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Silkscreen font

Hello Silkscreen

Silkscreen is a typeface for your Web graphics created by Jason Kottke. Silkscreen works on the Mac, Linux, and Windows and is free for personal and corporate use. There is more information about Silkscreen in the FAQ below.

Download Silkscreen for Windows, OS X, or Linux

Frequently Asked Questions about Silkscreen

Can I contact you about Silkscreen?
Sure! Send your feedback (good or bad) to jason@kottke.org. Please read the rest of the FAQ before emailing though. You should especially let me know of any problems you encounter when using Silkscreen. Note that I did not say "installation problems"...consult your system's help files for assistance in installing fonts.

Silkscreen looks familiar. Have I seen it somewhere before?
That is entirely possible. Silkscreen is a popular font and is used on quite a few Web sites. You may have seen Silkscreen on sites such as: Flickr, Sephora.com, Herman Miller Store, Jeffrey Zeldman Presents, Gladwell.com, Britney Spears, Volvo Cars, Splatterpunk.com (an experimental site by Adobe), and in The Bourne Legacy.

What did you use to make Silkscreen?
Silkscreen was designed from scratch using Adobe Photoshop 5.02 and Macromedia Fontographer 3.52 on Windows NT 4.0.

First I used the pencil tool in Photoshop to draw all of the letters. For each character, I tried to make it as skinny and short as I could. It turned out that the largest characters were 5x5 pixels (not counting the ascenders and descenders), but most were 4x5 pixels. After drawing out each character, I played around with different letterforms on several characters before finalizing each one. Then I formed the characters into short sentences to determine the spacing for each character.

After all the characters were designed in Photoshop, I drew the fonts by hand in Fontographer. I could have imported the letters as bitmaps, but I wanted to make Silkscreen as precise as possible and also wanted to learn as much as I could about Fontographer. When the characters were finished for all four fonts, I generated Windows TrueType versions of them.

I then sent the Windows TrueType versions to Ray @ theMaxx for some conversion. Ray used his copy of Fontographer to make Mac versions of Silkscreen. Thanks, Ray.

Why did you design Silkscreen?
I'm a big fan of small, bitmappy fonts. I've been using a font called Sevenet (derived from Joe Gillespie's excellent Mini7) for a while now, but I didn't quite like the look of it...too wide. I wanted a font that was narrower and included a bold version. Silkscreen Expanded followed from Silkscreen as an alternative with more spacing in between the letters. I intend to keep using Sevenet as a wider complement to Silkscreen.

I also designed Silkscreen to teach myself a little bit more about typography and Fontographer. I have infinitely more respect for real type designers who design real fonts (i.e. ones with curves). Compared to that, designing Silkscreen was a piece of cake. After all, there's only so many ways that you can draw a letter that's only 25 pixels square.

How much does Silkscreen cost?
The Silkscreen type family is absolutely free for personal or corporate use. You can use it for any project you want (Web, print, or otherwise) without owing anyone a single penny.

What are the terms of use for Silkscreen?
Silkscreen is distributed under the Open Font License, which means that you can use, distribute, or modify it however you wish.

What's the best way to use Silkscreen?
Silkscreen is best used in places where extremely small graphical display type is needed (duh!). The primary use is for navigational items (nav bars, menus, etc.). However, you can also use it for image captions and the like...wherever small type is needed. Silkscreen also works very well at large point sizes if you're looking for that chunky, old school computer look so popular with the kids today.

In order to preserve the proper spacing and letterforms, Silkscreen should be used at 8pt. multiples (8pt., 16pt., 24pt., etc.) with anti-aliasing turned off. For larger text (larger than 64pt.), you can use whatever size you want without too much of a problem.

Depending on which graphics program you are using with Silkscreen, you might have some problems with inconsistent letter spacing (this is not just a problem with Silkscreen, but with all fonts used at small sizes). To avoid those problems, you'll want to turn auto kerning and fractional widths (or any other sort of automatic letter spacing that your graphics program might use) off, and set the letter spacing or tracking to 0 or 0%. You'll know it's working properly when you have a 2 pixel space in between all of the letters.

Why doesn't Silkscreen work properly in Flash?
I don't know exactly, but I am aware of a fix for it. Now it's just a matter of finding some time to redo the font so it works.

What characters are included in Silkscreen?
All of the standard US keyboard characters are present in the four fonts of the Silkscreen type family. No extended characters are present at this time.

Why are there no lowercase letters?
I didn't do any lowercase letters for Silkscreen because I wanted to preserve the nice, clean horizontal presentation of the font. Lowercase letters would have thrown a bunch of descenders in there and screwed it all up.

Why are some of the bold characters not legible?
Silkscreen was designed to be as narrow as possible as a non-bold font. When I went to design the bold version, some of the characters were unrecognizable because of that narrowness. Rather than tinkering with the design the bolded characters of the font to make them more legible, I left them the way they were. Experimentation with various sentence structures after I had completed the fonts showed that context took care of any readability issues.

Any plans for additions to the Silkscreen type family?
At some point, I might craft a lowercase version of Silkscreen as well as a version with variant letter forms. I'd like to do a monospaced version as well, but I don't know how well that would work for a font of this type.

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