Boutros Almond, a bilingual font with humanist features
Saturday 13 May 2017, by
The objective behind the Boutros Almond font was to create a modern geometric typeface with humanist features suitable for body text setting. In the process, a display version was created, optimised for headlines as well as a Latin equivalent to satisfy the growing market demand for modern bilingual fonts.
Letters have minimal stroke contrast, and although they are based on a modular structure they carry the influence of the Naskh style of writing, most notably in the letters jeem, feh and meem. The rounded angles further soften the font’s modularity. The wide counters and relaxed spacing between letters create a consistent and even rhythm, enhancing the typeface’s readability at a small point size.
The humanist aspect of the font can be clearly seen by looking closely at the medial shapes which are slightly shorter than the isolated and initial ones breaking the monotony of shape repetition. Also, the rounded letters such as feh and meem, have completely different shapes in order to avoid any confusion at a small point size. The final shape of yeh connects from the baseline - unlike most modern fonts where it hangs from a u-shaped stroke. Finally, staying true to the Naskh style, the letter kaf holds the miniature elongated kaf shape and not the hamza shape that usually sits on top of the alef. Kerning was added to unconnected letters, most importantly reh and zain in order to ensure equal white space within groups of letters.
In the display range, the spacing is tighter, the ascender height is slightly higher, descenders go slightly lower, and two more weights have been added: Light and Extra Bold.
For the Latin equivalent, we used a new approach to achieve balance between both scripts, especially for body text setting. When we tried using the same stroke thickness, an 8 to 12 pt Arabic body text set against an English equivalent seemed slightly lighter. Taking into consideration the difference in structure between Arabic and Latin scripts, we aimed to visually compensate for the wider and more generous white space inherent in a connected script such as the former by slightly reducing the stroke thickness of the latter. We also slightly increased the spacing of the Latin character set so that it maintains the same rhythm as the Arabic. In this respect, Boutros Almond Latin was created to complement Boutros Almond Arabic. In the Latin display version however, this compensation was not necessary.