Bucentoro Greek

esl's picture

Dear Typophiles,

Below is an attempt at making a cursive greek in venetian style, to be used together with Jensonesque romans. It is mostly a period piece, so there will be a whole bunch of alternate characters and ligatures.


I would appreciate your critique and comments (especially if you can read Greek).

Sept 20, 2006: version 0.21, first test of polytonic (no kerning yet).
April 14, 2007: version 0.56, connected polytonic with common ligatures.

BucentoroGreek-45.pdf589.28 KB
Bucentoro Greek Cursive v021.pdf25.61 KB
Bucentoro Greek Cursive v056.pdf42.25 KB
Miss Tiffany's picture

To interesting not to bump.

crossgrove's picture

Beautiful! Dense and expressive, but clear in the same way Jenson is. The low contrast, on a more vertical axis, is a very strong element.

I'm sorry, I'm not a native, or even new reader of Greek. But I'm very interested as a type designer to be informed about other scripts.

This design seems a natural candidate for OpenType substitution wizardry. The ligatures, which I realize are historical, could be achieved in other ways, and the connections made even more true to the writing style the type is derived from. In other words, you could keep everything that's fluid and genuine about it, and even add more cursive connections wherever they are appropriate, with the benefits of OpenType. Sergei, would you be interested in some material on OpenType connecting scripts? I am not a salesman. ; )

esl's picture

Thanks, Carl, I am definitely interested. I know OpenType basics, but have no experience in making connected scripts. Bucentoro's ligatures are made by joining individual elements, so it is possible to assemble them with context substitution and proper positioning. The big question is how to approach this in a most effective way.

crossgrove's picture


I see you are not accepting e-mail through your typophile account. I am accepting e-mail; send me a message and I'll reply with some interesting connecting script material. One of my favorite areas in type design is contextually-appropriate connecting scripts (Arabic, handwriting, cursive, etc).


esl's picture

Version 0.21 - first test of polytonic (see pdf at the top).

There is no kerning and no ligatures yet, but some letters connect naturally. More coming soon.

FlauntYourFont's picture

I do not read Greek but it is certainly beautiful. Possibly the best I've seen, not that I've seen many.

I hope I am not out of place in asking Carl if information about OT connecting scripts is available to anyone upon request? I'd be interested as well. Thanks!

Nick Shinn's picture

This is a fascinating project, and the tension between bounce, "kappa" height, slant angle and contrast is very nicely balanced. I'm impressed with the way many of the characters "ligature" together, especially double gamma.

However, I think that your roman is a little "flat" in comparison -- if you could "bounce" the baseline alignment of the roman (and Cyrillic...) a little, considering that the mean line (top of the x-height) already has some bounce, then I think you will have a better roman and greater harmony between the scripts. Bear in mind that we are used to seeing strict "Jensons" this past century, but during the Incunabula everything was a little wonky. Besides, we already have a lot of very proper Jensons, even some slightly weatherbeaten ones like Adobe Jenson, so perhaps the useful design space is beyond the end of the present spectrum -- inspired by your greek script, as it were.

The character forms of the basic setting are surprisingly orthodox (given the unusual quality of the ligatures), with the exception of the "dropped" lambda, which could be a sore thumb in a plain, contemporary setting of the face. I also feel that the eta is a bit stunted, for too obvious a reason. I like the fancy Omega; the Psi seems a bit tight, perhaps an alternate form with lower arms might be good.

The ligatures are a whole nother issue! -- the authenticity of which can be debated from many angles. Whatever, it will be a massive job to implement them in OpenType with full accents and breathing. I can see them finding commercial use, as well as scholarly.

Speaking of authenticity, I have always liked Jenson's M with the "extra" serifs.

Will you be doing archaic cyrillic characters also?

esl's picture

Thanks for the comments, Nick. This is a multi-year project covering latin, greek, and cyrillic and I am learning a lot about type design in the process. Roman part is in its first iteration and for now I use it mostly as color reference for the greek. Making a historical greek is very educational and I expect to gain some freedom to experiment with the roman later.

Greek minuscules are based on certain mid-16th century manuscripts I like and a lot of features including low lambda, low theta, and short eta come from there, as do all the ligatures - everything comes from the same time and a very close circle of scribes. I plan to implement all meaningful ligatures with proper breathing and accents (I have about 300 in my collection). They will be available via the 'dlig' feature with "legible" ones sitting under the regular 'liga'.

When this massive historical exercise is finished, I plan to make a separate simplified version for modern typography where familiarity is much more important than historical authenticity. And yes, archaic cyrillic is in the plans too.

As for Jenson, I am not a big fan of its uppercase, so I'll probably rework it into something more 'venetian', based on historical calligraphic models - something closer to the greek/latin small caps in this version.

Nick Shinn's picture

Good luck with the project Segei, it's in good hands, and I'm sure the resulting fonts will prove useful to many people in many ways.

kordics's picture


Your BucentoroGreek font is very beautiful and very unique with all ligatures. I hope you will make Cyrillic script too. Let me know when this become available.


esl's picture

Version 0.56 - connected polytonic (see pdf at the top).

There is stil no kerning and only a few basic ligatures, but the connections seem to be working. More to go...

hrant's picture

Long live profuse Greek ligation!


John Hudson's picture

I plan to implement all meaningful ligatures with proper breathing and accents (I have about 300 in my collection). They will be available via the ‘dlig’ feature with “legible” ones sitting under the regular ‘liga’.

How's your knowledge of Greek accentuation rules? It is possible to trim the potential ligature set somewhat by filtering out accent combinations that will not occur in text. This is particularly useful for ligatures that span more than one syllable, because one can usually determine which accents might be applied to which vowels and which will not.

hrant's picture

Would it be easier/better to learn/analyze the rules,
or instead compile/observe linguistic frequency data?


esl's picture

John, Hrant:

How’s your knowledge of Greek accentuation rules? It is possible to trim the potential ligature set somewhat by filtering out accent combinations that will not occur in text.

I learned all I could from the available literature, then compiled a large corpus of classical texts and calculated the frequency data for sequences of 1-4 letters. The third, and probably the most important source is manuscripts - my prototypes show a consistent set of ligature rules. Basically, the scribe picks one of the recognizeable letter shapes to continue the ongoing circular motion of the pen, with significant counterclockwise bias. I ended up implementing these rules via 'calt' mechanism, so there is no combinatorial explosion.

bgeorge77's picture


Any recent news on this one? Teaching a class on Greek to Junior High kidss, they've been begging me to teach them Greek cursive... try Googling Greek Cursive, not a bunch of info.

But your font looks great. Still working on it?

dezcom's picture

Lovely work! I never could write cursive. I admire your fortitude!


esl's picture

Ben, Chris:

Thanks for the encouragement. I decided to incorporate this greek into a larger font family and got bogged down with extended latin, cyrillic, and optical sizes. If everything goes as planned (and it rarely does), I will get back to greek later this year.

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