Ernestine, a wide slab

nina's picture

Dear Typophiles,

Here is the first version of the lowercase alphabet of my first typeface*, Ernestine**. Backstory is here.

* I have made a little family of bitmap fonts before, but I'm not counting this here because Curves Are Hard.
** See below.

The intended use for this is twofold, my main focus being small text (thanks to Hrant, as well as Hans Jörg Hunziker in class, for bringing this idea to mind); the other, possibly, display: The plan is to first finish this "base" cut shown above, and then deduce two additional optical sizes from it, which will likely be of more practical use than the base itself. First, an optically corrected small size cut with more weight & looser spacing; intended point size is 3 to 8*. And second, if time permits, a display cut with less weight & more detail.

* Some quick experiments with ink traps, opened counters, and the like revealed that this can be surprisingly legible at 3pt, and rather comfortable at 4.

I'd be very grateful for crits, and any opinions really. I've been *very* immersed in this over the past couple of weeks or so, so I presume I don't really see most of the issues myself. (I must say a monoline typeface really seems to be quite a beast to try to tackle, too.) Spacing btw is still quite preliminary.

** Oh, and the name. Ernestine is the working title that I kind of got stuck on. I think it matches the feel of this rather nicely, but the word looks uh, suboptimal (very long, and somewhat boring) when set in the typeface, so I'm open for different naming ideas that would also look good. :-)

So, I'm throwing her out there. Please don't hold back, and don't be gentle for the sake of it: I'm trying to learn, and I'm wanting to actually make this usable.


nina's picture

Aah thanks! Yeah, I tend to agree. :-/
On verra… I'm gonna fix some of those other glyphs first.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Looks interesting, but maybe slightly too funky?
[...] I just don’t want this to go too far down the “decorative” route.

Right. You've reached an uncomfortable place climbing up the mountain.
All in all, your "s" #2 seems to be the adequate (and natural) choice.
I'd put it within your todo list for a while.
By here we use to say something lik "let's wait until it dawns".


nina's picture

"let’s wait until it dawns"
:-) That's beautiful (and befitting). (I'm still glad to hear you like #2!)
It's not like I'm getting bored with this font anytime soon anyway… ;-)

nina's picture

So the lowercase is somewhat complete now. New PDF attached up top: ernestine_lc_v3.pdf.

Apart from a bunch of new glyphs ("f", "k", "r", "t", vwxyz, plus some diacritics and such), I've been doing a lot of tweaking: mostly things previously discussed here, such as figuring out the weights of rounds vs. straights, and the overshoots on the descenders. I think it looks more balanced now, although the spacing is still raw.


There are some glyphs that I know are still somewhere between slightly problematic and totally not working.
"s" I think is most problematic in terms of being bumpy and probably top-heavy?
The single-balled one kept looking strange, so I exchanged it for the double-balled one. I still think this is slightly too cute and slightly too busy, but it looks more like an "s" somehow; it's a bit less distracting. But if anyone can advise me on its width, that'd be greatly appreciated. I haven't really understood yet how the "s" is really narrow in some fonts and pretty wide in others, and most of all, how wide mine should be.
"k": Not sure if it's too cute/strange, although I still like it.
"i"/"j": Does the tittle need to be higher?
"t": Does this work? Still not sure what matters in a "t", but I do kinda like this one.
I'll be happy to hear your opinions and feed-back!


So after this, next up is: seriously working out spacing (which I expect will necessitate re-tweaking some of the glyphs), and setting up the caps. I'm really looking forward to those, as well as the numerals.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Hi, Nina!
It seems you've hard working on 'Tine. At a very first sight, let me tell you some of my thoughts:
"s": you've got a good quiz here; besides of your concerns (and before progressing in any direction) I guess that you should consider to slant its spine a bit: to my eyes, it looks very horizontal and static.
"k": it's a very attractive/appealing character that notably doesn't interfere when put in body text; certainly original, I'd leave it as is.
"i"/"j": tittles are in tune.
"t": perhaps it needs to be taller and, maybe, a little wider; all in all, I like its shape, but I see it quite small.
Beyond the pretty long-studied "g" (well, our common matter ;-) ...) I like the "e", "c", "a", "r", "b" and "y" the most, probably in that order.
About the third page in the PDF, it immediatly reminds me the word harmony.
i'd like to see your numerals... asap!


nina's picture

Hi Marcelo! Thanks for your feed-back.

