Benjamin Serif (heavy WIP)

sevenfingers's picture

I decided to try a bitmap serif design.
So far only lowercase, but I decided to post for crit before I go any further.
Any comments? Good or bad? Awful? Is it needed?


Spa_karengoes.jpg246.76 KB
sevenfingers's picture

is it just me or is this not working as it should? ..hmm.

hrant's picture

I think it's just you...
Except for the weak "w"s (and the "p" and "q" being relatively a bit too bulky) I like it!


sevenfingers's picture

:) I had to add a comment. Oh well.
I'm having trouble with the v's...Any suggestions?
(About the p and q being too bulky, you are talking about the fat version, right?, any suggestions on how to fix it are welcome-)

sevenfingers's picture

ok. I decided to wait with the bold version until I have got a complete regular set..
This is taking longer than I thought it would.
Here's an update, any comments are appreciated.

benjamin serif screen

hrant's picture

Now that's a "Q".


sevenfingers's picture


anything else?

hrant's picture

The UC "W" seems to have the same affliction as the lc. :-/


sevenfingers's picture

I don't see what's so weak with the W really.
What would you change? There's not that many pixels to play with, even though one pixel can make a hell of a difference. I changed the p & q, removed a pixel. I think it helped.
Thank you for replying btw. Feels great with some response...

sevenfingers's picture

maybe I should widen it by a pixel?
The uc W that is.

sevenfingers's picture

or make it an actual double v... I have a feeling it will be a bit to wide if I do that though.

hrant's picture

> There's not that many pixels to play with

The curse/blessing of bitmap fonts!


sevenfingers's picture

hehe. exactly.
anyway, an actual double "v" looks good, but it was, as I suspected, way to wide. I would have to change the rest of the characters by widening them a couple of pixels to make it look good. I don't know if it's worth it...I'm sure I'll run in to other problems instead. btw, what about the uc "P"?

sevenfingers's picture

update, changed the W's... Any thoughts?


hrant's picture

Thems some good "w"s!

Overall, a nice balance of bits and flair.

Just one thing: I think your lining numerals could be one pixel taller (or go all the way to the cap height if you follow the suggestion below). You might consider making "hybrid" numerals too - in fact I'd make three sets: hybrid (as the primary form), lining with the caps, and lastly traditional old-style.


sevenfingers's picture

Thanx! (Hrant approval is gooood :))

Actually, the lining numerals are one pixel less in height than the cap height... So I guess I could make them cap height. Haven't tried.
The old-style is one pixel less than the small caps... Hmmm. (Starting to notice a pattern maybe...)

What about this hybrid form? I saw a thread, but it seemed like everyone had suggestions on what to change, and if I took all in account, it would end up either like regular old-style or lining numerals.

More questions:

1. Being a newbie in (serious) type-design, I was wondering how many characters I should make, I don't really know how they all are supposed to look :)
(I know the alphabet, of course, and the letters used in swedish, å,ä,ö, but I'm having trouble with things like the difference in lenght between en dashes and em dashes and various other characters)
So, Is there any standard on how many (and what) characters there should be in a (professional) typeface.

2. Distribution.
I was thinking of making my bitmap faces (designed mainly for flash use...) available freely.
Is this a good/bad idea?
I invest quite alot of time in the tiny bitmapped stuff, but it feels like taking money for the typefaces wouldn't work.

Planned for this typeface for example is an extensive set of characters, small caps, different numeral sets and italics...oh yeah, and bitmap ornaments! :)

Could I make them free for personal and non-profit work, and a fee for commercial use? Is there any foundries accepting submissions of pixel fonts? Help me out here, please!

hrant's picture

> the lining numerals are one pixel less in height than the cap height

They look so much smaller... Maybe the tall "Z" next to the short zero exagerates the difference. OK, just ignore what I said. :-/

> The old-style is one pixel less than the small caps.

That makes sense, since the old-styles are x-height (this time I actually measured to make sure...), and you want smallcaps to be a bit larger.

> What about this hybrid form? I saw a thread, but it seemed like everyone had suggestions on what to change

I don't remember such suggestions... Anyway, here's the best on-line sample that I know of:

I've become conviced that -overall- the Carter numerals (as I [personally] have now decided to call them) offer the best balance in most situations.

