Dark Garden – a decorative free outline font (TrueType / TTF, OpenType, PostScript)

Dark Garden – a decorative free outline font (TrueType / TTF, OpenType, PostScript)

Dark Garden

2012-01-22 — Dark Garden 1.2 released. The only chnage is in licensing. The font is now dual-licensed under the GNU GPL with font exception or the OFL (Open Font License).
Download now.

2004-05-18 — Dark Garden 1.1 released. This version features major changes:
kerning and hinting information has been added, many characters have been improved.
The licensing has changed, too — the font is now OpenSource / Free Software.
Download now.

Dark Garden is a decorative outline font of unusual shape.
The typeface is based on author’s original hand drawings.
The letterform is complex, with all characters decorated with spikes resembling thorns
or flames, character spacing is very dense.
Such a theme makes it a great font for titles, banners, logos etc.
Due to the font’s complicated form, long text passages are not very legible, but short paragraphs such as titles or lyrics / poetry look very well.

You can download Dark Garden free of charge from this page.
Full source code for the font is available so you can make modifications to the typeface.
Please refer to the License for details.

There is a low traffic mailing list for users of Dark Garden, where new releases are announced. Click
here to subscribe or unsubscribe.

More information about mailing lists, bug tracking etc. can be found on Dark Garden’s sourceforge.net project page.

Available Characters

At this time, the Dark Garden font contains all letters of the English alphabet,
Polish and German diacritic characters and a few punctuation marks.

Dark Garden font preview
A preview of the Dark Garden font

Kerning and Hinting

As of version 1.1, DarkGarden contains kerning and hinting information. Hinting is only
very basic at the time (no TrueType instructions). Since most characters are rather
they don’t fit their bounding boxes very well, so quite a lot of kerning pairs were
needed to make the font look really good. The font has been tested with a choice of
English and Polish texts and it seems that most of the necessary kerning pairs
are implemented.

The font is dual-licensed: you can use and distribute it under the terms of either of the licenses listed below.

License (GNU GPL with font exception)

Copyright (C) 1999, 2000, 2004, 2012 Michał Kosmulski

This font is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This font is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this font; if not, write to the Free Software
Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

As a special exception, if you create a document which uses
this font, and embed this font or unaltered portions of this font into
the document, this font does not by itself cause the resulting
document to be covered by the GNU General Public License. This
exception does not however invalidate any other reasons why the
document might be covered by the GNU General Public License. If you
modify this font, you may extend this exception to your version of the
font, but you are not obligated to do so. If you do not wish to do so,
delete this exception statement from your version.

License (SIL Open Font License [OFL])

Copyright (C) 2012 Michał Kosmulski, http://darkgarden.sourceforge.net/
with Reserved Font Name “Dark Garden”.

This Font Software is licensed under the SIL Open Font License, Version 1.1.
This license is included in the font package, and is also available with a FAQ at: http://scripts.sil.org/OFL.

What this means in practice

The licenses Dark Garden uses are Free Software / Open Source Software licenses, which
means that users have the freedom to use, distribute and modify the font (e.g. to
improve it or to add extra characters to it). They are also copyleft licenses — if a
modified version is distributed, it must be distributed under the same license
or a compatible license. Everyone is invited to contribute to the
project. Please refer to the license texts for precise terms for
copying, distribution and modification.

To download Dark Garden, go to the download page and select the
format of your choice (e.g. the archive containing the TrueType version is called
darkgarden-*.ttf.zip). At this time only TrueType and source code versions
are available for download, but OpenType and PostScript (Type1 / T1 etc.) can be generated from the source
code and will be made available for download if there is demand for them.
For most users, TrueType is the right format. If you want to have
this font exported to another format or make modifications to it, you need to download the
source code and follow instructions listed in the following section.


Dark Garden was created using PfaEdit (recently renamed to FontForge),
a Free Software / Open Source software package for creating and editing scalable and bitmap fonts. PfaEdit
runs on most UNIX-like systems (including Linux), Microsoft Windows and MacOS X. You will
need to download this program in order to work with the source code for Dark Garden.

Once PfaEdit is installed, download the source package for
The archive contains a file called DarkGarden.sfd, which you can edit with PfaEdit.
A tutorial on using PfaEdit can be found

Once you have made all the modifications to the *.sfd file, you need to export it using
PfaEdit’s File->Generate Fonts… menu option. You can choose from quite
a few font formats, of which you will probably want to use TrueType in most
cases. Then install the font in the standard way (depending on your operating system).
If after exporting to True Type, some applications don’t display kerning correctly, it may
mean they don’t understand OpenType kerning tables. In such case, try exporting the font
once again as TrueType, but uncheck the OpenType checkbox in
Options dialog box accessible from the Generate Fonts… dialog.
Another solution can be exporting to OpenType — sometimes exporting the font as
Open Type gives good results even though exporting as True Type with the
OpenType option enabled doesn’t.

Suggestions for Developers

Here are a few ideas to make it easier for developers to make modifications to the
font while preserving the original’s style and feel:

  • Dark Garden is a small-caps font. Lowercase letters are copies of corresponding uppercase letters, scaled down to 85% size.
  • In order to provide more diversity, letters with diacritic marks (e.g. Ą and Ä) are usually not created from non-accented letters (e.g. A) by simply adding diacritic marks, but have completely distinct shapes.

I designed and published first versions of Dark Garden as freeware in 1999 and 2000.
In early 2004 I decided to make it Free Software / OpenSource and published version 1.1.
Apart from the change in licensing (see License for details),
I also made important improvements to the font such as adding kerning and hinting
information. In 2012, the font was dual licensed — option of distributing it under the OFL
was added in order to allow its use with Google Web Fonts.

Please send any comments, suggestions etc. to the author of Dark Garden, Michał Kosmulski (mkosmul <at> users <dot> sourceforge <dot> net). PGP key can be downloaded here.

You can find other interesting stuff including software projects and other computing-related pages, information about collecting minerals, fossils and meteorites, modular origami photographs, and more, at my homepage.

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