NS Gothic is back

blank's picture

• This face is based on painted square caps found in Washington, DC.
• The masters in the PDF are weights 100 and 1000.
• I don’t plan on releasing as many weights as appear in the PDF, these are faces I’m comparing to decide what weights to use.
• 1100 is an extrapolation. I’m planning to manually thicken it to having almost no counters and then use the result to create one or two superheavy weights between 1000 and itself.
• I’m not sure if the lightest weights are even worth using. If you think they’re horrible and I should just focus on the big end, let me know.
• Feedback on the figures would be especially appreciated, as I know it’s one of my weakest areas.

NSG_Typo_One.pdf101.78 KB
NewGuy's picture

Did you say this is an "original font release"?

First you released an unnecessary revival of Eagle when there is a very good existing version of the face:

What is with you and Font Bureau? And which of their faces are you going to redesign next?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

This is very different from Clicker, imo.

NewGuy's picture

No lowercase. Yes, it's completely different. Just like Recovery. No lowercase.

blank's picture


I’ve never seen Clicker before. And there’s no small number of differences between the two. And my Eagle revival was based on the ATF metal version, not FB Eagle. The only connection between myself and the Font Bureau crew is that we share an affection for twentieth-century American letters. And Font Bureau is hardly the only foundry to release types in this mode; there are at least three other revivals of Eagle.

NewGuy's picture

Well, now that you have seen Clicker will you re-think your NS Gothic? Also, you seem to acknowledge your debt to United; does this not make you question whether publishing NS Gothic is such an "original" and professional move?

Chris Keegan's picture

Looks promising. I'm not sure about the no lowercase idea though. New Guy, if you think this looks like a rip-off of Clicker your eyes haven't developed enough. Type design is all about the details, if you can't spot them it's your fault.

blank's picture

Well, now that you have seen Clicker will you re-think your NS Gothic?

No, because there are also similarities to the majuscules of Eurostile, City, Agency, Univers, Franklin Gothic, Museo and other fonts that I referenced when working on this one. As for United, what, nobody else ever gets to publish an all caps face in multiple weights just because someone else did? Should everybody stop drawing multi-weight sans families because of Univers? Should the development of serif families have stopped in the 1930s when ATF and Linotype were done expanding Cheltenham?

When I said this was an original I design, I meant that I sat down and designed all the characters myself without basing the design on an existing face. I even worked without a reference photo of the painted lettering that gave me the idea. And I think that is original. No it isn’t a paradigm shift or some unprecedented idea like Frutiger was, but I’m not claiming it is.

nina's picture

Maybe I have tomatoes stuck on my eyes (German expression) but hello, NewGuy, I think you owe James an apology. If you can't see the differences between Clicker and NS Gothic beyond the lack of a lowercase in the latter, you should go and have a look at the over-populated field of squarish sansserifs where you'll find tons of fonts where you'll have look way closer than here to find differences. That'll train your eyes, too.

NewGuy's picture

With an "over-populated field of squarish sansserifs" do we really need another?

nina's picture

Repost somewhere else? I was starting to take notes and would have loved to comment. For the record, I for one do think it looks interesting, and promising. Don't let this one guy spoil it for you.

eliason's picture

Back to the font design...

• I’m not sure that 100 really represents a good starting point. Should this face start at a heavier weight?

Maybe so - at the lightest weight the change in weight that happens on the strokes with a curved outside contour and a straight counter (e.g.. top/bottom of the round letters) is a little distracting, though perhaps with a touch less weight and a touch less overshoot they might work. But the blockiness really shows well in the thicker cuts.

• I am especially interested in knowing what people think of the figures and the letter B

The figures, again, work better as the weight gets heavier, in general. If you didn't already, I might try reversing the straights/curves on the bowls of 3 and 5 to see how that looks (so the curve is on the lower side and the bottom is flat, compare P). A 2 that looks more like a backwards S might be worth trying, too. My eye kind of wants an upper serif on 3 (compare 2 or C) to fill in that counter space (same on 7 would be a possibility).

4's diagonal looks slight to me throughout. I like 6 and 9 in the heavy weights a lot.

B seems out of character - that notch seems like it's from another font (true of & too), and I expect the counters to have a curved side like PR. I'd look for another solution.

B also seems very close to 8, and D to O, but I can see the argument that in a display face like this context will usually sort out those confusions.

§ is a nice solution; £ needs work.

