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Article: Gothic Lettering: The Definition & The Use In Graphic Design

Gothic Lettering: The Definition & The Use In Graphic Design

Created by _lennart13_  -

When talking about design, document, or copy, one very vital element is font. Your choice of typeface will have different nuances based on the design. Some of them exude the sense of casual, formal, simple, or also unique. So, it is not a surprise that you can work with many documents as long as you know what kind of lettering to use.

From the abundance of options out there, you might hear about gothic lettering. What is it? Does it relate to horror? While it is popular in many gothic-related fashion and trends. But it has more than just the scary grim-looking type. To help you learn more about it, read further for some unique facts, uses definitions, and characteristics.  


What Is It About 

Just as the name says, the font is a style of lettering that is starting to be loved and popular. Most of the time, the popularity hit hard artistic projects, documents, copy, and many other uses. That is why you can easily find a great range of font designs on the internet. It also proved that lettering has also been supported in many computer OS. 

Supposed that the use and the popularity are increasing, many media are starting to support the gothic fonts. You can find it as part of the default typeface in the document's editor app; it is also available in many print shops, stamps, and many more. But does gothic lettering mean only for certain uses or nuance? The answer is no. 

You can see that many experts in calligraphy, copy, and writing, say that it is just one of the letterings that are heavily stereotyped. In other words, it does not necessarily have significant uses. Except it does have unique characteristics that tell a certain ambiance. To give you an insight, this kind of gothic font is used in various parts of Western Europe. 

The unique styling and characteristic set apart the old 1100s calligraphy from the early 18th century western Europe version. It shows that the gothic name is just a name. The typeface has more history that shows how calligraphy has varying uses, meaning, and functions. Thus, gothic lettering is a mere name for a particular type of typeface. 

Further information also stated that the font also represents an element of culture. In this case, it is believed to be part of the gothic culture in the Germanic tribal communities living in western Europe. With that in mind, many experts designate lettering as one of the scripts from the ancient Greek or Roman dynasty.   

Lately, the name of the gothic lettering itself is known as blackletter. It is a gothic minuscule that originated from the western European script. So, the typographical and calligraphic styles are pretty much resembling the old script from the 18th century. In this case, the blackletter is later divided into two which are fracture and Schwabacher.  

The lettering itself is mostly used as an alphabet, but it also has some designs for numeric and some other elements. For more, gothic lettering has reached a range of locations with its different styling. It later has a Visigothic script that is the staple script for the Visigoths in Iberia. While it does have variances and types, it all has some familiar elements in it. 

Created by _smitcalligraphy_


The Origins

Before talking about the characteristic, it is appropriate to talk about its origins. One thing that makes the gothic font known is its uses in the Carolingian script. The progressive modification, the change of aesthetic perception, or adoption has made the lettering bloom with trends and models. But most of the designs come with the same origins.  

As said before, gothic lettering is known and found far on the 18th-century documents. It is mostly found in the western European documentation that comes with its definite script characteristic. With that in mind, you can say that the sense and ambiance of the fonts are bound to be the perfect medieval-looking document. 

It has a dramatic influence, with contrast and detailed decoration on each script. And most of all, it also has dark letterforms that are full of impacts. It brings the exaggeration that turns into one of the reasons why the lettering is associated with dark, horror, or grim details. It is pretty hard to describe the gothic lettering in words, but Edward Johnston made a good description of it. 

In his book writing and illuminating, and lettering from 1994, he makes a good description for it. He said that the gothic alphabets have rightly been made and used. He also pinpoints that the lettering is one of the most picturesque fonts with impactful ornamentation. Every part of the element has value. 

Edward also implies that while the lettering has a dark disposition, it also fairly takes romance into account. Thus, it turns into a fancy halo of romance and horror fonts. The blackletter or gothic lettering itself has also been described as a font with a fencepost form. It is true since the calligraphic essence is quite rigid and squared. 

1. The Middle Age 1200-1500 

Another article about gothic lettering also highlights the old middle ages around 1200-1500 origins. It is said that the name derived from the historical, gothic period, which used alphabets to communicate. Surprisingly, the type and the model itself make a very clear difference from other types of gothic lettering.

2. Medieval Europe 

As said before, most of the experts square up a conclusion that the gothic font originated from medieval Europe. It was stated it started around the 18th century since there are ranges of scripts found using the lettering. But it happens at different times. It said that the font possibly derives from the surging era of gothic architecture. 

When this type of architecture was the predominant style, western Europe also adopted the same design for their script. Thus, the lettering does share some characteristics from the architecture design. Part of the point goes to its vertical, regular ornate, and abundance of decorative elements. So, you can see a clear correlation between the two. 

 3. Germanic Origins 

One of the pieces of information also shows that the gothic font came from the German script. Indeed, you can find ranges of gothic type, design, and alphabets in German documents made of a romantic yet grim copy. It is also safe to say that lettering was used a long time ago. You can see it from the old printed traditional books to the twentieth century. 

At some point, you can also see the traditional gothic lettering on some signage or alphabets. Yes, you can see that Germans love the gothic aesthetic, which is later seen from some pharmacy signs in Germany. The traditional blackletter is also found in chemists. But, one thing that makes them a little bit different is the slightly curly design.  

Created by thejournalsupreme


The Characteristic 

So, what makes the gothic lettering so unique that it is loved by people from the old-time to the current generation? Supposedly it goes to the fact that it has certain characteristics that make it different. The unique styling is not the only reason why gothic reaches a younger audience. The sheer charm of its lettering is also the reason how it works nowadays. 

To help you know and recognize the style of lettering, you will need to learn some of its staple characteristics. Either in traditional uses, modern, or digital ones, they are bound to have some pinpoints. It is not only helpful information to recognize the style but learning the distinctive design will also help you to create or write one. 