Regarding "s" and "t":

(red = old; green = new)

I'll need to look at this for a bit. The changes in the "s" will need to be done a bit more carefully; but this is what you meant, yes? I am a bit worried this messes too much with the NW and SE "corners" – it makes them a bit "pointy"? Slanting the spine would certainly be easier if the glyph wasn't as wide.
Re the "t", I think this works very well! Thanks. (I only made it a very little bit taller, as I don't want it to be too close to what I expect will be the cap height. But the new width I think is better, especially in the foot.)

"i’d like to see your numerals... asap!"
Yessir! :-D
Actually, I've started making caps. That's a lot of fun! The numerals still need to be thought out for a bit, though.

Bendy's picture

I like the new t too. I wonder if the foot could curve more symmetrically, with the extremum further to the right, or would that not work well?
The first s works better for me, though I do think something about the spine looks fishy. I wonder if the second one can be improved by shifting the upper and lower extrema left and right respectively to make the 'pointy' curves more round than flat?? Or go the other way completely and make the spine more horizontal and the whole thing a touch wider? Tough call.
I'm looking forward to the caps and numerals too. The numerals always take me much longer to visualise.
Funny, I love the g e and a too. And m and n.

eliason's picture

Red 's' and green 't' are better. Actually I think that 't' may be my new favorite glyph of Ernestine. That 's' sure is vexing. At any point did you try smaller ball terminals?

I think 'w' is too wide. I might like to see the center vertex raised a little, too, but first I'd try narrowing the letter.

'x''s top and bottom counters look a little cramped. I wonder what it would look like if you kept the serifs where they are but started the diagonal strokes more on the outside of them (so you have less steep horizontals and larger top and bottom counters, while retaining the width of the glyph).

The acute accent on e (and probably on y) looks too far right to me. You may want to lighten your oslash, too.

The 'k' is closer to working for me than it used to be, but its arm still looks rather too droopy to me.

'g''s ear pops out a little when followed by a letter with x-height head serifs (e.g. n or r), but I don't know that that's anything worth worrying about.

You convinced me on my critique thread that the umlaut- and i-dots need not align, but seeing "böig" here I wonder if they should be a little closer in height.

Every update of this never fails to impress!

nina's picture

Ooh, thanks for your words guys :)

After looking at this for another day, I think I agree that the old "s" works better. I don't really know where to go with the "s"; but I'm thinking, one way or another, its spine has to firm up a bit, get more direction. It seems… wobbly.

"At any point did you try smaller ball terminals?"
Craig, I didn't. That's an interesting idea. I've been a bit wary of introducing too many different sizes of balls (and serifs), but the "s" might really benefit from smaller ones. I'll try this.

Thanks for the tips on "w" and "x" (and the rest)! I'm going to try out your suggestions. I fully agree the "x" looks cramped. I haven't yet been able to produce one that looked moderately happy. :-\

Re the "k"'s arm seeming droopy, do you think bringing it closer to the architecture of the "r" might work? (In terms of "more upward thrust")

"’g”s ear pops out a little when followed by a letter with x-height head serifs"
:-) I noticed this too today and had to laugh. It's like the serifs tickle it under the ear or something. Then again, as long as there are ticklish ears like this around (and yes I love Parry's "g"), I guess I needn't worry about that. ;-)

Re "böig": Dunno, I must admit I really like my umlauts low like this. But I'll try raising them a hair and see what that does. It might still be a bit unbalanced.

Ben, with the "t", you might be on to something:

I'm not sure, I think the second one is more harmonious, but maybe also a bit more boring? Reminds me of the handle of an umbrella. ;-) But spontaneously, I like this a lot more than I thought I would. Although of course now I don't want to spoil Craig's new favorite glyph. :-)

"I’m looking forward to the caps and numerals too."
Somebody save me from myself. I made my first ever OT feature today (because I was running out of other keys to stick alternates on, so I figured I'd just make a salt feature), and now all I'm doing is playing around making funny cap ligatures. :-{
Anyway, I think I'll be able to post some caps soon! Cheers.