Re: lowercase, I can see the blockiness of this arguing for a caps-only font. But I can also see the quasi-hexagonal foundation of it fitting lowercase letterforms well (think of fraktur minuscules).

eliason's picture

What Nina said! Bring it back!

Miss Tiffany's picture

James (newguy), I think you could have phrased your critique differently. Or you could have simply followed the old "if you don't have anything nice to say..." Either way, I agree that you owe James an apology.

bemerx25's picture

A bit sour there NewGuy and not very "helpful" in any sense of the word. Puckett, please bring it back.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

?!¿¡ need a bit more space between shapes.

{} are counter-intuitive. No trace of the treatment you're giving the rest.

§ is very cool, but not very evident.

C might benefit from a smaller counter opening.

Jos Buivenga's picture

Shame I missed out on this one. Please put 'r back online...

Chris Keegan's picture

With an “over-populated field of squarish sansserifs” do we really need another?

Yes! I don't agree there's an over-population, but I happen to really like this "genre" of type design. I think we need more of all kinds of type, and I think it's presumptuous of anyone to suggest what should or shouldn't be designed. The more I look at type, the more I can appreciate the subtleties that go into each design to truly make it unique.

nina's picture

Apologies: Simply bad wording on my part (about the over-populated field).
I agree with everything Chris said.

Miss Tiffany's picture


Note: James has put his work back up for critique. We've already heard from the peanut gallery so let's move forward.

chrisherron's picture

Interesting design. With color and imagery, a graphic designer could really do a lot with this.

This is a bit nitpicky, but the characters with curves on the top and bottom (S, O, C) look a little tall to my eye (they might need more optical compensation?).

nina's picture

Great to see this back online!
Some comments (please have lots of salt ready):

I very much like the basic idea and the consistent way you've thought it through. This has a bit of a Constructivist feel (or maybe I'm imagining things :-) ). I can see it working very well on posters and flyers, or maybe magazine headlines.

I agree this gets really strong the bolder it gets, but I can see the usefulness of lighter ones as well. I wouldn't chuck out that 100 just yet.

The glyphs with the curved tops & bottoms are startling me slightly as well. Do they look tall? The "C" definitely seems larger than the "D". Maybe those could do with a bit less overshoot?

You asked about the "B", and in fact it was the first thing that caught my eye. I was wondering why it didn't have the curves that "S" has. I see you did the same thing in the "8" and the ampersands, but I agree with Craig that it looks a bit like it'd belong to another font.

Speaking of curves & angles, I was also wondering about the notch on the right side of the "3" – that looks *extremely* angular compared to say the "6" and "2".
On the other hand, I'm wondering if the curve on the bottom of the "2" may be too soft.

The "J" looks a bit clunky.

I love the "K"!

Is the "M" a bit too heavy?

The tail of the "Q" looks a bit like it's embarrassed to be there :-) (though less so in the bolder weights). It could be bolder in my eyes – not bolder as in heavier, but as in, more daring. Also, did you try a (more) horizontal terminal on that?

The "W" looks a bit uncomfortable in the heaviest weight. The bottom looks quite tapered, but the apex seems very dark. Can you still make it wider or would that be too much?

I think the second ampersand fits better with the font – the first one looks a bit forced to me, and produces that awkward little corner on the inside.
How about making the top of the second ampersand curved?

You might try an Euro sign with just one crossbar. That's not standard / intended, but I believe it can read quite well, and would let you keep a bold weight on the crossbar. (I wouldn't know if that works for the Yen, too, though.)

Thanks for sharing this, James. I'm looking forward to seeing it progress. It does look yummy. :-)

William Berkson's picture

For me this has a lot of problems.

First, I don't see a coherent design. The DRP don't seem to have a reason to be flat on top and round on the side when the others are sort of the other way around. I say sort of because the verticals on the DRP are rounded inside and out, whereas the horizontals on the OSCG are round outside and straight inside. And the B is neither here nor there.

Second, the weights of the horizontal strokes on the OSCG seem to be clunky compared to the verticals that are straight on both sides. I don't know if this can be resolved by keeping the shapes and changing the weights, because the strokes are so different.

Maybe you can make it work if you take the idea of the DRP and make the others consistent with it.

But in any case, I think this design would greatly benefit from being reworked to be more coherent.

NewGuy's picture

"NS Gothic is back" and it still hasn't grown a reason for being.

