical marks by applying them to latin words and presents ways to memorize the alphabet.

Finally Rheily illustrates the Arabic letterforms in detail by developing a matching Arabic version of her font Mirsaal. The Arabic and latin Mirsaal share the same stroke width, thick-to-thin variations and open counters in order to achieve balance and harmony.

In conclusion, Cultural Connectives is an interesting and innovative book which attempts to bring together the typographic styles of the Arabic and Latin alphabet.


About the author
Rana Abou Rjeily is a graphic designer living and working in Lebanon. She received her master’s degree in Visual Communication from Central Saint Martins, London, where she started designing Misraal as part of her thesis, drawing inspiration from her personal experience learning Arabic, her native language. Since 2007 she has taught typography and design at universities in Lebanon.

Publications - Parachute® on Friday, April 15th, 2011

Arabic Graffiti is an extensive reference book on contemporary Arabic graffiti, urban calligraphy and type design, published by FHTF Publishing. It is curated and authored by Lebanese typographer Pascal Zoghbi and graffiti writer and publisher Stone aka Don Karl. For many years street graffiti in the Middle East conveyed mostly political and revolutionary messages. The voices of the people were not manifested on the streets, but it was rather the slogans of the political parties that covered the walls. By the mid 90s the scene was changed, as the underground artistic movement started to express itself on the streets, gaining the public’s attention and respect. Arabic Graffiti keeps an eye on the fascinating developments of this urban art in the Middle East. It brings together artists, graffiti writers, designers, and typographers from around the world who merge Arabic calligraphy with the art of graffiti writing, street art and urban culture.

The book includes a rich assortment of photos featuring the artwork and thoughts of Arabic graffiti and street art styles by: Hassan Massoudy, Malik Anas Al-Rajab, eL Seed, Hest1, Julien Breton, L’ATLAS, Aerosol Arabic, Native & ZenTwO, Zepha aka Vincent Abadie Hafez, Typism, Akut and many more. In addition, the book includes essays by distinguished authors and scene experts such as: Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, Rana Jarbou, Tala F. Saleh, Houda Kassatly and William Parry.

New Releases - Parachute® on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Parachute® has created over the years some of the most sophisticated contemporary typefaces, supporting simultaneously hundreds of languages. Typefaces such as the Champion Script Pro, Centro Pro, Handbook Pro, Beau Sans Pro and of course the DIN Pro series, have been appreciated and used by designers worldwide.  Now, for the first time, the competitive DIN Text Pro family is enhanced with Arabic. Parachute® collaborated with designer Hasan Abu Afash to create 2 new versions. DIN Text Arabic is the basic Arabic version which includes Latin and supports all variations of the Arabic script such as Persian, Urdu and Pashto. The second version DIN Text Universal is the most advanced DIN superfamily ever. It combines the powerful DIN Text Pro with DIN Text Arabic. All together it supports hundreds of languages, proving to be an essential tool for corporations which operate internationally.

We spoke to designer Hasan Abu Afash about the 2 new DIN families and this is what he told us: “The particular project was very challenging as we had to not only design a matching Arabic version but also incorporate within the same font 4 different scripts i.e. Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic and Greek -bringing the number of glyphs to 3320 per font- as well as enhance it with 30 advanced opentype features and kerning for all languages. It took about a year to complete the whole family which consists of eight weights from extra black to hairline.

The brief was clear. We wanted to match Arabic to the other three scripts in a way that will not compromise its cultural integrity or disturb the essential qualities of the Arabic script and its powerful tradition. Furthermore, our goal was to create an arabic superfamily with typographic value and a variety of weights to accommodate a wide range of text and display needs”.

The design methodology
The Arabic script has a number of different styles of calligraphy, so obviously the very first step is to decide which style is most suitable. It was decided to use the kufi style since its simple geometric and uniform shapes can relate better to sans serif fonts such as Din Text. For a small number of glyphs though, the naskh approach was implemented in order to blend softer familiar shapes with the more stiff geometric nature of kufi. This is in tune with the font’s original guidelines to make the latin part of the DIN standard more ‘typographically correct’.
The project was divided into 2 major stages: the design stage and the programming stage. During the first stage, Hasan worked closely with Panos Vassiliou who supervised the project. A long time was spent to get the base glyphs right for the very first weight. A lot of discussion took place and several alternate forms of each letter were designed before an agreement was reached for their final shape (blue highlight).



According to Hasan, “I started the matching process by harmonizing the optical weight and height of the alif and then proceeded to work on tah comparing its optical weight and shape to that of latin b and n. No attempt was made to match elements of the arabic letters to the latin x-height as arabic does not have a single equivalent to the x-height. I revised and adjusted both alif and tah a number of times at this stage. This provides a good starting point for the harmonization, while leaving most of the other Arabic design decisions independent. I designed seen as a hybrid model based on kufi with a couple of naskh details. I completed the glyphs and waited for Panos’ comments who also made further adjustments to my designs. Then an encoding file was created to include all arabic glyphs according to Unicode 5.2 and was further enhanced with an extensive array of
arabic ligatures“.

As soon as the whole set of glyphs was completed, Hasan moved on to the following stage which is programming. There are several opentype features such as mark positioning that are still not supported by FontLab, so the next best solution is Microsoft VOLT which has a very powerful interface for programming complicated scripts such as arabic.

Kerning is equally important as any other part of programming. This particular family already included a large number of kerning pairs for scripts such as Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, but several more were added for Arabic. The last section of programming was allocated to mark positioning which is a very tedious and time consuming process.

As soon as the design work and programming for the regular weight was completed, Hasan focused on the extra thin and bold weights, while Panos completed the design for extreme weights such as hairline and extra black. There’s only eight variations to DIN Universal and DIN Arabic. Italics are not included as italic is not really an option used for arabic.

Quality Control & Fine Tuning
During the implementation period we run several tests on screen and numerous pages were printed to check the typeface under operational conditions. Proper mark positioning was extensively tested and double-checked, troublesome glyphs and marks were highlighted and sent back and forth for further adjustment and fine-tuning.

Large type families with thousands of glyphs are prone to glyph misplacement. To eliminate such a possibility we devised  two sets of print tables which we used to check the proper position of glyphs as well as do a thorough test on opentype features.

Summary
DIN Universal is Parachute’s most ambitious text typeface, as for the first time a contemporary arabic equivalent to this comprehensive DIN series of fonts is designed. In fact, this set of fonts contains the most complete and powerful array of arabic features commercially available. The four major scripts Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic and Greek are now matched across the design of the whole family, respecting at the same time each one’s modern cultural identity. With its vast array of weights, the extended support for numerous languages, its careful and detailed design, it will prove to be extremely valuable for many complex corporate international projects. On the other hand, the scaled down DIN Arabic is a less expensive version for designers who are mostly interested in Arabic.

Links
DIN Text Arabic
DIN Text Universal
Arabic in an emerging global market

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