Friday Font Find: Korolev (A Sans Serif Font)

Korolev is a sans serif font family in 20 weights by Rian Hughes of Device Fonts. The family is based on lettering by an anonymous Soviet graphic designer from propaganda displays at the Communist Red Square parade of 1937, found in a photograph by Alexander Rodchenko.

Korolev (sans serif font)

Korolev (sans serif font)

Korolev (sans serif font)

Tracings done in Illustrator over Rodchenko’s photograph pinned down the basic character shapes. These were then imported into FontLab, where the full glyph complement was developed. This became the heavy weight of the family. Next, a thin version was designed, and a five weight family which includes bold, medium and light developed from these two extreme weights. This was then augmented by a true italic, again in five weights, and later condensed and compressed five-weight familes were added, keeping to the original geometric construction.

Some imagination was required to construct the letters for which no model was available. The lower case adheres as far as possible to the structural logic of the upper, and ascenders extend above the cap height for clarity in letter combinations such as in “Illustrate”. The excamation mark was reduced in height to match the capitals. The strokes of the W are not quite parallel in the original, and this creates an awkward dark area at the top of the central apex. It was decided that the W should be redesigned to make the strokes parallel for a more even ‘colour’. The low bowl on the R and the P was kept, as though unusual it adds a definite character to the font. There is a small crossbar on the K that was taken through to the lower case k. The capital G appears to have no ‘spur’, though the best image is very blurry and it’s hard to be sure. The 3 has the round top, to better match the Russian, and the
rest of the numbers follow from the capital construction. The comma has been enlarged and straightened but keeps the original parallelogram shape.

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