Vernicia is a serif typeface family exploring a natural fusion between Latin and Chinese calligraphy. The typeface is intended for literature and books, especially those translated from the Chinese language, to infuse the text with an more organic and calligraphic texture, as well as a sense of Chinese origin. The typeface family currently consists of four styles: regular, text, condensed, and italic, each available in five different weights.
The design of the typeface started with Latin humanistic calligraphy with broad nib pens, and as the calligraphy were being transformed into type, the Latin letterforms were gradually shaped by my own background in Chinese calligraphy. Charecteristics from Latin and Chinese calligraphy were then studied and compared, and a series of iterations and adjustments were made in order to determine the right balance between Latin and Chinese, without pushing it too far or turning it into something clichéd. Some of the main influences from Chinese calligraphy on the Latin letterforms include: a wider proportion than normal Latin letters; serifs as separate strokes, instead of as attachments of the main stems; and a more rapid transition between the thick and the thin parts within a single strokes.
With the design for the main style finalized, the focus of the design process switched to expanding the family as well as solving specific issues when using the typeface for literature and books. A low contrast text style was developed and tested, which is more suitable for setting long body text in small sizes. A condensed version of the typeface was also created, to provide an alternative style for setting more impactful display text. Finally, italics were designed with Ludovico degli Arrighi’s calligraphy work in mind, which introduces a more angular and condensed texture to the italics, in order to contrast with the wide letterforms of the main style.
The name of the typeface comes from the Latin name of tung-oil tree, vernicia fordii, which is a species native to southern China, and is traditionally used to make Chinese calligraphy ink.
The 6-week type design programme that you’ve been waiting for starts on 4 June and ends 12 July 2024.