Font Finding

June 23, 2003 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Speaking of fonts, have you ever needed to match an existing font you didn't recognize? And it's no longer a "font" into which you click an insertion bar and see what the font menu says? Perhaps the type in the artwork you're given to work with has been converted to outlines or rasterized, or worse, all you've got is a printed sample.

This just happened to me a couple weeks ago. I needed to create two more navigation buttons throughout a client site for two new sections we were adding. The font for the button labels had to match the font used in the existing nav buttons, but all we had to work with were the button .gifs themselves with the text already flattened into the color background.

I tried opening one of the buttons in Photoshop and zooming in — a mistake. GIFs of 10-point type are like insects. They look harmless from a distance, but the more you zoom in the more monstrous they become.

After a half-hour of fruitless experimenting — could it be Futura? … nope. Maybe Univers? tap tap tap tap…. nope. Univers Condensed? tap tap … nope — I turned to the free Web service "Identifont" and had my answer in three minutes (turned out it was Frutiger Light Condensed).

Identifont asks you a series of questions about the letterforms in your sample. Questions like, "Does the 'Q' tail cross the circle?" followed by three or four ways it could cross or not cross, shown as pictures and explanatory text. You choose the answer and it goes on to the next question ("Is the '4' open or closed?"). If your artwork doesn't happen to contain the character in question, you can always choose "Don't Know."

After ten or twenty questions, Identifont presents you with the name of the font that matches your answers. Sometimes it can't tell, and it gives you three or four possible matches. Most of the matches are linked to font samples on the foundry's page so you can confirm that all the characters in your sample match the ones in that typeface; and perhaps purchase the font if you don't own it already.
Identifont is the real engine behind most other question-based font identifier utlities found on the Internet, such as "Find Font by Sight" on Agfa/Monotype's

The Human-Computer Interface company, based in Cambridge, England, is the source of the Identifont engine:

They've done some other interesting projects, check them out!


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