I always loved News Gothic or Morris Fuller Benton’s other Gothics for ATF in the early 20th century. Aspen grew from this sympathy for these American sans serifs, but rather than replicate old shapes it breaks new ground while breathing the spirit of those that came before. You can see the traces of the American sans serifs in the fairly narrow proportions, the angled terminals, or the two-story ‘a’ and ‘g’. Still, during the design process I discovered that I subconsciously integrated elements of the European Grotesque, which lead to an interesting mix and creates a very unique text image.
Alongside similarities to the early sans serifs, however, significant differences exist: The proportions of the characters tend to the classic model, where letter widths vary considerably. This creates a more diversified and compelling rhythm, and improves legibility. The long ascenders and descenders are also atypical but give the typeface an airy feel. Aspen’s characters are friendlier and more organic compared to the early grotesques which could be bulky and rigid. Circular dots used for i and punctuations. Also the simplified, round G is untypical to early Gothics.
Aspen contains an alternate ‘a’ and ‘g’, which can dramatically change the text image, creating a much cleaner, firmer and more uniform look (bottom).
Worth emphasizing is the lively italic. Grotesques italics are often simply slanted variants rather then ‘true’ italics. Aspen’s however is based on true cursive writing, which adds a very fresh and agile touch.
Aspen desktop fonts and web fonts contain various OpenType features, which provide advanced typographic performance and can be accessed by almost all professional layout software.
Case Sensitive Forms
When the ‘Change to caps’ function is applied from within an application (not when text is typed in caps), appropriate case-sensitive forms are automatically applied. Guillemets, dashes, hyphens and other punctuation marks are replaced with their capital forms.
In Adobe applications there are two methods of applying small capitals. The first one replaces only lower case letters with small caps.
All Small Caps
The second method also replaces capital letters and some punctuation marks with lowered small caps variations.
All upright Aspen fonts contain an alternative single-story a and g, accessible via the OpenType feature Stylistic Set 01 and Stylistic Set 02 or Stylistic Alternates. Aspen Italic fonts contain only an alternate g, accessible via the OpenType feature Stylistic Set 01 or Stylistic Alternates.
This features replaces the regular ‘f’ with a narrower version to avoid collisions with following characters.
Ligatures are designed to improve the kerning and readability of certain letter pairs. For example, when this feature is activated, typing ‘f’ and ‘i’ will automatically produce the ‘fi’ ligature. Using ligatures does not affect the spelling and hyphenation of your text in any way.
This feature replaces default alphabetic glyphs with the corresponding ordinal forms.
Aspen fonts contain various styles of numerals within each font. Proportional Oldstyle Figures come standard. The Proportional Lining Figures feature changes standard figures to Lining Figures in capital letter height.
Tabular figures are for use in tables where numerals need to be aligned vertically. Tabular figures are available as an OpenType feature and have a fixed width in all weights. This feature also replaces comma and period with corresponding glyphs set on uniform widths in all weights.
To avoid confusion between a zero and the ‘o’ character, a dotted zero glyph is also available.
All fonts already include a number of pre-designed diagonal fractions. The fraction feature allows you to create other fractions quickly and easily.
Superscript / superiors
Replaces all figures with their superior alternates, which can be used for footnotes, formulas, etc.
Subscript / inferiors
Replaces all figures with their inferior alternates, used primarily for mathematical or chemical notation.
The discretionary ligature feature creates real arrows when you type the combination -> (right arrow), <- (left arrow), -^ (up arrow) or ^- (down arrow), -^> (up right arrow), <^- (up left arrow), -^< (down right arrow) >^- (down left arrow). By typing multiple hyphen you can extend the horizontal arrows (for instance --> or <--). Discretionary ligatures are off by default in Adobe applications.