What are Color Fonts?

At the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas this past fall, we were introduced to color fonts. Graphic designers are very excited for this new type of font, but at our design studio it’s something we have yet to explore. So what are color fonts, also referred to as chromatic fonts, and are they worth all the hype?

With color fonts, the type designer can incorporate more details into the font file like texture, color and gradients. These characteristics are “baked in” to the typeface, so you need to have a specific use case that will work with such a decorative treatment. Color fonts are not very practical for something like the body text of a magazine article, but in magazine design a masthead or article title could present an opportunity to use a color font.

Not all browsers can render color fonts. If you are working at a design company and you’re looking to use a color font on the web, be aware that many browsers aren’t yet caught up to the technology and your font will render differently than expected. Luckily color fonts come with a standard, fall-back, open type version so that will most likely be the substitute you’ll see if the color font doesn’t render properly.