Uncial New

Christian Robertson's picture

Here is an uncial I started last night. I think it's got promise.
I would like to trick it out with all kinds of opentype
substitions. With this one I wanted an updated, not very
calligraphic look. I started with a humanist sans in mind.

I have to admit, I have never actually used an uncial font for
anything other than playing around. None of them seem
appropriate for anything other than Dungeons and Dragons
or Saint Patrick's Day. This one seems a little more like St.
Paddy, but could be used comfortably in a Dungeon
Master's Guide. That being said, I love uncials. There aren't
many fonts that I like, though.

application/pdfUncial New PDF
new_uncial.pdf (26.5 k)

Grant Hutchinson's picture

I'm digging the contextual fire tongues, Christian. Nice.

See, I knew you couldn't just sit on your gothics.

hrant's picture

The texture is very refreshing.

Christian, do you know of Victor Hammer?


Christian Robertson's picture

I hadn't heard of Victor Hammer. I had seen his fonts
before, though. American Uncial is fine; I just don't like
calligraphy fonts that much. I can't get over the random,
free shapes repeated over and over mechanically. It seems
like an oxymoron to me. Maybe as OpenType takes off they
will get better.

Here is another PDF. I added some Roman Upper and Lower
case. The idea is that you can make it as uncial or not uncial
as you want. It's still rough; there are some weight issues
and some lumpy curves.

application/pdfUncial New Sample 2
new_uncial_2.pdf (45.6 k)

Christian Robertson's picture

Some changes to the roman lc. Matches better now.

application/pdfRoman LC
lc_changes.pdf (35.8 k)

aquatoad's picture

Hi Christian.

Lovely. Though I also confess I have never had a use for a unical font either. It would be a nice alternative in places where I've seen Mason Sans & Serif used. For example. But this works much better in text situations. I bet you'd see a bundle of computer game manuals with this font!

Unical a in the calligraphic version?


hrant's picture

Victor Hammer: my own first impression of him was that he was just an uncial freak. But some more exploration into his work revealed much serious thought that can really benefit any type designer to consider, especially one working on uncial.

The idea of having an uncial/Latin pairing is superb.


piccic's picture

The average graphic designer in general is very superficial in the use of type. That's why in the end they always end up using faces mostly for logotypes or to achieve a quick emotional effect. Many Emigre designs, abused as they are, aren't used at all in their full potential. Of course, overtly decorated letters dont' leave so much space for the typographer, but I'm sure interesting experiments (benefitting from OpenType, which is all to discover) like the one from Christian, here, will be overlooked and will make more the joy of type addicts and collectors instead of being used in actual interesting ways.
It's not to be pessimistic, but people tend to be very superficial, especially with historically inspired designs.

Christian, did you really designed the first lowercases in a single night? If so, I'm just saddened to death (and very glad for you!): sometimes it takes me a whole afternoon to fix just a few letters...

hrant's picture

> Emigre designs .... aren't used at all in their full potential.

No font ever is.
Any use of a font (even by its own designer testing it during development) is in effect a violation of it, since that can only convey a mere shadow of what it really is.


piccic's picture

>since that can only convey a mere shadow of what it really is.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. In general, this could be said by any given human effort.

hrant's picture

It could be said of some human efforts, but certainly not all.
For example when somebody creates a painting, or a building, it is what it is, there is no abstraction. But a font is like a little machine, with parts (and I don't mean mere letterforms) that will never all be used by one person. Just the simple act of determining the right sidebearing of the "r" is more than any user can need [of itself].


hrant's picture

> late at night tweaking the nodes on one of yer little creations

Lately it's been decisions of what shade of gray is best for a certain pixel (like "I wonder if 191 would be better than 207 here"), but yes. And although it's not "torture" at all, it certainly is difficult to justify.


Christian Robertson's picture

I have added a bold weight and all the punctuation, etc., and polished the characters. The spacing isn't done, and the bold is still a little wonky. I've worked a little more on the character mixing. I've set five different combinations here, but there are a lot of possibilities. I have worked out some OpenType features that will allow the different sets of characters to be turned on or off. Again, I wish that OpenType implementations would allow designers to define their own sets. InDesign currently doesn't have a "More Uncial" feature built into it, so I'm using the Titling, swash, and contextual alternates features.

application/pdfComplete Character Set
uncial_new.pdf (40.8 k)

hrant's picture

I think the lc "m" is too narrow, especially in the Bold - it's breaking the nice Uncial poise (note that I didn't say "rhythm" :-).


glutton's picture

Am I the only one who thinks the bowl of the d is too small?

pstanley's picture

It's super. I think the bowl of the d is fractionally too small, too. It may rather be that the curve into the stem is too steep (compare it with the curve on c, g, e) giving d the appearance of a rather small o with a stem.

I think the superscript 1 may be a bit big (noticeable in the fractions). To my taste the os 3 is rather wide (especially compared to the 5, which is admirably narrow). But this may just be me: the modern taste in os figs often seems to me to produce rather overemphatic 3s.

John Hudson's picture

Sorry to ignore your typeface, Christian, but I'm interested in Hrant and Kris' exchange. Kris wrote:

I bet you've been sitting there, late at night tweaking the nodes on one of yer little creations and thought: who will care that I have done this? Not in a tortured artist sense, just in a pragmatic sense. I certainly have.

I have the other problem: leaving off kerning late at night, then lying awake wondering if I'm not making a mistake in assuming that no one in the world needs the letter combination kq. And sure enough, in the morning I find cuckquean in my dictionary.

Christian Robertson's picture

Good call on the d and the m.

Tiffany: My foundry is called Betatype : ) Hopefully I will actually publish these puppies. Pill Gothic is just around the corner, and this one is actually pretty close. I just need so scrub these curves, and add some spit shine to the spacing.

John, I know the feeling, only I'm much, much lazier with my kerning, and therefore I feel all the more guilty.

I've added a few more alternates, and am narrowing down which character sets that I'm going to include in the OpenType features. I'm thinking that I might do separate fonts for the old quarkers out there.

application/pdfNew Alternates
uncial-new-alternates.pdf (34.0 k)

kris's picture

in the morning I find cuckquean in my dictionary.

Ha! I wonder if there is any letter pair that isn't used ; )

This face is looking brillo mate. love the alt characters.


hrant's picture

Christian, I sure love them options!

> I wonder if there is any letter pair that isn't used

In the book "Making the Alphabet Dance" (Ross Eckler) there's a list of words with all possible (basic) letter combinations - but obviously some of them you'll never encounter, and some are place names.


Hildebrant's picture

Christian: This really is money. Let me know where and when to buy.


pablohoney77's picture

absolutely fresh & beautiful, i must say. i'm just wondering if we're going to see any more swash characters like you used for the U in the titling of Unical New and the alt E in your original sample?

pablohoney77's picture

hey, i didn't realize yer in provo! i always have to tell people in UT to hit cafe rio for me. i miss it here in AZ. oh, and tucanos & bombay house.... LOL keep up the good work!

Miss Tiffany's picture

So Christian, I have one question for you. What is the name of your foundry?


This is really great stuff. But, you are missing one very important glyph. The double-f ligature. I use that one all of the time.


Miss Tiffany's picture

I think the lc_o is too wide, not a lot, just a little. In fact, and this will only prove my wackiness, but I think your fig_0 and lc_o should be switched. Or at least the lc_o needs to be closer to the width of the fig_0.

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