Novena text trial

Marcelo Soler's picture

Here is Novena, a serif family (still in progress) initially aimed to newspapers requirement though, in addition, I’m developing a display version too.
Feel free to criticize.
I post it in the hope of having some help from smarter people.
Thank you.

jonathanhughes's picture

This looks really nice. I don't know if I count as "smarter people" but I did notice that the 9 feels like it's rotated to the left a few degrees.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Thank you, Jon. They're right both things: you are smarter than I, and my 9 is slightly unbalanced (worse when Novena means Ninth!!!).
Here it goes my correction. Hope it looks better than the previous version.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Here it goes the most recent upgrade to Novena, including some major adjustments.
Be evil!

nina's picture

To me the "9" still feels like it's tipping over.

And the curvy serifs on top of VWXY and M, I don't get those. It looks like something heavy fell on these letters ;-). Why are the serifs curved on these letters and not on any others?

But, remember I'm just a beginner in this, so this might well be some sort of smart principle I'm just not getting.

EDIT: I just realized you may have changed the curvy serifs in your newest version, in which case I take that back.
It'd probably help to have a PDF; the lettershapes are kind of hard to make out in this size.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Thank you, Altaira: you don't need to apologize by no means. I use to read your comments and I think they are very shrewd.
I completely redesigned the 9 and the 6 in this new version, and I guess they look much better than before.
Actually, all serifs are curvy, but in the A, K, M, N, U, V, W, X and Y I tried a variation (dismissed now in uppercases, still in progress for lowercases) by pushing the inner vertex up or down accordingly. As you say, it doesn't work well.
So, take a look at this rearranged model (in addition, I'll put a PDF for inspection in my Typophile blog).
Thanks again, sharp buddy.

speter's picture

The new 6 and 9 are much better. However, based on the PDF version, I think the dots on i and j are too heavy.

Bendy's picture

Hi Marcelo,
I looked at your latest pdf. I'm certainly a beginner as well so feel free to ignore everything I write :)
The overall effect is very nice, with the shapes and colour pretty consistent and harmonious.
There are a few things that don't quite look right to my eye. The c looks a bit as if it were modelled on the e, and I think the bottom half could curve in more, as it looks a bit flat. I like e. I'd make the ear of the g heavier (longer and fatter), and perhaps lose some weight off the inside of the upper curve to balance the colour. j looks a little incomplete somehow. I think the diagonal leg of the k could be lighter. r,s and t are especially good. Maybe try stronger serifs on the z?
As for capitals, the stem of D looks a bit thin compared with the bowl. E and F and nice, but I think the lower bar of E could be too far out. The tail of the J is very heavy and will look weird if next to a C for example. M could be a bit too narrow. Tail on Q is too light I think. S and T look to be different weights.
I like your numerals. I suspect 1 will need much heavier serifs and its head may need to be wider. 3 and 5 need to harmonise a bit more. 4 looks light. 6 and 9 may be a bit too wide. 9 needs more space. It also still looks rotated!
Your punctuation is pleasant. I think £ may be out of place and need a base like your E. € could be narrower.
I hope that's useful, I'm only making suggestions so see what you think and try them out if you like.

Marcelo Soler's picture

New version of Novena text, all glyphs adjusted and “equalized”.
Finally, I guess my 9 stands on itself and all serifs fit.
As speter suggested, dots on i and j are lighter.
Let's follow with Bendy ;-) :

  • Actually, the e is modelled on the c; both are modelled on the o. I like them so.
  • The g is reshaped. I agree it needed a bolder ear it lost along the development.
  • My will on the j is to keep it simple. Anyway, it has changed a bit.
  • The leg of the k is now thinner and variates up to down.
  • I adjusted the z based on its capital.
  • The bowl of the D is perceptually lightened.
  • The E and the F have their bars resized in order to appear proportionally weighted.
  • I always thought the tail of the J was heavy. I don't know why I never changed it before.
  • May be the M looks a bit narrow yet. Let me think about it.
  • The Q has a new tail.
  • The S and the s are refined to fit in shape, angles and weight.
  • Look at the new 1. I guess it appears more healthy.
  • I put hands on 3 and 5. It was a hard task, but I think they're improved.
  • My 4 remains (up to your point of view) light, but I don't wanna touch it by now.
  • I redesigned 6 and 9.
  • You were right: the £ was absolutely wrong in “ductus”.
  • I don't like narrow versions of €. Even I consider it a character (not a logo), one must preserve something of the original logo's guidelines.

Well, here it is Novena revamped (Notice: the new PDF is in my blog, as usual, or clicking here):

Sindre's picture

Really good! Your typeface has a playful and light-hearted demeanour, yet it retains its text-setting qualities. If I were to criticise anything, I'd say the arm serifs of E and F are a little light. I'd also consider doing something to tame the ascender serifs a little, but I guess that's a question of taste. They work just fine as they are.

Are you planning on making a display version of Novena as well?

Marcelo Soler's picture

Thanks four your words, Sindre (Satyagraha).
Actually, I made some corrections on Novena I'll publish tomorrow.
And, yes there are several versions in progress, wich include:

  • display,
  • headline and
  • condensed,

beyond their obvious:

  • bold,
  • light and
  • italics

variants going into the oven.

Return in short.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Getting better?
More on PDF in my blog.

eliason's picture

I might try more weight on these serifs:
- top of 'a' (possibly)
- ear of 'r' (probably)
- top of 'c' (definitely)

I also think the two-way standard serifs on the baseline (fhilmnr etc etc) could be a little heavier. You might also want to extend the 'r''s bottom serif on the right even more.

Because it drops towards the serif, the base of '2' doesn't look like it sits solidly on the baseline.

'B' and '4' look a little dark to me.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Dear Eliason,
perhaps these close views or that PDF render better than the previous picture. Tell me what you think.

I'll consider your observations on 2 and 4.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Well: here you can see the last PDF built on Novena at its current state (2009.01.26).
I made some minor changes based on Eliason's sharp observations.

eliason's picture

Some additional ideas:

- make B's lower bowl bigger in relation to the top bowl.

- Where bowls come off stems in the caps (BDPR), consider using the same "cupping" you do for the stem-only serifs. This Goudy sample is an exaggerated version of what I'm talking about:

See how the bowl at the top swoops up before it circles down? Without that, your serifs (which are rather long) on the left sides of those letters look bent outwards.

- K's leg doesn't look as stable as it should.

- take another look at the humps of m, n, and u. Something's off on the drawing there - I think they thicken too fast coming out of the stem? I think that contributes to the topheavy sense of m and n that I was addressing before by suggesting heavier bottom serifs.

- your cedilla has an italic slant to it - I'd make it more upright.

Seek opinions from others on these ideas, too - I'm not an expert.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Here there are some variations on the UPPERCASE alphabet for Novena I've been studying for a while.
I think they have some improvements before previous versions, but I'd love to hear opinions from anybody else in order to mark me errors that my immediate point of view does not allow me to notice.


Marcelo Soler's picture

Unspaced sample, just to see how chars work together.

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