Fake vs. True Italics

Back in March, I mentioned that I was in the final stages of developing a new font family, Proxima Nova. It’s now about three months later and most of that time was taken up by doing the italic.

“What took so long?” you might wonder, “Isn’t it just a matter of slanting the roman version and saving it? That couldn’t take more than an minute or two.” As you may have guessed, it’s not that simple, especially if one wants to do it right. Allow me to illustrate.

Here is a sample set in Proxima Nova Bold:

Sample of roman caps

Here it is simply slanted:

Sample of roman caps

Notice how the curves have become distorted. The subtle modulation of the stroke weight is thrown completely out of whack, getting thinner in some places and thicker in others. This is especially noticeable with the S, O and P. Notice how the O looks kind of squashed. The A is also affected, but the difference is less obvious: the left stroke has become slightly thinner while the right stroke has become slightly thicker.

Characters like E and H, with only vertical and horizontal strokes, are virtually unaffected by slanting. However, any characters which are composed of curves or angled strokes must be optically corrected in a high quality font.

Here is the same sample set in Proxima Nova Bold Italic:

Sample of roman caps

Much better, isn’t it? It takes a lot longer to make all those optical corrections, but the result—a font that simply looks right—is definitely worth it.

I expect to release Proxima Nova by the end of June. It’s available now.