Hummingbird font by Laura Worthington is reminiscent of old-fashioned cursive penmanship, the sort learned by endless repetition and found in treasured letters bundled together by silken ribbons or in worn leather-bound ledgers. The aim, across the past few centuries, was a graceful, yet disciplined uniformity. But to the discerning eye, those hours of painstakingly practiced elegant scripts were still, at their essence, thoroughly human, filled as they were with unintentional variations in pressure, contrast, and fluidity. Hummingbird font uses technical sophistication to bring us a typeface that is lovely, sensual, airy, personal, and, in its sensitively wrought irregularities, as innately and intimately human as the writer’s hand and pen.
A unique feature of Hummingbird is its impressive number of these subtle variations, known as contextual alternates. If you’re not a typographer, or familiar with the term, consider this: Type a letter, and its appearance will vary depending on its placement and adjacent letters. Will it end the sentence and require a finishing out-stroke, a little flourish that says, “This word has played its part.”? Will it be a “b” sandwiched between a “g” and an “i”? The contextual alternate avoids the rote rigidity of digital production and, instead, turns to the human hand and habit for its answer. A long upsweep from the base of the “g” transform into the curving ascender of the “b,” and then a tender little curve connects the end of the “b” to the beginning of the following “i.” Some letters have different beginning forms, all have different ending forms, and with double letter occurrences, one of the letters will use the alternate. Some letters are semi-connected. The alternates bring a flowing randomness to the typeface, tempered by their reference to a more natural handwritten appearance, rather than acting as a sort of decorative embellishment. Hummingbird has 214 contextual alternates.
The font also has 266 swashes that include an entire set of decorated uppercase letters that add personality, emphasis, and beauty.
Hummingbird was awarded Typeface Design, 2013 by Communication Arts.
Designers: Laura Worthington
Publisher: Laura Worthington