Bendy's picture

Yes, perhaps it is more boring. I don't know. Both work for me. I don't know at all.

>now all I’m doing is playing around making funny cap ligatures. :-{

Ahh. Yes, I had a phase of creating useless silly 3-letter ligatures in Eternal at one point. Later I went through and realised they had to go. I think I've still got an f ligated to an eth in there! ;)

eliason's picture

Re the “k”’s arm seeming droopy, do you think bringing it closer to the architecture of the “r” might work?
Yes, that's just what I was thinking of suggesting.

The change to 't''s tail doesn't make me fall out of love with it (it's actually the Clarendon-like top that I fell for). Both look great, but the asymmetrical one may work better with your 'e'.

nina's picture

Yeah, it's weird with this new "t", it's almost too harmonious. Too friendly; somehow I don't trust it yet. Going up on the wall.
That's pretty cool that you fell for the *top* of it, Craig! One feature that had me pretty desperate. I'm no big fan of Clarendon, so I'm not sure it came from there, but I do like it too.

"I think I’ve still got an f ligated to an eth in there"
Priceless. :-D
(Try pronouncing that!)

Bendy's picture

I know, it's idiotic! :)

nina's picture

LOL. That is priceless. :-D

Bendy's picture

What can I say?! I got carried away! :D Beware the dangers of whimsical's a slippery slope!

nina's picture

Hmm… here's a curious dilemma. I'd appreciate some opinions.

Looking at the "A" alone:

…the left hand one definitely looks better to me. I tried not to like it (I'm not generally a fan of head serifs on "A"s), but it seems fitting. I think the other one looks too naked, and kind of bland too.

However, as soon as I add diacritics and stuff:

…now the head serif is completely too much, and in the way. Except in the "AE", which seems to look stupid without the serif. :-\

Question: Do you guys think I could get away with putting a head serif on the basic "A", but then dropping the serif as soon as diacritics join the fun? Or is that confusing / a bad idea?

If the "serifage" should be standardized: Would you agree that it's most important that the basic "A" looks good, even if it cramps the "diacriticized" "A"s a bit, rather than the other way round?

I could also of course just leave it as is, which is the head-serifed one as the standard, and a stylistic set for the head-serif-less "A" and friends. But I don't want to do that just because I'm not able to *decide*. :-)

eliason's picture

Your 'A' looks a bit wide to me. I realize that's not what you asked about, but changing the proportions might change the way these options read.

My two cents on the question you did ask: I think dropping the serif when adding diacritics is on the same level as making 'f''s terminal into a tittle for an 'i' in a ligature, or removing an 'i''s dot to add a circumflex; that is, I'm good with it!

nina's picture

I realize it's a bit extreme, but admit I lurve it (to paraphrase Woody Allen, I think). But maybe it's too much. Is it? I dunno. I wasn't actually gonna post the caps yet, since they're heavily under construction. But now I couldn't not post them. ;-)
Oh, and thanks for your feedback re the serif. You make a good point!

Bendy's picture

Well I share the same opinion. The head serif looks good on the plain A and the AE, but looks crowded on the others. Did you try making a smaller serif there? Though that may look like an undecided halfway point. I reckon the shape can be different too.

I think the height is pretty good, perhaps it could go up a fraction but I'd have to see a pdf to be sure. I like your ER and Y.

nina's picture

Cheers Ben. I didn't think of a smaller serif. I'll try that.

About the "A" serif: I guess I worry that when one sees an "A" (with serif) after a couple of say "Ä"s (lacking a serif), one might then spontaneously mistake the head serif for a diacritic of sorts, since one gets used to those little bits up there carrying meaning, but then the head serif doesn't. I certainly don't want to cause any confusion just because I think the serif looks good. I'll need to test that.

"I think the height is pretty good, perhaps it could go up a fraction but I’d have to see a pdf to be sure."
I'll post one soon-ish. I was thinking of maybe making them a *hair* higher too, but it seems like a good idea to steer clear of the ascender head serifs (say in "Th").

