Please Help to Critique My First Font.

tddots's picture

Hello There,

I'm a digital type student at City College of San Francisco. This is my first digital font project based on my handwriting on the regular ruled college paper. I use Illustrator, ScanFont, and FontLab to build it. I haven't finished the design nor working on kerning of individual pairs of glyph yet. Your input is very important for me now, please help to critique. Ah, I named it Leafon. What do you think? Thank you very much!

tony
12/5

AttachmentSize
Leafon.pdf459.28 KB
leafon demo text 2.pdf471.87 KB
ebensorkin's picture

First off, I think you need to decide of you are going to use Open type scripting to make the font look more like real handwritting with variation and context dependence - where a lc l conncect to another l vs. connecting with some other letter vs. staring or finnishing a word for instance. Or if the face isn't going to do that and is going to be more like an older commercial 'script' font like this one.

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/shelley-script/

where the connections are more calculated & less casual. Forst instance, in the second case you would have to redesign your lc 'l' to look less ackward when it connects to other letters.

There are tons of other observations that could be made but I think they would all assume (falsely) some insight into what you had decided about this first issue.

dave bailey's picture

Looks like a good start but the dark spots in the lack of counter on the top of the lc f and l bother me, they draw too much attention. That being said the uneven color could also be attended to, unless you're going for a very informal look.

I agree with Eben...you might want to look into OT so that the words flow better as connected glyphs.

crossgrove's picture

Though it's true that OpenType can help this font do more things, you can work on the existing outlines to get a more smooth, realistic connecting flow. Note how the instrokes and outstrokes of some letters collide with, or miss other in/outstrokes.Find ways to get the in and out strokes to all fall in the same place, so that letters appear to join. For instance, put a and l together in your FontLab metrics window. See how the blob on the bottom left of l interrupts the apparent flow? If you can change that part of l so it looks like a and l are written together, then you've improved not only the al join, but also anything that joins the same way. Fix the joins of i, j, l, m, n, r, u, and y, and it will improve a lot. you may have to change the spacing of letters to get the joins looking good. Please post updates!

hrant's picture

Since there really are way too many handwriting fonts out there already* I would try to figure out how to make it stand out. Personally I might think about turning David's -generally valid- complaint about the "dark spots" into a feature! So maybe try putting MORE of that in... The one thing I think needs to be tamed though are the caps: I think they're really too all over the place (I mean in relation to the lc). Most of them are fine, but like the "I" and "T" are going to be trouble. The caps also have more (too much) color variance I think.

* Yes, this is based on your unique handwriting. But consider how
many people will actually know that, and then find that relevant?

BTW, are you a student of Amy Conger's?

hhp

tddots's picture

Dear Eben and all Participants,

Thank you, all. No, I am not going to work it in Opentype scripting because I don't know much about the Opentype script technology yet. But I will learn it later. Good guess! Yes I am Amy Conger's student. More feedback is welcome and extremely important, please help. Thanks!

tony

Nick Shinn's picture

I would suggest not having any entry stroke on the left of your glyphs, but leaving all the connections to the right side.

By having connecting strokes on only one side, you will avoid the problem of how to hook up entry and exit strokes.

hrant's picture

> leaving all the connections to the right side.

I suspect that generally makes the exit strokes too long though.

The best place to look for joining-script design is Mistral.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>I suspect that generally makes the exit strokes too long though.

Well, I don't want to do too much of Phat's work for him, but not all exit stokes have to join, and they can head in different directions to touch the following letter high or low, and not all characters require an exit stroke. Flexibility.

Mistral rather does it the other way, by having some very pronounced entry strokes.

Caflisch is a good example of what I'm suggesting.

However, if a designer really wants to have a joining strategy that uses both entry and exit strokes, here's a technique I developed in Handsome: create a very short "middle of the join" angled stroke to place in the mask layer at both sides of each glyph, bisected by the sidebearing, then make sure every joining stroke overlaps it perfectly -- entry strokes from above, exit strokes from below. I suspect Roger Excoffon did that sort of thing.

hrant's picture

Excoffon did a lot of cool stuff, but most impressive was his consideration of linguistics (letter-adjacency frequencies*) when deciding how to link stuff, and even what height to put the glyphs.

* Like this: http://typophile.com/node/5106 _
Sorry that table is so damn ugly.

hhp

crossgrove's picture

What did Excoffon say about adjacencies in his design of Mistral?

hrant's picture

He used the data to make settings look less regular, but in a pleasing way.
There's a killer old Typographica article about it all.

hhp

crossgrove's picture

Couldn't find it under Mistral or Excoffon.

Edit: Oh, not that Typographica. I'll look some more.

hrant's picture

Sorry, yes, Spencer's thing, Old-Series #12 (1956).

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

What a cool thread. I have often wondered about this.

tddots's picture

Hello there,

Thanks all for your great opinions so far! I’m thinking joining the letter stroke one to other. However, I am concerned if I’m going to do this, will it “change” the style of my natural handwriting? For example, some people might say “it is not the way you write I do not recognize it.” Any comments? I’m going to post the update as soon as possible hopefully on Monday. I will the thread every often and talk to you soon. Thanks!

tony
12/8

crossgrove's picture

"I’m thinking joining the letter stroke one to other. However, I am concerned if I’m going to do this, will it “change” the style of my natural handwriting? For example, some people might say “it is not the way you write I do not recognize it.”

