Saint Nicolaus

aquatoad's picture

Happy Holidays Typophiles.

Here is the project that has gobbled all my spare time of late. First, let me say, this is not a revival. If you are looking for a proper revival, Bruce Rogers and Robert Slimbach have done nicely. This is me fiddling with Jenson. To be sure it has some venetian overtones, but is unapologeticly streamlined, most notably in the joins and serifs. I had a bit of fun with the f ligatures. They reference Jenson directly in a way I had not seen before, but still (i hope) subtle enough so modern readers don't hiccup. Italics are anybody's guess. Here, I just started drawing (my first true italics). Some of these will surely need revision. They are not overly narrow (a trait I find annoying). The color between the uppers, lowers, small cap and italics is very close. Another Jenson diversion is the short cap height. Numerals are straight ahead (more variations to follow)

Curious to hear your reactions. Currently the font is outlines only. I will begin creating the font and get you a text setting shortly.

Cheers!
Randy

aquatoad's picture

In greater detail:

hrant's picture

Looks pretty solid! And highly usable.

- J: out of character.
- K: too wide.
- g: looks too small.
- y: try a stronger tail.
- zero: I'd give it horizontal stress.

The italics is great, but it needs to diverge more from the Roman. Try making it lighter.

hhp

eomine's picture

Great great work, Randy.
It looks a bit darker than most contemporary typefaces, which is a good thing, methinks. Also, I'm really impressed that you were able to draw all these glyphs on AI!
Ah, the R: it looks like a P + tail (to me). The bowl looks fine, but I think the tail needs some work.

Overall, very nice!!!

aquatoad's picture

The R did give some trouble. Jenson's R is rediculous. Sooooooooo wide! Nice by itself, or as an alternate ending, but it makes for a huge hole. R came first, then the P actually. Do you think the open waist accentuates the issue? I debated about this characteristic, and decided to leave it in all the caps (A,B.P,R).

Drawing in Illustrator has advantages. The largest being the ability to have uppers, lowers, smallcaps, and italics all in the same document for comparison. FontLab and Fontographer both feel like I'm working too isolated. It's not so easy to drop some italics in between the regulars to check color etc. If course, it adds the step of having to check over the contours after importing.

Zero: Yeah, now that I look, even ciphers have slight optical compensation.

y: A stonger tail would be better, i agree.

I'll have to mull over the other suggestions

Thanks,
Randy

Forgot to add: About the dark color. We will have to wait and see how it looks in a text setting. I did make it a bit darker on purpose. I think a light version somewhere between a *normal* roman and light could also be nice, the that is a daydream right now.

aquatoad's picture

On a side note:
In the Jenson sample, what is the glyph at the end of the first line (looks like a pharmacy Rx). What is the q in the second line with the crossbar? Hoping for a history lesson :-)

R

peterbruhn's picture

really nice work Randy.
I agree with Hrant - the lc g looks to small.

hrant's picture

Randy, I think those are abbreviations, like the q-bar is "qui" or something.

hhp

eomine's picture

> Do you think the open waist
> accentuates the issue?

Probably, but I guess you can solve this issue by
trying a different 'connection' between the tail
and the bowl. The open waist is a nice touch, I
think you should keep it.


> q-bar is "qui" or something

Some of Meave's typefaces have a 'q-tilde', an
abbreviation for 'que'. There's something
here, at JFP's website.

aquatoad's picture

Thanks for the history.
R: Certainly better

eomine's picture

> Does this solve it?

Yup, I guess so. :-)

hrant's picture

The g: I think your chances of pulling off that strategy are actually better than in Mendoza, since your x-height is smaller and your descenders not as short. The "g" in Mendoza looks really small - I think yours just needs a little bit of squishing in the bottom loop to give more room for a slightly larger head*. A "real" text face always has a slighly ungainly "g", because that's the first letter to suffer from the dictates of language (in terms of vertical proportions).

* The problem might be keeping the join sitting on the baseline like that. But remember that letters don't get tired.

hhp

addison's picture

I'm not experienced enough to critique, but I love it. You've taken something old and made it new again.

-Addison

aquatoad's picture

Thanks for the feedback Addison. Stylistic critique is just as helpful as letterform critique. So thank you for weighing in. Sometimes you sit working on a project for weeks or even months wondering will anybody want this, or is it just like everything else? Posting at typophile is great in that it can be like taking a font

John Hudson's picture

The new R is an improvement, but the bottom left serif looks a bit too heavy.

I used to find R a difficult letter until I read a comment by Gerard Unger in his article about Capitolium in Typography Papers (issue 3, I think). He said he tried to make the R look like an orator standing with one foot forward. For some reason, this really made sense to me and I've found R much easier to draw ever since.

Jordan Harper's picture

I second Addison's comments. It's wonderful that you've managed to take such an established style and do something new and interesting with it.

Specifically: I'm a sucker for numerals, and I just love the little serif on the '5' (though I agree that the zero needs some stress). The asymmetry of the 'N' works really well, and the 'T' looks really powerful, like a strongman holding weights at arms length. I don't mind the 'g' and I love the lc 'z'.

