Solvejg

Number3Pencils's picture

Hello, everyone! I've just finished a blitzkrieg of digitization, completing two ASCII character sets in two weeks. The result is Solvejg ("soul-veyg", for the Scandinavianly-impaired). I welcome critique, especially considering how fast I blazed through the production. Attached is a PDF sample. I hope you enjoy it...even the song lyrics I typed in at the end because they were stuck in my head.

UPDATED 4 May 09. New PDF added (NewSolvejgText.pdf); new post written below.

Slightly RE-UPDATED 7 May 09. After printing out the sample for myself I decided to make a few small changes. Flattened the bottom of the esses some, and made the roman t less cartoony. Replaced previous sample with SolvejgTextNew.pdf.

UPDATED AGAIN 2 May 10. And about time: I finally finished Solvejg Black; I'm hoping to have this ready for distribution within the next few weeks.

AttachmentSize
SolvejgSampler.pdf61.61 KB
SolvejgSampler.pdf61.61 KB
sibilants sibilants.pdf14.28 KB
SolvejgTextNew.pdf70.37 KB
SolvejgInJuly.pdf297.3 KB
SolvejgDecember.pdf197.85 KB
NewlyMinted.pdf18.65 KB
SolvejgInMay.pdf400.3 KB
Hamlet.pdf253.38 KB
Number3Pencils's picture

Any takers?
It's interesting to me that not only has no one commented here, but no one's commented in the entire sans-serif section since I put this up. (Aw gosh, guys, is it really that bad?)

eliason's picture

I like this. I see more connections to earlier twentieth century style than Optima here.

The s (all of them, but especially lowercase roman) looks too wispy, especially the top - should it taper more quickly, or extend a bit further up, or be a bit wider, or some combination of those?

The bottom right of the italic d needs more weight, I think.

I'm not sold on the roman g. The italic g is gorgeous.

Roman h, n, and u might be a touch too wide?

Randy's picture

PDF isn't displaying properly for me on Mac. Just Carson-esque garble.

Number3Pencils's picture

I don't know what to say about a malfunctioning PDF... I generated it with OpenOffice. I'll see if I can do something else later today. Thanks for the suggestions, Craig. I had figured the situation with the g's would be the other way around, with the italic the more dubious one. What makes you uneasy with the roman one?

P.S. What's Carson-esque?

eliason's picture

P.S. What’s Carson-esque?

Refers to David Carson's design of the Brian Ferry article in Raygun.

What makes you uneasy with the roman one?

The proportions seem forced into eccentricity. The top bowl looks like a squinting eye, very tight, while the bottom bowl drips down like a giant hanging tear, very loose. How would it look to enlarge the top bowl a bit and give more structure to the s-shaped line that comes down to form the right side of the lower bowl?

Number3Pencils's picture

Nice.
I changed some settings in the PDF generation window; maybe this one will work. The lower one is the new one.
I'll try something like that with the g. Thanks.

Number3Pencils's picture

I worked on the s. I just made the whole thing a bit wider and more robust. Some better now? (Lower one is newer.)

Stefan Seifert's picture

Hi!

this is indeed a nice work,
specially when we see that you have made it in 2 weeks!!
It takes me months to make my characters.

cool. And somehow it is a style up to whats in the air at the moment to my eyes, too.

Stefan

eliason's picture

Some better now? (Lower one is newer.)

It'd be easier to judge in a smaller, text setting as before.

Number3Pencils's picture

To be fair, I did draw the characters out like a year ago. I just did the digitization in two weeks.

"And somehow it is a style up to whats in the air at the moment to my eyes, too" - I'm having trouble following this, sorry - but it sounds like a compliment, so thanks!

I'll put out a bit of text with the two s's sometime today, probably. I'm about to start working on making the character set larger. Shouldn't take too long.

Number3Pencils's picture

Attached a pdf with some sample text. Sample text that makes me glad I don't have a lisp.

eliason's picture

I still have the same problem with the s - too slight. Hopefully somebody else will weigh in on this.

Number3Pencils's picture

I see what you mean. Is it appreciably less frail? I can beef it up a little more, but it'd be good to know if I'm going in the right direction.

crossgrove's picture

Nathanael,

I looked at the gif embedded in the thread, showing the s in context. It's just light. In the overall context, the change you've made is infinitesimal and barely perceptible. look at that gif and how heavy the 2 i's look on either side.

The top and bottom of s are also the lightest features, tapering off to 'hairline' thickness where everything else has either a flared stroke terminal or a horizontal feature. So the s looks like it is too short/small, and it also is lighter overall than the others. This is an example of the trickery necessary to get straight, flaring strokes to look visually the same weight as bowls. They can't all be the same weight in the middle.

The s is also one of the narrowest shapes in the lot, making it look that much smaller. Your r has this problem too, but it also has a standard flaring vertical stem. In any size less than display, I could see the r turning into an i.

