Gill Sans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Gill Sans
Category Sans-serif
Classifications Humanist
Designer(s) Eric Gill
Foundry Monotype
Date created 1926
Date released 1928 (Monotype)
Re-issuing foundries Monotype, Adobe Systems, ITC
Design based on Johnston

Gill Sans is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed by Eric Gill.

The original design appeared in 1926 when Douglas Cleverdon opened his own bookshop in his home town of Bristol, where Eric Gill painted the fascia over the window in sans-serif capitals that would be later be known as Gill Sans.[1] In addition, Gill had sketched a design for the publisher and bookseller Douglas Cleverdon[2], intended as a guide for Cleverdon to make future notices and announcements.

Gill further developed it into a complete font family after Stanley Morison commissioned the development Gill Sans to combat the families of Erbar, Futura and Kabel which were being launched in Germany during the latter 1920s. Gill Sans was later released in 1928 by Monotype Corporation.

Gill Sans became popular when in 1929 when Cecil Dandridge commissioned Eric Gill to produce Gill Sans to be used on the London and North Eastern Railway for a unique typeface for all the LNER's posters and publicity material.[3]

Gill was a well established sculptor, graphic artist and type designer, and the Gill Sans typeface takes inspiration from Edward Johnston’s Johnston typeface for London Underground, which Gill had worked on while apprenticed to Johnston. Eric Gill attempted to make the ultimate legible sans-serif text face. Gill Sans was designed to function equally well as a text face and for display. It is distributed as a system font in Mac OS X and is bundled with certain versions of Microsoft products as Gill Sans MT.[4]


[edit] Characteristics

The uppercase of Gill Sans is modelled on the monumental Roman capitals like those found on the Column of Trajan, and the Caslon and Baskerville typefaces.

The capital M from Gill Sans is based on the proportions of a square with the middle strokes meeting at the centre of that square. The Gill Sans typeface family contains fourteen styles and has less of a mechanical feel than geometric sans-serifs like Futura, because its proportions stemmed from Roman tradition. Unlike realist sans-serif typefaces including Akzidenz Grotesk and Univers the lower case is modelled on the lowercase Carolingian script. The Carolingian influence is noticeable in the two-story lowercase a, and g. The lowercase t is similar to old-style serifs in its proportion and oblique terminus of the vertical stroke. Following the humanist model the lowercase italic a becomes single story. The italic e is highly calligraphic, and the lowercase p has a vestigial calligraphic tail reminiscent of the italics of Caslon and Baskerville. Gill Sans serves as a model for several later humanist sans-serif typefaces including Syntax and FF Scala Sans. An Infant variety of the typeface with single-story versions of the letters a and g also exists.

The basic glyph shapes do not look consistently across font weights and widths, especially in Extra Bold and Ultra Bold weights, and Extra Condensed width. However, even in lighter weights, some letters do not look consistent. For example, in letters p and q, the top strokes of counters do not touch the top of the stems in Light, Bold, Heavy fonts, but touch the top of the stems in Book, Medium fonts.

[edit] History

The letter 'a' was originally developed with straight tail, followed by diagonal tail (which can be seen on early specimen sheets), then the hooked tail. The diagonal tail eventually was found in Extra Bold, Bold Extra Condensed; a modified straight tail was later found in Ultra Bold.

The original Gill Sans lacked distinctions between numeral 1, uppercase I, and lowercase l, so alternate version of Gill Sans was made that included an alternate 1 that could be used for numerical setting, such as shop window prices and timetables.[5] In the Adobe version, such alternate figure is not included, even in the OpenType version of the font.

Eric Gill removed terminus endings of the vertical stroke in b, d, p and q, but Monotype drawing office revised the forms so that they were preserved in the medium weight, which can be seen on early samples of the series 262. In Gill Sans Pro, the restored endings can be found in Gill Sans Light (in d, p, q only), Bold, Heavy, Extra Bold (p only), Ultra Bold (p only), Condensed, Bold Condensed, Ultra Bold Condensed (p only), Display Bold, Display Extra Bold (p only), Display Bold Condensed, Bold Extra Condensed (d, p only), Shadowed Light (d, q only).

[edit] Variants and other versions

[edit] Arabic

Gill Arabic started as a project while Pascal Zoghbi was working with Gill Sans in the Letter Press workshop at The Royal Academy of Arts (KABK). It is designed as Arabic type companion for Gill Sans. The finalized font is expected to have an Arabic name rather than 'Gill Sans Arabic'.

The type is based on the Arabic Naskh style with a modern look that echoes the proportions and feel of Gill Sans.

[edit] Others

Versions of Gill Sans exist in display, condensed, outlined (Monotype ser. 290[6]), ultra bold (ser. 442), amongst others, and also Greek and Cyrillic letters. "Schoolbook" editions also exist.

Monotype released in August 2005 a collection of 21 fonts including Book, Book Italic, Heavy, Heavy Italic, Display Bold, Display Bold Condensed fonts for Gill Sans. It adds support of Eastern European characters but not Greek and Cyrillic.[7]

[edit] Similar fonts

Granby from Stephenson, Blake was a contemporary variant based on Gill Sans.[8]

[edit] Usage

Gill Sans as used by the LNER on a station running in board.

First unveiled in a single uppercase weight in 1928, Gill Sans achieved national prominence almost immediately, when it was chosen the following year to become the standard typeface for the LNER railway system, soon appearing on every facet of the company's identity, from locomotive nameplates and station signage to restaurant car menus, printed timetables and advertising posters — roles it took on nationwide for British Railways after nationalisation in 1948, until the comprehensive British Rail corporate rebranding in 1965 which used the specially designed Rail Alphabet. Other users were quick to follow, including Penguin Books' iconic paperback jacket designs from 1935, and Gill Sans became Monotype's fifth best selling typeface of the twentieth century.

The typeface continues to thrive to this day, often being held to bring an artistic or cultural sensibility to an organisation's corporate style. Prominent users include the BBC, which adopted the typeface as its corporate typeface in 1997. Until 2006, the corporation used the font in all of its media output; however, the unveiling of its new idents for BBC One and BBC Two has signalled a shift away from its universal use, as other fonts were used for their respective on-screen identities.

Monotype themselves use it in their corporate style. English Welsh and Scottish Railway (who together with Network Rail have continued the Gill Sans railway pedigree) continue to use the face.

[edit] Bibliography

  • Carter, Sebastian. Twentieth Century Type Designers, W.W. Norton 1995. ISBN 0-393-70199-9.
  • Johnson, Jaspert & Berry. Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Cassell & Co 2001, ISBN 1-84188-139-2.
  • Ott, Nicolaus, Friedl Fredrich, and Stein Bernard. Typography and Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. 1998, ISBN 1-57912-023-7.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Personal tools