29LT Zarid Sans Devanagari is a member of the Zarid Sans multi-script family, that supports Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts in eight weights. The Devanagari was designed by Kimya Gandhi, and the Latin was designed by Jan Fromm.
Devanagari is one of the most widely used writing systems in the Indian subcontinent, used for the representation of well over a hundred languages including Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, and Sanskrit, to name a few. Within the broad geographical division of the region, Devanagari can be categorised as a north Indian script and is grouped with others like Gujarati, Gurmukhi, and Bengali, which bear a close structural and anatomical resemblance to it.
The characters in Devanagari are divided into vowels and consonants, and their arrangement places the consonants in groups according to the position of the articulated sounds, from the base of the tongue to the front of the mouth. Devanagari is thus a phonetic script where specific symbols correspond to specific sounds, with the written word closely approximating the spoken word.
Creating Coherent Visual Features —
Zarid Sans is a fresh, clean, contemporary design. Its robust outlines stem from calligraphic structures. Its letterforms are open and friendly yet precise. This understanding of the visual grammar of the family was a prerequisite for the design of the Devanagari. When designing for scripts that are structurally very different from each other, it is important that the respective characteristics of the scripts are retained and celebrated while coexisting in the design space.
The Zarid superfamily has a significant character: they are charismatic yet neutral. The bolder weights have sharp cuts and high contrast, making the letterforms uniquely recognizable while still being extremely legible. Understanding these inherent features as the soul of the letterforms—the Zarid-ness—was the first step toward designing the Devanagari version.
A defining feature of Devanagari letterforms is the headline (shirorekha). In Devanagari the letters ‘hang’ downward from the headline, as opposed to standing on the baseline as in Latin. The other important feature is that Devanagari’s traditional calligraphic stress, produced by reed or bamboo pens, is at an angle exactly opposite to the Latin broad-nib pen. Careful attention to these details makes the Devanagari a confident, robust companion to the other scripts.
Unlike Latin, Devanagari is a unicase script: there are no capitals, lowercase, or small-caps. Some vowel marks and modifier signs are placed above the headline, and some appear below the letters, which make the vertical metrics for Devanagari variable and not restricted to a particular height, unlike Latin.
The vertical stem (also known as kana) can be considered a basic element when comparing Devanagari proportions to those of Latin. In the lighter weights, the kana height is a little lower than the cap height, while in the bold weight it equals the cap height. The lower kana height in lighter weights allows for the Devanagari text to not look too large when typeset alongside Latin at smaller sizes. Also, owing to the greater number of strokes in many Devanagari characters, the stem width is slightly lesser than in the Latin.
Due to the extension of vowel signs above and below base characters, as well as vertical conjunct forms, Devanagari text requires more generous line-spacing in relation to Latin. When trying to balance Latin and Devanagari grey values for comparable colour on the page, it is useful to keep in mind that at first glance the Devanagari texture almost always appears busier due to multiple tiers and smaller counter spaces.
An integral part of the Devanagari script is the conjuncts. A complex single conjunct embodies semantic, physical, and phonetic integrity. These are letterforms formed by the combination of two or more consonants. Generally, most can be written horizontally/linearly, as a combination of a half-form and full consonant. Others occur either vertically stacked or combined into a more complex letterform—these are referred to as ‘akhand conjuncts.’
There are around 130 akhand conjuncts and 100 linear conjuncts in Zarid Sans Devanagari that help render the script effectively and retain this beautiful feature of the script.
While Hindi is the most used language, there are many others across India that also use Devanagari. Some of these languages require specific alternate glyphs that are significantly different in form, and Zarid Sans Devanagari includes these as well. Some can be accessed by the local language tag, but others need to be specially selected from stylistic set options.
Zarid Sans Devanagari personifies the same design principles as the Zarid family, making it distinct yet effortless for communication. Many OpenType features are prerequisites for rendering the Devanagari script correctly. Devanagari is classified as a ‘complex script’ from a technical standpoint, because of all the substitutions and glyph reorderings that happen behind the scenes inside the font and the text rendering software. Zarid Sans Devanagari naturally handles all of these, but it also contains extra special contextual alternates to offer greater typographic harmony.
Packed with these features, and more, the Zarid Sans DL (Devanagari + Latin) fonts have been designed to cater to a wide range of typographic communication. The highly legible, open letterforms allow the lighter weights to be typeset at very small sizes in print or on-screen, and the bold weights, shining with character, will find use in news broadcast headlines or signage systems.