"I like your ER and Y"
Wow, what a strange selection. :-)

Bendy's picture

>since one gets used to those little bits up there carrying meaning

Maybe you could use language features to use the seriffed A for languages like English where we don't see diacritics, then have the serifless one for languages where it'll be used in text with accents?

>steer clear of the ascender head serifs
I agree.

>strange selection
I like the way E has no serifs on the crossbar, the rather wide bowl of R and the neat proportions of Y. I think the vertical serifs on L and T could be longer.

nina's picture

OK, here's a pretty major update, including caps and 3 sets of numerals.
New PDF attached up top: Ernestine_v3.pdf.


Caps: Still rather rough, so I'm all ears for proportions and weights that are off, etc.
I think I've pretty much settled for the short and wide overall proportions, I think it fits the font quite nicely.

"A": I've decided for the head-serif-less one at least for now; it does seem to be more "usable" / less problematic.
"L", "T": Ben, I made the vertical serifs a hair longer. I think I did. But the ones on the "T" quickly run me into collision problems (tittles, x-height stuff).
"M", "N" etc.: I've found that I'm having to do a lot of optical corrections (trapping, thinning of strokes, &c.) on some glyphs. Please let me know if this works for you; I don't quite trust my printer.


Numerals: also still rough, irregularities in weights.

The lining figs are best for tabular use I think (I'm not sure how much sense the proportional lining figs make, but they're there). I tried to give them a similar feel as the letters; that's why they're rather wide.
A couple of detail notes:
"4": the convex curve is a direct Patria influence and seemed (a) helpful for making the "4" reach a good apparent width; and (b) looking good.
"7": I've never understood why these aren't more commonly given a foot serif, at least in lining figures where they would seem to need something to stand on just like the "1" does. Rockwell & Patria gave me the final push to try it. I like it a lot.
"8": the "S" shape with the rather strong offset isn't just something I find sexy (which I admit I do, like in Museo [Sans] or Designal), but also helps the "8" reach this sort of width without looking like an obese snowman. :->


Hybrids: the idea to make these was mainly inspired by my old typewriter, which has interesting "cap-height-slightly-ranging figs"; I like the concept, but full cap height *plus* little extenders was too massive in Ernestine. On the other hand, oldstyle figures seemed too "classical". So these hybrids seem to be a great middle ground; and I really like them in other fonts (like Fontin).
I'd be very curious to hear what you think of them – both the concept and the execution. I ended up changing the shapes a lot from the lining versions, the idea being to have the parts that ascend and descend feel more like "bits that are sticking up or hanging down" (which explains the lack of serif on the "7", since it's not standing anymore but hanging; I tried a half serif, like the sexy one in Fairplex, but that didn't work). I'm not sure if that was too much, and I wonder if the 3, 5, 6, and 9 in particular still fit the font. For some reason, they remind me a bit of Thesis now (which I haven't been looking at), and I wonder if I can't have more serifs/balls in there.


Some minor tweaks done to the lc too. Craig, thanks for pointing me to the arm of the "k"! I've made it less droopy, and it seems much better. I also made the "w" narrower, and I think I'm getting close to figuring out the "s" (which does involve slightly smaller ball terminals, and a more symmetrical curve).
Don't look at the germandbls – that one's still under heavy construction.
Oh, and spacing is *still* rough. :-\


BTW, Ernestine is nearing its first public use on a book cover. It's pretty scary!

Anyway: As always, I'd be most happy for feed-back. I'm looking forward to pushing this further.


eliason's picture

Exciting progress!
Some notes from my once-over:

- ft combination (in "Fifty") is just utterly lovely!
- exclamation point is nice
- center vertex of M is too fragile.
- placement of Q's tail seems somewhat arbitrary, "tacked-on." Would starting it more vertically as it comes off the bowl mesh with the "perpendicularity" of the slab serifs better? (Or would that sap it of energy?)
- I know there are encroaching neighbors to consider but could you give yet another hair to the vertical serifs of E/F/T/L/Z? (perhaps 2/3/7 too)
- too much contrast in arms of Y, and maybe X too. Or are my eyes playing tricks on me?
- inconsistent stroke widths: (cap) Z's diagonal seems slimmer while (lc) z's diagonal is thicker
- maybe enlarge the counter of the ring diacritic
- strengthen the middle arm-and-serif (the one at the right, at e-crossbar height) of the ampersand
- the overhang of proportional one's flag over the bottom serif looks goofy to me in the big specimen, but in the text context not so much.
- did you try some kind of taper on the base stroke of tabular one?
- I might lower the middle vertex of all the threes
- I'd try a serif (maybe an upward slab) at the top terminal of your fives
- I'm totally on-board with your foot-seriffed sevens
- wide, offset form of eight looks good - maybe make the bottom bowl a touch rounder (less squarish)
- I agree that you should consider your k fixed! :-)

