Anybody using color fonts yet?

Today I discovered a new, interesting color font, though quite “industrial”, so probably not many use cases:

Does anybody here use color fonts yet (web or print)?


P.S.: Good background article about color fonts here:

Some example color fonts here:

They appear to be good for folks who like gradients :smiley:

I really don’t know much about them but, I’m getting the gut feeling that printing folks aren’t going to like them much.

What I have seen of them … they are pretty. I’m just not sure what they will be like in actual application and compatibility. I also hear tell the file size is huge with these babies :wink:

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There are also non-gradient color fonts. Like geometrical ones. Or ones that use shades of gray, eh, black, to simulate real handwriting or brushes.

Depends. If you embed a font with use bitmaps, yes. If you embed vector SVG fonts, then the increment is marginal.

I hope you guys like the Pretty Colors that plop out of the other end of the printer when you use these things. Cuz you get what you get.

Along with any of the transparency issues that might crop up.

(Didn’t want to disappoint RKK. :wink:)

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Colorwise Color Fonts behave like RGB images. Need to color management them. If you do, they shouldn’t be a problem.

RGB? Even better. RKK is right. We hate them.
Keep them for web use.

I’m not going to explain to clients why the upper left quadrant color of their letter ‘G’ isn’t right shade of blue.

Yeah, RGB workflows in Print are unheard of. :smiley:

Judging from the demo, it doesn’t appear to hold color on mobile, i see a black mess of nearly illegible text.

Sure, they can be color managed.
That means to a pre-determined media/printer profile.
Even though our ink gamut is much better than a standard plate press, it still means converting those RGB-alicious colors to CMYK and all the inherent dulling down that means.
There will be a lot of unhappiness.
All I can say is, if you use em, proof em.

Even on a true RGB digital print device, not all RGB colors are achievable.
Lambda or Lightjet RGB laser to photo film is not going to hit what we call “The Tangee Reds” and “Tennis Ball Greens.”

I haven’t used them, but to me they’re not very useful because they are ONLY the color/colors that the font designer created them in. To me, as they currently are they come across as gimicky and clip-art ish.

Agreed here. I have absolutely no use for them.

I’ve done some research into them from the perspective of being interested in building one of the fonts.

I can see them having some usefulness going forward, but I don’t see them being especially valuable to graphic designers. Amateurs will likely use them for various things to quickly create an interesting look. Amateurs don’t buy fonts, however, which limits their commercial viability.

Some usefulness to designers might be in designing custom color fonts for apps and websites, but designing and building a custom font is not something that most clients need or will be willing to pay for.

For print, I can’t see a whole lot of use for them beyond, like I mentioned, amateurs using them to decorate things like their church newsletters and homemade birthdays cards. I’m having a difficult time imagining professional print designers having any use for them at all. We can, and would prefer, to color our own typography to meet the needs of the job at hand.

From my perspective, they’re mostly a gimmick with some legitimate uses. They’re already being used for things like emojis ( :sunglasses: ) and dingbats, but for widespread use beyond that, well, I don’t see anything revolutionary. It’ll be a case-by-case thing, Going forward, we’ll see more of them used for various things, but for most designers, I doubt they’ll make much of an impact.

I might be eating my words in five years if the technology changes in some way to make them more useful than they are right now. I guess we’ll see.

Not sure what demo you mean, however on mobiles color fonts work fine and we all use them all the time. Emoticons :slight_smile: are color fonts.

If a device or application does not support color fonts, typically they use the fall back, which is a traditional black/white font.

What’s gonna happen in 5-10 years is designers coming along that don’t understand color, don’t understand brand cohesion, don’t understand production in all its variety, and just want to use the Easy Button. I absolutely cannot wait to have to try recreating or taking one of these horrors apart to make a 3D outdoor sign. Cha-CHING!

Instant color fonts are going to be very popular for the next generation of drag and drop designers.
It’s going down that road. Watch. You already have the Photoshop generation out there. The next generation will want to do even less “work.” Using the swatch palette is hard!

Mathias, what’s your sell here? Does Quark offer these things as an add-on or stock offering?
Or just gauging the market?

This is the hot mess of a demo I was talking about.

I think there’s a big difference between using prefab colored fonts casually (emojis) and using examples like you have shown professionally. I’d question the ethics and credibility of designer using them professionally.

