Type Tuesday: Dynamic Rockhopper Lets You Choose Between Swirly and Serious

Posted inType Tuesday

Jeremy Tankard‘s latest typeface, Rockhopper, might appear quite polished at first glance. However, a dreamy world of possibilities lurks beneath the soft, unassuming surface of this sans serif font.

While each letter starts with a neutral, simple configuration, a vast character set allows you to add an immense range of flourishes. With Rockhopper, you can add fluid, exploratory “swashes” to any letter or word. Each letter can host more than one swash, and you can pile on several to create a “swash cloud.” Flexible, swelling stems lend a relaxed, approachable feel to this ambitious typeface.

Rockhopper is genuinely distinctive for its charismatic look and expansive range. While this Art Nouveau-inspired font is ideal for bold headlines and copy, its versatility allows for endless possibilities. Tankard’s innovative, user-friendly text is sure to add exceptional potential to a composition, whether you decorate it or not.

Rockhopper will be available for purchase on April 8th. 

Two typefaces in one. Firstly, Rockhopper is a rounded sans with a softness designed to function well on the high resolution screens used today. Its extended character set handles all manner of text with ease whether this is on-screen or off. Secondly, it explores the potential of cumulative swashes – from single to overkill. A single swash can be used to enhance a word, or many swashes added to visually push the bounds of legibility and expression. Never boring, Rockhopper presents itself with a subversive glint in its eye.

About the design

Tankard considers the rounded sans letter style to be a result of applied processes; be this wearing the outline of a carving, overpainting a cast letter, or the curve left behind by the routing tool. Observations such as these started the process of Rockhopper. However, with digital type there is no physical degradation to soften the shape. This needed to be drawn into the letter shapes themselves; for example, simpler forms of a and g are used together with more rolling forms in the italic (such as e and v). But technology can help too. Usually a digital font is made on a 1000 em square, but Tankard doubled this for Rockhopper. This increase allowed shallow curves and subtle details to be maintained. There are no straight lines in Rockhopper; all the stems swell a little at their centre and flow smoothly and seamlessly into their terminal details.

The blurring of a letter’s silhouette through various processes, also kickstarted the idea of adding and layering something to change the outline. Swashes, flourishes and the expressive free lines of Art Nouveau developed into the idea of a ‘swash cloud’ that surrounds each letter. From this, one, two, three or more swashes can be applied. Not just to letters, but figures and sorts as well. Clashing is expected and encouraged to create a visually rich texture. 

More detailed information about the design of Rockhopper can be read at https://studiotype.com/originals/rockhopper.

The Rockhopper fonts can be viewed, tested and licensed at https://typography.net/fonts/rockhopper. The fonts can also be seen in use on the dedicated Explorer page at https://typography.net/explore-rockhopper. Click on any of the ⨁ icons to discover which weights and features have been used. Explorer is best experienced through a desktop, laptop or tablet. Lastly, new images made with the Rockhopper fonts have been added to the wall of typographic images on the Gallery page at https://typography.net/gallery.

Rockhopper comprises of 14 fonts (7 roman and 7 italic)

Rockhopper ExtraLight

Rockhopper Light

Rockhopper Regular

Rockhopper Medium

Rockhopper Bold

Rockhopper ExtraBold

Rockhopper Black

Rockhopper ExtraLight Italic

Rockhopper Light Italic

Rockhopper Italic

Rockhopper Medium Italic

Rockhopper Bold Italic

Rockhopper ExtraBold Italic

Rockhopper Black Italic

The Rockhopper specimen

The specimen is a 140mm square black folder containing a laser-cut board, several panels and a booklet. Continuing the idea that the typeface is designed for the high resolution screens used today, the specimen develops the idea of ‘printing with light’. Think of it as a computer display in dark mode. The black is the screen and the contents are printed with light, be that pure white light, rich colour, or even the light of a laser used to cut an ampersand – through which liquid colour pours out. In a nod to interactivity you can change the colour behind the ampersand to create different effects. The extra panels feature different aspects of the typeface in use. Finally there is the booklet which lists specific information and unfolds to reveal a banner stretching 700mm.

Printed in full colour with gloss laminate and laser-cut ampersand. The specimen is wrapped in a foil-blocked folder and housed in a translucent envelope.

Printed by https://www.kmslitho.co.uk

140mm × 140mm, unfolding to 700mm

The specimen is free, but postage is applied at checkout

The printed specimen is available from https://typography.net/publications/rockhopper-specimen.

Project Credits
Jeremy Tankard