Typeface Review

Ocre

Reviewed by Aoife Mooney on July 5, 2017

Pedro Leal’s Ocre typeface system is a really useful typographic tool, offering coordinated flavors of texture and a consistently energetic tone of voice in one integrated family.

The tension and bold movements of the text versions are exaggerated and distilled in the swashes available in the Poster weights; these combine to give Ocre a friendly, sassy personality. The serifed I, G, and C in the sans serif establish a quirky bureaucratic flavor that evolves from the pragmatic to the lyrical in the Poster weights’ playful, chunky ornaments.

I’ll tentatively wager that this family falls into what Jan Middendorp calls the “bookish and multilingual” genre of modern types that perform fantastically at text sizes but scale up well to continue providing visual complexity. On this score, the Poster weight shines a light on the genuinely inventive solutions found throughout the family. In the closely woven texture of the heavy poster weight, decisions about the logic of the shape language are pared back to their core, and the underlying structure writ large. In order to maintain and intensify personality and movement in this weight, serifs are swollen with youthful plumpness; this appears to be the key idea, imperative to preserve in all weights, ever conscious of maintaining the essence and recognizability of the forms. This is most evident in things like the section mark, double dagger, and tight numerals like the 3 and 5, whose diagonally oriented curves continue a calligraphic tendency that was very delicately infused through the tapering and flexing stems of the lighter weights.

The proportions of this family, with its open forms, square curves, and defined junctions, make for a very versatile text typeface suitable for screen and print, running text, branding, and wayfinding. Ocre is large on the body, with a tall x-height, open apertures, and a relatively wide girth (particularly the italic, which is closely matched to the roman in width, giving it an equal rather than supporting role in the family). The ribbon-like strokes in the sans have an almost glyphic quality, with a sense of tautness and depth amplified in the contrast between the outer and inner contours. The uniformity of color and width also alludes to a Dutch influence and, to my eye, there is something of PT Sans’ top-loaded nature. Throughout, there is a soft, subtle bounce in the stems that adds nuance, spring, and energy to the face and a clarity of form that is easily readable in a variety of contexts.

Aoife Mooney holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading. She has over seven years of type design experience, having worked as a full-time typeface designer for Hoefler & Frere-Jones before becoming a freelance typeface designer and consultant for Frere-Jones Type and Google since moving to Ohio in 2013. She is an Assistant Professor at Kent State University, where she researches, writes about and teaches type design, typography and graphic design.

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