Centaur book-face revival: Mythology

altsan's picture

(Following up from this thread in Design.)

Having read that it's a useful learning exercise for a starting designer to try digitizing a historical (metal) type, I decided to try this with Bruce Rogers's Centaur. I've never seen a digital version that looks remotely close to the beautiful text of books typeset in metal Centaur – they're all come out too fine and spindly, and look oddly sterile somehow. I'm clearly not the only one to think so.

I recently acquired a copy of "The Centaur Types", which is set in 16-point metal-type Centaur. Using that as a guide, I began trying to something that captures the spirit of the text within its pages. (I actually adapted my initial outlines from scans out of Meggs & Carter's “Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces”, supplemented by some unfortunately rather poor-quality images from an old 20th-century Monotype catalogue that I found on-line. I then used the Rogers text as a guide for redrawing the outlines to the desired weight.)

I had to essentially invent a number of characters since the metal type (so far as I know) never included them. I tried to be consistent with the style of metal Centaur, and that of other humanist types of similar origin.

For the time being, I've given my new Centaur revival the working name "Mythology". Compared to other digital Centaurs, Mythology is both more substantial and less mechanically crisp in form. It also has looser spacing.


This is my first attempt at a direct revival. I'd be interested to know what others think, not just of the results but of the methods used to reach this point. As well as more general critique, of course. :)

cerulean's picture

Looks pretty great. A white star ornament doesn't serve as an asterisk, though. If you can't find a source to confirm what Monotype et al have done and want to make yours different, an asterisk of appropriate character might be made by pinwheeling the comma or a shape like the top of the exclamation point.

altsan's picture

I wasn't sure about that, but I liked the effect so much...

Would a solid black star be better? I've seen some 15th-century revivals do that (Bembo comes to mind).

altsan's picture

BTW, in point of fact the 'shuriken' asterisk in this post was originally designed for Mythology. I ended up deciding it worked better in Suzuran, though — and so I changed Mythology to use the star, which I thought looked rather interesting.

On a different note, I'm wondering if it'd be worth trying to do a 'handtooled' version of this font...

ukzembla's picture

Did anything ever come of this typeface? I like the sample a lot!

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