Powerview

Turn your keyboard into the ultimate history quiz with a download of Powerview, the globetrotting dingbat collection from Moscow designers Yana Kutyina and Andrey Belonogov under the name totwo. Type uppercase A through lowercase z, add in the full set of numerals, plus $, *, %, #, @ and &. Now see how many historical figures you can identify without heading for Wikipedia.

A word about picture fonts: In the glory days of lead type, novelty ornaments nicknamed dingbats were cast along with type and printed as spot decorations and in borders. The computer age ushered in hundreds of new dingbat collections as applications like Illustrator and Photoshop made short work of creating graphics and assigning them to keyboard positions. It would be a rare person who liked each and every one of these historical personages, but nobody's calling them dingbats.

Kutyina and Belonogov have used press photos to create graphic headshots of 65 Twentieth Century history-makers in this OpenType font. Two world maps (uppercase i, lowercase u) are included, along with a sinister crosshair symbol (W) that will have bodyguards scrambling. The exclamation mark brings up a Black Power symbol from the ‘68 Olympics.

The OpenType format (.otf) is made for scaling type up and down. At sizes above 200 points, Powerview elements appear hand-cut from paper, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, below 60 points a lack of curves causes areas around the eyes and mouths to fill in. If certain political figures lose face on the way down, is that a bad thing? Well, in fonts as in politics, recognition is the key to success.

Don't try to communicate with Powerview in the traditional manner. Post-modern parsing is required when even a simple "Hello" begins with Golda Meir and ends with Francisco Franco. This font is made for schwag—banners, bags, mugs, and the like. Use a single character or even a crowd, but keep it personal, not commercial. Type the copyright symbol (unicode 0169) and you'll find totwo's signature.

History is alive for better or worse in Powerview. See these characters for what they are and to recognize the marks they left on our world.

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