Type on curved path: Type Crime?

iBran's picture

Basic question: Is text on a curved path considered a major "type crime"?
Perhaps it's just an issue on a font like Futura Extra Bold... see the attached pic for an example.

Specifically regarding the large "Art-a-Whirl" in the upper left. For example, the baselines of the 'A' and 'r' are at different angles. Do graphic designers hang in hell for these kinds of problems?

I'm open to any other comments regarding colors/layout/whatever.
Keep in mind this poster is far from done... yes, I'm well aware of the major kerning issues :)

FWIW, the instructor and other students seem to like the "curved" version, but since it's not a type class they may not know any better.

PDF, if you want a closer look: http://udesign.org/poster/aawposter.pdf

Norbert Florendo's picture

> Is text on a curved path considered a major “type crime”?

Don't lose sleep over it.
Type, letterforms, engravings, etchings, chiseled in stone...
setting words set on curves, arcs, angles is NO CRIME at all,
just BAD DESIGN and POOR TYPOGRAPHY are considered crimes.

from --
Charles Peignot, 1935. Issue number 49.
Legendary French Arts magazine published by Charles Peignot that represented the state-of-the-art in fine publishing in pre-war France.

Stephen Coles's picture

Excellent example, Norbert!

My rule of thumb: Rotation is fine. Once you start changing the shapes of most letterforms, then things get ugly.

hrant's picture

Brian, I'd remove the traps (like from the "W").


Norbert Florendo's picture

For your typographic conundrum --

Who would you rather be?

ho-hum :-\

type on curves... yikes =)

timd's picture

The problem is exacerbated by wider typefaces and characters, if it is bothering you maybe you should try something a bit narrower or with more verticals.

Mark Simonson's picture

Notice that Peignot used a condensed typeface and generous spacing, both of which minimize the baseline angle problem.

The alternative is to use a curved envelope, so you get a curved baseline (and cap line). The drawback is that the distortion this causes to the letters is often more noticeable, not to mention ugly.

Mark Simonson's picture

When I do curved type, I convert everything to outlines and adjust the shapes of the letters to fit the curve better, but as subtle as possible so it's not obvious. The goal should be to make it less noticeable than without the corrections. Wide letters are the most difficult.

BradB's picture

What Mark said: adjust the bottoms of the letters to fit the curve. Leslie Cabarga talks about this in depth in his Logo, Font & Lettering Bible.

hrant's picture

And/or use type that doesn't have flat bottoms. Like Helvetica Rounded. KIDDING!
No, more like a cursive Roman (usually -mistakenly- called upright italic).


Miss Tiffany's picture

I once had a teacher who told a funny story about type on a curve. Joe, Jared, Christian? Do you guys remember it?

I'd agree with what has been said. Sometimes type on a curve can be an elegant solution for spice to an otherwise bland design. On the other hand, sometimes it is just one more spice which isn't needed. It is about moderation.

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