What You Can Do with Variable Fonts in Illustrator CC

The latest release of Illustrator CC supports variable fonts, an OpenType font format that offers typeface personalization

by Wayne Hoang

posted on 01-12-2018

The latest release of Illustrator CC supports variable fonts — an OpenType font format that offers typeface personalization — that includes properties such as weight, width, slant, and optical size, just to name a few.

As more font foundries and typographers adopt this technology, you should see more and more variable fonts available to you in the future. In the meantime, with the latest release of Illustrator, we have packaged a few variable fonts for you to try.

The following variable fonts from Adobe Type are included in the latest update of Illustrator CC:

Now, what can you do with these fonts?

Type weights

Variable fonts let you adjust all sorts of custom attributes. While the attributes depend on what font you’re using and what the typographer originally defined, many fonts allow you to control the weight of your type. The Source, Acumin, Minion, and Myriad fonts let you define the exact weight. Adjusting type weights could be particularly helpful if you’re adapting designs for multiple sizes. Depending on the size of your work, different weights can make a big difference in readability.

Minion also includes an attribute for optical size, which even allows the overall design of the text to be optimized for the scale of your text, from small caption sizes to large display settings.

Type widths

You may have used kerning or tracking to adjust the spacing of your copy. But with some variable fonts, like Acumin or Myriad, you can define the width of your type. So instead of just being able to manipulate the spacing of your copy, you can now adjust the character width. No longer do you need to stick to predefined settings like condensed; you now have full control over your type. If you’re working with documents that require a lot of adjustments, adjusting the width can help you improve readability in your layouts.

The other use case is headlines. Adjusting widths can be another tool in your arsenal, along with tracking and kerning, to eliminate orphans in your headlines.

Type slant

Influenced by calligraphy, italics have been used to emphasise key points in a printed text or when quoting a speaker to show which words they stressed. With existing fonts, you were limited in degree to which the font angled or slanted. Variable fonts like Acumin allow you to adjust the angle of the slant.

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Topics: Creativity, Illustration, Typography