The wide range of widths or proportions can be toyed with in display fonts, but you'll find as you try to use this, that text faces have a narrower range of proportion that still allows reading to occur smoothly.

You haven't said what this design is intended for. It's very interesting, as is your other work, but did you have a brief or purpose in mind?

In overall style, I think some things need to be more related: the exaggerated eyes of g, high waist of k, narrow s and r and some of the tapers lean in a comical, display direction. But the eyes of a and e, which are central shapes to a Latin design, are more conventional and sensible, as are the simple, classic proportions of h, p, o, i, B and W. So there's a dilemma: Make it all more goofy, or all more sensible and conventional? A brief might help with this.

Number3Pencils's picture

I don't have any specific use in particular in mind so far--when I draw fonts, I tend to just come up with an idea and then sketch it out, thinking about the letters themselves rather than the future of the font. That's somewhat a poor way to approach the font, and it's resulted in some far-reaching changes in the past. In my sketches of Newt, the ascenders are impractically high. Most of the fonts I've designed are serif text faces, and such is the case with both the other ones I've put up here (Cyril and Newt), so I've never really had the problem of unclear purpose before.

I think I want to make Solvejg usable for somewhat long text. I'm realizing that it might be a good idea to make a display version of it and a milder text version. But, I think I will make the g, k, s, and r as you mentioned work better with the (more "sensible") rest of the font. However, I'm afraid if I normalize them too much I'll lose character. I guess I'll save the most flamboyant ideas for the display version.

Thanks--it helped to get clearer about Solvejg's purpose.

Stefan Seifert's picture

“And somehow it is a style up to whats in the air at the moment to my eyes, too” - I’m having trouble following this, sorry - but it sounds like a compliment, so thanks!

Sorry for my English :-)
I meant that it has a certain style. More classic, a bit handwritten (even if not exactly), things like that.
Those things that in a certain way seem to have sweapt away the futuristic style move form the beginning of 2000.

Stefan

crossgrove's picture

"I think I will make the g, k, s, and r as you mentioned work better with the (more “sensible”) rest of the font. "

Well, I didn't suggest either direction particularly; you have a choice. But you can do some tests with copies of your current working file, pushing each one in different directions. It might help you decide which direction is the right one. It might turn out that the whole thing needs to be more quirky and clownish, but the best way to know is to try it.

I don't place a higher value on "sensible", it's just a descriptive term.

Number3Pencils's picture

I meant that I'll go in that direction because I like that direction. I think it would work well if I pushed it either way, but I personally would like it not to be too loud. The display version might stay fairly quirky, though.

Thanks for the compliment, Stefan!

guifa's picture

I think what most surprises me is how surprisingly straight-forward it looks when it's small, yet zoomed in (or sized up) it shows its character. At least for me when I printed it out the smaller text samples eemed quite formal, yet as we know the design is a bit playful. Any way you can keep that in a single font rather than splitting in two (body v display)?

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

Number3Pencils's picture

It's sort of the same reason that they don't make helicopter cars. They could, but if the thing had to both fly and drive, it wouldn't be that great at either one. If I wanted a display face and a text face in one, it wouldn't be that great at either job.

But that's not to say that the text face will have no character. I'm retaining as much as I can without making it distracting. (I've started working on it, but other things have kept me away.)

Number3Pencils's picture

It only took me the better part of a year, but I got around to making the text version of Solvejg. I haven't started the display version, but when I find the time it shouldn't take too long, since it'll be pretty close to what I had before. Meanwhile, I wonder what everyone thinks of Solvejg Text. I've attached a new pdf up above (NewSolvejgText.pdf).

Things I've changed: I made all the hairlines sturdier. I widened the S and s distinctly (they look good to me now, but I welcome criticisms, of course). I lengthened the beak of the r, and made the top bowl of the g a little taller. In the italic I fixed some imbalance I was sensing on the bottom of the g. I also fixed various little things that I didn't commit to memory.

Hope you like it!

eliason's picture

s still looks too slight at the top. Maybe c too?

R (and P?) may be a bit too thick at the top.

I'd rethinking the reversed contrast of upright Z and z - those thick horizontals really distract, to my eyes. (works fine in italic)

I wonder what it would look like if you softened ever so slightly those acute corners that appear on all the italic bowls.

I feel like d might need a tail - a "kickstand" to keep it from falling over.

Keep up the good work!

neverblink's picture

I like it, especially the italic.

The descender of the g might be a bit too wide as it clashes with a j in your text (both in italic as in regular, and might also clash with a f in italic).
Another thing that caught my eye was the bowl of the a dipping a bit too much under the baseline, but I see you've done the same for the u. It might also be solved with the "kickstand" eliason suggested for the d as that might make the a less low.