Bendy's picture

This is VERY exciting to see! :)
It's looking wonderful and neat already.
I'm going to be picky!
The caps are really nice. I think I mentioned before the ERY being my favourites. I think G could have a longer crossbar. J is pleasant. The curly arm of K looks slightly weak somehow, like it's not quite sure it should be curling like that. I think it needs more weight on the NW corner of the terminal?
On M, I think the centre vertex should have a narrower bevel, bringing the bottom of the join down a few units. N seems maybe wide a little.
I agree with Craig about Q. Is the tail past 6 o'clock? I actually think a tail like on Lubalin Graph might work well.
S works well. The arms of T look like the serifs need more, but appreciate they might start interfering with other letters. On X the offset looks a bit too great.
LF: I like the goofy 1! The 2 and 3 work nicely. 4 I'm not sure. The crossbar looks maybe a bit high. Try a serif on the top of 5. Did you try ball terminals on 6 and 9? They're nice shapes but maybe balls would fit well too. I like 7 and 8. The foot serif on 7 works nicely. 0 looks eggy. I'm wondering if your brackets are too roundy...but would have to see in context to be sure. The diacritics look good to me.
I really like the OSF, they work especially nicely in text. The stem of 7 looks maybe a bit heavy. It could taper slightly towards the top. Otherwise I can't fault them!
ACtually I haven't been able to print today so these comments are based on the large sizes on screen, so perhaps they aren't so relevant for small text sizes.

nina's picture

Wow, thanks for the detailed comments guys!

Since you both mentioned the "Q", here are some previous variants, which I found less fitting than the one that's in there now:

#1 is too strict and uninspired, #2 is trying too hard and is too much like Lubalin Graph (sorry, I really don't like its "Q"), #3 is a bit too soft/lyrical, #4 is definitely too much, #5 is too oldstyle, and #6 looks like one of those hooks on suction cups that you can hang kitchen towels on. But, #6 (combined with some of Dwiggins's "Q"s) was the basis for the current one, and I do like the current concept a lot.
I will fiddle with the join of its tail, though – thanks for pointing that out.



"did you try some kind of taper on the base stroke of tabular one?"
I did try to make it sort of an extended serif. It looked positively weird (since it got so long that the angle got really close to horizontal so it looked like a mistake); though the taperless bar does too. Hm.

"I’d try a serif (maybe an upward slab) at the top terminal of your fives"
An upward serif! Wicked idea. I'll so try this.

"ft combination (in “Fifty”) is just utterly lovely!"
Thanks! It's my favorite glyph combination so far. I've tried ligating it (see here), but I'm not sure that makes it better.


"I think G could have a longer crossbar"
That might just be what's wrong with the thing. I couldn't put my finger on why it's looking so strange.

"Did you try ball terminals on 6 and 9?"
Hm, no, I was worried they'd get too congested. But I'll see if it might work.

"0 [zero] looks eggy."
That's intended. Does it look stupid?
Weird story: I got that idea from the Swiss licence number plates. I've always liked that zero (example from Wikipedia):

On a practical level, I like the egg shape for extra disambiguation besides the differing proportions of the zero(es). Somehow those eggs just *can't* be "oh"s – or is that just me?


Thanks again, this is very helpful. I'll be feeding the to-do list and let little E rest for a few days.

Bendy's picture

Not stupid, just a little surprising when the other letters are geometric.

eliason's picture

I think Q #5 has potential - I can see it working well with your K - though its sounds like you're not planning to return down that road.

