Arno Pro, a new Slimbach typeface

For months, buzz has been circulating about Robert Slimbach’s Adobe Originals typeface Arno Pro, thanks to the Photoshop CS3 public beta, which included a pre-release version. Various intrepid folks made samples of (the pre-release) Arno for all to see in this Typophile thread. Starting today you can get the final version of Arno Pro by purchasing any configuration of Creative Suite 3 or its major consituent graphics applications such as InDesign CS3, Illustrator CS3 or Photoshop CS3. Now, the main place to go is this main page for Arno, with all sorts of samples including some links to high-res PDFs.

During the public beta I wrote that “Arno is what you might call a modernized Venetian oldstyle. I think of it as having the same relationship to Adobe Jenson that Minion has to Garamond Premier. It’s an upcoming design from Robert Slimbach with the level of language support and typographic features you might expect from a new Adobe Original typeface these days.”

Somebody else wrote on Typophile that Arno reminded them of Palatino, especially in the italics. I don’t think the typeface looks at all like Palatino in its specifics, but I would agree that it fits in much the same part of the type design continuum: it’s a very classic (and classy) text face with a bit of callgraphic flavor and yet still impressively versatile and unobtrusive. Of course, with its massive language support and five optical sizes, it’s even more versatile than Palatino in some ways. Not that I’m knocking Palatino, which is a great typeface, and has been nicely expanded as Palatino Nova.

Also, as I mention in the Typophile thread, the experimental naming scheme for optical sizes in the beta version of Arno was not something we kept in the final version; we went back to our previous scheme used in all our other typefaces instead. I wrote:

Although the new naming convention (putting the intended point size right into the name of the style) worked well for most typographers among our testers, to whom its usage was obvious, overall it caused increased confusion. Less typographically savvy users were particularly uncertain about how to deal with it.

For Adobe, it also introduced a legacy issue: what would we do with the existing fonts with the older optical-size naming convention? Either we change their style names – a major break in compatibility – or we live with two different standards.

In the end, we decided that simply keeping with the existing scheme was the best of the alternatives. For Arno, we minted a new size name of “small text” in between “caption” and “regular,” for the 10 pt optical size. Although we might come up with new names, simply prefixing “small” or “large” in front of the existing labels would give us enough optical sizes to play with for pretty much any purpose.

Speaking of names, as is often the case, Arno was not Robert’s first choice for a name for the typeface. But all our names have to go through a trademark search – not only for font trademarks, but for software in related areas. We also look for non-trademarked font names. I think Arno started out as “Gravity” and was briefly called “Story” before becoming “Sphere” for quite a while.

The worst case of name-rejection I remember is for Robert’s earlier typeface “Brioso,” which was Robert’s fifth name choice. Earlier names included “Argento,” “Grazia” and “Valente.”

“Roma” was also an early name attempt – but now I can’t remember whether it was for Arno or for Brioso! Oops. :)

I hope you enjoy Arno as much as I do. I think it has the potential to be an enduring popular classic, like Minion has become. Feel free to let us know what you think with a comment.

5 Responses

  1. Nigel Moore says:

    For Arno, we minted a new size name of “small text” in between “caption” and “regular,” for the 10 pt optical size.I can see that causing confusion, because how do you define ‘small’? Naming conventions based on usage (as Adobe currently does) or intended point size (as experimented) both makes sense to me. But I’m struggling with subjective sizing nomenclature.I guess another alternative would be to employ usage and point size in the versions to which they apply and just point sizes to intermediate versions:Blah Caption 08Blah 10Blah Regular 12But that could get unwieldy, I guess.[It's a tough question, really. I'm okay with where we've ended up at, but I'm not sure there is any really good answer - other than automatically using the right optical size. Maybe we'll get there some day. - T]

  2. Matthew Treder says:

    “…other than automatically using the right optical size.”)Yes! This is a feature whose time has come and gone…I was expecting CS3 to offer something like this, and perhaps tracking/kerning that scales automatically with the point size of the font to remain optimal.It would make sense at this stage to have the software not rely on the visual name presented to the user in the HUI, but rather on some simple metadata encoded with the font and adjustable/scalable via the InDesign preferences.[The metadata is already there. It's just a question of when/if the applications want to use it. If you want to see this in InDesign, let them know with a feature request. - T]I can’t be the only one feeling this!

  3. «”…other than automatically using the right optical size.”Yes! This is a feature whose time has come and gone…»Check out XeTeX for an OpenType system that does this…but it definitely may not be everyone’s cup of tea :)

  4. Matthew Treder says:

    Thomas, you’ve got me curious: When designing kerning pairs, do expert designers such as Miguel, Robert, and yourself start with the default optical kerning as a baseline and nudge spacing from there?Or do you prefer not to reference the computer’s optical kerning—start from a “blank slate,” as it were—and instead use your depth of knowledge and experience as a guide?[Good question. I'm not sure I know anybody who actually starts with InDesign's optical kerning - it's funny to me that you call it "the default" as I think of ther kerning built into the font as the default. Now, there are some folks who have asked for some mechanism to transfer InDesign optical kerning into FontLab. But I gather that most serious type designers would rather do their own thing from scratch. - T]

  5. Matthew Treder says:

    Huh! As a newbie typophile, I’ve sometimes resorted to optical kerning (even while using Adobe Pro fonts) to get certain word pairs to nuzzle closer together.I didn’t realize it when I asked the question, but I did make a big assumption about optical kerning in calling it the “default.” Actually, you’re right, of course — InDesign’s default behavior is metric.I’ve seen two schools of thought on metric vs. optical kerning. Several “serious” (read: published) designers advocate using optical kerning almost exclusively, particularly at large sizes. Why this should be, I don’t know. They are presumably at a level where they don’t deal as much with the low-quality, non-standard typefaces that actually do need help with their kerning pairs.It’s always interesting to compare the two. Some fonts change rather dramatically. Others barely move. If the artificial logic for optical kerning is tweaked to be as good as it can be, it would stand to reason that little would change with a well-kerned font. (Then again, Adobe probably can’t mess with its optical algorithm much, for fear of retaliation from a bazillion ID users whose docs have suddenly reflowed.)[For what it's worth, my own opinion is that optical kerning is pretty cool, but not as good as first-rate human kerning. One problem with optical kerning is that it doesn't have a concept of maintaining the rhythm of vertical stems, where possible. This influences some humans' spacing/kerning decisions. - T]

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Thomas Phinney

Adobe type alumnus (1997–2008), now VP at FontLab, also helped create WebINK at Extensis. Lives in Portland (OR), enjoys board games, movies, and loves spicy food.

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