Kerning kerning kerning...

Rachel Macklin's picture

Hi all,
New poster here, long-time typophile. I'm doing the finishing touches on a logo for a women's ministry. I'm using Mrs. Eaves for the italic type and Trajan for the caps. I think the itals are coming along ok (though let me know if you think they look too tight). The kerning on the caps, however, has been driving me crazy and I thought it would help to have some other eyes besides mine take a look. My main problem is the transition between the R and S. The serifs on each make for an awkward transition, so if I kern them too tight it looks funky and if I kern them too loose it throws the rest of the word off.

Thoughts?

Best,
Rachel

jupiterboy's picture

This is very tight. Reminds me of the '70s style. Did you look at using all Mrs. Eaves? One thing is that you can see the weight shift between the cap E and other caps. I guess the Romans hadn't made it to small caps yet.

I think you need to get the spacing right around the cap T and then loosen everything else up to match. You may need to bring redeeming down in size a bit to let a little more air in.

Rob O. Font's picture

Tight is one way of putting it. I think what happens is the eye is drawn to a problem, the RS combination, that can't be solved (with kerning). And my eye is drawn to the double problem of 'min' too tight right above, the RS, (that is what it is).

There is a large complex white space between R and S that one cannot solve with the kind of kerning you've chosen for the rest of the combinations, which may be termed, "as tight as possible regardless of combination without or with barely touching features."

If, on the other hand, one thinks, "Aha, the RS that is what it is!" and kerns accordingly 'from whatever spacing that pair brings', opening up the NC, OU, UN combinations slightly, and making the EN space more like the ER....then the RS magically works without changing.

Redeeming the lowercase requires a version of the same as above; the big white counters of the d, m and n define how tight, e.g. the 'min' combination can be, which would be looser than you show it, but not nearly as wide as the n's inside white space...then look again at the rest of the combinations, and loosen a little accordingly. Or change to a narrower lowercase where the d, m and n don't trap so much white.

The good thing is, because birds can appear to fly in a variety of sizes and configurations, you have some flexibility in positioning them, with the resulting, more pleasingly spaced, combination of words, should you decide to do so. ;)

Cheers!

jupiterboy's picture

Great post David. Thanks.

Here’s a lovely idea.

BTW, Letras Oldstyle is a narrower face that has a conservative leg on the R and might pull this off nicely.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

That was a very helpful post, David.

dezcom's picture

Regarding the subject matter of the logo, I think collision-course typography creates tension and even anxiety. It would seem that redeeming encounters would be more relaxed and open feeling. Bird flight is free and smoothe as well. It seems that a more open spacing would fit the bill syntactically as well?

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

Kerning all characters to tight but not touching or just touching damages the readability of the word form, I think. Because the internal white space, as well as the external shape affects the ideal kerning for even color--as David mentioned--mashing all characters together defeats the evenness of the look that normally the type designer has built into the font. That hurts readability, and, as Chris says, the resulting unevenness is somewhat unsettling. If that's the effect you want, fine, but it usually isn't.

Sans fonts, especially in bolder weights, are normally more tightly spaced, so you can more easily do the tight tracking or kerning without messing up the look, and get some more punch into the look of a word or few words. But here you have lighter weight serif fonts, so there's just too much working against you.

Rachel Macklin's picture

Hi all,
Thank you so much for the feedback. I loosened everything up and you're completely right. All of a sudden it became much more readable and relaxed. I think sometimes I get a bit too over-eager to kern tight and need to remember that an Oldstyle will need more breathing room. What do you think of the RS now?

I love the "R" you posted, Jupiter Boy...I'll have to check out Letras.

Thank you!!
Rachel

jupiterboy's picture

Looking around Letras is not available, but Garda is a titling cap font that has an alternate R.

dezcom's picture

Rachel, It is better but is still too tight for my taste.