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When the Mac launched, people commented that they will never replace the Linotronic or Compugraphic systems and pointed out the limitations of Desktop Publishing.
When illustration tools arrived, people commented that this will never work, as too many bezier knots would stall RIPs.
When unflattened transparency was introduced, people commented that this shouldn’t be used as most PostScript RIPs could handled it well or pointed out stitching issues.
When digital photography arrived, people pointed out that resolution would never be like film.
When digital printing arrived, people pointed out that it would never come close to the quality of offset or Intaglio.
When RGB workflows arrived, people commented that print is CMYK anyhow, so that there would be issues.
And so on.

I think you can’t stop progress, it will just happen by demand.

Sure, as my crystal ball is clouded, that doesn’t mean that all new inventions will succeed, Multiple Master fonts, Google Glasses, the Newton, or speech control in the 80’s. Some developments are either too early or too cumbersome.

So does this mean that Color Fonts will succeed? Honestly, I do not know. However I see many designers doing something like that already, using fonts converted to outlines and then applying shades, textures, gradients and more.

Will be interesting…

I realize that I failed to fully explain myself. I’d question the ethics of any professional that used any color font for a logo out of the box.

If they do become used in this manner, they work to further the homogenization of the visual components of corporate identity. Not only will we have companies using the same fonts, they’ll be using the same color palettes too. Maybe that’s a good thing though, corporate branding returning to the equivalent of livestock branding; a reset of sorts.

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When the Mac launched, people commented that they will never replace the Linotronic or Compugraphic systems and pointed out the limitations of Desktop Publishing.

“Desktop Publishing” was hint number 1 that the Graphic Design profession was in trouble.

When illustration tools arrived, people commented that this will never work, as too many bezier knots would stall RIPs.

They did and still do. If someone sends a clipping path that was created in photoshop by exporting a 1-pixel translation, and a printer is silly enough to use it, that will still bring a rip to a crawl. Even better, trying to use said path to a CNC file for a die-line or as a path for cutting vinyl. Even a vinyl plotter with a huge buffer can be choked by a large node count (we have to employ a workaround for text heavy vinyl or intricate art even today.)
Besides, time is money. Slow the rip? Slow the plotter? Slow the CNC run speed? Add $$$, one way or the other.

When unflattened transparency was introduced, people commented that this shouldn’t be used as most PostScript RIPs could handled it well [sic] or pointed out stitching issues.

Transparency still causes issues because Adobe, Quark and most rips refuse to believe that Spot colors can be transparent in Digital Print. Not only don’t they believe it, they create errors when encountering it (white boxes and dropped design elements being common.) It still shouldn’t be used when creating logos, at least not in the initial lock-up. Adobe’s bevel and extrude function in Illustrator still produces stitch lines on flattening that do enlarge and do show in print.

When digital printing arrived, people pointed out that it would never come close to the quality of offset or Intaglio.

If digital quality is good enough for you for all things, that’s fine. For a 3-spot job with any quantity involved, I’d still take an offset print over digital any day of the week. But eventually people will buy what is cheap, and quality be damned.

When digital photography arrived, people pointed out that resolution would never be like film.

That depends on how you define “film.” Digital cameras were pretty much blowing 400-speed Kodachrome out of the water while still under 5mp, but not the slower 100 or 200-speed films. It’s all about the film grain. Very few cameras (and those few are mostly high-end, slow-scan camera-backs) can approach the quality of slow-speed 4" color chromes. Even then, how good the digital photo is depends entirely on what the photographer does to it in digital post, and the color profile they use.

When RGB workflows arrived, people commented that print is CMYK anyhow, so that there would be issues.

RGB workflows have existed since forever. They are starting to become fashionable today because of - lazy. You can keep your in-house workflow all RGB where you are going to digital, offset, newspaper or web (and web is the real, bottomline argument for an in-house RGB workflow.) It’s not about YOUR workflow, it is about getting something good-looking out of the PRINTER’S workflow. Today’s RGB workflows have you totally relying on the skill and care of the printer for profiling of your files. It doesn’t require anyone to actually know what they need to know for a good looking output as they are now relying on the printer to properly profile your files based on their output profiles. There is no opportunity to tweak an image for contrast or color balance after the conversion is made. You get what you get.

