Crazy idea? Monospace Caslon/slab

J Mayfield's picture

No clue if this is absolute rubbish or not. I found an old Caslon specimen and thought about doing a monospace version of it. It seems like most monospace fonts out there are very boring, so I wanted to do one that has a much more pleasant feel. Did some sketches and I've digitized a few letters so far. I think Kris Sowersby's Pitch has inspired me, you can see some of it in the bracketing.
Thoughts?

I wanted it to be very legible on-screen so it has a really tall x-height.

Some characters are pretty tricky. Anyone think this has potential or just isn't worth it?

hrant's picture

It's very zeitgeist, so it might sell very well.

hhp

J Mayfield's picture

Monospace does seem to be fashionable these days. I've always disliked their forms (excepting Nitti and Pitch) while appreciating their functionality. Hopefully I can get both with this. Thanks!

hrant's picture

Even more than monospacedness, what seems to be hip now is faux naïve. Like that retarded "r" and the stem-serif joins.

hhp

J Mayfield's picture

Agreed, the "r" is a bit of a mongrel in monospaced fonts, here as well. I'll be working on it.
If anything, it's genuine naïveté — my love for type far outweighs my skill :)

J Mayfield's picture

Some new/updated letters.


Not sure if I like the "q", I'll see when the rest of the lowercase are done.

shastafir's picture

Are you looking to attract programmers? If you put together a otf I can try it in a number of text-editors to see how it renders.

J Mayfield's picture

I do hope to, yes. I have tested it in Textmate and compared it to the default Monaco. My font is less legible in its current form(do to a smaller x-height), but in my eyes it is much more pleasant to read.



(As you can see, not all the letters are complete yet.) I believe I do have the resources necessary to test its rendering, but thank you for the offer!

J Mayfield's picture

Continuing to hash out the lowercase. The "z" feels a bit discordant and bland.

It seems to perform quite nicely at text sizes. Below are sizes 7–13pt

I am considering increasing the x-height slightly. Most of the lowercase look too wide. Would also probably increase legibility.

brianskywalker's picture

You might try using the serifs to your advantage to make fill in the space and make a more even color. Perhaps more than you are now depending on the letter. While you do on the |f| and |t|, I think it's lacking in the |r|. On some letters you may want to drop serifs entirely in parts. The |m| and |w| could really do without the serifs, I would venture to say. They are already crowded without them.

The |z| seems a little off to me with the angle of the serifs. But the feature is nice, if you use similar angle for some of the other serifs, that may be cool.

Looks interesting, love to see where you go with it.

J Mayfield's picture

Thanks! Good points. I feel uncomfortable removing serifs entirely from the "m" or "w", but I did make them smaller and update a few other letters.


I widened the "j" and "r" and fixed the wonkiness of the "t" and "z".

Pretty happy now with the feel of the lowercase. Still deliberating on increasing the x-height.

J Mayfield's picture

I've been experimenting with different weights just for fun/practice.



Wondering if my Regular weight is a bit too heavy. Not in comparison to the other weights, just too heavy for text.

J Mayfield's picture

Finished the basic letters. Will work on numerals and then refining everything.

Text setting: 10pt, 13.3 leading

Capitals, 13–7pt

And how’s this for a crazy alternate? :D

brianskywalker's picture

I wonder if the serifs on the top of the T and F wouldn't mind being larger. I also wonder if you could try to bring out more of the Caslon in this. Right now it seems a bit more conventional than the title makes it sound.
Love it, keep going.

brianskywalker's picture

On the lowercase |a| the bowl seems a little thick near the bottom join.

I would also love to see another Textmate screen shot in comparison to Monaco.

J Mayfield's picture

Some of the Caslon flavor is gone, due to trying to make it work for a monospaced slab. I'm considering adding a bit more contrast and some slight adjustment of the serifs to get some of that feel back. The line between bizarre and balancing both influences is a thin one! I'll post some more screen shots when I get through the next round of adjustments.

Jens Kutilek's picture

You’re right, the Caslon flavour is gone, which is a pity. Monospaced faces don’t have to be slab, I think you can head towards more interesting territory if you keep the stroke contrast and forms of Caslon.

Take a look at Century Schoolbook Monospace or this beauty (Lutezia by Axel Bertram) for inspiration what’s possible with a bit of stroke modulation:

hrant's picture

Wow, that is nice.

hhp

J Mayfield's picture

While I've never cared for Century Schoolbook Mono, Lutezia is amazing! I've been working on some some sketching of the italics and I've found that it doesn’t match the current blocky roman at all. So I’ve been adjusting the contrast and bracketing to make it feel more cohesive. Something along these lines:

Catharsis's picture

Agreed, this Lutezia is an eye-opener.

The last monospace that surprised me was M+ 1mn, which I use for my Mac consoles.

J Mayfield's picture

Well I’m still going back and forth on the look and feel of this. Torn between these two. Each obviously has its own personality. The top is slightly more dynamic, the bottom is more “friendly” (pardon that overused description).


Could I go wrong with either? The differences aren’t noticeable below 24pt.

brianskywalker's picture

I think the second one stands out less.

Instead of just rounding the terminals and brackets, what if you added rounding to the rest of the intersections?

J Mayfield's picture

I think that could feel too quaint or washed-out, unless it is very, very subtle. Leaning toward the top style right now, the italic could be especially eye-catching.

J Mayfield's picture

Really like the direction this is heading. Appreciating the feedback a ton!

J Mayfield's picture

Think I have the basic structure and the proper contrast of the caps set.


InDesign, 12–7pt

Textmate

eliason's picture

I think you're just making things harder on yourself with a descending J. If you want to keep it, be sure to test it in some words with a letter before the J too.
Since they're so crowded you should feel free to thin the strokes of M and W more, so that they don't stand out as too dark.

J Mayfield's picture

Thanks! A non-descending 'J' does read smoother.
Thinning the strokes of the 'M' and 'W' doesn’t seem to help the screen rendering, but I’m guessing that’s a “problem” with Glyphs’ autohinting.

J Mayfield's picture

Wishing I could add a .pdf to the OP so I didn’t have to keep clogging up the thread with minor updates....
Anyhow, here are the numbers.


And I increased contrast yet again. I’m happy now.

Next I believe I’ll revisit the lowercase, and fine-tune proportions.

J Mayfield's picture

Been hammered with other projects recently, but I had a chance to work on some stuff.

Thoughts? I don't like the bar in the fractions, will likely alter it.

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