At a Glance
- Perfect penmanship is a keyboard away
- This style gets busy fast
With all its romantic flourishes, this lovely script font will make you swoon.
Sorry to overshare, but as the season of valentines approaches
I’ve been on the hunt for a graphic Cyrano de Bergerac; a font made
to whisper poetry while I bashfully stand off to the side hoping
that this year I wrote the perfect rhyme. Prospects were looking
grim until Canadian Typographer Claude Pelletier
showed up with Champignon and its flirty brother, Champignon Swash.
The designer’s italic duo seems destined for romancing, even though
the style’s background is all business.
The Champignons are the digital descendents of Spencerian
lettering, named for Platt Rogers Spencer, the father of proper
penmanship. Mr. Spencer believed in writing business communication
quickly, precisely, and by hand. His lettering method was the
standard for professional correspondence until the invention of the
typewriter in the 1920s. After his death in 1864, his sons
published the Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship, a volume that
became a classroom standard until it was replaced by the simpler
Palmer method. Pelletier brings Spencer’s no-nonsense principles of
legibility on screen without losing the little touches that give
the Champignon fonts their handsome personality, such as when the
cap R preserves the talented penman’s ability to create a visually
striking letter in two controlled strokes. Even the lowercase p
descends and rises with deft precision. Spencer would be proud.
There can be major drawbacks to bringing lettering styles
online. Prepare for some handiwork of your own. Champignon and
Champignon Swash have extravagant ascenders and descenders, which
crop off if the text is set with tight leading. The word spacing
needs tightening to hold phrases together and the letter spacing
bears watching as caps often need a push to marry up with the
lowercase. Periods and commas are over-scaled and need to drop in
size wherever they go.
Champignon comes with full upper and lowercase sets, old style
numerals, and diacritics. Punctuation styles promise an expressive
pay-off: The parentheses lean towards each other ready to hug witty
asides, and the question mark is poised to be the perfect gentleman
even when asking the big questions. The ampersand appears to be off
dancing the Tarantella. Avoid using this last mark more than once
or it will steal the show. There’s a slightly quieter version in
the Swash set.
Champignon Swash provides some puzzling alternatives to the main
set with lowercase letters that loom and curl like monkey tails and
an uppercase that functions like a small cap set. To use Swashes to
your advantage, set your text in Champignon first and then break
out this second set for the final flourishes. Keep the point size
at 72 and above, and practice restraint. A little goes a long way
when you’re dressing text in this style.
Pelletier has generously placed Champignon and Champignon Swash
in the public domain using a General Public License (GNU). You are
free to use the works in personal and commercial projects; just
don’t sign yourself as the fonts’ creator. It didn’t work for
Cyrano’s friend Christian de Neuvillette, either.
I’m feeling more confident as the daunting day of hearts and
flowers draws near. The Champignons are sure to have my back and
perhaps yours, too, as we sally forth to delight a special someone.
Now where the heck is that rhyming dictionary?