I agree with Hrant about the 'y' and the 'K', I also think the beak of the 'r' looks too short, and maybe too sharp/angular.

The new 'R' is a definite improvement. The old one looked as if it was falling forwards, he's certainly a bit more steady on his feet now.

Excellent work, it's one of the nicest new text faces I've seen in a while.

Jordan

P.S. great 'Q'.

aquatoad's picture

Hello Typophiles.

I've just finished turning the outlines into a font. I also added a book version. Don't know if book is the right word. Anyways, it's intended for lower resoulution situations and smaller sizes. Here is a close up of some of the details and pdf text settings:




application/pdf
poster.pdf (194.5 k)


application/pdf
book.vs.roman.pdf (207.9 k)

aquatoad's picture

Thought I'd show the original sketch that got this kick started. I was drawing over an enlarged sample (shown at the top of the thread). The source was nice and blurry leaving room to fiddle

hrant's picture

Nice sketchwork analysis!

I don't really get the Book versus Roman deal, though. Elaborate?

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Maybe that's because I'm using the wrong terminology. What will probably end up happening is there will be a text version (steming from *book*), and a display version (a modified *roman*). As it stands now, it didnt' make sense to call the roman display because i'd need to thin out the serifs and generally make it more delicate. I was motivated to do the text/book version because when I was printing text samples at smaller sizes 6-11 pt some of the defining details were fading. The top serifs for example, it wasn't clear that they weren't the triangular bracketed veriety found in most venetian oldstyles, so i deepened the cut. Certain joins needed to be reworked so I added trapping, and in some cases (the r, n, m etc) altered the stem (made it vertical) as well to open things up.

The resulting text is crispier. And more characteristic of what I wanted. I think the confusion will go away when I call them text and display. (And when the display version is a proper display version :-) Hope that helped.

Randy

aquatoad's picture

Ok Folks.

Coming down the home stretch (for now). I just completed the bold weight. It has always bugged when the bold weight is too close to the regular. This seems right to me, though I bet some will think it too dark. All comments welcome!

Randy




application/pdf
boldtest2.pdf (205.8 k)

eomine's picture

I'm looking it on screen, and it looks fine, I think.
Quick comments:
- the bold 'a' is too narrow (and dark in consequence);
- maybe the regular 'a' could be slightly wider too;
- maybe the bold 's' should be a little darker (especially at the thin parts)?
- the 'g', it looks kind of 'backslanted';
- nice touch in 'm'!

hrant's picture

Your Bold isn't too dark at all, actually.
Character set, please?

hhp

rcapeto's picture

But the question is: should a Jenson

aquatoad's picture

Stephen nails it. You bet your ascot I'm hoping to sell this thing. Friday fonts has quickly become, monday -> friday fonts!

At any rate, I will post up full character sets for all 4 weights in a few hours. Eduardo, I've worked the problems you mentioned.

What I could really use is some help/opinions on the name. I kinda liked the tongue and cheek reference to the lofty status Jenson receives. But I don't know that it gets at the "post-modernization" that Rodolfo mentioned. Its a kinda Neue Jenson. Kinda Jenson. Sortajen. Jenson Next (not!). New Nicolaus. Nicoliscous. Jensomnia. Or maybe something completely not Jenson related. It would be very cool if the name could have several of the following: a, e, h, n, m, r, A, B, P, R as these show the characteristics of the font best. I also like: Requisite and Partisan

Ok, to put a fire under everyone's pot, if somebody suggests a name that I use, you get a free copy of the whole thing. Start your engines.

Randy

rcapeto's picture

If he wants to sell the font, it better have a bold

Yes, of course (and unfortunately). I was deliberately
putting aside the commercial aspect, and even the
historical one. But when Hrant asks for a

addison's picture

How about Nicolaus the Younger?

Just kidding,
Addison

(This thing is gorgeous!)

aquatoad's picture

You wouldn't be thinking of this one would you Rodolfo? :-)

Ha!
Randy

eomine's picture

> (I know at least one.)

Sabon?

addison's picture

Galliard bold is nice, and Minion bold isn't bad either.

hrant's picture

A prize for a name, eh?...
For some reason "Scaffolding" just popped in my head.

> when Hrant asks for a

aquatoad's picture

> A prize for a name, eh?...
Or does everyone think Saint Nicolaus works?

hrant's picture

Maybe "Saint Nic"?
BTW, if you want to tease the veneration aspect, try throwing in some "ae"s and "oe"s!

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Minion has both a semi-bold weight, which fits better in text, and bold. I think checking this out and comparing your bold to it would be helpful.

I am using many of the weights and optical sizes of Minion Pro in a book, and find them extremely useful.

I agree with Bringhurst that a real bold doesn't go well within regular text. But the real bold is useful for many purposes.

That big range of optical sizes and weights does really help the typographer, I think, and can make your face much more useful.

defrancisco's picture

Hey Randy, what about Sommevoire, Jenson's birthplace?
Or does it sound too much like a winery?

hrant's picture

> I agree with Bringhurst that a real bold doesn't go well within regular text.