Now before you all get back on the hating bandwagon, I am just trying to ask the "peanut gallery" to consider this design as a design, and to discuss it not just formally but also conceptually. If the hundreds of "type designers" who "publish" work through MyFonts and other vanity presses would just consider why they are making what they are making, we could be experiencing a golden age of type. A review of this page -- http://new.myfonts.com/whatsnew/ -- is close to heartbreaking to a true typophile.

NS Gothic, I maintain, looks like so much of the stuff in the “over-populated field of squarish sansserifs” that its value to the graphic design community is nil, so talk of its publication is folly. By all means, complete the font -- use it as an exercise -- but why does every little half-formed idea and rough sketch have to be published?

paragraph's picture

So you would like to censor it and stop it from hatching?
The market can sort the ‘whatsnew’ page out, as it does every day.

Shortly, one of my own half-assed efforts will hit the page, and I truly hope it breaks your true typophile heart.

eliason's picture

why does every little half-formed idea and rough sketch have to be published?

NewGuy, what are you talking about?! This is a critique board. This is exactly where I'd expect to find half-formed ideas and rough sketches! And *constructive* criticism geared to helping the designer improve them.

I wouldn't even demand that your comments here be "nice", but if they're not both respectful and constructive, it really sours the thread.

jmickel's picture

New Guy, have you ever designed a font? Or are you just an armchair elitist 'type genius'?

Drop the attitude. It's lame.

boardman's picture

While one look at the MyFonts What's New Page is a bit heartbreaking (as it seems more amateur submissions get through every day), it would be a crime if folks on this board felt they'd be flamed for posting their ideas.

James, there are a lot of nice elements here. Congrats. I believe that the lightest weights aren't there yet, but the heaviest ones show promise.

paragraph's picture

we could be experiencing a golden age of type

We are experiencing it, in my opinion. It’s faster and easier than ever before to design a typeface. No more labouring in isolation over decades. For each great new typeface, there are many less great: that’s how Golden Ages operate.

ebensorkin's picture

New Guy - we learn by "failing". Every design you make is likely to be something you later regret in some way or even completely simply because you learn more and have better insight. Without pretending to judge James' design in that this context I do think it is worth asking if your design adds something or is just a "me too" design. But not necessarily too early in the process. You have to have room to see where something ends up going. Let it run a little.

James - my take is that optically speaking if the curved forms begin their curves closer to the interior of the letters they will "jump about" less. Some of that jumpiness it their charm really so you would have to make a choice. But if you feel it's too much that might be one way to turn down the effect.

What about letting the bottom bowl of the B be larger? I think a boxier top to the A will integrate with the others better. V too. Wider forms for split letters like s B R etc might work better too. Other letters too. If C is reference ( just for the sake of arguement ) Look at the K It might be the same width or wider but it feels narrower. So I would expand it's width a little.

I don't know if this stuff will work but it might be worth a go.

ebensorkin's picture

Would you post/link to some images of your source/inspiration? I would love to see them.

eliason's picture

I would add S to the list of letters to consider widening.

blank's picture

Eben, I’ll try to get a shot but it’s probably a lost cause. It’s black-on-gray, twelve feet up in a dark corner of a room that’s not well lit.

What does everybody think about this design having softly rounded corners all around? I think that it could soften up the places where the curves hit hard edges and makes the whole thing feel less distracted and a pleasant in that worn out wood type kind of way. Here’s a quick sample from the RoundingUFO demo:

eliason's picture

Would it be crazy to try rounding the inside corners and leaving the outside corners sharp? Would make them as if the counters were carved with a router (speaking of wood).

blank's picture

Good point, Craig. I’ll have to think about how to make it work on the diagonal letters, and it gets wonky on E and F, but I’m pretty sure it could work.

Chris Keegan's picture

I like the minimally rounded corners, it really softens it up in a nice way. As an alternative to what Craig said - which is a good idea - inner: sharp, outer: rounded might work as well...

