Finding a free Lucida Blackletter font is not too difficult on the web, as it is one of the more popular and oldest desktop publishing fonts. However, you may want to explore variants before choosing Lucida Blackletter.
Lucida: A Family of Fonts
Lucida was designed in the mid-80's - the early days of desktop publishing, when the Helvetica wars raged and Apple and Microsoft were trying to compete with Adobe to create a typographic standard. Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes, the fontographic designers, eventually created a large family of Lucida fonts in four typefaces:
- Script (containing Blackletter, Calligraphy, and Handrwriting)
- Serif (Fax and Bright fonts)
- Sans-Serif (Sans, Grande, Sans Typewriter, and Sans Unicode
- TeX mathematical symbols (Lucida is one of the few complete typefaces for mathematics)
The Blackletter Script
Like most script-based fonts, the Blackletter font is as dramatic as it sounds, with thick gothic strokes resembling a medieval calligraphic pen wielded by some austere monk laboriously copying an illuminated manuscript. Added to the Lucida family in 1992, it is considered "cursive" as well as being blackletter font.There are many forms of "blackletter" typefaces - almost all of them based on the calligraphic forms from the 16th century. In fact, one of the forms is textualis, used by Johannes Gutenberg for the first printed book. For this reason, Lucida Blackletter gives a feeling of formality and fantasy to any lettering. Even though blackletter was used for large blocks of text in the middle ages, contemporary eyes are used to typefaces that are much more plain. Lucida Blackletter is something to use to add emphasis to titles, headers, or banners - not usually used in actual documents.
The font will also tend to be associated with Germanic heritage, since a version of Blackletter called Fraktur was used almost exclusively in German historical documents during the middle ages and Renaissance. Also, many Gothic romance tales such as Dracula have used versions of this font to decorate their covers, so any words printed in them may have a spooky or dramatic overtone. Neither of these qualities are a bad thing, necessarily, but they are something to be aware of as you use your free Lucida Blackletter font.
Did You Say "Free Lucida Blackletter Font"?
Yes, that's right, it is very easy to acquire the Lucida Blackletter font. As one of the oldest font families, Lucida Blackletter is automatically included in common word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. The odds are that you already have the font on your computer, if you have some of the common word processing or graphics programs. If you don't, you can purchase the font from Fonts.com. The benefit of purchasing a duly licensed font is that you get a full suite of letters and symbols, and can be confident that it is compatible with current software. You also can be sure that the font is licensed for any use, and that the download does not contain any of the malware or viruses that sometimes plague "free" font downloads. Microsoft especially has a history of exploit vulnerability through font packages.
Alternatives to Lucida Blackletter
However, you might want to consider trying out some of the alternatives to Lucida Blackletter that preserve the spirit of the font while at the same time showing off some of the creative talent of contemporary fontographers.Taking a look at the "Gothic-Medieval" font families at DaFonts (a free font site) there are many examples of blackletter-style fonts ranging from the very clean and large "Cloister Black" to the more ornate and stylized "Dirt2 Soulstalker". These fonts are used for more than just website graphics or print design; often blackletter fonts are the favorite lettering for tattoo artists as well, giving a classic biker feel to the lettering on the skin. Whatever you use it for, Lucida blackletter or any of its fellow fonts will stand out with impressive and historical impact.
To learn more about other interesting free fonts for your computer or website, check out the following LoveToKnow articles.