New Open Source Font Family: Source Han Sans

If you’re a typeface enthusiast or a designer who creates work for international audiences, you don’t want this news to fly under your radar. Last week, Adobe and Google announced their recent font collaboration: Source Han Sans. This is the first open source Pan-CJK typeface that supports Japanese, Chinese and Korean (along with Latin, Greek and Cyrillic) alphabets. Take a closer look at how it was developed.

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Type designer Ryoko Nishizuka drawing some of the characters for Source Han Sans. Image courtesy Adobe.

Multi-language sample of the font

Multi-language sample

With the complexity of these language, it’s no wonder that this font family has taken three years to develop. Adobe senior computer scientist, CJKV Type Development Dr. Ken Lunde explains the significance of this font family to Adobe and designers:

[ Before this font family] designers and developers building websites or applications intended to support or display content in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean would need to license multiple fonts of different designs in order to convey correct content to their target audiences — this is both a time-intensive and cost -ineffective process.

The development of Source Hans Sans was the most extensive and complex in our 30 years of font development at Adobe, and would have not been feasible without the collaboration of Google and our foundy partners. We’re incredibly pleased to introduce a typeface that streamlines workflow for content creators as well as enriches the experience of users, particular those in East Asia.

To create Source Hans Sans, Adobe and Google also tapped the expertise of several foundries across East Asia — Changzhou Sino Type, Iwata Corporation and Sandoll Communication. Together, they maxed out the number of glyphs possible for an OpenType format, designing 65,535 for each font. As you can see from the images, several type designers wrote the characters that later became the font and tweaked the characters to perfect them. More than 100 people were involved in the development of the font family.

Original sketch by Ryoko Nishizuka. Image courtesy Adobe.

Original sketch by Ryoko Nishizuka. Image courtesy Adobe.

From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Image courtesy Adobe.

From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Image courtesy Adobe.

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese/Korean (shared). Image courtesy Adobe.

From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese/Korean (shared). Image courtesy Adobe.

Adobe explains that Source Han Sans specifically supports Japanese, Traditional Chinese (Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR included), Simplified Chinese, Koran (including hangul syllables).

Early draft of a Kanji character. Image courtesy Adobe.

Early draft of a Kanji character. Image courtesy Adobe.

This shows some of the modifications that the team made to some of the characters. Image courtesy Adobe.

This shows some of the modifications that the team made to some of the characters. Image courtesy Adobe.

You can find Source Han Sans via Adobe Typekit or download it for free through SourceForger or GitHub Or you can find this font family through Google, as they added it to their Noto pan-Unicode font family as “Noto Sans CJK.”

 

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