Penitentiary Gothic  |  2003, Andrew Leman and Richard Lucas, commercial.

Penitentiary Gothic font specimen (full alphabet)

Font family contains: 5 weights including the standalone Regular weight with built-in one-color embossing effect, plus 4-part set of weights to build more realistic 3-dimensional embossing effect with multiple colors. Plain “Fill” weight (i.e., without embossing effects) from the 4-part set is shown above, since the embossing effects work well only at larger sizes.

About this typeface: This creation of the E-phemera foundry is one of their numerous typefaces developed as props for movies and television shows, and replicates the font used on California license plates. (See the E-phemera Font Collection and the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society Prop Fonts for more such typefaces.) In addition to the capital letters and numeric characters, the font includes two different versions of the “California” lettering used by the state between the top two tag mounting holes, as well as the sunset and “horizon lines” effect seen in the same location on some plate versions.

How the embossing effects work: The Penitentiary Gothic Regular weight (not shown here) includes a limited embossing effect for one-color printing, incorporating a relief shadow and small “inline” highlights to simulate stamped lettering. A separate, more elaborate and integrated set of 4 additional weights intended for use stacked together in process-color or multi-spot-color printing is designed for maximum realism. Each of the 4 weights contains a separate layer of the full embossing effect — Fill (as shown above), two highlight layers, plus a shadow layer, which when stacked directly on top of each other produce the full embossing effect.

Tip for one or two-color applications: The shadow/ highlight details of the fonts work fine with laser printers, inkjets, commercial offset printing, etc., which can reproduce fine detail, but are too thin for successful screen-printing in our experience. Even with printers that can reproduce the fine detail, however, the visibility and realism of the single-weight font is limited. For 1 or 2-color screen-printing applications, we recommend using instead just the Fill weight from the 4-part set, either by itself (i.e., no shadow/ embossing effect), or with a relief shadow added manually at a weight thick enough to print without dropouts.

Examples of font’s embossing effects:

E-phemera (original foundry) – The Penitentiary Gothic links on E-phemera’s font index page will bring up the embossing examples.

For further specimens or to buy this font:

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