P22's going Underground

News|Digital Arts| 2007-09-14 12:46:55

P22 Type Foundry has released Underground Pro, an extensive font set based on Edward Johnston's historical type design for London Transport's Underground Railway system.

Underground Pro is the most expansive P22 font system ever. It includes 6sixweights with language support for Latin (extended Latin, plus IPA, Vietnamese, symbols and stylistic variants), Greek (monotonic & polytonic) and Cyrillic (extended including Russian, Bulgarian, and Serbian) languages.

Cumulatively, there are over 5,000 glyphs in each of the weights (Pro only). Other features include Small Caps and Petite Caps for all weights, titling options that mimic London Transport signage and the addition of lower case characters to the bold weight. Underground Pro is also packaged with fonts in basic OpenType format for applications that do not support Pro OpenType features such as Microsoft Word.

Edward Johnston was commissioned in 1916 to design a font for use in the London Transport system. The typeface was the central figure for what became Britain's most extensive corporate identity and immediately became an icon in graphic design and typography. The font was used for decades, unmodified. In 1980, 'New Johnston' was designed by Banks and Miles and the new font replaced the 1916 design in the London Transport identity. In 1997, P22 reached an exclusive agreement with the London Transport Museum to revive the original design and the historical font was made commercially available for the first time.

The overall design of Underground Pro, like the P22 London Underground Set (1997), is kept as intended by Johnston and builds upon the proportion system adhered to by Johnston in designing the London Underground face. Although the regular and bold weights have been subtly redrawn for Underground Pro, the characteristics of the 1916 design remain intact. The possibilities of OpenType have also afforded a great opportunity to expand on this classic type design.

The Pro version includes alternate caps from Johnston's lettering for Dryad, "humanistic" and "geometric" alternates and a stylistic set that replaces all the diamond-shaped punctuation and diacritic marks with circular ones. The font was designed by Paul Hunt who adds: "Ultimately, I wanted to make a typeface system which was thoroughly customizable so that the user could change its appearance to suit their particular needs."