In your case I would make the "x-height" of the Carter numerals one pixel smaller than what you currently have for your linings, and extend the traditional old-style choices* by two pixels.

* Except maybe make the "2" ascend - possibly by one pixel only.

> I was wondering how many characters I should make

Start with ASCII-8 (for both platforms).

> I don't really know how they all are supposed to look

That's of course a major thing in type design. And sometimes designers will agree quite closely on things, other times not at all. And some designers worry a lot about the quality of such "extra" characters, while others just slap them together.

Obviously, the more you look at precedents (especially of course reputable ones), the better your results will be - as long as you don't *mimic* anybody - think things through yourself, and apply your conclusions. For example, the en/em issue raises all kinds of opposing opinions, so in that case it's better to simply look at what those characters are supposed to *do* in text, instead of copying some precedent. Another example: many people make the Florin upright, but I've heard that the authentic form is slanted; this type of thing obviously deals with cultural preferences, so it's much harder to get right, as it can't really be "thought through" as much.

Then there's this:

> taking money for the typefaces wouldn't work.

For bitmap fonts it only works if you have a stellar reputation - like Matthew Bardram.

Otherwise, consider doing this:
Make outlines, and have two versions of the font: one bitmap-only, the other with both outlines and bitmaps. You give away the former, get people "dependent" on it, and sell the full version.

> Could I make them free for personal and non-profit work, and a fee for commercial use?

There are various schemes like that, but I think they're generally not flexible enough, and tend to be more complicated than people like.

Consider this instead:

> Is there any foundries accepting submissions of pixel fonts?

Some of them are probably here listening, so wait and see.


sevenfingers's picture

Maybe I should start a new thread about the last questions... Hmm. Anyone?

sevenfingers's picture

Thanx again. What a resource you are Mr. Hrant!

You have good suggestions, And I'll try to incorporate them (if it looks "correct" that is)tonight.

About this ASCII-8 character set, where might I find that? Uhm.. Sorry if that's a stupid question, again, bare with the newbie.

This typeface is (unfortanly) designed *only* as a bitmap... So I don't know what difference it would make providing them only with the bitmap... Anyway, I think I'm going the donationware route, or maybe honourware. I don't know. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

sevenfingers's picture

I'm also quite fond of the small cap set. It worked better than I thought it would.
As for the Ws, I guess I got blind working on them before. I took a needed vacation, and I saw what you were seeing when I came back.

As for the distribution, I think it would be a financial hassle, as I would have to pay taxes, and probably register a company and so.
If I do not find a foundry that wants it, I'm releasing it as some sort of share/freeware.


hrant's picture

Hmmm. Would it be nice to have a "Classified Ads" section in Typophile? People could offer their fonts for licensing - it could even become an alternative to submitting to a font house: font houses would come here to see what's for "sale".

Or maybe make it a subsection of the Critique forum: finished faces could get an announcement there, citing the intentions of the designer. I think the News section wouldn't really work for this type of thing.


sevenfingers's picture

That's a good suggestions.
I like the idea, but I'm not running a foundry, so I guess we would have to ask for their thoughts...

sevenfingers's picture

Actually, that sounds like a good idea too.
I was thinking of making a website by myself, but I'm having problems finding a good cheap (or free) host for it.

hrant's picture

But I'd go with Typophile any day.


sevenfingers's picture

Yeah. It feels sort of more relavant...
I'm tempted by the thing though. That would be cool. "Have faith in Sevenfingers"

Joe Pemberton's picture

I'm fond of your small cap set. It's nice and
tight--the biggest requirement of bitmaps.

Your new Ws are much nicer than the first round. I
guess the lesson is don't be afraid of varying

Finally, regarding your distribution approach.
I'm wondering if it's not a bad idea to
distribute the bitmap for free and then sell the
outlines. You can see how it worked for Mr.
Gillespie with Mini 7.

Good luck with it.

Jared Benson's picture

Now that we've built the "Downloads" section, ( we'd be happy to include your bitmap typeface for Typophile users who'd like to download it for free.

We're not interested in becoming another foundry, though we are thoroughly impressed with the talent that are frequently these forums.

We've got some ideas on how to help get critiqued designs fine-tuned and available to a foundry. Stay tuned, we'll soon have a process in place on this front.

In the meantime, if you'd care to offer your typeface for free download, let us know and we'll include it on the downloads page.

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