Design Work

Logo Design: New Forest Studio, Swashed and Folded

Some more client work on the blog today, with a hand-lettered logo and a set of woodsy, organic elements for Hampshire-based photographer Sam Alexander-Pearce at New Forest Studio…

Sam got in touch wanting a fresh new look for his Wedding Photography business, as the current brand was no longer reflecting his personality, aesthetic or style. After exploring several different options we arrived at this design with a trio of stylised New Forest pines, paired with a hand-lettered typeface. The end result was a clean-cut contemporary logo in woody colours, with a set of complementary design elements and fonts, ensuring the brand design can be easily carried throughout everything Sam produces.




Design: Swash and Fold

Fonts: The Serif Hand (La Goupil), Muli Light (Vernon Adams), Nothing you Could Do (Kimberly Geswein), Amatic (Vernon Adams)

Helpful Things

Type tips Pt 1: Getting uptight with ligatures, and other OpenType fun

OK, so you’ve got got hold of a fancy new font, and you know there are all sorts of slick and swirly delights hiding within it. But when you try to use it, it all just looks a bit… well… plain. So how the heck do you make the most of these extra typographic features?

If you’ve read any of the font friday posts elsewhere on the blog you may have seen mention of OpenType, or references to using “OpenType-aware software”. OpenType fonts (.otf files) are the key to unlocking the extras buried within a font, since they allow type designers to bundle additional characters and features in the typeface, along with a set of rules on when to show them.

Not all OpenType fonts are created equal of course – the extra time and effort needed to make these fonts generally mean you’re unlikely to find advanced type features in most free fonts. And even then, not all paid fonts contain extra typographic features, although most font libraries (such as will make it quite clear if they do.

There are some great free fonts out there though, such as the immaculately produced “Calendas Plus” from Atipo which is available to download for just the cost of a Tweet of Facebook Like from their website. Also, if you’ve installed any Adobe software in the past few years you’ll have had a few feature-packed fonts automatically added to your system. Keep an eye out for any with the word “Pro” in their name – this is usually a dead giveaway that they’ve got some interesting extras hiding underneath the hood.

The most common of these extras are ligatures, where two or more letters are combined into a single shape. Chances are you’ve used one of these several times already this week without even realising it…


The ampersand is a ligature originating from the latin “et”. You can still clearly see the original letters in the ampersands of some fonts, but over time this shape has become abstracted and simplified into the more common “&” shape.

The ampersand originated from hand-written script, and has become commonplace enough to earn its own place on our keyboards. To discover most other advanced type features however, we need to dig a little deeper. This is where we need our OpenType-aware software, as not all software supports these extra features. The list of apps is unfortunately fairly limited, although many will have a copy of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign installed, all of which support OpenType. Oddly, Photoshop Elements still doesn’t have OpenType options. Boo… For anyone who doesn’t have access to Adobe’s professional software, Microsoft Word may fill the gap. Users since 2010 have had access to an “Advanced” font panel with all the extra type features you need.

Photoshop’s OpenType options are available from the Character palette menu:


Illustrator has a dedicated OpenType palette:


Word gives users access to advanced type options through its font panel:


Ligatures in action

So we’ve got hold of some sort of OpenType-friendly software, and selected our font of choice. Lets see how things actually work in practice. (N.B I’m using Calendas Plus here as mentioned above – other fonts may handle their ligatures slightly differently).

It’s handy to have a test phrase when scrutinising fonts for Opentype features – one which contains the right combinations of characters to let the typeface best show off its wares. The phrase I tend to use is a nonsensical sentence, but it contains most of the letter pairings commonly combined in OpenType fonts. Let’s start by taking a look at how it looks without any extra type features activated…


At first glance it seems OK, but after looking at it a bit more closely there’s something annoying about that letter ‘f’. Lower-case ‘f’ has always been a problem for printers… It looms over the lower-case ‘t’, it squares up aggressively to stare out the ‘i’, it invades the personal space of the ‘l’, and just stands plain awkwardly next to its twin.

Problems with ‘f’, ‘l’, ‘t’ and the like were taken so much for granted in the past that most metal type was produced with ligatures for these as a matter of course, with single blocks or stamps containing a combined character that could used in place of the sets of letters. These common stand-in characters became referred to as “standard” ligatures. So lets try that phrase again with standard ligatures activated in our software:


The font has replaced these problem letter groups for the appropriate ligature – the ‘fi’ with a wider loop at the top of the ‘f’ to also provide a cap to the ‘i’, the ‘ft’ shares a common crossbar, the ‘ff’ now look like a much more comfortable pairing and the ‘fl’ are now linked at the top. Much neater.

