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What is the Irrlicht font?

Irrlicht is based on C. H. Kleukens’ 1923 typeface Judith Type. Whilst Dunkle Irrlicht is a fairly faithful rendition and extension of Kleukens’ typeface, the Licht style was initially added as a stand-alone stencil version; yet, the two styles work perfectly together – for different nuances, for emphasis or simply stacked/layered.
Irrlicht is equipped with upper- and lowercase ligatures, contextual and stylistic alternates, fractions, superior and inferior figures, extended language support and a few extra goodies.
Additional information – How Irrlicht came to life More…
Christian Heinrich Kleukens cut his Judith Type in 1923, at the peak of German expressionism, exclusively for publications with the Ernst-Ludwig-Press, such as a limited series of biblical prints – the first being the Book of Judith, hence the original’s name.
I stumbled upon this typeface a couple of years ago in a nice little 1930 booklet of the Gutenberg-Gesellschaft and was struck by its forceful darkness on paper and its seemingly simple, crude letterforms. The lack of a long-ſ in the final version of Judith Type – quite unusual for a German typeface of that time – adds to this feel of crudeness and spontaneity*. Judith Type seemed to me like a semi-blackletter cousin of Rudolf Koch’s typeface Neuland (cast in the same year). Besides its apparent affinity with expressionism, it reflects a lot of that deeply spiritual craftsmanship of the era – much like Neuland.
A few months later, when I was working on a stencil project and looking for a typeface that could be cut into thin wooden plates easily, I remembered those dark, sharp letters that seemed to be lacking any curves at all.
After enlarging a few letters and tracing them by hand, the whole set was redrawn digitally, using only straight lines. As for spacing, the goal was to keep the letters tight but to avoid touching characters – without ironing out all the original’s tension and rhythm. Deliberate kerning, subtle contextual alternates and ligatures help to deal with critical glyph combinations.
Two additional versions were developed: a stencil version with open counters and, in reference to a popular style of the 1920s and inspired by dry, cracked wood, an inline version. These two additional styles were later merged into one font – Lichte** Irrlicht was born. — AARHAUS
* Consequently, the original typeface’s German eszett is simply a ligature of the “round s” and standard z. In some of his publications, Kleukens dispenses with using eszett altogether and sets double s instead. Irrlicht, however, does feature a more common eszett (ß); the original, among other more faithful letter forms, can be accessed via the stylistic sets feature
** licht – literally bright – being the German term for inline typefaces – not to be confused with leicht (light)

Irrlicht Font families

The Irrlicht includes the following font families:

  • Irrlicht Dunkle
  • Irrlicht Lichte

Irrlicht Preview

Here is a preview of how Irrlicht will look. For more previews using your own text as an example, click here.

Is Irrlicht Free to Download?

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