The sheer mention of the term ‘bevelled type’ strikes fear into the heart of many a designer, conjuring up horrific visions of the absolute misuse of Photoshop’s bevel and emboss filter. I don’t remember ever coming across a piece of design where it has been used tastefully, often being applied to cheap and unprofessional looking websites and publicity material.
While I have a major issue with this Photoshop filter, I’ve recently stumbled across a few examples of what I consider to be fantastically well-executed 3D bevelled typography. It’s something which I’ve had experience of designing myself and know is tricky to pull off successfully, often having to be custom-drawn from scratch to achieve the desired effect and maintain maximum control of the chiselled cuts and gradients.
My first example can be seen in the beautifully designed Elephant magazine, overseen by Matt Willey at Studio8 Design. The masthead typography and contents numerals are stunning. These bold, graphic letterforms have a majestic quality and burst off the page, appearing in a number of colourway variations in each issue.
Another piece of work that caught my eye is the Metalface typographic project by Norwegian graphic designer, Jon Arne Berg. Built according to a strict set of rules, the typeface was created from scratch as a personal project.
‘I wanted to explore the possibilities of creating letterforms within a rigid grid,’ says Arne Berg. ‘It was also interesting for me to see in what directions I could develop this idea, and how it could adapt to different styles based on fill, outline, background images and colour.’
For the UK launch of Wired magazine, identity and type specialist Simon Griffin was commissioned to work up a classic, 1970s-style, retro Letraset font Zelek that was previously non-digitised, to be used on headlines and throughout each issue. Named Zorro, the font is yet to get a commercial release. What’s interesting here is the op art-like effect of the individual letters.
In terms of commercial fonts that carry this aesthetic that I’m so fond of, it’s worth checking out the stone-cut letterform influenced Shango chiselled, Pop-Ups and the amazingly versatile Hopeless Diamond.