But how's your handwriting?

dpiechnik's picture

Maybe someone can enlighten me on a thought that popped into my head the other day. Do type designers write like they design? Is your handwriting better than most people or is it just as sloppy as the next guys?

thierry blancpain's picture

i have one of the worst handwritings i know. i mean its readable and all, but i switch slanting left / right / upright every other letter (which apparently is a sign for a weak person, i heard).

pattyfab's picture

I have good handwriting - better & more stylish than most.

BruceS63's picture

I shoulda been a doctor.

dezcom's picture

My handwriting downright sucks! It is unreadable to anyone but me. Once upon a time I was a decent caligrapher though. It didn't rub off on my handwriting which continues to deteriorate as I age. A few years ago I took a stab at doing a typeface based on my handwriting. In order to make it readable I had to make many changes. It read reasonably well after much revision but I would not use it as a writing model for school kids by any means.

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

My doctor thinks I shoulda been a doctor :-)

ChrisL

dpiechnik's picture

I guess the follow-up question would be something all philisophical like "why do you feel this is?"

--
dp

dezcom's picture

Because handwriting today is not for public use. Everything we do for others we type, therefore, there is no need for neatness. The further I went through school and work, the faster I had to write taking notes or whatever. Speed kills. The other end of it is that perhaps type design, in some way, makes up for this difficiency--kinda like the Napoleon complex.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

My handwriting sucks, but I don't worry. Much more relevant
to typeface design is how I trim my goatee. I'm not kidding.

hhp

magnus_rakeng's picture

i have the handwriting from hell. i can't even read it myself. In school i was as the only one in my class who was aloud to write in all caps. I still do it.

Norbert Florendo's picture

FYI -- Not all designers have poor penmanship.

Mistral, by Roger Excoffon, 1953

"Mistral is a loose running script based directly on the handwriting of its designer, Roger Excoffon. His goal was to create a typeface with a true handwritten style, but in this case, the writing looks as though it were done with a brush or heavy felt tip."
-- info from MyFonts.com

Stephen Coles's picture

i have the handwriting from hell.

... this from the guy who designed Radio, so that should answer your question.

mwebert's picture

Why don't we scan and post? I'd be curious to see what our handwriting looks like...

Write out one of your favorite pangrams, cursive & print.

Here's mine.

--Michael.

------------------------------------------------------
// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
http://homepage.mac.com/mwebert
mwebert@mac.com
--------------

timd's picture

I have a good clear hand and I prefer to handwrite, but then I am not a type designer and I have done lots of calligraphy (too much, I have deformed the lower knuckle on my 2nd finger).
At least I don't have to trim anything to do it though :)
Tim

hrant's picture

> "based directly on the handwriting of its designer"

It would be more accurate to say "on a handwriting of its designer", since
the development of Mistral involved like a dozen distinct possible styles.

hhp

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

I have bad handwriting and I'm a bad speller too.

Mikey

samadam's picture

My handwriting is actually pretty good looking, imho. I combine a few letters, for example when I write "playing" I drop the hump of the N completely, and my G devolves into a single loop. Often, my descenders are three lines long, my ascenders two.



(just practicing with inkscape)

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

samadam> I use inkscape too... I thought I was the only one

Mikey

samadam's picture

just all us po' fokes that can't afford illustrator!
And i prefer the drawing tools.

dezcom's picture

The top image is a scan of my real handwriting.
The bottom image is my font (Chrishand) based on my handwriting. This is the first font I ever did so be kind :-)

ChrisL

Mark Simonson's picture

My handwriting looks more or less like my Felt Tip Roman (top) when I try to write neat (middle). Usually it looks more like the bottom sample, which is how it looks when I write fast. In general, my handwriting is not as neat (ha!) as it was when I did that font.

Mark Simonson's picture

Here's one to give Hrant nightmares:

:-)

hrant's picture

Ah, I wasn't sure, but I think I get it:
That's your rendition of Helvetica, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!?! ;-)

Actually, I think faux type rules.

hhp

Mark Simonson's picture

Handwriting and Helvetica, your favorites, all in one. :-)

John Hudson's picture

Inlcude me among the type designers with lousy handwriting. In my case, it is largely due to not being taught the correct way to hold a pen at my first school. I briefly went to a school that included penmanship in the curriculum, when I was nine, but by then the damage was done and despite a number of efforts I have never been able to get used to holding a pen correctly and writing with my arm rather than with my fingers.

amyp's picture

fun topic!

i wrote this when i was working on my thesis a few years ago...
diagnosis? deranged grad student...

Mark Simonson's picture

Let's hope, for Mike's sake, that none of these shows up in the type i.d. forum.

fontplayer's picture

I'd like to see the one you made for hrant's nightmare made into a font. That could even be the name of it (hrant's nightmare)

dezcom's picture

I see a pattern here. Most of the samples posted are not joined cursive as much as individual letters. Mark still wins for neatness.

ChrisL

mwebert's picture

PattyFab: Love your handwriting. Both print and cursive would make fine fonts...

ChrisL: Where are your fonts available? I'm a big fan of Now Sans (and now Chrishand).

An aside question: What was the first typeface that you can remember imitating in your handwriting/lettering?

