When Johannes Birkenback designed Perrywood, he sought to create a typeface that was ideal for digital imaging but still maintained the warmth and character of traditional typeface designs.
Loosely based on Bembo and Plantin, Perrywood’s oldstyle characteristics give the face “a familiar feel,” notes Birkenback. Yet the design still provides high-quality output at small point sizes and from low resolution output devices.
Why should the marriage of traditional charm and digital functionality count as such a notable achievement? As Birkenback explains, “Many typefaces, originally conceived as fonts of metal, had slight design inconsistencies from character to character. These help to create the flavor or charm of the face.” But, he adds, these humanizing inconsistencies are often lost “in the process of regularizing the design for low resolution output.”
To make sure Perrywood maintained its character at all sizes and at as wide a range of resolutions as possible, Birkenback adjusted his characters to have slightly more regular weights and proportions than the oldstyle letterforms he used as models. To improve legibility, counters were drawn larger than typical oldstyle designs. The result is a full-bodied design, like a Baskerville or Clarendon, with the distinctive lettershapes found in much older designs. Perrywood also offers somewhat compact spacing while still maintaining high levels of text readability.
Perrywood started out as a relatively small typeface family of five weights, ranging from Light to Extra Bold with complementary italic designs: ten fonts in all. Over the succeeding years, suites of condensed and expanded designs were added. Today, the Perrywood family has thirty typefaces – enough to take on virtually any typographic challenge.