poms's picture

You won't name this face "NS Gothic", will you?! As a german, i've read "NS Gothic is back" as "Die National-Sozialistische Gotische kommt zurück" or s.th. like that. Might be personal paranoia only …

dezcom's picture

There is a major struggle that comes with bolder weights of low contrast sans serifs. Take a look at your first line and the word "INVISIBLE" and you will see Shilow, The Marne, and Normandy's blood-stained battlefields. compare the N, B, S, V, E, & L. There is precious little room to accomodate the color problems with the stroke weight.
The N is too wide to feel at home with the rest but narrowing it brings the typical angle impingement of the diagonal. You will need some creative trickery to make a family resemblance out of that combination. Compare the crotch of the V with the N and see how they need to relate more. You solved the V by tapering the diagonals but this fights the monoline feel of the rest. The S and B are quite bolder than the rest and the horizontals on the E make for a tough sell next to the B perhaps the E then is too wide. I have done battle in this genre several times but still can't tell you an easy fix. I can only say that you have to cheat on stroke widths and sidebearings to get a happy marriage going.
Keep at it, you may or may not find a good solution but whatever happens, you will certainly learn a great deal about type design in the process.


Ray Larabie's picture

I think it's done. It's a titling face so the color is as even as it would ever need to be. To me, it has a 20th Century signpainter look so how about a slightly casual companion face? Make the ends, not perfectly flush. Not in a "hey I'm sloppy" kind of way but more like something that was painted very carefully by hand. Try to visualize a baseball stadium in the 1940s with a sign painted like this, letters taller then you are on the outfield fence. On the other hand, maybe the current version is fine the way it is in that context. Only one way to find out: Photoshop, some painty textures and a public domain picture of a baseball stadium or a goat. 720X360 (wink wink)

cschroeppel's picture

I had the same thought as poms before reading this thread, the name will probably cause trouble or at least make people in Germany wary of using the font.

1985's picture

James, what is the 'RoundingUFO demo' you mentioned?

Sye's picture

james, i love it. i really like the idea of rounding the corners.

i love the 3.

in regard to weights, as a graphic designer i like having options and if you can make some fo the lighter weights work it would be very handy... especailly for things like logo's etc. maybe a superthin/hairline would work?

anyway, the heavy weights are grey and with all the feedback above to consider i think this could be a great design.

William Berkson's picture

I think the rounding helped a lot. I now can see why this interested you. I still think there is a lot to do to make it more unified, but if you pull it off it will be interesting and distinctive.

blank's picture

You won’t name this face “NS Gothic”, will you?!

No, that’s just what I’m calling it until I finish it. The original painted letters read “NO SMOKING BY ORDER OF DC FIRE MARSHALL”, so I started calling it “No Smoking” and then shortened it.

I think it’s done.

Thanks for the advice, Ray. You’ve really nailed what I’m working toward; a deliberately imperfect design, and sometimes it’s hard to let go and not fight for the total normalization of features that often comes with digital type design.

James, what is the ’RoundingUFO demo’ you mentioned?

RoundingUFO is an incredible tool that was designed to create to facilitate the design of Unit Rounded. It can round corners, bevel corners, or add inktraps to an entire font. And it’s only €100. I haven’t bought the full-version yet, but I’m already planning a design that will utilize it. http://roundingufo.typemytype.com/

maybe a superthin/hairline would work?

This is as light as the font can go. If it gets any lighter the relationship between the corners and curves in letters like O goes from being a pleasant quirk to really distracting. I can fix it by curving the interior, but that loses the one feature that really justifies the font (at least in my mind.).

1985's picture

Amazing, many thanks. I take it is fairly effective? How much cleaning up do you have to do?

Sye's picture

@james - hmmm good point... i guess i was thinking of Stag Thin and how it retained it quirks even at a very thin weight.

as i mentioned, i love the heavy weights and they would be the ones i would use the most.

Sye's picture

oh and can i humbly request you create a few alternate Q's and an alternate M, one with angled (i can't think of the correct term...) legs(?) that match the angle of the A, V and W so if i had words like WAVE or MAW or VAMPIRE the angles would fit together...

i like alternates...

blank's picture

@andrew: I don’t really know what the output is like, I’m using the demo and it doesn’t save files.

@simon: I’ll look at some alternates.

microspective's picture

Hey James,

This is really great. I'm totally into the slightly rounded corners (inside and out).

Glad to see you're pursuing this despite the comments above. Unfriendly, nonconstructive critique offers no integrity, thus can be ignored.

I look forward to seeing the completed version.

rcc's picture

For whatever it's worth — which conceivably is nothing at all — I like it and hope to see a completed version soon.

Quincunx's picture

I like it, but I do wonder though, what a lowercase would look like for this.
Have you considered trying some lowercase characters? Even if it's just for fun?

Maybe it works, and I think it would be an even more useful typeface.

Syndicate content Syndicate content