Where RB and most others stumble though is in failing to realize that a finely balanced Demi can in fact work much better than any Italic. They cling to Italic out of weakness.

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Sommevoire is a bit wine-like. It would be great if the name had a fresh quality. Thanks for the suggestion.

Randy

rcapeto's picture

Sabon bold I don

William Berkson's picture

Very interesting observation Rodolfo. What do you think of Trinite's bolds? Trinite is closer to a Garamond than is Lexicon, but from the same hand...

William Berkson's picture

By the way, I was also quite critical of Minion until I got the Pro version. The spacing and color is much better, and the open type version is a joy to work with.

kakaze's picture

Did I miss something, what's wrong with the name Saint Nicolaus? I like it, personally, and I think the name kinda fits the design.

aquatoad's picture

Technical Question:

I'm trying to generate a Type 1 Suitcase using FontLab. When I go to activate in Suitcase, it drops one of the styles, usually the bold. One note, when I'm making the suitcase, if i click the Make Type Reunion Compatable, I get an error message about a duplicate FOND ID. Can't figure out how to fix that though.

I want the small caps to fit in the Bold Italic slot.

Thanks.
Randy

mitchell's picture

hmmm.... include the letters a, e, h, n, m, r, A, B, P, R

how about:
Jenson's Rather Pretty Bastard Child

Still missing the

aquatoad's picture

Yeah, I think the average person would be looking for Kris Kringle. That's one main reason I'm keen to explore other options. Mitchell, LOL.

Revive in Latin
--------------------------
novo : to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent.
novus : new, fresh, young, inexperienced, revived, refreshed.
recipero : to regain, revive, restore.
recreo : to revive.
recro : to recreate, restore, revive.
renovo : to revive, renew, restore, repair, repeat

Progress in Latin (evolution wasn't invented yet)
-----------------------------------------
processus : procession, progress.
proficio : to make progress, advance.
progressio : advance, progress, increase.
progressus : advance, going forward, increase, a royal circuit.
tractus : course, progress, movement.

Latin for Change
----------------
abeo : + in : to be changed.
abeo : to digress / change / vanish, disappear.
huius : (fem. sing. gen.) They are fond OF THIS (change).
illius : (fem. sing. gen.) They are fond OF THAT (change).
inclino : to bend, incline, turn, change / fall back, waver.
incommutabilis : unchangeable.
inconstans : inconsistent, changeable, fickle, unreliable / faithless.
inconstanter : inconstantly, changeably, inconsistently.
inconstantia : changeability, inconsistency / faithlessness.
inflecto : to warp /change, sway, affect.
mutatio : change, alteration, transformation.
mutatus : altered, changed, become different.
muto : to change, alter /exchange.
mutuus : interchanged, mutually, reciprocal / reciprocity.
novo : to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent.
varietas : changeableness.
varius : changing, changeable.
verto : [+ yerga, tergam] turn, retreat/ exchange.
vicissitudo: change, alteration.
volubilis : rolling, revolving, turning around /changeable, inconstant

To Mix
-------
commisceo : to intermingle, join, mix.
confundo : to pour together, mix, blend /confound, confuse, trouble.
confusio : mingling, mixture /confounding, confusion, disorder.
farrago : mixed fodder for cattle, mash /mishmash, medley, mixture.
misceo miscui mixtum : to mix, mingle, blend.
promiscus promiscuus : mixed, indiscriminate /commonplace, usual.
putus : pure, unmixed, unadulterated.
tempero : to mix properly, temper, regulate, mitigate

Also,
evalesco : to grow strong / become fashionable / prevail / be able. (Probably where evolve comes from)

Of those I like: the Novo prefix (Nova Jenson), Farrago, Tempero, Tractus, Proficio, and Recipero. But, after a while they all start sounding like spells and potions from a Harry Potter book. Good ideas though. Any favorites from that group?

Two more:
denuo : anew, again, a second time, afresh.
novitas : newness, novelty, strangeness

hrant's picture

"Nico Novo"?

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Fish out of water?

hrant's picture

That swam right under me.

hhp

beejay's picture

a few off the top, some lighthearted.

Jenificent, Nujenso, Neojen, Nicola, Nick Jenny,
Nick Jr. ;), Jenson II, Jenson Jr., SonofaJen,
Enjay, Jenny off the Block,

Did Jenson have a mistress? Mrs. Jenny?

excellent work Randy.

I like the Latin ones, good suggestion Stephen.

antiuser's picture

I like Tempero a lot, even though it means a completely different thing in Portuguese :-)

aquatoad's picture

That's pretty funny. Jenny is my wife's name. No, not THE Jenny Jones, the poor woman. I kinda like Junior. Of the latin ones, I'd rework the spelling on some: Farrego, Proficia.

Old world sounding names I'm considering: Veneto, Bartolomeo, Lucera, Bergamo, Marsanne, Dolcetto.

Bergamo has the most defining set of letters. It came out of the first job I used this typeface on.

I think plain old Nicolaus is available.

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