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Within M.C. Escher's illustrative prints, people and things defy the logic of the natural world in a disturbing, matter-of-fact way. Sounds just like the twisted scenario of a Christopher Nolan film, but could the same illusion work for a font? The answer to that question can be found in Hommage à Escher (free), Tibor Lantos's marvel of typographic joinery. From its inception, this display font was made for illusion.
Lantos constructed his salute to Mr. Escher using FontStruct, the online application by Rob Meek that deploys collections of pixels (aka bricks) to construct forms on a grid. There are no Bezier curves in the application, but that hasn't stopped the Hungarian typographer from turning his font's two-dimensional characters into sculpture. Lantos is no stranger to FontStruction with more than 83 creations to his credit including Rivendell, a full set of woven capitals mimicking Celtic knotwork. Hommage à Escher is an update from an earlier attempt by the designer. In his latest version, cleverly shaded, two-sided horizontal and vertical posts interlock to create a 3D effect that twists the alphabet and fools the eye.
The current download includes a complete character set, numerals, and punctuation in TrueType format. Individual characters are worth studying from an architect's viewpoint. The uppercase A and H extend platforms at midlevel to serve as crossbars; the top half of the X cantilevers backwards from its lower half and the M is comprised of a set of gothic-style arches that Escher-himself no slouch at rendering architecture-would appreciate.
Fascinating as its construction is, Hommage à Escher is not the go-to solution for every design job. Set short, simple, and large. Start at 200 points. Consider leading lines at a measure half the character's size if text breaks to more than one line. Working with a short word like "chair" is a safe bet, but longer character counts like "onomatopoeia" lose their impact as Lantos's artfully constructed forms compete with each other for attention.
This font is licensed for personal use only, but don't let that keep you from changing the everyday reality of your font collection. Someone in your crowd have a birthday coming up? Apply their initials monogram style to a personalized coffee mug or screen that same monogram large onto a messenger bag flap. With Hommage à Escher and a bit of kerning, your gift will rate more than a passing glance.
Note: To use this font, unzip the folder and install the .ttf files in the folder C:\Windows\Fonts. Note that the font won't appear in your applications until you close and re-open them.