Adobe’s New Font Sets Unify Chinese Characters

Historically, modern typeface design for East Asian glyphs has been reactive to that of Latin letters in the West. The gravity center, kerning, and tracking of these glyphs are fundamentally different than those of Western letters. Moreover, there are a set number of letters with variations while the number of glyphs exist in East Asian languages is enormous. Among these glyphs, Chinese (Han) characters are the ones that Adobe’s new font sets target to standardize. Over the course of centuries, the same Han characters used in Greater China, Japan, and Korea have developed their own idiosyncrasies. See below for an example how the same character has different features in glyphs specific to certain regions of East Asia:

Notice how the six strokes (two vertical, four horizontal ones) in the top right quadrum are different in each iteration of the character.

Type designer at Adobe went through a painstaking process to hand draw all the glyphs, both with and sans serifs.

An overview video of the serif type set of Source Han, a Pan-CJK typeface (note: CJK stands for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean).

Unlike many exclusive typefaces only available through a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, Source Han Serif and its sans counterpart are made open sourced and users can download and deploy them from GitHub, democratizing good type design in East Asia and in the world. More importantly, this project brought together experts from different East Asian countries and gave them agency and the power of creative decision-making in type design.

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