New clean modern serif

Nick Cooke's picture

Here's a new serif I've been thinking about for a while and finally developed into an initial design.

All comments welcome.

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Quincunx's picture

I like it. Nice and quirky, but also quite balanced. It's a bit like a mix of broad-nib and brush.

It does looke like the ear of the 'r' is a bit heavy. The h/m/n shoulders too? The 'e' might be leaning to the left, slightly. Probably because of the shape of the crossbar (which I like in itself). I'm personally not a big fan of g's where the connecting stroke between the top and bottom part extends so far out to the left.

I would definitely keep working on this. :)

eliason's picture

I like it too.

I agree that the r ear is heavy; it and the top terminal of f seem a bit raw to me - have you tried other types of terminals? Bottom of y is similar but works better.

I like the g and the t best.

i's dot seems quite high to me, esp. next to the rather low t ascender.

I wonder if putting a little curve on the underside of e's crossbar would help. As it is, that crossbar's taper seems a bit out-of-character compared to the other tapers in the font - it looks to me like it has been chiseled where the others have, as Jelmar mentioned, a more brushy softness.

Interesting that you used "Reptilian" - this face has both some slinkiness and some fangs to it!

nepenthe's picture

[1. Interesting approach you're taking. The smooth join vs. thin taper of the b d p q is the reverse of what is common in roman fonts. From a legibility perspective, this should help to distinguish p's from n's, b's from h's, etc. I don't know if you tried the crisp taper on the bottom of the b bowl, for the sake of consistency. This would probably draw too much attention to itself, but it would be interesting to see how it looks anyway.] [2. I particularly like the taper on the bar of the lc e.] [3. The upstroke on the lc r would benefit from a steeper angle. The r is definitely running into the curved upper serif of the n creating the awkward r+n = m situation.] [4. The spine of the lc s seems too light in relation to all other letters.] [5. Relative to the n and other lc letters the o seems unusually narrow.] [6. I am delighted by the curvaceous a; Since the fairly prominent terminal on it seems to work quite well, you might try strengthening the terminal on the c. Right now they look like they descend to about the same line, but I think the c's terminal could benefit from a bit more weight/length.]

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks for the comments so far. I have taken on board some suggestions - shoulders of h, m and n are less heavy. the ear of the r is lighter with a steeper angle. The i dot is lower. The o is wider. The spine of the s is thicker. The terminal of the c is longer and heavier. It now has longer ascenders and descenders.

It's quirky but not gimmicky.

So now I've done a to z lower case in 2 extreme weights. Here it is:

Nick Cooke

eliason's picture

I think your changes have all been for the better.

That light w is very nice. I also like the curve that comes out of the crossbar on the left side of bold f.

In the bold weight, k's arm isn't well integrated into the letter to my eyes. The concavity of the left side of m and n in bold also detracts a bit. I wonder if that lead-in serif on m, n, p and r might be lowered yet another touch in both weights.

u's tail seems to float up, in both weights.

On the bowl-and-stem letters bdpq, the thick of the bowl seems not thick enough to me. I get the sense that the straight stems of those letters overwhelm the bowl. The same might be said for o (though c and e look fine on that score). These observations are based on the bold, though it's worth considering to what extent they hold true for the light.

The offset of x looks too great, particularly in the lighter weight.

The z, particularly in bold, may be on the wrong side of your quirky/gimmicky distinction. :-)

William Berkson's picture

The bent tops on the mnpr seem to me kind of weak and indecisive compared to the strong serifs on the acij. In the black weight they are closer and more consistent, though I still find the taper a bit weak. Also some of the joins feel too pinched to me in the light weight.

Bendy's picture

I love the z! Overall I find it extremely pleasing to look at.
I agree with both William's points.

Yehan's picture

I like the "ear" on the G. It looks very nice big though. Do you have some smaller samples?

dhannah1000's picture

It's got a nice, airy feel. The curves and strokes are nearly perfect.

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks for the comments so far.

Now I've done the Caps and altered some of the lower case as I've gone along - strengthening the curves on the left of the m, n, p and r and some of the thin joins. I've also altered the z - sorry Bendy! but I thought it was just too much. I haven't altered the k and x because I like them as they are. I'm quite happy with the leg of the Black R but not too happy with the Light one. My wife doesn't like the top of the Zz's - does anybody else object to them? What about the M and M? I don't want to 'bland' it too much.

Nick Cooke

speter's picture

I have to agree with your wide on the Zz's, and in the light weight, the crossing on the tail of the Q looks like a mistake. I like the M, though in the bold, it may need to open up a bit.

eliason's picture

I like bold Q's tail a lot.

Light R's leg looks a little delicate? The asymmetrical Ms bug me but they also add character. My eye thinks bold K's top counter is too big compared to the bottom one.

I don't really like the top of the Zzs either, but your wife and I might more likely be sold if seeing it in set text - coming after the straight tops of vwxy the bump really sticks out.

In isolation, the many different angles of E (and to a lesser extent F and C) make them look almost cartoony or Expressionist (more obviously but not solely in the bold weight). Does this depart in character too much from the other letters?

