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Commentary

Lapture: Tim Ahrens’ Tribute to Albert Kapr

Tim Ahrens on December 11, 2005

LaptureThe proper way to revive old and unavailable type is oft debated. Rarely is a revival as responsibly undertaken as Lapture, Tim Ahrens’ digitization and redesign of Leipziger Antiqua, by Albert Kapr. I asked Ahrens to share his experience with this project. His words are below. — SJC


The typeface Leipziger Antiqua is arguably the most prominent of East German typographer Albert Kapr. If you wonder how to pronounce the name of this typeface properly, in Leipzig you would end up with something that sounds pretty much like “Lapture”, the name under which this font has recently been published by my newly established label Just Another Foundry.

Albert KaprOriginally published by Typoart in 1971, this typeface was all but forgotten after the 1990 changes in Eastern Germany. I was really taken with this font. I could hardly believe it was not available in digital format. Maybe this is simply because nobody really felt responsible for it. I decided to contact Kapr’s widow and was granted permission to digitize Leipziger Antiqua.

A unique feature of this font was the introduction of blackletter shapes into a latin typeface. According to Kapr, “The basic concept is to string together narrow white hexagons as counters and inter-letter spaces, defined by vertical stems and triangular serifs. The interior spaces are at least as important as the strokes that make up the characters.”

The last few years have seen a number of very elegant typefaces based on the mellow and feminine renaissance model. However, sometimes we require a font that is strong and robust, harmonic yet rigid. Lapture is an interesting option whenever a reference to gothic style is desired, as true blackletter types are often too eye-catching and not as legible as latin fonts for readers unfamiliar with the style.

When Leipziger Antiqua was digitized, several scans of different optical sizes were used. Hot metal as well as photocomposition samples were used as a model for Lapture, with slight modifications to the letter shapes.

Lapture

Since the original did not include any bold weight, the first attempt was to extrapolate the bold master from the existing regular and semi bold weights. However, it was obvious that the bold would require a new design. The extrapolation also revealed some inconsistencies between the regular and semibold original. The new design shows more consistent characteristics and serifs. Lapture Semibold, which was derived from this design, is stylistically closer to the regular weights than the original.

Leipziger Antiqua Semibold and Lapture Semibold

Top is the original semibold of Leipziger Antiqua, below is the semibold from Lapture. The capitals of the redesign show a pen angle that matches the lowercase better.

Since the fonts are provided in OpenType format, some advanced features were implemented. The fonts include alternate glyphs, swash italic caps, and case sensitive punctuation next to more common features such as small caps and several sets of figures. Contextual substitution shortens the endings of several glyphs.

Lapture contextual features

Features as these, that have only recently been made technically possible, are certainly an interesting attemt to push typographic standards forward. However, if they are merely technical gimmicks or really add to the design quality of fonts will be seen in the future when both type designers and typographers become more familiar with OpenType.

The Lapture family consists of 24 weights in four optical sizes.

Tim Ahrens is a type designer and architect based in Berlin. He runs Just Another Foundry with Shoko Mugikura. His JAF Lapture and JAF Mashine typefaces received honorable mentions on Typographica’s list in 2005 and his JAF Bernini Sans was selected for the 2012 list. Tim has a degree in architecture from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), and holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (UK).

3 Comments

  1. jacques Le Bailly says:

    Very nice !

    Although this typeface has originally been released in the 70s, is looks and feels very contemporary to me.

    Greetings,
    Jacques

  2. Ricardo Cordoba says:

    Thanks for this very interesting article!

    Contextual substitution shortens the endings of several glyphs.

    It’s hard not to marvel at the possibilities OpenType is giving type designers — and you’ve found a very subtle use for it here.

  3. Alexandre Ataide says:

    Beautiful! I always wanted to make my own typeface blending elements of roman and blackletter types.

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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