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Looking for a font to celebrate the wearing of the green? Return to the heyday of Irish calligraphy with Rivendell, an intricate display font by Hungarian designer Tibor Lantos. Rivendell (free) is a stunning tribute to the art of Celtic knotwork and the Insular style of ornamentation that emerged in post-Roman Ireland and Great Britain around 600AD.
Lantos began work on Rivendell in 2009 using Fontstruct, Rob Meek's free, online design application. With over 80 fontstructions to his credit, Lantos was no stranger to filling a grid with digital collections of pixels (aka bricks), yet the final release of Rivendell took two years to come to the screen.
This font has it roots in Faramir and Valimar, two previous Tolkien-inspired FontStructions by the designer. Faramir--a blocky display font filled with black and crossed by fine white grid lines--contributed shape and proportion, while Valimar--an earlier knotwork attempt--was cloned for over-lapping forms. Celtic Knot Thingy, a freeware program by Doug Zongker, served to inspire the intricate over-and-under weaving of the lines. Look closely at the forms in Rivendell and you'll see that each consists of a closed loop, a sign of solid Knot Theory.
Construction of the Rivendell font was problematic. At first, the large number of bricks needed to create the optical illusion of plaited lines pushed the limits of Fontstruct. Characters took forever to render on screen, followed by endless waiting for slow-running saves that crashed, losing hours of work. Eventually the file was divided into two parts to cut down on rendering time--not an optimal form for a font release. Sixteen months later, an updated Fontstruct provided the muscle needed to handle a united and somewhat extended set.
Rivendell is a bold work, best used at 90 points and up to take full advantage of the open areas inside the weave. Output a single character using a high end laser printer and frame it for long term contemplation. For those on a budget, inkjet printing and cardstock will do if the job is a quick pile of commemorative beer coasters.
The Rivendell font set currently includes full uppercase and numerals, limited punctuation, and some specialty characters including @ and $. Alternative characters are available for a, e, w, i, and y and Lantos has plans to complete the lowercase set, adding diacritics to accommodate Celtic languages still spoken in Europe and elsewhere. Although Lantos's home in Budapest is far from the fens and bogs of Ireland, it appears his patient determination is a match for the ornamental scribes of the Emerald Isle. Rivendell, with all its twists and turns, is a font to love for its connection to history and for Lantos's perseverance in building a remarkable illusion one brick at a time.