This is impressive work.

Quincunx's picture

> My wife doesn’t like the top of the Zz’s - does anybody else object to them? What about the M and M? I don’t want to ’bland’ it too much.

I don't have a problem with the light lowercase z. The other ones could probably be toned down a bit. I have no problems with any of the M's and N's either. :)

Marcelo Soler's picture

I like bold Q’s tail a lot.
I agree with Steve and Craig that the tail of the Q is odd. It seems a bug it crosses into the counter. Perhaps it should need to start thinner and to be shorter a bit.

Light R’s leg looks a little delicate?
The rest is quite sharp and "agressive". In contrast, the R is too much tender.

The asymmetrical Ms bug me but they also add character.
It's a pretty design for me.

My eye think bold K’s top counter is too big compared to the bottom one.
Absolutely yes. And probably the thin stroke of the X, too. Look back at the Y for a guideline.

I don’t really like the top of the Zzs either.
To my eyes it's as an out-of-place ink drop.

In isolation, the many different angles of E (and to a lesser extent F and C) make them look almost cartoony or Expressionist.
Anyway, I guess they could work fine within a text.

All in all, a stunning realization.

MarS

William Berkson's picture

I wonder whether if you brought the swashy stems of the mnr above the overshoot height if it would help or hurt?

Marcelo Soler's picture

I believe you forgot the p, William, ain't it?
In my opinion it's quite balanced as is, though I wonder how it will look the tricky pair "rn" at small sizes.

MarS

Bendy's picture

The light Q jumped out at me too. I thought the tail should be shifted right a few notches.
The light d,f and q don't have the same stress as the other letters, with the upper left curves looking heavy in comparison to c and o. Overall the colour is pretty consistent though and I wonder how you've managed that.
I think the curved head serifs on p and r work better than those on m and n. Perhaps the m and n could have shorter curves there?
Z and z look a bit more brushy than the other letters. I find the bold lc slightly condensed.
Bold K is very interesting and I like all your Ww and Yy.

William Berkson's picture

Nice observation Bendy. I think the r curved serif works best of all of them. This may have to do with where the branch occurs, and how it grows. So changing that would be major in hmn--but it might lead to something good, I don't know.

speter's picture

I think Marcelo has caught something quite important that got past at least my eyes. That rn pair has the potential to cause trouble, so at least one has to kem it. Alternately, a redesigned beak to the r might alleviate problems.

eliason's picture

If the 'rn' is the issue, wouldn't that be a good place to try a contextual alternate rather than alter the letterforms for that one combination? (Or is 'rn' being pointed out as just an example of a broader concern?)

Nick Cooke's picture

More alterations: the top arms of Z and z, M is wider in Bold, both top counters in the K and k are now smaller than the ones below, the leg of the R in Thin is now thicker, the thins of the Bold l/c x are thinner, less weight on top left of d f and q, shorter ears on the r's and less angled. I don't think there will be a problem with rn combinations when seen in the context of whole words, which is how we read anyway - by recognizing whole words rather than groups of letters.

I have made the Bold characters b, d, g, h, m, n, o, p, q and u wider. I haven't altered the tail on the Q as that is part of the overall design which gives it character, I like that calligraphic element. If it's good enough for Robert Slimbach in Minion it's good enough for me.

Nick Cooke

Quincunx's picture

I think those Z/z's work better. They still have a certain calligraphic quality to them, without standing out too much. The tail of the Q doesn't bother me, although somehow it does look like the Q in the light weight is a bit heavier than the O? The 'f' also seems to be somewhat heavy in comparison to the rest of the lc alphabet. Could be me though... :)

The light y is sweet. Overall I like the general shapes of the light better than the bold, I think. But a regular weight interpolated from the two will probably be just right.

eliason's picture

Bold X and x lean right to my eye - I might try pulling the lower right leg of each rightward a touch.

I agree that the new Zz are working well; they now fit nicely with E and F.

William Berkson's picture

I find the bold delightful now, except for the sharp corner on the top right of the M, which is distracting to me.

On the light, I think the connecting bar on the Kk are too long, and something could be improved on the swash tops of the mnrp. Maybe just if they were cut off sooner, like the bold? Also would it be better on the light if the arches on the mnh were more like those on the bold?

To me the bold is so successful that the light might benefit from being made more like it.

Nick Cooke's picture

That could be a song title by The Fall.

Fixed! The main thing bugging me were the Kk's - you hit the nail on the head of the problem William. Also the Xx's

Nick Cooke

Nick Cooke's picture

I've since altered the Black - the thins are thinner now, especially the horizontal ones and V, W, Y and v, w, y. Cap C, G O and Q are wider too. Also shown is 50% interpolation. I think it looks pretty even now between the 3 weights.

Nick Cooke

Miss Tiffany's picture

Really liking the progress.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Wonderful is a pompous word, but I cannot remind another one that fits better.

