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Researching by doing: some stem ideas

Following up on these thoughts, I've sketched (in pencil, pen, and FontLab) some ideas for my "low-branching" idea. Here is a FontLab example (ignore the horrible lumpiness), along with another idea on the left: instead of branching from the bottom of the initial stroke diagonally up and to the right, this one loops backwards.

By doing this looping, the arch can spring from a more "normal" midpoint of the first stroke, but the whole retains the feeling of a letter written without lifting the pen off the paper.

The project plan for my first font design calls for me to come up with the features and intentions of the prominent humanist sans faces of the twentieth century. Once that is done, I will make up a kind of brief for what my design will strive to accomplish, based on a selective composite of these historical faces.

Some of the discussion at this recent thread was helpful for this.

. . Gill Sans
. . . . date
. . . . . . 1927-30
. . . . designer
. . . . . . Eric Gill, Monotype
. . . . intended use
. . . . . . advertisements
. . . . . . signage
. . . . design sources
. . . . . . Johnston's London Transport alphabet
. . . . "humanism" comes from
. . . . . . proportions

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Daily Pangram hits 100

Today's pangram:

Excuse me, do you realize I've blogged 100 pangrams within just a quick five months?

99 more are at http://dailypangram.blogspot.com/!

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Researching by Doing: an idea for a font

What existing upright fonts have branches that come out of the bottom of the stems? I'm imagining and sketching letters that have that feature. A better example is the h/n/y here:

It's obviously a handwriting-like cursive feature, but has anybody tried to make a more formal, regular sans with that kind of branching?

I can see the first problem I'd run up against is cloggy spots where the strokes are doubled up. That would involve some serious thinning of the monoline treatment of the rest, or some other solution. Maybe a horizontal spreading of the strokes, as we see in the vertices of capital M's in some sans that almost look like IVI.

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Helvetica screening at MCBA in Minneapolis Thursday

I hope I can get to Minnesota Center for Book Arts Thursday evening to see Helvetica (the film) again. It's at 7pm if any Twin Cities typophiles are interested.

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Researching by Doing: FontLab workshop

I attended a two-part workshop preceding the annual TypeCon convention last week that was for beginning or aspiring font designers. It turned out largely to be a tour of the software more than anything else - the software being TypeTool, which is a stripped-down, consumer version of FontLab. The software-centric focus of the workshop probably should not come as a surprise, as the workshop was led by FontLab's president. I got some good pointers out of the day of experimenting, but the many questions I have about what to consider when undertaking a font design that extend beyond the tools remained unaddressed.

This lack was remedied a bit by sitting in on TypeCon's font crit session, which was fascinating and fun.

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The Place of Letters talk tonight

I hope Minnesota typophiles have also heard that I'll be speaking tonight at a Minnesota Center for Book Arts roundtable.

Some details here.

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Researching by Doing: obtaining the tools

I'm close to pulling the trigger on purchasing FontLab Studio for my project. I've already downloaded the trial version and played around with it a bit, with Cabarga's Logo, Font & Lettering Bible usually at hand.

The application is complicated, in the main because it's so sophisticated. But I am also simply getting used to drawing with Bezier curves, which is almost entirely new. I anticipate that the workshops I'll be attending at TypeCon in Buffalo in a few days will make things easier for me. I have a feeling that even when I'm able to achieve the curve I want, it is still taking me many minutes and steps that are probably unnecessary.

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Face the Nation kicking off

I hope Minnesota typophiles have heard by now of the opening of the exhibition I curated: "Face the Nation: How National Identity Shaped Modern Typeface Design, 1900-1960." The opening reception is tomorrow (Sat. July 12) night, 6-9pm. It's at Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis. Open and free to all!

I'll also be hosting a roundtable event on Tuesday evening that is free and open to the public. Please come if you're interested!

More info on the exhibition at the MCBA website: http://www.mnbookarts.org/events/currentMCBAexhibits.html

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Researching by doing: announcing the plan

This blog entry marks the first in what is planned to be a series of reports documenting the design of my first font. An internal grant at UST has supported this project, which I call Researching by Doing: Designing a Humanist Sans Typeface.

Here are some excerpts from my grant proposal that help to explain the rationale and plan:

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