Bendy's picture

I've realised Q is a horrible glyph to design. Good luck.
What would your third version look like with a vertical serif on the end?

nina's picture

Guys, just to be clear: do you think there a problem with the current "Q", meaning that it doesn't really work that well (beyond the "uncertain" join of the tail)? Or are you just curious about exploring alternatives?
Because I like the current form, and am not sure yet I see a cogent reason to head back down into the bewildering depths of "Q" land. But if there is one, I will.

Craig, #5 isn't "bad" formally; it just seems so dramatically oldstyle in the context of Ernestine's wide, slabby "simpleness" that I found it almost comical. Almost as wrong as the rather disturbing mental image of… Ernestine Swash. :-\

Bendy's picture

For me, the existing Q looks like something is missing. It somehow looks a bit blank or bland and uncommunicative, like it doesn't quite know what to do with itself. It's not a bad shape in itself, I just don't think it fits with the other shapes which are more developed with serifs and balls. That's just my feeling, I don't have a reason except what my eyes tell me. Remember the salt :)

I think the head serif on J might need to be wider.

Otherwise, wow, good good stuff. The eggy 0 is growing on me. I'm amazed this is your first font! Yum :)

nina's picture

Thanks Ben :) I think I see what you mean about the "Q". Thing is, I can't really put a terminal on the tail if I keep its shape this way. Guess I'll detail-fiddle with it some more and try to make it work better.

"J": I'll have another look at the head serif. But I'm surprised nobody has complained about the curve (what is that thing called, the left/curvy part of "J"?). I'm not sure I like it at all. Hmm. Maybe it could be more tense/energetic?

"I’m amazed this is your first font!"
OK, OK, I'll link to this again:

Bendy's picture

I did feel the J tail looked less polished...but couldn't decide why, so thought it wouldn't be constructive just to complain about it :)

I hadn't seen your first first font, but as this is the first serious font, it's still very cool :)

eliason's picture

I’ve tried ligating it (see here), but I’m not sure that makes it better.
Nah, the fit is just right unligated.

Yes, Ben's descriptions fit my feeling about the Q, too. Did (or would) you consider having the tail loop around from the right stroke, something like this?
(pictured only for structure, not proportions or placement necessarily)
Might allow for a ball terminal, be a fresher solution, fit in with your signature 'g'...

nina's picture

THAT is Popeye! :-D

Curling from the right side didn't occur to me. Dunno, maybe I should explore some such options. I don't want to purposely make it "special", or curly, or cute; so maybe it would be too much. But I'll have to try and see.
Thanks for the input, will need to process it :)

Bendy's picture

As I eat my Quiche I ponder your Q. I hope this isn't rude of me, and maybe it's too cute and/or twiddly:

nina's picture

Mm, quiche :)

That would be funny in an animation with Craig's. It looks interesting – a bit more determined, I like that. Hmm.

speter's picture

Popeye's fist strikes again. :-)

nina's picture

To semi-wrap up this looong thread, my type design class formally ends this weekend, and I'll be presenting the state of my design. I had a little specimen booklet printed*, which really is quite the feeling (and I'm trying, at the moment, not to focus too much on seeing the mistakes…)

* There are a couple of pix on Flickr:

The booklet of course includes a big thankyou to you guys. Typophile has been a major driving force behind this.

Of course this won't be the last you see of "my Mrs. E" here. I might now however take a few weeks off from working on it.
The specimen PDF is not going online at the moment; but I do have a few booklets left that I can mail out, so if you think you should / want to have one, drop me a line. :)

Bendy's picture

Ooh, how exciting!!!
Well done and congratulations! The specimen looks amazing. I'll certainly be e-mailing for a copy!

Bendy's picture

Hrm. Can't edit previous post.

Does this mean you'll be working on another font, or taking a break from type design completely?

nina's picture

Thanks Ben! Yeah just send me your addy :-)

"Does this mean you’ll be working on another font"
Nah, there is no other font. The thing is, I've got tons of other work piled up, and I'm leaving for a vacation in a month, so I'm not sure how much time I can put into this font until then. Plus my eyes, I think, could use a little break.
Although "taking a break from type design completely" does sound very, very sad… I'll probably do little things; just not work on it intensely for the next weeks.

