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Old 11-08-2006, 03:54 AM   #1
iamback's Avatar
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Default 100,000 Free Chinese Fonts

Oh dear... "100,000" is one of the Chinese ways of saying "lots and lots"... too many to count. (There are some gradations, you can also use 1000, or 1 million, for instance. )
Well, it seems I have now learned how to find them!

I had started listing the names of the nice HanDing fonts, so I could try tro translate them and hopefully come up with nice short names to replace the Chinese names in the fonts with. Suddenly I remembered that one of them was a broken link on the download page, so I plugged the file name into Google. Hey presto! Three more pages with the same set of 17 fonts, one of them from Heidelberg University, another referring to that page and thanking them. Now I was able to download the "missing" font, and I have now dubbed the collection the "Heidelberg set".

Looking at the file names in the "Heidelberg set", I had always suspected this was a selection from a much larger set of numbered fonts. Sure enough, the same google for the one missing font brought up several other pages, including an "archive bbs" page with several posts with long lists of font download urls, TTF and ZIP, including many obvious HanDing fonts - same name structure, but different numbers. Unfortunately, this seems to have been a very old page, as none of the URLs actually worked. So... I jotted down the HanDing numbers in this list, picked one at random, and plugged it into Google again. Bingo!

One interesting (ftp) page was on a Chinese government site (!) called Software 2006 - a directory called "Chinese fonts", with a 41 HanDing fonts (!) and a whole bunch of other fonts, some very nice (I downloaded all and was able to browse characters in at least some of them); I've grouped them into directories according to the names Windows "print" comes up with (or another file viewer where that failed): Arphic (this seems to be an open source effort - I came across that name in a forum post), Createk (very nice fonts), Founder, HanDing and WenDing.

While that was great already the same search for a random HanDing font file name also brought up another FTP directory at ftp.why100000.com with the complete set of 100 HanDing fonts! (I have yet to explore what other fonts there may be on this site...

Thanks to the Chinese government site, I suddenly realized that 中文字体 (zhong1 wen2) means "Chinese Fonts" - so I plugged that into Google. Sure enough, lots of pages with fonts. And I soon noticed 下载 (I recognized the first character which means "down, below" from train tickets!) - xia4 zhuang1 - means "download"; adding that to the Google search gave even better results. (Google, BTW, seems to allow searching in pinyin as well but I haven't tried this yet though since pasting chinese wsords directly worked surprisingly well!)

One site, font.knowsky.com, is obviously dedicated to fonts (not just Chinese ones either!), with a special page for Chinese fonts: 10 featured or popular fonts highlighted, more in the sidebar (the heading there says 中文字体). I managed to get the 10 featured fonts - which was somewhat problematic:
  • the site seems to be heavily overloaded: sometimes clicks are "ignored", occasionally there was a JavaScript popup which I guessed was telling me too many people were trying to download, and a couple of times a click on the download button actually crashed Mozilla;
  • images are pulled from a separate server, it seems, also overloaded: most of the time the sample images don't appear; when the did, however, it was obvious some of these fonts are indeed very nice, including some nice "informal" handwriting fonts;
  • finding the actual download links meant navigating through two extra pages for each fonts (lots and lots of ads...);
  • you have to enter a simple CAPTCHA code to download (the same if you download more within a short timespan though - it seems to be used as a throttling device here).
Then I found all fonts, in the form of RAR archives, have Chinese file names - ZipGenius could not handle those (doing nothing, or getting into an endless loop, no message); I had to grab the command-line free unRar utility to unpack them: it spews some garbage in the console messages while it's unpacking but it does result in proper font files with Chinese names, which Windows 2000 Explorer does not have any problem with! (Nearly everything else does, though, so I'll have to rename the files first, and then check the embedded font names which probably will need patching before the fonts can be easily used under Windows.) And I have yet to explore the fonts in the side bar...

Another promising site for font downloads is www.sj00.com with Chinese font downloads - this is the start page (of 45!) with 15 fonts per page... 665 in all. At least the sample images work here which makes it easier to select some. There's a wide variety of styles, with some nice fantasy fonts here (including one on the first page that looks very much like one of the fonts I downloaded from the Chinese government site) - going by the samples and what appears to be the names, there are several WenDing fonts (see above) as well as a bunch of HanDing fonts (all font names starting with 汉鼎; I didn't check whether they have all 100 of them). I have not even downloaded anything from here yet... except in the sidebar several fonts with a "BIG5" suffix - these are indeed Traditional Chinese fonts. As on font.knowsky.com the font files here are compressed with RAR.

Another site I found searching googling for just "Chinese fonts" (without "download") is www.blueidea.com; it looks like a designer's site - I cannot find any download links here - with not only fonts. But fonts are presented on panels combining several fonts in several styles, giving a little insight into Chinese typography. I especially like the penultimate font on the last panel (attachment) on page 2 - it looks like the HanDing "Amber" font ... with ... well, have a look!
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Marjolein Katsma
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