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Italic, Script & Decorative Type

Italic, Script & Decorative Type

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In this lesson you will learn to recognize italic, script and decorative typefaces and give examples of their proper usage.

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Tutorial

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Hi, everyone. My name is Mario. And I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on italic script and decorative type. So for today's lesson, we're going to learn to recognize italic script and decorative typefaces and give examples of their proper usage. So as always, throughout the lesson feel free to stop, fast-forward,and rewind at your own pace. And when you're ready to go, let's get started.

All right. So this unit will focus on additional type classifications that are defined primarily by their physical characteristics. So we're going to go through various elements and physical traits starting of with posture, which is vertical orientation of a typeface. Some typefaces slant to the right. That's italic.

So you can see from this example here up top, it reads "I have good posture," and the letter forms are nice and straight, whereas below it where it reads "I have bad posture," the letters are slanted towards the right . This posture is called italic and is a subset of posture.

An italic is a type posture, type which appears to slant to the right, as we saw. So I'll run through a few examples here of a few Roman typefaces. And what I want to show you here is the difference again in posture. So notice the italics versus the straight, vertical posture in these examples.

And the italic typefaces are carefully created by type designers and not simply type which has been slanted by a machine, so not all typefaces have italics. And that again is because as simple as slanting type seems, it is still quite carefully crafted and designed by type designers. So you can see in this example I've typed out normal, italic, and slanted. And normal is the standard type as far as posture goes. Italic is the italic version.

And then slanted has been manually slanted, as opposed to designed that way, designed to be italic. And you can really start to see how important it is to properly design italic type as opposed to just slanting it and being done with it. The letters appear skewed. Readability may suffer.

And certain character design elements are not intended to be slanted. In particular, you can see the letter A in italic has been completely redesigned, as well as the letter T and L. And if you compare that to our slanted versions of the L below here, the L is thinner, and our A is more difficult to read, because it's not as clear. The T is pretty comparable. But there are some differences in shape and proportion that could again affect readability.

So let's talk now about script. And script is a type classification developed in the late 1700s and originally based on handwriting. This style is characterized by italic letter forms that can be formal or casual and sometimes joined. And member families include Nuptial and Zapfino.

And you can see from our two examples that script does in fact have that handwritten quality. And it's usually styled quite nice. But it's not the best type for large bodies of text, like books, magazines, or newspapers.

We have here are excerpts from the movie Django. And if we swap to a script type, then the difference is really night and day. I mean, I'd really need to pull out, use my bifocals before I even try to make sense of any of this. You can see we'd really have to zoom in to get a clear indication of what this says, so a lot of readability problems.

Now, decorative type are novelty or illustrative typefaces used primarily for headlines or initial capital letters. So if we take a look at our examples here, you can see the difference is quite obvious. They're a lot more illustrative, not as practical in many uses, and oftentimes tailored for a specific use for projects. But they're quite fun.

And these work best typically for headlines or attention-grabbers. A good use of these as well could be as the initial capital letter, which is the first letter of the first word in a paragraph, often decorative. And it's enlarged to the height of several lines which surround it.

So if you remember these classic old story books, they sometimes had these large capital letters to start off the word in the first paragraph. And then from that point on, it used more legible text. So again, you have these nice, beautiful, large, ornate capitals. Really nice.

And here are some examples of all these types in use, so script here used in a business logo that reads "Optique." And then we have more decorative type for something like the Hot Wheels logo. And if you look at logos around you, you'll find more of this, Coca-Cola, or Memorex uses somewhat of a decorative capital that can also double as a logo. And I think maybe Kool-Aid is more of a decorative than anything, I think.

Well, that ends today's lesson. We'll end with our key terms, posture, italic, script, initial capital letter, decorative type, and readability. Hope you've enjoyed this lesson with me today. My name is Mario. And I will see you next lesson.

Notes on "Italic, Script & Decorative Type"

Overview

(00:00-00:18) Introduction

(00:19-00:51) Posture

(00:52-02:36) Italic

(02:37-03:40) Script

(03:42-04:07) Decorative Type

(04:08-04:34) Initial Capital Letter

(04:35-05:02) Type Examples

(05:03-05:20) Key Terms


Citations

Image of Bembo, Public Domain


Image of Times New Roman, Creative Commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Times_New_Roman-...
Image of Caslon, Creative Commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CaslonSp.svg
Image of Kuenstler Script, Creative Commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kuenstler.svg
Image of Caflisch Script, Creative Commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CaflischScriptSp...
Django Script Excerpts, Creative Commons
http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Django-Unchained.html
Image of Upper Case S, Creative Commons
http://www.flickr.com/photos/httpwwwyoumeflickrcom...
Image of Optique, Creative Commons
http://www.flickr.com/photos/telephone_fotoblog/34...
Image of Hot Wheels, Creative Commons
http://www.flickr.com/photos/evarinaldiphotography...

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Posture

    The vertical orientation of a typeface. Some typefaces slant to the right (italic).

  • Italic

    A type posture; type which appears to slant to the right.

  • Script

    A type classification developed in the late 1700s and originally based on handwriting. This style is characterized by italic letterforms that can be formal or casual and sometimes joined. Member families include Nuptial and Zapfino.

  • Initial Capital Letter

    The first letter of the first word in a paragraph, often decorative, it is enlarged to the height of several lines which surround it.

  • Decorative Type

    Novelty or illustrative typefaces used primarily for headlines or initial capital letters.  

  • Readability

    How easily words and blocks of words can be read.