1. The Use Of Sans Serif 

The first thing that you can identify right away is the sans serif. It is the prominent element of the gothic lettering that you need to jot down. Sans serif lettering is the perfect gothic element in the script. Using sans also means increasing the readability since the lettering has a lot of ornaments in it. 

However, there are also some gothic lettering that uses serif. It mostly comes from the Romans' influence to not use sans serif at all. So, how do the Romans make the serif font to fit the gothic aesthetic? The answer is the additional stroke from the base or giving some additional detail in other areas of the letter. 

This detailing explains how gothic lettering puts value on the ornament and detailing. However, there is also an assumption that says that it used to be without serif. It is because the lettering is mostly used for formal documentaries that need a clear script. Another reason also comes to how the angular strokes will affect every start and the end line.

With the serif style font, the gothic lettering is known as block printing. But again, it is also due to the use of anglicized French form of sans serif. In other words, the old serif is not 100% what it is. It is an adoption of how the sans and serif work together to create beautiful picturesque lettering. 

Created by handofthequill


2. Regularity and Uniformity 

The uniformity means a lot of gothic fonts. The lettering has a lot of ornaments, details, decorations, and shapes. But, the primary key is uniformity. The idea is that you will see every alphabet has its design and model. Using it regularly in the body copy will create a uniform look. It is not only creating a whole sentence but also elevating the readability. 

It is easier to achieve in modern days. With the help of document editing software and font, nailing every uniform and regularity of gothic lettering is easier. While you can pay attention to every character design, at some point, you can add more flair to the sentence. Their reason is to adhere to the sense of romance in it. 

Created by joy_of_creating


3. The Breaking Of The Curves

The prominent characteristic you can always see in every gothic lettering is the breaking of the curves. A regular font will always have rounded or pointed joints from every curve. However, the blackletter always has curved breaks. It is due to its angular strokes, which later prevent the perfectly jointed end of the line and curves. 

Created by eli.dyzajn


4. Angular Strokes  

To make it easier, you can imagine drawing or lettering using a highlighter pen with a chiseled point. Use angular strokes about 45 degrees. Move it and form every character without rotating the pen. The result will make perfect gothic lettering with breaking curves, regular and uniform-looking design. That is why the angular 45-degree stroke is the noticeable character.  

Created by tre.zen


Making The Font 

If you want to make gothic lettering, you will need at least some basic skills. One of the things that you need to do is draw straight vertical lines. After that, you also need good control and precision to draw small movements with the nib. Don't forget that the lettering uses a lot of short, thin, thick, and straight diagonal lines. And lastly, rhythm.

You will also need to work with a 45-degree angle when drawing the gothic font. So, ensure you prepare some of the basic equipment to work with. You can start practicing drawing with a 45-degree angle with a small dash stroke. Try to work in rhythm or consistency. After that, move on and make some of the diagonal strips and make some alphabet. 

Do it a few times. So you know how to make consistent lines. It is easier to work with downward serif strokes. Then, continue to make an upward stroke with the same 45-degree angle position. It will make a very thin pen stroke. Repeat the order and make sure you get a constant and clean lining. 

Before you start writing your own, learn and study about the gothic script. See the movement to make each alphabet. Thus you can imagine how to move your stroke. You can start with easier alphabets, such as I or U. Find out how to make the cap part of the serif, the body, and the tail. The key is to work again and again to find the right rhythm. 

It is also worth noting that some letters demand a pen rotation. The best example is K. In this case, learn how to move your stroke and make the gothic lettering clear. You will need a vertical line, a rotating upper diagonal stroke, and a simple downward right line for the leg. After you learn the basic shape, movement, and details, you can start working with some ornament. 

The ornaments in gothic lettering are range from simple to extravagant ones. One of the best examples is the use of an intricate tail for the capital letter. There are also caps and also decoration swashes that help create wholesome calligraphy. When it comes to gothic script ornament, you can experiment with it and find the best one.   

Created by kaligrafik_tipografik


The Use 

Where and when can you use the lettering? There are many occasions where you can find the gothic design font. The point is that it is one of the most beautiful scripts to work. Thus, most people use it mainly for decoration or aesthetics. However, it also works for an ornate headline, branding, logo, etc. Here are some examples. 

1. Certificates And Formal Documents 

A certificate and formal documents might be some of the best examples you can get. In certificate, the gothic or blackletter font is meant as a highlight or stating the primary purpose. Thus, you can see it as the headline, title, or detailing. But the formal documents also use it to add some flair or aesthetic. It is better than using it as the body copy. 

2. Fashion 

Since it has a tough aesthetic point, the fashion industry started to use gothic lettering as a trendsetter. And yes, there are a lot of typefaces that come out with the typeface design or style. It has thick, strong black letters, fancy alphabets, and some decorative points. It can even make a romantic, scary, tough, or simply fashionable point. 

Created by saintmorta


3. Heavy Metal Bands 

It is not necessarily supposed to be heavy metal bands, but the gothic lettering can make a pretty strong feeling in it. Thus, the heavy metal bands tend to use the script to make an impactful logo name. But again, it also works with the same type of strong impression industries such as dirt bike, hiking, rock band, etc. 

4. Quotation 

Some quotations use the gothic font to make them stand out among other copies. In other words, the unique styling helps create emphasis and highlight. However, most of the quotations with this lettering come in small numbers or short quotes. If it is for a longer quote, it might disrupt the copy layout.

Created by az114_ink



Considering how far the font world has been developing, this kind of option is far from rare. In many cases, the surging popularity makes the gothic typeface envelop a bunch of mediums. You can see it as a document copy, for quotation, some brand, fashion, or simply as an aesthetic point. Of course, it has stereotypes, but it is still one of many unique fonts to choose from.

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