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Zapifino Arabic composition by Nadine Chahine. Click to activate the video

Zapfino Arabic

زابفينو العربي

Zapfino Arabic was one of the most challenging projects for Chahine. she had to create her own hybrid script maintaining a familiar feel and the fluently of a script. In an interview for Chahine with Digital Arts Nadine said "The most important thing in an Arabic typeface is to maintain the illusion that one brushstroke wrote the whole word.", when in fact, all letters have been drawn individually.

In order to showcase the fluid movement of the typeface, she has created several animated typographic compositions as part of short animation called Zapfino Arabic on YouTube. This is the sixth out of seven compositions matching letters movement with Om-Kalthom music.

Analysis of one of Chahine's Zapfino Arabic compisiotns

Composition Analysis

دراسة لوحة

In this composition, kerning and line spacing have been altered to increase the dynamical element. Letters are sitting gracefully on top of each other in an elegant way. The animated composition starts with the dots matching with the drums, followed by the letterform getting drawn gracefully as if they are dancing to the music. The final composition shows two main focal points through contrast and spacing.

Whereas the composition consists of continuous lines, the dots of the “Ta” breakthrough right at the top left intersection if we are to con-sider the rule of third creating both a contrast and a rule of third focal point. Then there is the intersection between the “Seen” and the what I believe to be descenders of the “Ha” with another letter descenders to intersections it creating tension in space making it a second focal point.

A typeface with a soul: The Gebran2005 typeface designed for An-Nahar by Nadine Chahine


جبران ٢٠٠٥

Gebran2005 is a typeface developed by Nadine Chahine for Al Nahar newspaper headlines in the honour of the fifth anniversary since the assassination of it lawmaker and editor Gebran Tueni and as part of the newspaper rebranding. The typeface communicates the forcefulness of the newspaper despite the att-empts to mute their voice they are not to be shaken.

The typeface is based on the traditional simplifies Naskh style which might be an odd choice for headlines; as Naskh is known for body text. However, with the strong association between simplified Naskh and newspapers it works well to communicate the cultural message of Al Nahar as a traditional newspaper. The typeface has the traditional Naskh X height of five dots. It also follows Naskh movement with most characters setting on the baseline, and the high characters being 1 - 2 dots above the baseline. You can also feel the heavy gravity weight of the characters as a trait of the simplified Nashk, which mimics the heavy -mostly dark- headlines by the newspaper at the time. The bold-ness and contrast of the typeface grab reader attention. The hand movement is settled yet is still there and ones can look at the typeface and see the pen movement as it is creating the letterforms.