Source Serif Italics are here!
When Source Serif was released in 2014, one of the first user requests was the addition of Italic styles. At the time, I had a complete Italic ready, which had been scheduled for release with the upright styles. After some deliberation with Robert Slimbach, however, we decided that its design quality was not a match to the Roman. It was a disappointing decision to hold the Italics back at the time, but in hindsight I can say it was a good one.
Drawing from inspiration, and history
My Italics for Source Serif were initially something of a free association, especially compared to the Romans, which were informed by the type found in Fournier’s Manuel Typographique. When working on a historically-inspired typeface, it is very tempting to polish the design over and over, and remove all historical reference. In this case that temptation led to a less harmonious, faceless Italic design.
In consequence, I decided to redraw Italics from scratch, this time more closely inspired by some of Fournier’s work. This exercise helped me to inject some of the characteristics found in the original specimen. I tried to stay true to the historical source where I could; the limp leg of the k, the terminal-less j and the unique shape of the g are all Fournier references.
Why it took four years
Using Italics is a natural expectation for any type user today, and I received no shortage of requests for this after the initial release in 2014. I clearly understood everyone’s frustration, being frustrated myself about the initial delay.
One explanation is the fact that Source Serif itself is a part of a much bigger project: Source Han Serif. Many glyphs (and months of work) were needed, and since CJK writing systems do not traditionally use Italic styles, the emphasis of my work was to expand the Roman styles as far as possible, which manifested in a version 2.0 release in 2017.
When other projects weren’t a factor, there was also the nature of the design process to consider. Some days, progress is made very quickly; on other days, it feels like the ability to properly see the typeface just isn’t there. Over those years, I had plenty of both kinds of days.
Supported character sets
At the moment, the Roman styles of Source Serif support the Adobe Latin-4, Adobe Cyrillic-2, and Adobe Greek-1 character sets. They were initially released with just Adobe Latin-3 support, and gained the new character sets with the 2.0 release in early 2017.
The Italics have Adobe Latin-3 support today, just like the first release of the Roman did. Naturally, the plan is to align the character support across all styles, so that there are Greek and Cyrillic italics as well as AL-4 support for it. We have already enlisted the help of Irene Vlachou and Emilios Theofanous to help draw the Greek Italic.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the release of Source Serif’s Italics today. Sync the fonts directly from Typekit, or visit GitHub for the full range of downloadable versions, including variable fonts.