If you go this route, if a printer offers you Job Options, BE DARNED SURE YOU USE THEM! If they don’t offer them, follow their spec sheet, which should tell you what pre-canned profile to use in your software that will produce the best result in their workflow on export to PDF. If they don’t have a spec sheet, call them. If they don’t have an answer, re-evaluate that printer as a resource. I’m not kidding. If you are relying on a printer for color management, and they can’t or won’t answer questions on profiling, do you want to trust them? While the answer may sometimes be that their profiling is proprietary, or even if they want native files, they should at least have a file hand-off profile that works best in their workflow. The printer’s preferred handoff profile might still be an RGB file, because the rip software is usually set to ignore embedded profiles in favor of the machine/media profile anyway, and for that you want the most color information available for that conversion.

Sure you can work all your photos in RGB, but considering that most camera and stock images are provided in the smallest RGB possible (sRGB) then you might wonder what this gains you. Not much. The reason to use RGB imagery is to have ALL of the possible color data available for the eventual conversion to CMYK (and there will be a conversion, with a very, very few exceptions.) The largest RGB gamut profile is Prophoto RGB. Followed by Adobe RGB, with sRGB being the smallest. sRGB is actually fairly equivalent to a SWOP CMYK gamut, so you aren’t gaining much at all there. In fact, a significant portion of the CMYK gamut lies outside of the sRGB gamut. You’ve lost that info for the conversion. Since many machine/media profiles have extended CMYK gamuts, you will lose even more with an sRGB image.

To see this visually:

Prophoto RGB has pretty much the largest color gamut available. That would give you the most information when doing the final conversion to profile for print. When we scan old-fashioned film, that is the profile we use. But most digital cameras today that shoot RAW only allow you the choice of Adobe RGB or sRGB on saving (even though RAW will convert to ProPhoto in post.) If given that choice, always opt for Adobe RGB. For the largest gamut possible, it is best to post process camera-RAW data outside of the camera. Once you dumb down a photo to a smaller color gamut, you can never get that color information back. There is nothing gained in converting existing CMYK photos back to any kind of RGB profile. Or once you take a camera-RAW file and make it sRGB in-camera, that color info has been dumbed down considerably.

Where profiles pertain to RGB “spot colors” as used in these fonts or any other color swatch used, the conversion is simply based on the numbers, with the same gamut compression used on these that is used on any RGB element in the file. With the same possibly dramatic results. The farther out the RGB value is, the more change there will be on conversion.

And so on.

Yes, technology evolves. It also devolves. It can do both at the same time.
I’ve been using an RGB workflow for a portion of my work for the last 20 years and it has expanded to a good 75% of it in the last 5 years due to the inadvertent embracing of the “new” RGB workflow. This has been a good thing when it is done properly.

I have nothing against these new typefaces. Just like I have nothing against printing text-heavy layouts done in Photoslop. Just like I have nothing against files with in-file photo-editing that embeds the image. There’s a whole lot of bad out there brought on by a combination of low skill and Easy Button design.
I’ll print whatever you send.
If the output is “good enough” that’s on you, though the machines are capable of doing better.
GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out.)

I can guarantee, some of those color typefaces are going to behave just as poorly as, or worse than, the Freeware typefaces out there. After 20+ years in this industry, we are still getting about a 25% fail rate getting freeware stuff through the rips. Once you start adding raster effects and transparency to typefaces…well….
Don’t expect miracles on print output.
Get a Proof.


Mathias, just found your article where those images came from.
Man, you need a proofreader.
And your sell is that only Quark can use Microsoft colorfont files? That’s a plus?
Or maybe it’s that Indesign support is “experimental” with some known issues?
Web designers aren’t using Quark or InDesign, neither are the amateurs apt to be using these colorfont things. Since layout software companies are only about servicing their design clients with very little regard for the output companies (and no regard whatsoever for the wide format industry,) printers are used to having to deal with foisted messes no matter where it comes from. A lot of printers out there have been dealing with “RGB workflows” since the invention of Microsoft Word.

Those reservations did exist (I was there), but the reservations were not about the benefits of the new technology. The reservations were (and still are in some instances) about the limitations of the supporting technology not yet being robust enough to make them workable in production environments.

Colored fonts are different — it’s a new technology with no compelling advantages. It’s a solution to a problem that has never existed.

Pre-colored typography seems just about as useless to me as pre-written sentences would be to a writer.

That said, I do see some benefits in color fonts for designers of websites and mobile apps, where, say, a fancy colored headline can be typed in by the non-designer end user making content updates. Even then, however, it’s a minor thing — even if the fonts and CSS mature to the point of being able to change the fonts’ color palettes without having to open the fonts in a font editor, changing the colors and, then, recompiling them.

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