Olicana, a script typeface with optical sizes

Hands for all sizes:
Script typefaces with size-specific variants

Size matters – at least in type. With digital type, we can use any font at whatever size we desire. But more often than not, we should not. Typefaces that work well at a certain size usually do not work equally well at other sizes. A typeface with pronounced contrast, sharp details and tight spacing that looks great on a billboard will fail at typical body copy sizes. Conversely, a typeface with coarser details and sturdier proportions, optimised for small sizes, is likely to look clunky when set large.
FF Tisa and Orpheus
But what if you would like to use the same typeface for headings and text? In that case, you may want to consider a typeface with ‘optical sizes’ (i.e., variants with size-specific adjustments). Many such typefaces exist (Identifont has an alphabetical list). Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura have written about some of them and provide a list of all typefaces covered in their book on their website. Browsing through these lists, I noticed that few are script typefaces (i.e., typefaces based on calligraphy or other types of handwriting). That surprised me, given that handwriting is also markedly size-specific. The release of a new typeface in that category was the reason for me to compile the following list:

Script(y) typefaces with size-specific adjustments

  • Atlantica (2017) by Pellisco & Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini (Zetafonts)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (+ Signature)
  • Brioso (2003) by Robert Slimbach (Adobe)
    5 sizes: Caption, [Text], Subhead, Display, Poster (each in 5 weights with italics)
  • Canto Brush (2011) by Richard Lipton (Lipton Letter Design)
    2 sizes: Open (for smaller sizes) + Brush (each in 4 weights with italics)
  • Erotica (2013) by Maximiliano Sproviero (Lián Types)
    2 sizes: Small + Big (+ Inline + Capitals)
  • Excelsor Script (2005) by František Štorm (Storm Type Foundry)
    2 sizes: 10 + 120
  • Flirt Script (2014) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: Regular + Display
  • Gretel Script (2018) by Typejockeys
    2 sizes: Piccolo + Grande (+ Caps)
  • Kari (2005) + Kari Display (2009) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: [Regular] (in 2 widths, each with italics) + Display (with italics)
  • Line (2013) by Stefania Malmsten & Göran Söderström (Letters from Sweden)
    5 sizes: Twenty, Sixteen, Ten, Six + Four
  • Liza (2009) by Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs & Sami Kortemäki (Underware)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (+ Caps + Ornaments)
  • Lust Script (2012) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: Regular + Display
  • Mommie (2008) by Hubert Jocham (Hubert Jocham Type)
    3 sizes: Small + Medium + Regular
  • Mr Moustache (2011) by Georg Herold-Wildfellner (FaceType)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (each with unicase version; + Ornaments etc.)
  • Olicana (2007) by Nick Cooke (G-Type)
    2 sizes: Smooth/Rough + Fine
  • Rumba (2005) by Laura Meseguer (Type-Ø-Tones)
    3 sizes: Small + Large + Extra
  • Sanvito (1993) by Robert Slimbach (Adobe)
    4 sizes: Caption, [Text], Subhead, Display (each in 4 weights)
  • Scandal (2007) by Aggeliki Skandalelli (Parachute)
    2 sizes: [Regular] + Display (each in 3 weights)
  • Supernova (2013) by Martina Flor (Typotheque)
    2 sizes: Text (in 5 weights) + Poster
  • Tilda (2011) by Jessica Hische (Font Bureau)
    2 sizes: Petite + Grande
  • Uberhand (2017) by Jens Kutilek (FontFont)
    2 sizes: [Headline] (11 weights) + Text (2 weights)
  • Wishes Script (2013) by Sabrina Mariela Lopez (Typesenses)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (each in 3 weights; + Caps + Ornaments)

This list is probably incomplete, so please let me know in the comments or on Twitter what is missing. Thanks to Reed Reibstein, Studio Het Mes, Akira Yoshino, Jens Kutilek and Typotheque for suggesting additions to this list.

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