Overall though I'm all set, and have my plan laid out for the next few months.
I'm looking forward to doing some sketching of other weights, and the italics :-)
It's going to be exciting. But I need more time.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

* Gratulation! * … Sehr schön!

nina's picture

Dankeschön! :-)

Bendy's picture

Hi Nina. Ok, so I finally got around to giving some crit on the specimen booklet you sent (thank you again!) and here are my opinions. I think I've said some of these things previously and you may have investigated my suggestions before, I don't know. Remember the salt!

At large sizes, G looks like the crossbar should be wider, extending more into the counterspace. The bowl of J looks like something pulled its SW curve outwards a little. I wonder whether the vertical serifs on L and T should be longer; I think usually these are more pronounced than horizontal serifs. know what I'd do with its tail. I think this is the glyph most needing work. I love R (and BDP)...somehow I find these shapes really hard to draw and yours have a nice poise and tautness. V...the contrast works really well, it's almost unnoticeable. Y as well. Did you try a higher midpoint on the W? Z: longer serifs? Looks like the lc z has larger serifs than the uc.

Lowercase. These are really beautiful. I really admire them. I like the way there's the balance between quite rigid shapes (a, d, h, x) and unique elements (g, k, s, y). I like the way the a and c have slight tapering towards the terminals...the curves are nicely placed so as to be not too curly and cute but not too sharp and straight. I'd like to see similar inflection on the hood of the f, which perhaps looks a bit too curved before the ball terminal. I wonder if that might also resolve the s in a more satisfying way, I know you weren't quite happy with the s. I think the descender of j could need a tweak. Now, with k, I'm afraid there's something distracting at small sizes where the eye notices there's something going on but can't quite tell when reading. I'd make the bar shorter so as to not be noticeable so much when small but can be a feature at large sizes, perhaps. The join might also benefit from being lower down the stem. The letters I haven't mentioned I think are actually very good, lovely.

Numerals. 7 usually has a heavy top stroke and less weight on the diagonal, doesn't it? Or a thinner part near the top widening out to the baseline. I think there may be slightly too much weight on your downstroke, only a hair. And I'd make the hanging-down serif longer. I find 4 a bit pinched at the apex. It looks like it starts with a lovely curve at the crossbar then turns a bit flatter as it approaches the apex and the overall shape (counter) is a bit narrow looking. Maybe this is just my taste. Should lf 3 have a lower midpoint? The egg-shaped zero puzzles me.

I originally thought 10pt was the best, now I'm seeing it works very well at 8pt too, perhaps best. The general colour, spacing and proportions all look marvellous. The remarks above don't apply so much, though I'd still make the vertical serifs longer. It looks good in all caps. I like the fi lig, the fl one sticks out a bit slightly perhaps (is that a contextual alternate or a discretionary lig?)

Diacritics...I'm no expert at all at all but tilde looks a little shy and flat. I like the idea of the Polish acute as a language do you write the feature code to do that?

@ is very nice. I like the cover!

Dagger might be too detailed/too small. Is there a double dagger? Quotation marks seem to be right handed or straight but no left handed? Curly brackets...maybe curve more round at the top...seems there's not enough 'backbone' compared with the tautness of the alphabetic glyphs...get a shape that harmonises with a perhaps.

£ could have a wider hood, looks a bit mean and overbitey. # and Yen are very nice.

Spacing. a needs a notch less on the left. r_t lig is a bit tight. lbar_y looks great. There's something very odd with ak and nk. rn might be a bit close, see in 'Ernestine'. Other than that, I'm afraid I'm space-blind, so I won't comment. It's a hard, hard thing, good luck!

Hope this has been you always say, it's good not just for the person who drew the type but for others who are learning how to look for things and how they work. Thanks! :)

nina's picture

Wow, thank you! You know you didn't *have* to do this – but I greatly appreciate it. I hope I'll have time soon to continue working on this. Then I can get back in more detail.

Just these 2 things for now:

The "l" in "fl" is a contextual alternate at the moment (like in "fb", "fh", and "fk"). This is mostly for German where these can't always be physically ligated (there are grammatical rules). That said, I may well make an additional "fl" lig that's similar to the "fi" in concept.