Even iOS and Android have started to embrace standard ligatures, with the latest versions of each operating system making these substitutions automatically. This makes the type a lot more elegant, particularly on small screens where text can seem cramped at the best of times.

That’s standard ligatures then, but some fonts go a step further and have a secondary set of ‘discretionary’ ligatures. These tend to be more decorative in nature, and are intended to be used at your discretion… Hence the name. Activating discretionary ligatures on our sentence below gives the following:


Some discretionary ligatures combine frequently occurring letter pairs (like ‘ck’ or ‘st’) into a single elegant design. In some cases these reflect a historical usage, while in others the type designers are purely having a bit of typographic fun – you quite often see this in script fonts such as Cantoni Pro, where applying discretionary ligatures to the word ‘and’ replaces the characters with a much more ornate alternative.

I’ll be looking at some of these more creative type features in the next Type Tips post, including contextual alternates, titling alternates, and of course those swooping, swirling swashes.


Fonts: Calendas Plus (Atipo) – Free download / Pay with a Tweet

Design Work

Print Design: The Larder House

Another bit of branding and design work on the blog, with a look at the artwork created for the launch of the Dorset-based restaurant’s regular “Folk & Fayre” Artisan market

The Larder House has made quite a name for itself on the South Coast since opening at the start of 2011, combining a uniquely focused vision, an almost obsessive passion for food, and an inclusive enthusiasm that sweeps customers along for the ride. Proprietor and restauranteur James Fowler is always looking for new and innovative ways to share his passion for food and drink, the latest being the introduction of the “Folk & Fayre” market. This Artisan market takes place within the restaurant space and features local producers, showcasing their wares alongside some of the area’s best folk music performers.

Although resolutely progressive and forward-thinking in attitude, the aesthetic of The Larder House and its branding draws quite heavily from the Victorian era, which aside from the undeniable visual appeal has I think a particular historical resonance in this case…

The Victorian taste for ornamentation, flourishes and detailing was in many ways a direct reaction to the rapid growth of industrialisation. Artists and designers of the era felt that while this new industrial age made many aspects of their work easier it also removed some of the craftsmanship from their work. Many therefore decided to use the new techniques at their disposal to adorn their work with all manner of over-the-top embellishments, drawing liberally from all manner of historical artistic eras and reference points with the intention of disguising the technical advances of the engineers. Others took this still further, their revival of hands-on craftsmanship giving rise to the British Arts and Crafts movement – a movement that sees some clear parallels in the rise of Artisan and craft food and drink manufacturers over the past decade.

Poster and flyer design of the era followed the visual grab-bag approach, combining traditional serifs with slab-text and hand-drawn ornamental scripts, with the type often being recreated by hand and distorted or compressed to fill available space. For the Folk & Fayre artwork a hefty selection of period-appropriate fonts were used, along with some suitably ostentatious ornamentation and a handful of woodcut-style illustrations to finish things off.

The finished artwork for the first event can be seen below, then why not have a look what James & and his team have been up to over on their Facebook page!





Design: Swash and Fold
Fonts: Verna (Fenotype), Foglihten No01 (GLUK fonts), Birmingham New Street (Greater Albion Typefounders), Organically (Pintassilgo Prints), Polyspring (Pintassilgo Prints), Polonaise (URW++)

Design Work

Client Work: Angela Ward Brown Brochure

Winchester-based Wedding Photographer Angela Ward Brown (Ange to her friends) recently got in touch asking for help in putting together an eye-catching brochure to send to prospective clients.

The photography was covered of course, but Ange didn’t feel that her current brochure was in line with her current taste or fairly represented her approach – modern fine art wedding photography with a very human touch… Or as she describes it, “Personally epic and epically personal”.

With that sentiment in mind we fired up the Pinterest, and were soon able to narrow down the aesthetic to something rich in typographic flourishes, warm tones and a slightly hand-finished look. We trimmed things back to the essentials in terms of content, stripping away any verbal fussiness and letting the photos and design do the talking instead.

Take a look at the finished product below, and then check out some more examples of her work on her website!


Design: Swash and Fold
Photography: Angela Ward Brown
Fonts: Cantoni Pro (Debi Sementelli), Mirabelle Upright (Magpie Paper Works), Soin Sans Pro (Stawix)