Number3Pencils's picture

Thanks. Eliason, I'm really hesitant about changing the stress on the Zz, because of something to do with my hairlines. In Solvejg I've got hairlines that taper away, like on E and L, but they all come from a line that's perpendicular to them, and I don't think I like the idea of one of those coming from an angle like it would in Zz. I made such a Zz anyhow. I also made a d with a kickstand, but I'm not sure I like it. You did, however, make me think about my Zz, which was a letter I hadn't thought about much, and I realized it was in fact jarring. I tweaked it some to try and reduce that. Here are new letters.


1: Old d, tweaked z with same stress.
2: Old d, old z.
3: d with kickstand, z with switched stress.


1: Old Z.
2: Tweaked Z with same stress.
3: Z with switched stress.

I've just noticed: I should probably bring the top bar of whichever Z I pick farther left.
Thoughts?

eliason's picture

The standard stress is a better fit but admittedly much more boring. I'd like to see the reversed stress work if it can, but I think you'd still need to reduce the thickness of the horizontals more than you have.

About the d, I'm very sorry for being unclear - it's the italic d that I think needs a kickstand!

Number3Pencils's picture

Hm... you may have something there with the italic d. I was reluctant, but I suppose it does read better.

I made the thick strokes of the Z's a bit thinner. Looking some better now? (Top ones are the old z/Z)

eliason's picture

All improvements. I think the Zz strokes could go even lighter.

Number3Pencils's picture

I'm back again, this time with six styles instead of two: Display Roman, Display Italic, Text Roman, Text Italic, Bold Roman, and Bold Italic. A new PDF is up at the top: "SolvejgInJuly.pdf". Enjoy, hopefully! Thanks for any feedback.

Number3Pencils's picture

(bump)
Anyone? Thoughts?

Number3Pencils's picture

Hi!

I believe I'm getting close to done with this font. But before I talk business with people, I want to get opinions on how it looks, so it's not just my one set of still fairly inexperienced eyes going over it. So, I've attached a new pdf (SolvejgDecember) up top for review. PLease let me know what you think of pretty much anything about the font. In particular, the most recent changes are in kerning and the letters I mention in the pdf--the g and the s, though there may have been other tweaks that I've lost track of. Thanks for any comments!

eliason's picture

Just wanted to say this looks fantastic.

eliason's picture

I wonder if the bold should be bolder (if it's intended to be used with the regular, for emphasis) - perhaps it doesn't contrast enough.

hrant's picture

I had missed this until now - thanks for reviving it.

This is pretty interesting, and I think is promising in terms of potential sales. But its suitability for "long text" (expressed on Aug. 7/08) I have to doubt, personally.

Some of the glyphs, like "s", "k" anfd "g", are highly charming. Others -like the "a" and "y"- I personally don't like.

The Bold is nicely tame, which makes it usable in running text. On the other hand, this design seems to be crying for some juice really dark weights, no?

The italic makes me uncomfortable, frankly. By itself it looks great* but in its main role, all it makes me think of is: Mutiny! :-/ The thing is, I'm not sure how to fix it.

* Maybe even better than the Roman!
That Bold Italic is especially luscious.

BTW, it's nice to see my old "Incredibly ..." pangram alive and kicking. :-)

hhp

Number3Pencils's picture

Yeah, long text might not be so much in this font's future. I don't think I ever believed Solvejg could be used to set an entire book. I think "somewhat long text" in my mind was more like maybe a brochure, a pamphlet, things like that.

Sounds like you both think Solvejg would look pretty good with a weight gain. It would be a fair amount of more work, but I also have some time (for once), so I might be able to deal with making a new weight. I suppose I could cook up a quick sample of something bold sometime soon and see how it looks and post it here.

Is there anything in particular about a and y that you don't like?

I can sense a bit of a disconnect between the roman and the italic, too, but I'm at a similar place--I don't know if there's any way to fix it, especially without losing the character that the italic has taken on, which, it sounds like we agree, is pretty nice. When I post again I'll put up some text with roman and italics mixed for assessing how well they collaborate.

Thanks for the vote of confidence on the bold italic. I always feel the shakiest designing that weight, I guess since it's always extrapolated the farthest away from my original ideas. Also thanks to eliason; hard not to enjoy general compliments.

Always liked your pangram/metagram. It shows up in most of my samples, actually.

hrant's picture

a: the bowl is an unhappy mix of straight and curve. Try making the top of the bowl less straight.

y: maybe all it needs is more weight in its thick parts.

BTW, you know what might be interesting? Making this so that it could work for emphasis in a body of Optima* or Pascal. Sort of how Vendome can be used with a Jannon.

* Not that I think Optima is a text face, but still.

hhp

eliason's picture

Are the italic /f/ and /j/ descenders a little too soft?
Are the apostrophe and comma forms a bit too soft too?
The ones might be too dark.
You may want to make the proportions of /K/ a bit more normal in the text version (but I love what you have for display).