How do you write? Post some scans of your real handwriting. That should be your guide.

What people say may be irrelevant; will you only use the typeface for personal correspondence?

Type is not handwriting. It's not easy to make a typeface that really looks like handwriting, especially if you are not using OpenType.

ebensorkin's picture

Dude! Listen to Carl ( Crossgrove ).

There is no way that your e* would not change shape depending on what letter comes before or after it - especially when they connect. And when there is no letter either before or after it that would be different too. Look carefully and you will see, context matters - alot! Without contextual variation your font cannot *really* look like handwritting. It will look disjointed - like it does now. If on the other hand you don't want to do opentype & scripting then to make a good looking font you will probably need to start thinking about the font as a script font & not as handwritting.

tddots's picture

Dear Carl and Eben,

Sorry for that little concern! I have tested it with my friends and I got 5 on 5 right. I have tried joining some letters and I really love so far. Unfortunately, I don't have much skills to achieve perfectly yet. However, I want to learn about Opentype scripting. Please list the sources where I can find to learn about it and use it in Fontlab. Thank you for bringing all the interesting points here.

tony
12/9/05

ebensorkin's picture

The scripting is actually *much* easier than you would think. Don't worry at all! You can search for threads that apply on typophile right here. There is almost certainly somebody who has done something similar already & they may have code to try. But even before you worry about code I recommend that you start by looking at the variations you naturally get as a result of putting one letter or another next to each other. For instance, most people connect an a at the base of the a or an o from the top of the o. Compare how they connect to an r. Compare too how they connect to an l. When you have observed enough you will be able to script in a way that suits your handwritting.

crossgrove's picture

Yes, Listen to Eben! ;D

You might get most of your letters to join and only have 2 or 3 troublemakers. Then, OpenType can solve that problem. Maybe you only have to add a few lines of code to change things contextually. You wouldn't need to change everything. You could do it with alternate single letters or with ligatures.

I do think it is all much easier if your joins are all on the outstroke (right side). Then, if an o or t joined from near the x-height, it could hit the next letter wherever it looked good, even if a or e joins lower.

Nick points out that not all exit strokes have to join. True! In fact, not all letters have to have an "exit stroke". Look at your writing. If you lift the pen between letters, see if there's a typical place where that happens. I usually lift my pen after a z, p, v, and sometimes other letters if they are right in the middle of a word. Some people's handwriting doesn't join much at all. There are several typefaces out there that are based on handwriting that is really more like printing, and they don't join anywhere. If it gives a realistic effect of something written by hand, then it doesn't matter if things all join the same way.

Handwriting is really quite difficult to adapt to type. It has to do with how regular, and how joined it is. My handwriting is very loopy and inconsistent, and I've tried to make a typeface out of it. Even with OpenType, I would have a lot of work to get something looking like my handwriting. Not worth it, since it's illegible anyway.

hrant's picture

The biggest thing that makes it extremely hard for type to look like handwriting is: mistakes! We make them (and sometimes brutally correct them) when handwriting, and you'd need some REALLY fancy OT code to simulate that... There are some nice old Visible Language articles about handwriting mistakes - those would be very useful.

hhp

tddots's picture

Hi all,

I just posted the update "Leafon demo text 2.pdf" on the top. Please check it out. In this update, I worked on the letters'shapes and L/R bearing sides. I plan working on kerning in the next step. Before do this, I need your feedback in the recent update. Thanks!

tony
12/10/05

crossgrove's picture

That has made an enormous difference. Smoothed everything out. Now, we can look at single letters or joins that aren't working. There's not much left, good thing this is an informal handwriting face!

I would re-think T completely, honestly, it looks like an ampersand or a crossed-out C to me. C can be refined to join nicely, as could E, M and U.

The outstrokes could be longer, so you could have better spacing: everything looks tight, and some of the letters themselves are narrow, so it might help make it more readable to open the spacing, and maybe widen h, m and n. Since b, c, o, p, q and s are so wide, they interrupt the rhythm of words.

Adjust the weights of the caps to be more even. That is all I see right now.

ebensorkin's picture

Much improved. But the letters are running into each other a bit more than they would even in cramped handwritting. The spaces between letters are important too.

Grace Connell's picture

"The best place to look for joining-script design is Mistral."

I am developing 2 script fonts- what/where is Mistral? Do you mean the font Mistral?
Many thanks.

hrant's picture

Yes, Mistral by Roger Excoffon, who relied on his intuitive grasp of
form but also some fairly rigorous analysis: the study of letter-pair
frequencies (in French) to help decide the relative vertical placements
of the glyphs, hence how the joins lay out.

There's a great article in an old issue of Herbert Spencer's Typographica
magazine nicely detailing the development of Mistral. It's a mûst.

hhp

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