MarS

Quincunx's picture

Nice to see an intermediate weight, although it's too heavy for a regular.
Maybe you can print a PDF from Fontlab sometime?

nepenthe's picture

Your work is, as Marcelo says, wonderful. However, I have two questions for you:

1. What use do you have in mind for this face? Is it mainly for display, or do you intend it for text as well?
2. Given that the r+n combination has been pointed out by several persons, and given that there are serifs on the terminals of a, c, and s, I'm curious why have you not added a serif on the r? Not only would it solve the legibility problem created by your curved stems, but it would be more consistent with the other letters. Is it because you'd rather not add one on the f? I always thought that, for consistencies sake, a, c, r, and s were supposed to more or less share terminals, the s being the most likely to receive separate treatment. Anyway, I'm just curious why you chose this finish the r differently than related letters in this case.

I really admire the strength of the black weight in particular. I think the range of weights relates extremely well and this will be a type family that could be used effectively in a variety of settings.

Nick Cooke's picture

I see this family as 5 or 6 weights. I should think that range would work for both text and display. I will do test setting in various sizes and maybe add serifs to the f and r if I think there is a legibility problem. I haven't added them so far because I like those characters as they are.

I may do a display/titling style with much thinner thins and serifs giving greater contrast.

Nick Cooke

Nick Cooke's picture

Have a look at this 7 page pdf for the range of weights in various sizes. The smallest size is 5pt and it's still very legible (to me wearing glasses). I don't see a legibility problem with the r and f styles. You could maybe see a problem if you were specifically trying to see one.

I think this family is extremely legible at all sizes. I'd track it out at very small sizes - the 5pt example is track 20 in InDesign, and I would minus track at sizes above 14pt.

Is seven weights a bit much? I think there is enough of a step between each weight to justify it. The new UltraBlack weight has been added since previous posts - I think that's as heavy as it could possibly be without losing integrity.

See pdf at beginning of post.

Nick Cooke

eliason's picture

This really looks great. I agree that the tiny sizes work well.

The word space looks too wide to me - that trips up the readability more than any glyph drawing issues.

I think the i- and j-dots could be bigger, particularly in the lighter weights.

'y' leans right in the lighter weights.

The seriffed end of 'c' (and both ends of 'C') could use a little more weight in the heavier weights.

Ultrablack's 'K' serifs close up too much.

Does the rightmost diagonal stroke of VWYvw get a little bit too spindly?

I might widen bdpq in ultrablack to relieve the counters a bit.

I think you could afford to take a touch of thickness off of the top of the bottom bowl of ultrablack 'g'. If you did, I would give it to the gap between the bowls, which is filling in as the point-size gets smaller.

On weights, I think the spectrum spanned by the four weights medium-demibold-bold-black could perfectly acceptably be spanned by three instead.

"Organon" sounds a bit like a twelve-step program! "My name is John and I'm an organization freak." ;-)

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks everybody for your insights and help.

Craig, you have some valid points there - I have implemented them. Certain characters are now wider. The family now has a very even colour and looks very legible. I have respaced it tighter and also resized it smaller.

The family is now complete in 6 weights instead of 7: Light, Regular, DemiBold, Bold, Black and UltraBlack.

The Organon is the name given by Aristotle's followers, the Peripatetics to the standard collection of his six works on logic. A fair amount of logic coupled with creativity goes into the creation of a typeface. And of course those six works of logic by Aristotle are essential reading - they're on my bedside table now.

But really I got the name from the first line of "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush.

Have a look at the new file at the top:

Organon 9:4:09.pdf

Nick Cooke

eliason's picture

I was surprised at the serifless oldstyle figures. Is that an innovation of yours, or is it a common practice that I've simply been blind to?

Miss Tiffany's picture

¡ Handpicked !

I'm still not sure about how thin it gets from curve to stem on the light d.
I think I'd want serifless lining figure too.
Will you include figures for small caps too? (Edit I think I see those.)

Pedro Leal's picture

Really loving the progress... great improvements overall!

Nick Cooke's picture

New file: Organon 29:4:09.pdf (see beginning of thread).

Since the last incarnation I realized I had been working on it for ages but the overshoots of the curved characters were too small!
So now they are all bigger and some are slightly wider than before. There are now Q and R's with swashes in both caps and small caps.

Nick Cooke

eliason's picture

I have to confess that the swash characters are not working for me at all. I'm not sure if there's something different in the drawing of them that would make them more fitting, or if they simply don't belong with a font of this character. I'm leaning toward the latter. Your standard Q points toward calligraphy in a very appealing way; the swash characters leap too far in that direction.

Just my $.02.

William Berkson's picture

Did you pull in a little the tops of the mnr stems? I think now it is more harmonious with the rest. It's lovely, but I admit I still have some reservations about the mnrp stem tops.

Nick Cooke's picture

If you see them for a while you get used to them William, and yes I did pull them in slightly.

Craig - the Q and R swashes are just a little add-on. Folks don't have to use 'em.

Ah well, you can’t please all the people all the time.

Nick Cooke

johnnydib's picture

Since you're adding alternates why not bring back the calligraphic lowercase z as an alternate in the regular and light weights.
I love the full cap small cap relationship.
I like the typeface and I like the name "Organon".

Nick Cooke's picture

It has now been renamed Organon Serif for this reason.

Nick Cooke

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