Requiemme Decorum font: Blackletter in gothic

Grace is never far from grief, but the form it takes depends on patience as well as the size of the heart. Requiemme Decorum (free), a display typeface by California designer Gene Buban, combines the dark beauty of traditional blackletter with the gothic quality of light as seen through cathedral glass.

It is a font built to remind us that hope and solace can be captured in unexpected places, even in typographic forms. The 58 characters of Requiemme Decorum include a full upper and lower case followed by the barest of punctuation: a period, a comma, and an apostrophe. There is no exclamation point or question mark, no numerals, and no extraneous glyphs. This download appears simple, but it is made for setting words to contemplate. That would be words like Grace, Hope, Memory, and Forgiveness. Start them with capitals and write them large.

What is lost in the lack of full punctuation and numeral sets, is gained in the beauty of 56 characters that sit on the page on screen in a kind of inky glory, as solid as the walls of Notre Dame. Add a soft glow in Photoshop and watch them fill with light. We were also struck by how the cutwork within the letters behaves as the point size increases. What appears to be delicate lace at 42 points becomes as sharp edged as metal cutwork at 500. The stained-glass details are built from hundreds of tiny white brick forms, painstakingly slotted into a FontStruct grid and then surrounded by walls of black bricks.

Imagine coaxing a colony of ants to link legs to produce the Brooklyn Bridge and you'll get an idea of the work involved to make each character. Requiemme Decorum has limited range, but what display face should be asked to multi-task? Although you'll find no copyright or trademark sign among the characters, this is a download for personal use unless you have permission from the designer, who is sharing with us a work very close to his heart.

[Kate Godfrey is a designer in San Francisco.]

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