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We've all seen examples of 3D letters; on signage, on TV, in movies, and there is certainly no shortage of 3D logos flying around & performing other silly tricks on the Web. Dimensional Typography begins with an essay which defines and briefly discusses the different methods of rendering dimensional type: Extrusion, Rotation, Shadowing, Tubing, Molecular Construction, Bloating and Modular Construction. The navigational concerns of dimensional typography are touched upon but not thoroughly discussed. Unfortunately, Miller comes to an abrupt stop just when it gets moving at a good clip. How traditional typographic methods and techniques might apply are not addressed and possible consequences in terms of legibility and readability of adding dimension to letterforms are not acknowledged.
Several intriguing case studies printed on a fine semi-translucent 90 lb. paper immediately follow the essay. The first is a collection of serifed vertical stroke ends based on 19th century wood types. Entitled "Crystal Goblins," the shapes are rotated on their center and appear to have the quality of being made of glass or crystal (a quite literal interpretation of Beatrice Warde's essay The Crystal Goblet). Another case study is a spread of Adrian Frutiger's typeface, Univers. The characters, A-Z, are displayed--each letterform revolved around its respective origin point. They are given light and shadow, and become unique, cylindrical forms. Also presented among the case studies are Guy Williams' 3D interpretations of Zuzana Licko's font, Modula Ribbed and Lucas de Groot's Jesus Loves You. In this state both have taken on an other-worldly biomorphic appearance.
In the end, Dimensional Typography's case studies will pleasantly leave you imagining what other letterforms could become--given more depth and movement. The text will leave you imagining how much better this book could have been--given the same attention.
The Crystal Goblet by Beatrice Warde
Univers is available from Linotype Library GmbH
Modula Ribbed is available from Emigre
Jesus Loves You is available from FontShop
Dimensional Typography: Case Studies on the Shape of Letters in Virtual Environments (A Kiosk Report)