• Samples of the nine fonts developed by nine type designers for the project
  • Kham Chaturongakul was inspired by the body structure of Khun Tongdaeng, King Bhumibol
  • A classic Thai font on a vinyl LP from the Kratai (Rabbit) label, which brought together His Majesty

The shape of words to come

Art February 12, 2017 01:00

By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Sunday Nation

8,266 Viewed

Nine new fonts are being released in June in honour of the late monarch



A SPECIAL set of nine new fonts, each one developed by a type designer to honour His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s enormous contributions to his country, are certain to take over the way we print when they become available for free on June 3, Thai Printing Day.

One font boasts a simple but elegant look that’s totally in sync with King Bhumibol’s preferred style. Another takes its cue from the classic typeface used on the label of an old vinyl recording of His Majesty’s compositions. The body structure of Khun Tongdaeng, His Majesty’s favourite dog, served as a source of inspiration for a third.

Samples of the nine fonts developed by nine type designers for the project “Nine Fonts for Dad” honouring His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. They will be available for download free of charge in June. 

The project “Nine Fonts for Dad” was initiated by the Federation of Thai Printing Industries to express their gratitude and loyalty to the late King.

All nine fonts are open license and unicode, allowing them to be collectively mapped into the standard universal character set and used on both the Windows and Mac OS computer platforms. 

“We invited professional typographers, graphic designers, design instructors and representatives of the printing world to do something useful for the public and at the same time honour His Majesty, who was considered the father of many innovations and technology. His Majesty himself produced his own Thai fonts,” explains the project’s director Prasit Klong-nguluerm.

King Bhumibol used his computer to write many royal songs, books and the outlines of his royal projects. His interest in computers and information technology grew stronger over the years, especially in terms of Thai fonts for word processing. He designed several Thai fonts, among them the Chitralada and Phuping fonts as well as the complex Devanagari font, a script used to write the Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, and Nepali languages. For more than two decades, he delighted his subjects with computer-generated New Year greetings cards using the fonts he had created.

 Kham Chaturongakul was inspired by the body structure of Khun Tongdaeng, King Bhumibol’s favourite pet dog, for his “9 KhunTongDang” font. 

“The name of each font is prefixed by the number ‘9’ signifying King Rama IX. Each font also has both Thai and Latin characters so it can be applied in a broad range of typefaces. All the nine fonts are nearly complete; adjustments in terms of readability, coherence, and visual satisfaction are currently underway,” Prasit adds.

Celebrated typographer Pairoj Teeraprapa was one of the designers invited to contribute to the project and responded by simplifying Thai vernacular font with graceful yet humble elements representing Thainess for his type called “9 Our King”. 

Pairoj Teeraprapa and his “9 Our King”

“I designed the typeface called ‘My King” and distributed it free to the public the day after His Majesty passed away. My goal is to use my expertise as a gift for society at large as a way of following in the King’s footstep. The new font ‘9 Our King’ is developed from ‘My King’ and I hope the characters will be used, particularly for any information related to the late King,” says Pairoj.

"9 Our King" by Pairoj

Pairoj is known for his old-fashioned design style and the Thai Fah Talai Jone font he created for director’s Wisit Sasanatieng’s 2000 film “Fah Talai Jone” (“Tears of the Black Tiger”).

His Majesty’s love for his pet dog Khun Tongdaeng and her loyalty to its owner inspired noted graphic designer and instructor Kham Chaturongakul to develop the “9 KhunTongDang” font.

“Throughout his 70 years on the throne, our King worked tirelessly for the benefit and happiness of his people. So I asked myself what made him happy. I thought of sport, art, and music but quickly realised that he always looked relaxed and happy when he had his pet dog Khun Tongdaeng by his side. My font is mainly developed from the sleek and agile body structure of Khun Tongdaeng,” says Kham, who teaches at Khon Kaen University.

Kham Chaturongakul and his “9 KhunTongDang”

His type is friendly and inviting and not in the least frivolous or flamboyant. He began by sketching the anatomy of Khun Tongdaeng to see how it would work within a set of characters. Her curved tail has been developed for the head of some Thai letters while the structure of her sleek back and hips are simplified for the outline of the letters. The gently curved straights and rounded corners lend the design an organic, almost calligraphic quality.

“Khun Tongdaeng’s legs are simplified for serif – a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter. The characters have a perfect blend of Thai, Chinese and Western styles just like her own mix of breeds and also reflect her character – humble, respectful and loyal,” adds Kham.

The dog that was to become His Majesty’s favourite was among a litter of puppies of a stray rescued by a medical centre in Bangkok. On visiting the medical centre, the King adopted her and named her “Tongdaeng” in honour of her copper-coloured fur. The King always referred to her as a “common dog who’s uncommon thanks to her respectful and proper manners”.

“9 Siamin” by Theerawat Potvibulsiri

The classic Thai typeface used on the cover of a photo-book, published by United States Information Service, collating portraits of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit during their state visit to the US in 1960, was the source of inspiration for Theerawat Potvibulsiri in developing the “9 Siamin” font.

“This bold classic typeface was popular in the 1960s and featured in many books, newspapers, magazines and advertising boards. I’ve simplified its straightforward and elegant characters and added a hint of vintage that will look good when used for printing text related to the late King,” Theerawat says.

 Naphon Puthipatanakul and his “9 LP”

Another classic Thai font, this one appearing on an vinyl LP from the Kratai (Rabbit) label, which brought together His Majesty’s compositions, inspired young graphic designer Naphon Puthipatanakul’s “9 LP” font. Naphon retained the vintage look but simplified the lines by adding curved details for a friendlier feel.

Krissada Wongsearaya’s “9 Nopparaj” 

“9 BelovedKing” by Arwin Intrungsi

The other designers participating in the project are Krissada Wongse-araya with the “9 Nopparaj” font, Arwin Intrungsi with “9 BelovedKing”, Prachid Tinnabutr with “9 TerdThai”, Prinya Rojarayanont with “9 Luang”, and Knaz Uiyamathiti with “9 Pradit”. 

“The fonts will be available for free download via the website of the Federation of Thai Printing Industries and we’ll also distribute DVDs to interested institutions. We hope the types will be widely used, but in a proper way to honour our beloved King.

Prachid Tinnabutr for “9 TerdThai”

Knaz Uiyamathiti and “9 Pradit”

 

“In addition, the federation will publish a book with a QR code that readers can scan with their smartphones to get moving pictures about King Bhumibol’s lifelong contributions to the country and the inspirations behind the new set of fonts of each designer. An audio e-book is also planned to cater to the blind and the elderly,” says Prasit.

INKING IN IT

The new set of nine fonts will available for free download on June 3, starting at 9.09am via www.PrintFederation.or.th.

For details, call (02) 944 6975.