Stylistic Sets

In sophisticated applications such as InDesign, it’s easier than ever to use Obsidian’s wealth of alternate characters.

Traditionally, designers have had to hunt for a font’s alternates in a vast palette of glyphs, from which individual characters could be inserted one at a time. Obsidian takes advantage of Stylistic Sets, a powerful OpenType feature that allows related groups of characters to be introduced throughout the text, making it easy to alter the mood of the typography with a single click.

Obsidian: Alternates

Alternate Forms

Ampersands with descending tails were popular in commercial engraving, appearing on stock certificates and banknotes throughout the nineteenth century. All of Obsidian’s italics feature this construction as an alternate, invoked by activating Stylistic Set 4.

Obsidian’s italics feature a non-descending f, characteristic of the “stump style” lettering used by mapmakers. A more traditional typographic construction is available in Stylistic Set 2, which adds a descender to the f, the fifteen f-ligatures, and the German eszett (ß).

Commercial engravers popularized an alternate form of the lowercase g with an open loop and an antenna-like ear. We’ve included this pyrotechnic form in all of Obsidian’s italics, available as Stylistic Set 3.

Obsidian: Swashes

Swash Override

Obsidian’s swashes are automated to help manage character collisions and erratic spacing. These rules can be overriden by Stylistic Set 8, which enables all swashes, regardless of their context. This technique is especially useful when letterspacing swash capitals, where tracking offers a natural buffer between letters.

Obsidian: Punctuation

Raised Punctuation

Standard punctuation marks are designed to accommodate the position and scale of the lowercase. When using the all caps OpenType setting, Obsidian substitutes alternate versions of the hyphen, en dash, em dash, parentheses, brackets, braces, and guillemets, which are raised to align with its capitals. Stylistic Set 7 also activates these characters, along with a raised colon that’s useful when indicating the time.

Obsidian: Symbols

Registered Trademark Symbol

The standard symbol for a registered trademark is superscripted, to align with the symbols for trademark and servicemark. Obsidian includes an alternate form that matches the height of the copyright and publishing symbols, available through Stylistic Set 1.


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    Smart Swashes Obsidian’s swash caps and swash small caps feature built-in intelligence that helps automatically improve the rhythm of text.

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    Stylistic Sets Obsidian uses an advanced feature of OpenType-savvy applications, allowing designers to transform the look of the font with a single click.

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    Language Support. Obsidian features our Latin-X™ character set, covering more than 140 languages throughout the world — including all of Central Europe.

Related Packages

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Obsidian with Gotham Obsidian with Gotham Obsidian with Gotham

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