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Old 11-10-2006, 05:42 AM   #1
iamback's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Amsterdam, NL
Posts: 4,894
Default What do you call...?

Still at it collecting Chinese fonts (and getting quite handy navigating the Chinese sites and searching for sites with fonts of a foundry that I like...). And I've started to describe/classify the fonts that I find, trying to come up with terminology for these fonts: because of the nature of Chinese script, qualifications like "serif", sans-serif" or "cursive" simply don't apply. Some others do, like "outline", "rounded" or "display". There are "fantasy" fonts as well (for instance characters made up from little sticks - I have one that is a nice bamboo style!)

In a few cases though, I'm having trouble coming up with terms - maybe because of my limited (active) English vocabulary in general, maybe because there actually is a term in fontology that I'm not aware of.

For instance: what do you call a font where all strokes are of equal, even thickness? Some of those are made up of very thin lines, some of which I've called "pencil" - but then I don't know what to call the thicker ones.

Some others are rather "thin" but with variations in thickness that suggest they've been written with a (fountain) pen (rather than a brush - though with some it might be possible to write like that with a brush); I've called those "pen" for now.

But there's something in-between - they look like drawn with a (thick) round felt-tipped pen, for instance: the lines are (mostly) of equal thickness (as in the "pencil" fonts) but I can't call them "pen" either since they don't have the pointed stroke endings of those. So what do I call these?

The next step is of course all the fonts that actually look like written with a brush - that's easy: "brush".

Yet another font I tended to call "outline" but actually it consists of double lines - with the ends of the strokes open.

Some of the "pen"-like fonts, often with very thin horizontals and very marked thick stroke endings, I recognize as a style used in newspapers, often for headlines - so they become "newspaper".

And a completely formalized style, often without even a hint of brush strokes, I've dubbed "computer".

Of course qualifications like outline, rounded or shadow can be added to the other ones.

So I'm getting somewhere, but I'm not happy with all of my terminology yet. Some hints would be appreciated!

I've now also started to translate some of the Chinese font names (mostly more descriptive than actual names), and I'm pleased to find that these descriptions often match my own. For instance many font names use "Song" (the name of a dynasty) apparently for font styles based on letter shapes from the period of the Song dynasty. Many of my "pen" and "newspaper" fonts are called "Song", one of my "newspaper" fonts is even called "big headline Song".

But in another case I'm stuck: the name of one of my "computer" fonts translates something like "flat/level/equal black" - for a font that's rather bold, with all strokes of equal and even thickness... Which brings me back to my first question!

Terms I have so far:
  • brush, pen, pencil, seal/stamp
  • rounded, outline, double line, shadow
  • fantasy, sticks
  • newspaper, computer
  • script, informal handwriting

Any suggestions?

Marjolein Katsma
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