ChrisL

ebensorkin's picture

I think Chris is right. Mrs Eaves was conceived of as as widely spaced. If you look at promotional material it is all widely spaced. Admittedly it often does need help with it's kerning - but keep in mind kerning can be both more or less space. Trajan and any all cap arrangement often benefits from wide spacing. You have now got maybe typical or even slightly tight spacing, so I would keep letting more air in until it almost seems to break apart; and then you can go back!

Earlier in the thread these was some talk about the counters of a font determining it's ideal spacing. The idea is that the white space inside the O or the U should be equal to the space between two characters. It's a fuzzy idea but a powerful nevertheless. How large the letters will be reproduced and the distance to the viewer also has an impact. If they will be 6 feet high and you will be 10 ft away the letters can generally be closer* than if they will be at 6pts on a page in which case they will need even more space.

* But don't have to be. See the example in stone example above.

jupiterboy's picture

I may be alone here, but the variance in weight of the heavier E catches my eye a bit. You might work with a face that has a true small cap or more weight options to mix/match. Trajan, being what it is, looks odd with the small cap treatment because of historical factors. I worked with the words a bit myself in Baskerville and when spaced out normally the word is pretty long. A wide word mark can be trouble because it will often force the size smaller to fit in a narrow space. A narrow face could help that.

For a quick try, this is pretty tight to my eye, and the real small caps give a feel of even weight.

ebensorkin's picture

Hmmmm I am not sure why a larger E is needed.

BTW - What Baskerville is that? The R seems oddly heavy.

The good thing about the Trajan is it evokes a timelessness that the Baskerville does not. The Baskerville feels bank manager-esque to me. That said, you points are still quite valid.

jupiterboy's picture

I would just go with Trajan or other titling caps and keep them all the same height. I’m just following the lead set with what I have on hand, which is Storm’s John Baskerville (following the Mrs. Eaves direction).

I think the diagonals fatten up a bit on screen, but it is a heavy leg.

Maybe there is a better font that would reduce the width of the mark and allow the letters to breath a bit more. I suspect that Rachel's impulse to tighten the letter spacing has something to do with wanting to keep the width of the mark more compact.

twabyers's picture

Tom Byers

twabyers's picture

Tom Byers

Rachel:

I saw no mention of the program you are using... If you're in Quark, there is a kerning bar at the bottom of the page, with < >. Set your insertion point cursor between any two leters, and it will kern only those two, not the whole line. Hold the Option key (Windows Alt?) and it will kern in one-point increments.

More basically, it might help to pick a font in which the upper-case R has a shorter tail.

Cheers,

Tom

alexfjelldal's picture

I'd recommend using a more sturdy typeface like the baskerville example instead of trajan. trajan may look to frail at small sizes, and it' details will probably suffer if the logo is printed with low resolution (on giveaways like ballpointpens etc).

alex

Rob O. Font's picture

"I think collision-course typography creates tension and even anxiety"
In general, I agree with you. But I think 'c-c' spacing anxiety is primarily a function of style — the more handwrought the style, the more human anxiety is created by spacing stress, (and 'treatments like patterned or photographic fills, outlines, and/or shadows). Brush Script emboldened by a thick outline filled with pictures of mountains, beer and sky, tracked to disconnection, kind of anxiety.

Franklin Gothic, Knockout or Empire are perhaps harder to create such anxiety with, by spacing or treatment, having their own stylistic anxiety to begin with. Seeming more machine made, we not only forgive them, we use their anxiety for 'good', emboldened by a thick outline filled with pictures of mountains, beer and sky kind of good.;)

Cheers!

dezcom's picture

"Franklin Gothic, Knockout or Empire are perhaps harder to create such anxiety with..."

Sans faces don't have the problem of serif entanglement that serif faces do (duh) and the shapes caused by interletter spacing don't get trapped as much. These shapes have been used numerous times to good advantage by skilled type users and even help the communication scenario. Dueling serifs, like prong-horned rams, get entangled in battle with generally head=splitting results :-)
Add the pictures of mountains and beer to this and it really gets your goat ;-)

ChrisL

jupiterboy's picture

…and redemption might be too tall an order for any face.

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