Initial digitisation

buddhaboy's picture

OK, after too long sketching and thinking about this, I finally got Karen Cheng's book "Designing Type" a while back, and then had a coronary when I realised exactly how involved it is to actually digitise letterforms. After working as a small-time designer for several years, I recently realised that I'm addicted to type - but didn't truly appreciate the craft of type design.

Anyway - long story short, I have spent the last few days in drawing some letterforms and already (having printed them out at various sizes) need some feedback (e.g. give it up, and stick to your day job Steve).

My intent is to produce a reasonably tight design, that would be useful for display, headings, and short runs of body text. I have always leaned towards sans type in my design work, so want to produce a serif that is clean, with serifs that are quite deep, yet slim, producing something that looks more geometrical without being distractingly so.

Thanks for any feedback.


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buddhaboy's picture

well, that's encouraging...

nina's picture

Steve, thanks for the bump, I was meaning to comment but forgot.
(Please remember the salt; you know I'm just a beginner at this.)

The serif shape on this reminds me a lot of an initial design one girl in my type design class proposed. The advice she was given by our teachers – which may also apply here – is that with small and thick serifs like that,* you can't go very small before they stop looking like serifs, and start looking like strangely clogging terminals (did you notice any of that when checking it at different sizes?). That shouldn't really be an issue for display though I guess.
* In fact, hers were even shorter and thicker IIRC, so there may not be too much of that danger here.

Also, I'm wondering if the "a" is wide compared to the "h" and "n"; it may help to do an "o" first to get a sound concept of the width proportions of the straighter and rounder forms. (And/or to look at manymany other fonts & compare how they handle the proportions.)

Please do not give up! I think it looks really interesting, and I'll be curious to see how this progresses.

speter's picture

I think this has potential, but we need to see more letters to offer any meaningful criticism.

buddhaboy's picture

Thanks peeps... Believe me, I'm having a real confidence crisis (must be turning 40 that does it)... Waiting with baited breath for the brickbats to come, so I was encouraged by your comments. I've been working on my handgloves today, but really want to get the e and s finished before I post it up again, as it looks a bit odd with the v on the end. The g was really fun!

Thanks for the comments on the widths. I was really trying to maintain colour, but the a was a bit wide, you're right. This has now been sorted, along with several other changes. When I mentioned to a friend today that I was really excited about designing a typeface, you can imagine the reaction. Hopefully this means I'm now a typophile :)

metalfoot's picture

Yeah, a few more characters will help to get the overall flavour a little better. Keep going (and I'll keep going, too!).

hrant's picture

My own main reservation would be that this looks too 70s.
I'm 40 too so I know where you're coming from. :-)

> had a coronary when I realised exactly how
> involved it is to actually digitise letterforms.

Tip of the iceberg, my man! :-)
Welcome to the club.


eliason's picture

The bowl of a looks so square compared to the humps of h and n - I'll be interested to see which direction the other letters go. It will also be worth watching if the one-sided serifs result in a nice tight interlock, or whether the interletter space becomes distracting.

buddhaboy's picture

I have to smile... it's like quicksand. The further you go into it, the more of a predicament you can find yourself in! I hope the 70's connotations aren't along the lines of Boogie Nights! I've been looking at this too long today, and have lost the plot a bit... I can see the s is too expanded, and the v trailing diagonal is too light, but thought I would just put it here for a while and see what I think about it in a day or so when my eyes have relaxed.

This is really a book cut I guess, but perhaps the shapes add more (too much?) personality at larger sizes.

At smaller sizes, the hump of the n, h etc should mellow out optically making it appear more square at text sizes, which is why I haven't added any traps in the arch/ascender joints.


jonathanhughes's picture

This is looking good. My comments are all on how the letters work with each other (i.e. some elements in some of the letters make them feel like they're not necessarily part of the same typeface).

• The "s" -- maybe the top and bottom should be rounded a little more. I think the s might be a little wide.

• the curves in the d where the bowl meets the stem seem out of place with the curves in the other letters

• the curve in the n is nicer than the curve in the h

buddhaboy's picture

Jonathan, thanks for your comments - really just confirming niggles that I already had. I have completely redrawn the bowl and counter of the d, as this was actually traced from my initial sketches, and somehow I just hadn't captured the curves the way I wanted. The trailing diagonal of the v has been beefed up, the s smoothed out, slimmed down, and reduced contrast, and the curves on the h bought into line with those on the n... Hopefully this is more pleasing overall - I wanted to get these characters more or less right before I compounded my problems by drawing the rest of the alphabet!

Bendy's picture

Hi Steve, this could turn out quite interesting I think, definitely worth keeping going with it. The g is fun.

I think there are elements slightly fighting each other. You have a soft round terminal on the tail of the g, but square ones on e and s. Your h and n are quite round on the arch, but the a seems a bit flattened off. Once you decide which parts to harmonise, drawing the other letters should be a bit easier. I wonder if you might make the horizontal serifs a little shallower? I think the thin stroke on v is still too thin, next to that o. s might be better with the northwestern curve taken in a bit. g might be a bit light?

Hope that's a bit helpful :)

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