Sunday, October 3, 2010

FF Scala Sans

FF Scala Sans is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed in by Dutch designer Martin Majoor in 1993. FF Scala was FontShop’s first serious textface, now it is one of its bestselling fonts. Since its release in 1991 it has been used quite widely throughout the world. To mention just a few examples: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Los Angeles Mertro, Taschen Verlag, Treaty of Lisbon 2007, Lexus Cars, JBL Sound Systems, Chicago Manual of Style, Bodies - The Exhibition. FF Scala is named after the Teatro alla Scala (1776–78) in Milan. There were two reasons for this name: FF Scala was made especially for a concert hall, the Vredenburg in Utrecht, and the design has it roots in around the time Teatro alla Scala was built, the mid-eighteenth century. Furthermore the word ‘scala’ has the meaning ‘a whole range’, which FF Scala certainly is: from a to z and from serif to sans serif, from light to black and from formal to decorated. As first released (1991) FF Scala had only four styles: regular, italic, bold and small caps. Since then FF Scala has grown to 28 styles. FF Scala and FF Scala Sans are two different typefaces sharing a common form principle. The character of a seriffed typeface mainly arises from the form principle and from elements such as serifs and contrast of the strokes. A sans serif design depends almost entirely on the form principle. FF Scala Sans was made simply by cutting the serifs off from the characters of Scala and by adjusting their contrast. So the skeletons of both FF Scala and FF Scala Sans are identical. FF Scala Sans is directly based on FF Scala, simply by cutting off the serifs and by lowering the contrast. Using black marker and white paint is all it takes to create a sans serif typeface from a seriffed one.
The first attempt to make a sans serif to accompany a serif design was made in 1931 by the Dutch typographer Jan van Krimpen with his typeface Romulus. Four weights of ‘Romulus Sans’ were cut, but unfortunately they were never released. In 1995 Emily King analyzed the serif-sans connection as follws: “The design of sans serif faces which have their roots in seriffed form has been a theme of type design since the late 1980s, with several faces including Dutch designer Martin Majoor’s Scala Sans and his compatriot Luc(as) de Groot’s Thesisfalling into this category. That this kind of type design has recently become a preoccupation might be seen as the outcome of a broadly post-modern belief that it is possible to reconcile apparently incompatible historical chapters into a positive whole.”
Since FF Scala Sans is based on FF Scala it is indirectly based on the vertically stressed old-face model. This is rarely seen with sans serif designs (Gill Sans [1929] and Syntax [1968] are notable exceptions). Many of the modern sans serifs (Akzidenz Grotesk, Helvetica, Univers) are based on eighteenth-century classical designs such as Walbaum. Their basic forms are rather ‘closed’ while the same elements in FF Scala Sans are ‘open’. This improves its legibility, especially in smaller point sizes.
Also the italic of FF Scala Sans is based on the seriffed form: so it is a real italic, not a sloped roman. This means not only that its slope is different to that of the roman, but that its form principle is clearly different too, unlike in most sans serifs today.
Majoor’s font face is a sans serif. Sans serif typeface is one that does not have the small features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. The term comes from the Latin word "sine", via the French word sans, meaning "without".
In print, sans-serif fonts are more typically used for headlines than for body text.[1] The conventional wisdom holds that serifs help guide the eye along the lines in large blocks of text. Sans serifs, however, have acquired considerable acceptance for body text in Europe. FF Scala Sans is also considered a humanist sans serif. This category contains typefaces in the humanist sans-serif classification. They first appeared in the early twentieth century. Humanist sans-serif typefaces are characterized by the presence of the hand, an uppercase similar in proportion to the monumental Roman capitals, a lowercase similar in form to the Carolingian script, and an overall more organic structure. Humanist sans-serif typefaces frequently have a true italic rather than a sloped roman. This is most often seen in a single-story lowercase italic a.
To add different condensed versions to sans serif designs is much more common than it is with seriffed typefaces. FF Scala Sans comes with a Regular Condensed and a Bold Condensed. FF Scala Sans Regular Condensed is perfect for use in captions or as a text face in narrow newspaper columns. Of course it can also be used for headings. FF Scala Sans Bold Condensed is both a display face and a text face. Scala is a Text face that functions well under conditions of low resolution. The regular weight is fairly even color, with a restrained contrast providing a dramatic comparison to the greater contrasts of the bold weight. In the both FF Scala and FF Scala Sans non-lining or old style figures are, as a matter of policy, provided in the standard character set and in the Caps set. The special Lining Figures fonts (LF fonts) provide the lining figures.
The Caps sets have some special features. The normal capitals are included in the Caps set, so for example when typing a name in small caps with starting capitals, one does not have to change the font. Some characters in the Caps set ( & ? ! ¿ ¡ ) are specially designed to match the size of the small caps.
The italic small caps are again real italics, which can be seen clearly in some characters.
The common f-ligatures ( fi fl ff ffi ffl ) are added in a special Expert set. There is even an fj-ligature.

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