Sumner Stone’s Magma™ II typeface can be considered a sans serif “legibility” design. Its individual letterforms and the typeface's overall proportions make Magma II highly legible at text sizes – both on screen and in print.
Sumner Stone designed his first sans serif typeface family, the eponymous ITC Stone® Sans suite of faces, in 1988. He comments, “I created ITC Stone Sans early in the era of typography on the personal computer. Since then, technology has advanced, particularly regarding the resolution of screens and output devices in general. I felt I could develop a new design which would include more subtle features.”
Stone first drew Magma with pencil so his hand could capture the organic details he envisioned. He then developed the design on screen, with an attentive eye to the Magma family’s graceful performance in a variety of environments.
Prior to licensing his entire type library to Monotype, Stone decided that the Magma family would benefit from a few additional refinements, including an extended character set that supports most Central European and many Eastern European languages. The Magma II design is the result of Stone’s revisions and enhancements to his original typeface.
Stone first became interested in letterforms as a student at Reed College in Oregon. He was attracted to the lettering arts, but continued his education along more conservative lines. However, he took a course with eminent calligrapher Lloyd Reynolds, who showed the class a film made for Hallmark Cards about Hermann Zapf. In addition to learning about the incredibly talented Mr. Zapf, Stone discovered that there were actual paying jobs for doing what he had come to love – draw letters. Hallmark hired Stone in 1969, upon his graduation from Reed with a degree in sociology. (He subsequently earned an M.A. in mathematics.)
Stone’s entire career has been devoted to the typographic arts. He has directed type development at three different companies: Autologic in California, Camex in Boston, and Adobe Systems in the Silicon Valley – where he conceived and implemented Adobe¹s typographic program, including the Adobe Originals. He currently teaches type design at Cooper Union in New York and is the principal of Stone Type Foundry in Northern California.
Sumner Stone is naturally and academically inclined toward introspection. He is not only thoughtful, but also exceptionally logical, in his approach to issues of design. He experiments, investing a great deal of time in trial and error, ultimately reaching his design decisions after careful contemplation. Few designers have Stone's twin talents of artistic sensibilities and logic, exactly the attributes conducive to creating a family such as Magma.
Stone’s refinements for the Magma II family range from subtly improving the design to creating a suite of alternate characters. To compensate for the tendency for character strokes to appear tapered when digitally imaged, Stone slightly widened the vertical stems in Magma II at the ends of the strokes. The design’s legibility also benefits from a substantial lowercase x-height, open counters and easily recognizable characters such as the two-story a and bowl-and-loop g. There are also alternate one-story forms for lower case a and g. These two characters are helpful when setting very small sizes and offer variety when setting display typography. In addition, Stone also drew an alternate l with a curved foot and a capital I with slab serifs to distinguish it from the lowercase l and the figure 1.
The Magma family is extremely nimble. It is effective for setting both traditional and mobile versions of books, periodicals and advertising copy. Magma II is also well-suited for even the most extensive branding applications, in addition to games, way finding, signage, exhibit design, Info graphics, brochures and catalogs.
The Magma II suite of typefaces is available in OpenType® Pro and Web fonts formats, allowing users to take advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including automatic insertion of the full range of additional glyphs Stone has designed. The Magma II fonts also have an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.