Cronos® is a humanist sans serif typeface designed by Robert Slimbach and released by Adobe in 1996. The style of the Cronos typeface is taken from Italian Renaissance calligraphy but with a modern lilt. The Cronos font family comprises 32 typefaces in total including italics, regular and several caption styles all available across 4 weights.
Cronos is another of Robert Slimbach‘s revival of Renaissance fonts in a series he worked on for over a decade. In his earlier years he worked and developed his interest in typefaces at Autologic Inc., of California. Moving up to a position as type designer after being he also took a liking to calligraphy and was formally trained in both disciplines. After producing a few of his own typefaces, he joined Adobe in 1987 and began a career with the software giant and is now a well-known figure in the world of modern typography with award winning designs and typefaces in his portfolio.
Cronos was the son of Uranus and Gaea in Greek Mythology but it is unknown whether this was the intended meaning of the name given to this simplistic typeface. It may be a play on the Greek word ‘Chronos’ meaning “time” – an apt name because it is a very timeless looking typeface. At first glance it is hard to detect what might have been the original period from which the roots of this elegant sans serif belong.
The connection to calligraphic style can be seen on close inspection; the lower tail if the “c” gives us a clue alongside the trailing tail of the lower case “a” and “d” as these tend toward a sharp profile as a quill might leave when completing a letter and being lifted from the page. These small clues point toward the early origins of the Cronos typeface design and further observation will show other nuances of quill-written texts.
The sharp elbow of the fully-lopped “g” and the flattening of the front of the enclosed “e” where there is a curve that does not match the lower tail, but mimics the flat outline that interrupts the curve created when a quill pen makes the crossbar and continues to curve back on itself and forming the tail which is also pointed.
Other identifying shapes include ligatures such as “fi” and “fl”. There are also some interesting curves apparent in the lowercase “y” stroke, the “w“, and the “v”. These small details, many even more apparent in the italicized versions of Cronos, are subtle enough to give the typeface individuality without looking too contrived by the original design it was based upon – notably Renaissance calligraphy and chancery cursive.
The numerals are surprisingly modern with an open “4” and the Cronos typeface includes non-lining as well as lining numeral figures. The newness of the design is further reflected by the inclusion of the Euro sign along with many other currency symbols. The character set is replete with glyphs covering western languages with Greek symbols and many ligatures – even some more unusual 3-letter ligatures too.
The resulting typeface is a fairly individual face that may not have a place in mainstream texts such as magazines and newspapers but more specialized use in books, reproductions of older manuscripts, book titling, introductions and epilogues, greetings cards and as a caption font.