For me, it was University Roman (it was the '80s, after all...)

--Michael.

------------------------------------------------------
// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
http://homepage.mac.com/mwebert
mwebert@mac.com
--------------

Chris Rugen's picture

My handwriting is horrendous is most situations where speed is required. I'm also a lefty, which contributes. I've taken to writing in small caps to keep my letterforms distinct. If I don't, my handwriting would become like my mother's which is one step away from looking like seismographic charting. However, if I can slow myself slightly and write on a surface like a notepad, my writing quickly shapes up.

pattyfab's picture

If my handwriting were ever digitized it would have to be Open Type because there is very little rhyme or reason to which letters I connect up. Sort of a roman/cursive hybrid. Just trying to be different I guess... but it was always important to me that my handwriting be both good and distinctive because my mom's is. Altho mine looks nothing like hers.

I want to see more samples!

Mark Simonson's picture

An aside question: What was the first typeface that you can remember imitating in your handwriting/lettering?

In eighth grade (about 1970) I redrew the "We Try Harder" type from the Avis ads, which were set in Perpetua Bold, though I didn't know what it was called at the time. I still have it around somewhere.

timd's picture

I can remember drawing some Roger Dean lettering and Letraset display fonts like Quicksilver.
Tim

Rene Verkaart's picture

If I see this about 95% of the typedesigners have a lousy handwriting (incl. me). The alphabet is based on the handwriting, so this thread is a compliment to most type designers. They are able to make good fonts without having a good handwriting themselves.
I think the guys from Underware must have a very good handwriting. In there fonts you practically see the handwriting. (Have a look at the Typeradio.org-banner on the upper right side of this website.)

Regards,
®ené

www.characters.nl { Dutch typography to express yourself }

mwebert's picture

Boy, Tim, your handwriting is exquisite.

--Michael.

------------------------------------------------------
// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
http://homepage.mac.com/mwebert
mwebert@mac.com
--------------

pattyfab's picture

Yeah, Tim. That should be a font.

timd's picture

Underware handwriting (at least I assume it is)
http://www.typeworkshop.com/index.php?id1=type-basics&id2=&id3=&id4=&id5...

Thanks Michael and Patty
Tim

Nick Shinn's picture

My writing varies depending on the pen.
The Handsome face (next to bottom) was actually "written" in Fontographer with a Wacom stylus. Handsome Pro (bottom) gets a bit more pseudo-spontaneity, with OpenType contextual alternates, but I still have a few more levels to go in mimicking the real thing.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Tim, I would say that the Underware sample is lettering and not handwriting.

hrant's picture

Guys, it's no use writing a sample for this thread - it has to be done spontaneously.

Further to this: a while ago it hit me that to make typography feel like handwriting, it's not enough to make things irregular, it's not even enough to make things contextual; you need to reproduce the most basic element of handwriting: mistakes! Bad spelling, crossed-out stuff, messy linebreaks, the works. It probably can't even be done by a font. Except maybe by Amy!

> a compliment to most type designers.

Or you could instead say that it's simply a result of
"the alphabet is based on handwriting" being false.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

it has to be done spontaneously

I think people were responding to the suggestion to write a pangram.
However, in the interests of transparency, here's what my writing really looks like, notes taken in bad lighting during a lecture.

hrant's picture

> I think people were responding to the suggestion to write a pangram.

Well, yes. But a better response would have been "no".

> here’s what my writing really looks like

There you go! :-)
And better than mine.

hhp

pattyfab's picture

OK here are some notes from a design meeting about a sparkling juice label. Not too different from my sample - my handwriting doesn't change that much

amyp's picture

Bad spelling, crossed-out stuff, messy linebreaks, the works. It probably can’t even be done by a font. Except maybe by Amy!

ah yes, my next project. ;)

despite the magic of opentype, i'd argue that handwriting fonts simply can't do what handwriting does...basically, handwriting fonts are simulacrum of handwriting.

if we look to graphology, the best way to get a sample of someone's handwriting is to take it from something previously written, to really capture the unconscious forms that occur when we're taken off guard.

pattyfab's picture

It's so amazing that nobody actually writes anymore. On a similar note I spent about an hour trying to draw something in Illustrator recently that I realized could have been done in about 30 seconds by hand.

hrant's picture

I'll never forget the teacher of my first computer science class (who'd been a student of Von Neumann) torturing us for half an hour trying to get us to come up with an elegant routine for doing a certain problem (involving cross-word puzzles), and at the end telling us with a serious grin: "You don't use a computer for this - you do it by hand." They don't make 'em like that no more.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

the magic of opentype

The thing is, OpenType scripts have concentrated on capturing the beauty of formal calligraphy.
If the same amount of genius that went into Zapfino Extra Pro or Caflisch Pro were to be put into mimicing "ordinary" writing, then we'd see some different results. A few people have done "first generation" attempts, such as myself and Christian (Dear Sarah), but there are subsequent generations of OT scripts to come that will be truly scary in their ability to fool the Turing Testees.

timd's picture

I find myself trying to avoid widows and orphans and to keep a regular right rag when I write letters.


briefing notes to myself tend to be scruffier.
Tim

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