[Q] "I think this is the glyph most needing work."
Really? I dislike my "j" much more (and am considering some rather unorthodox measures to make it work).
Actually, I still like my "Q". Hm. This might be a case of having to put it away for a couple more weeks & then maybe I'll be able to see what might be wrong with it…

Bendy's picture

Aah, I get the fl better now. Does German also use ligated fl, and how would the font know when to use the calt or the liga?

An unorthodox j? Sounds delicious!

It might be an idea to ask others about the Q. To me it looks coy and slightly bashful, like (do you remember?) the black f I originally drew in Eternal. When I showed the Ernestine booklet to my housemate (who doesn't know very much about type), he thought the Q stuck out as different. I think a ball terminal is the way to go, but there may be better solutions. These things are so subjective. I'd definitely put it away for a couple of weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes anyway...have a nice break from type design!

I wanted to crit, it's a good process of learning to see and learning to articulate and in fact learning to draw too, so you're more than welcome! :)

Sebastian Nagel's picture

und das "k" ist doch gut :)

nina's picture

Many, many thanks to all those (here and elsewhere) who have lent their sharp eye and alerted me to things to look at! I'd [finally] like to address a few points here (Ben, sorry for doing that soo late!).


One thing that's often criticized is the shortness of vertical serifs in the caps. There's a reason for that: My caps are very short; and if I make the vertical serifs any longer, subsequent lowercase letters will start crashing into things like the "T". Kerning things under those serifs is already pushing it now; so I'm reluctant to make them longer, although I'm wondering if this might be another nice application of contextual alternates.

"At large sizes, G looks like the crossbar should be wider"
How about at small sizes?* I'm not sure about that thing – when I make the crossbar longer it looks stupid too. I'm beginning to think it's good the way it is.
(* Ben, you can check that in the specimen, on the page that has the large lowercase alphabet, there's a "G" in the bottom right.)

My numerals deliberately follow a "romanized" contrast scheme, hence the foot serif on the "7" – and the heavy downstroke. But, I did thin its top join a little.


I officially suck at making tildes, commas, and curly braces. The tilde I'm still procrastinating on, and the comma's being worked, but here's a new attempt at braces:

Do you think these are headed in a better direction? (I know they're not done – but I'm not sure what to do with them.)
Oh, and how's this Pound? Still too narrow?

(BTW tweaked the curve of the "4", which is becoming one of my favorite glyphs; "@" is also slightly more polished)
And here's a first go at my new "unorthodox" "j" (obviously not polished yet):

Thinking about a "Q" with a tail in the vein of the "j" and "g". But that's still being incubated.
What do people think about an eszett like this? It has been my secret favorite and an alternate, but now it's been voted up by a bunch of people whose opinions I value. I like the shape, but is it too quaint?

Ben, for the localized forms (in case that question still stands):

And then you need to list all the referenced languages in the bottom part of the window (see here: )

Bendy's picture

Good good stuff Nina. I'm happy you're back on with Ernestine!

Ok let me dig out the specimen!

That G, yes, I'd say it's true at small sizes too. I checked the other 10pt Gs in the specimen too — not sure why I specified large sizes!

Regarding vertical serifs on the caps, it should only be F and T that could crash into lc glyphs, no? Fe and Tr look like they still has room for a longer serif (though I don't think you had kerning in the specimen I haveI didn't find any others that looked in danger of crashing. Did you space the caps with caps or lc?

>I officially suck at making tildes, commas, and curly braces.
These are *really* hard for me too. Maybe try giving the nose-point a bevel and open up the inner sides; you don't have sharp points on other glyphs.

£ is a good shape. I'd bring the crossbar down to make the top and bottom counters more equal. (It won't match the E crossbar.)

I'll look forward to seeing your new j up close in a pdf.

>Thinking about a “Q” with a tail in the vein of the “j” and “g”.
You mean like Bookman? What's your current feeling on the original Q? (I mean don't just change it on my account!)

I can't really comment on eszett for readability, but I like the shape.

Thanks for the link; I still don't quite get it, but will make an effort to get to grips with it when I start coding features into my fonts (so far just have the very simple ones like liga, dlig and calt). Har.

Nice nice nice :)

eliason's picture

Is there a PDF of the booklet I could look at?

EDIT: 100th AND 200th posts on this thread!

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