Multiple Master - Why?

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H B M's picture
Joined: 2 Aug 2004 - 1:48pm
Multiple Master - Why?

Why do we need MM fonts? what is the idea?

IF — 

“The concept was brilliant, but it was complicated and expensive to design the fonts…..and a relative lack of enthusiasm from the public…”

James Felici, The Complete Manual of Typography, p.39, Adobe Press, 2003

Thomas Phinney's picture
Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am

Well, if you were going to be at the ATypI conference in Prague this fall, I’d suggest you come to my talk, “Requiem for a font format.”

For my first Master’s degree, I did my thesis in the area of MM technology, so I’m certainly a fan.

I’ll poke at a couple of angles of it, though.

The quote from Felici is misleading at best. (Despite the book having been published under the Adobe Press label, nobody in the Adobe type group got to review it before it was published.)

- MM fonts are expensive to design in the absolute. But they are cheaper and easier to design than correspondingly large families of standalone fonts. To this day, Adobe does most of its new font development using MM design space; it’s just that we generate standalone fonts instead of MMs in the end.

- Many of our best-selling fonts were MM fonts. When both MM versions and non-MM versions were available, the MMs sold as well or better than the “unimaster” fonts.

However, it is true that most users didn’t use or care about the MM capabilities. It was the designs they liked, not the MM functionality.

When you say “we” in “why do we need MM fonts?” it is not clear whether you mean end users or type designers, or some other group.

Type designers need MMs or some other axis-based technology because it simplifies their work in developing large type families.

Those end users who really “dug” the technology liked it because they could use the axes to generate their own custom instances, picking the exact parameters that fit their particular task needs.



Paul B. Cutler's picture
Joined: 19 Aug 2004 - 11:00am

I really miss Multiple Master fonts. I have a 3-5 year project that was started on Myriad MM and has migrated to MyriadPro. The idea was brilliant and the execution was impeccable. C’est la vie. I also miss ATM Deluxe

Adam Twardoch's picture
Joined: 3 Dec 2002 - 7:36pm


you can always buy the Myriad Pro packages from Adobe, buy FontLab 4.6, and make a Myriad Pro MM yourself :-) [For your own purposes only].