Blumenkind: A cuddly optimistic utopian script

Catharsis's picture

So I made good on my threat in this thread to build a font on the basis of some nice lettering from the 60ies I found on a residential building in Berlin... I've got a pretty complete set of paths now, whose look in the Glyphs editor I rather like.

Problem is, I need to stroke those paths to make a usable font. I'm not happy with the path expansion tool in Glyphs (it doesn't support rounded end caps and does unsightly things to sharp turns), so I've tried exporting an OTF from Glyphs to FontForge and doing it there. The workflow is pretty atrocious, crash-ridden (on the side of FontForge) and doesn't work well for very thin weights, so I'm very much hoping to find a better solution.

Does anyone know of a really good path stroking tool? Preferably free to use, though if you have a paid license, I might be interested to hire your services for a free license of the final font...

Here's what it looks like when I stroke the font at 25/20 units with a 40° angle in FontForge. Not too bad, though as I said things break down at very light weights.

Catharsis's picture

Forgot the image for the stroked version:

Also, there's a {tt} ligature in the font that I forgot to activate for that poster above. See the {ff} ligature for an idea of what it would look like.

EDIT: Oh, and I wrote "an utopian"? Really? Why does this forum forbid editing the first post again...?

Benderski's picture

Sounds stupid, but did you try with illustrator?

Catharsis's picture

I don't have that. I could try with Inkscape, though I suspect the workflow would be extremely labor-intensive...

Benderski's picture

If you want, you can send me 1 or 2 letters and i can show you the result with illustrator :)

daverowland's picture

As far as expanded path fonts go, this has some potential. The terminals need a bit of tinkering to look more natural. If you're set on going down the expanded path route, I'd suggest only using this model for the lightest weight. Add some contrast in unexpected places (maybe thicker in curves, where the pen would slow down) and I think you'll have something interesting. It reminds me of fifties lettering on space themed adverts, and weird contrast seemed to be all the rage then.

Michael Wallner's picture

I could expand it in either FontLab or Fontographer to see if they could get something you like.

Catharsis's picture

Alright, I found a clunky but workable way of exporting my paths from Glyphs to FontForge, expanding them there, and re-importing them to Glyphs for finishing. I put up a provisional Behance page for illustration:

And here are two of the posters for the click-lazy among you. ;o)

As you can see, I went with a monolinear approach for the default cuts — it seems to work well enough for Rolling Pen after all... also, it makes the round stroke terminals look natural. I also made a heavily contrasted "calligraphic" cut with diagonal stress. I found sharp cutoffs at the stroke ends look the most natural there.

I'm thinking of releasing Blumenkind in the next few days. Any last-minute thoughts?

@ Dave: Adding stress in unexpected places sounds like fun, but also like more work than I was planning to put into Blumenkind. Perhaps an idea for a "Blumenkind Pro" further down the road...?

eliason's picture

There's lots to like here.
I'm not sold on the tittles and diacritics.
I wonder if /U/u/ look a little too /V/v/ish.
For /G/ you might try having the "triangle" inverted (i.e. have its top flatter and its base pointier).

Catharsis's picture

@ Craig: Thanks for the feedback!

Tittles and diacritics: I took that straight from the source that way, but of course I'm not obliged to reproduce it faithfully (for instance, I've made the {t} much nicer than it was). The {ü} was one of the letters I found most inspiring about the source, though. I agree the overlapping forms are quite unconventional, and I could make Blumenkind more widely usable with more conventional diacritics. I might just make an alternate cut of the font for that, then. Good idea!

Yes, the {UuVv} look too much alike for my taste, but I haven't found a satisfying way of resolving the issue. I certainly want to keep the current shape of {Uu}, which I find very attractive and in line with the font's design philosophy. That doesn't leave much space for {Vv} to be different, though. I don't suppose two crossed slashes would work... Then again, the {UuVv} distinction is probably not very crucial to readability in most languages, is it?

I've given the inverted {G} a couple of tries on paper, and I don't like it much — it looks top-heavy and menacing. One reason why Blumenkind looks so friendly is its teddybear-like cuddly and bottom-heavy shapes. The current design of {G} also allows its bottom terminal to angle inwards with a minimum of tension on the bottom corner, which I like.

eliason's picture

Tittles and diacritics: I took that straight from the source that way, but of course I'm not obliged to reproduce it faithfully

Indeed, the medium of the original dictated such Tittles and umlauts, but that's not the case with your font so it looks more arbitrary. I can see some of the quirky appeal you're talking about but I also find them confusing and distracting.

On the /U/u/, if you don't want a downward stem on the right (and I can see why you don't) just de-pointify the bottoms as much as you can without losing the triangular character.

Catharsis's picture

Alright, I made an alternate version of the font with free-floating marks. Thanks for the pointer, Craig!

I tried widening the {u} at the base, but didn't like the result. It seemed to lose all the springy tension that characterizes the font. I guess I'll just keep it the way it is.

I'm putting it on the test server now. If there are no glitches it should be out within a week or so.


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