by Thomas Phinney
For months, buzz has been circulating about Robert Slimbach’s Adobe Originals typeface Arno Pro, thanks to the Photoshop CS3 public beta, which included a pre-release version. Various intrepid folks made samples of (the pre-release) Arno for all to see in this Typophile thread. Starting today you can get the final version of Arno Pro by purchasing any configuration of Creative Suite 3 or its major consituent graphics applications such as InDesign CS3, Illustrator CS3 or Photoshop CS3. Now, the main place to go is this main page for Arno, with all sorts of samples including some links to high-res PDFs.
During the public beta I wrote that “Arno is what you might call a modernized Venetian oldstyle. I think of it as having the same relationship to Adobe Jenson that Minion has to Garamond Premier. It’s an upcoming design from Robert Slimbach with the level of language support and typographic features you might expect from a new Adobe Original typeface these days.”
Somebody else wrote on Typophile that Arno reminded them of Palatino, especially in the italics. I don’t think the typeface looks at all like Palatino in its specifics, but I would agree that it fits in much the same part of the type design continuum: it’s a very classic (and classy) text face with a bit of callgraphic flavor and yet still impressively versatile and unobtrusive. Of course, with its massive language support and five optical sizes, it’s even more versatile than Palatino in some ways. Not that I’m knocking Palatino, which is a great typeface, and has been nicely expanded as Palatino Nova.
Also, as I mention in the Typophile thread, the experimental naming scheme for optical sizes in the beta version of Arno was not something we kept in the final version; we went back to our previous scheme used in all our other typefaces instead. I wrote:
Although the new naming convention (putting the intended point size right into the name of the style) worked well for most typographers among our testers, to whom its usage was obvious, overall it caused increased confusion. Less typographically savvy users were particularly uncertain about how to deal with it.
For Adobe, it also introduced a legacy issue: what would we do with the existing fonts with the older optical-size naming convention? Either we change their style names – a major break in compatibility – or we live with two different standards.
In the end, we decided that simply keeping with the existing scheme was the best of the alternatives. For Arno, we minted a new size name of “small text” in between “caption” and “regular,” for the 10 pt optical size. Although we might come up with new names, simply prefixing “small” or “large” in front of the existing labels would give us enough optical sizes to play with for pretty much any purpose.
Speaking of names, as is often the case, Arno was not Robert’s first choice for a name for the typeface. But all our names have to go through a trademark search – not only for font trademarks, but for software in related areas. We also look for non-trademarked font names. I think Arno started out as “Gravity” and was briefly called “Story” before becoming “Sphere” for quite a while.
The worst case of name-rejection I remember is for Robert’s earlier typeface “Brioso,” which was Robert’s fifth name choice. Earlier names included “Argento,” “Grazia” and “Valente.”
“Roma” was also an early name attempt – but now I can’t remember whether it was for Arno or for Brioso! Oops.
I hope you enjoy Arno as much as I do. I think it has the potential to be an enduring popular classic, like Minion has become. Feel free to let us know what you think with a comment.