Number3Pencils's picture

This the sort of weight you're thinking about?
(Old bold included for comparison)

Number3Pencils's picture

I've made all the basic letters for the new bold weight. I agree that it's got better character and better contrast with the other weights. What do you think of its weight? I'm attaching a new pdf above, NewlyMinted.pdf.

eliason's picture

I think that difference between regular and new bold works well.
You could call the old bold a "medium" or "demibold" cut and keep it in the family if you wanted...

hrant's picture

Yes, Demi weights rule. Some people use them for emphasis
in a body of Regular instead of italics. I really admire that.

hhp

Number3Pencils's picture

That's what I did with Newt Serif--if I remember right, the two bold weights of Newt came about for pretty much the same reason these two have--but I'm not so sure I'm attached enough to the old bold this time to make it an integral part of the family. D'you think it's useful enough for that to be worthwhile?

hrant's picture

To me a smooth gradation of weights is highly important. A designer can accommodate for point size variance and printing heaviness by choosing a slightly lighter or darker weight (hopefully while adjusting tracking as well). It's not ideal to do this sort of thing, but it's better than being stuck.

hhp

Number3Pencils's picture

You mean the designer being stuck, wishing he had a certain weight that doesn't exist? Well, I guess I'll keep the old bold on as a demi. I guess I have some work to do now, to get the rest of the new bold done in both roman and italic. (Looking forward to finishing this font—I've got another one that I'm anxious to start. That and it's always nice to get done with a project.)

Stefan Seifert's picture

Hello Nathanael,

very nice typeface work!
I like it a lot. And the first probes you did in 2 weeks? Not bad.
I think you definitely have to stick with the Jenson-like ‘z’ with the thin line in the middle. This is the form that rules specially with faces like yours!

Stefan

Number3Pencils's picture

Hi again everyone!

What a long design process. I think I'm finally just about done with the pixel pushing. Here, in SolvejgInMay.pdf at the top, is the latest in my efforts to make Solvejg happen. A new weight, and a slight refiguring of the old Display weight to make it finer and more Displayey. I'm anxious to get this font finished, but I do want some eyes besides mine to see it before I start negotiations, so I turn to you, Typophiles. How do you like it? Is there stuff that I should fix? Do you want the old bold weight to still be available? Let me know any thoughts you have.

Thanks!

Edit: Also, I'm not sure what happened to the math symbols in the Text Italic. I'll fix that at some point. The Display Italic might have the same issue but I didn't put its math symbols in the sample originally because they were the same as the Roman's.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The roman lowercase “g” doesn’t work for me at all, but the cursive version is lovely. Reminds me a lot of Beorcana.

By the way, the name Solvejg is usually written with an i (Solveig). Solvejg is so uncommon, at least to me, that I first mistook it for a typo. I had to look up the phone directory, which returned nine hits in Norway (“Solveig” returned 17705). It’s a lovely name nevertheless. Makes me think of blonde farmergirls amongst deep fjords and majestic mountains. The English translation would be something like “a sunny road”.

eliason's picture

I think your italic /v/ is begging for a lead-in serif. Maybe italic /w/ too.

Should the loop of italic /k/ go up higher at the x-height? Maybe italic /b/p/h/ too.

That narrow roman /s/ might need more spacious sidebearings (see "enthusiastic").

Are your /e/s a touch light?

Number3Pencils's picture

I've been thinking about changing it to "Solveig". I got the j spelling from my first Edvard Grieg CD, which called Solveig's Song "Solvejgs Lied". But as you point out, it's pretty rare... and I also feel like buyers would have a hard time pronouncing "Solvejg", which might be important.

Eliason, I'll take a look at the characters you've suggested. Frode frank, what sort of /g/ do you think would be better? One with a taller top eye?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Yes, making the top bigger is the first thing I would consider if you decide to keep that “g”, but I’m sure you could try other forms as well.

nina's picture

Huh. I think the (Roman) "g" is beautiful, and central to the charming feel of the font. I'd definitely keep that.

Really nice work! Great to see you're still working on it. The Roman makes me want to use it for a children's book with great illustrations. I'm not quite as convinced about the angularity and heightened contrast of the Italic (especially in the "g" actually), it's a strange way of contrasting with the Roman, but not sure what to suggest. :-\

A couple of details:
- I agree with Craig about making the "s" a bit looser, so it doesn't get swallowed up too much.
- Overall, the spacing seems not bad but is still rather uneven.
- I also wonder about the Roman "e" – maybe it's a bit deflated/lazy/soft too (compared to the angularity of the "a")? But maybe there's something I'm not getting.
- And your c-cedilla isn't merged (white overlap visible).

Keep it up! Looking forward to this.

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