Dark Shadows Font Project, Part 1

I have to say that the interface for writing here on Typophile leaves something to be desired, so you'll have to do without the outstanding graphics and thrilling video clips which accompany the version of this article over on fontcraft.com, but the gist of it is this...

Earlier this year I started work on a special font design intended for the Dark Shadows movie which Tim Burton has in development and plans to work on after he's done with Alice in Wonderland. Burton's design team have used some of my off-the-rack fonts in previous projects and I designed a custom font for them for Corpse Bride, but I started the Dark Shadows project purely on spec because I thought it would be a great idea. Word has since filtered through the grapevine to Burton's people and sources tell me that they're interested in the outcome of the project, but at this point they haven't even started work on the film, so it's still very much a hypothetical.

Nonetheless, I'm plowing forward, and have done the basic initial research for the font, drawing on five years watching the show devoutly as a kid, and using video clips as a reference for the kinds of designs which were used for the titles of various incarnations of the show (which you can see at fontcraft.com).

The starting point for the project is the original title font from the first four years of the series, which has some relationship to the titles from the 1991 primetime series and the titles from the spinoff movie House of Dark Shadows. All of these titles will to some degree inform the final design, especially the initial D and S characters from the original.

My first inclination has been to follow the idea of the original titles where the initial letters are in a gothic style and the other letters are in more of a text style, possibly drawn from the style of the House of Dark Shadows movie titles. It also occurs to me that because a part of the story is set in the 1790s drawing on colonial typeface design makes a lot of sense, so it seems logical to move towards more of a woodcut look for both the initial capitals and the main text letters. I'm also thinking about borrowing some ideas from the original lettering in the titles of Burton's Legend of Sleepy Hollow to give the font a rougher and more edgy look. The idea would be to pull all of these inspirations together into an original font which draws on the tradition while being original and new at the same time. It should be a font which people look at and immediately think of Dark Shadows but if anything even more of an embodiment of the gothic atmosphere of the series, with the element of gothic horror in the designed at a somewhat higher level than in the titles for the original series.

I'm just about to move from the planning stages on the project to roughing out an initial character set. As it's shaping up I see a combination of gothic capitals with a more script-like lowercase character set. I'm also considering a companion font custom designed for the credits and based on colonial period lettering.

More to come...


I have to say that the interface for writing here on Typophile leaves something to be desired, so you’ll have to do without the outstanding graphics…

You can insert images into any thread quite easily:

I'll give that a try next time. I'm used to using HTML. Not sure why it's not good enough for typophile, but I guess learning is good.

Now, how do we insert video into Typophile articles?

Dave Nalle
Scriptorium Fonts