Website design relying on woodcut image. Help me find an appropriate serif.

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Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
Website design relying on woodcut image. Help me find an appropriate serif.
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Hello,

For my portfolio site I will make use of a woodcut image. I want to find a serif typeface that would be historically appropriate for it and/or an interesting choice (for whatever reason you find it to be so; but please explain that reason). I can't give too much information about the site, but I'll just mention this: I plan on designing custom blogs for Protestant Christian writers, so a typeface that references the Reformation period (or is in any way relevant to the Reformation) would be a bonus.

Requirements for the typeface:
* It must be available as a webfont, preferably through Typekit or Google Webfonts. But I'm open to other suggestions as long as I don't have to host the file(s) myself.
* It must have both a regular and italic style. (I'll be loading only these two styles of the typeface on the page.)
* It must be suitable for both display and text use. I know, it's not ideal, but since this is for the web, I can't load too many fonts on the same page. However, text size in this case will be somewhere between 16-20px.

Here's what I've played with so far. My favorite for the big text is Adobe Garamond, but I'm having a hard time making it work at smaller sizes, as it looks rather fragile even at 18-20px. (Please check out the links for a full view.)

Adobe Garamond ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Gentium ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Arno ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Adobe Caslon ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Chaparral ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Calluna ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Cardo ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Fell Double Pica ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Minion ↓ (FULL VIEW)

Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

PS - I'll be using a heavy weight of Museo Sans Rounded for small text, mostly in all caps. See full images for an example.

Joshua Langman's picture
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Joined: 14 Nov 2010 - 12:22am
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You have the Minion image twice.

How about something a little distressed, like Founders Caslon, Old Claude, Celestia Antiqua … ? (I don't know if these are available for web licensing, but you should be able to find something similar.) Maybe too much for the text size, but you do specify a rather large text size, so it might work.

If you like A Garamond, have you tried Garamond Premier? What about a Jensen? Or Centaur/Arrighi?

EDIT: I see, you've tried the Fell type, but it didn't show up in the main post. I really like this choice. The question is whether you want to have a kind of sleek, polished aesthetic that makes some subtle references to craftsmanship and woodcut style (as in, for instance, much of the branding on http://Lulu), or whether you want your own words to embody the spirit of the woodcut. So — contrast or concord?

Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
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Oops. Here's Fell Double Pica (FULL VIEW)

Joshua, good thoughts. Re distressed fonts, including the above example: I'm worried about rendering (especially on Windows), so I think I'll stick to the more "polished aesthetic".

Ah, yes. I forgot about Jenson. Thanks for reminding me. Garamond Premier is also available on Typekit. Looks to be a bit darker than Adobe Garamond.

Of the examples above, do you find anything particularly appropriate? Thanks for the help.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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No font can be used well at both text and display sizes.

hhp

Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
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Hrant, I'll settle for OK then. It's a necessary compromise. (Plus: it's safe to assume regular users are not as picky as typographers / type designers / type enthusiasts. no?)

Please take a look at the full views. Do any of the examples (obviously in their display role here @ circa 65-70px) look OK to you? (Honest question.)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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OK is OK. :-)

I'm thinking a Fleischmann or something in the style of Menhart.

hhp

Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
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"Minion Pro exhibits the aesthetic and functional qualities that make text type highly readable, yet is also suitable for display settings," says a Typekit blurb. See, Hrant?! :-D

There's one more thing to consider (which I didn't mention): the site will be responsive, so what is a "display" use on certain devices becomes "text" use on others (e.g. smartphones, if I choose to have the fonts load there too).

Joshua Langman's picture
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Joined: 14 Nov 2010 - 12:22am
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Well, of the ones you have, I think Arno works best. Arno is available in several optical sizes, but those would probably count as different fonts for your purposes. I like it because it references classical renaissance faces, but is a bit modern and sleek. It's also not too stylized or flamboyant.

Minion in this context looks to me absolutely like the "welcome to the exhibition" sign at a museum of printing history. In general, paragraphs of text, set FL in a large size of a clean text typeface (and overlaid on a rough, muted illustration) feel like museum signage. I think.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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Actually, I remember Hrant writing that the quirks needed to make good text fonts work could make them interesting when used at display sizes.
But probably I remember wrong.

By the way, I like the distressed idea (if the distressing is subtle enough to not hinder legibility at small sizes).

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Sort of.

hhp

Jacob Sievers's picture
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Joined: 9 Oct 2009 - 8:17pm
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It would only be "responsive" if the font changed to suit the size.

Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
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Jacob, correct, i.e. large text (display) on desktop becomes smaller (24-30px? haven't tested yet) on smartphones.

Jacob Sievers's picture
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Joined: 9 Oct 2009 - 8:17pm
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I mean: if Minion is just "okay" for each size, than how is it responding to anything?

Frode Bo Helland's picture
Joined: 26 Feb 2007 - 1:03pm
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You better consider how it's responding to Windows XP as well.

Donald St Denis's picture
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Joined: 8 May 2012 - 9:30pm
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Dan, I noticed that with Typekit you could include different optical versions of Garamond Premier in your typekit, e.g., display, regular, caption. Maybe that would solve the display/text problem?

Dan Beltechi's picture
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Joined: 21 Jan 2008 - 2:35am
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@dstdenis, it would, but I don't want to load that many font files on the page (because of their size).

@frode, I hear you.