Preventing crashes, designing words

nina's picture

Are there any fonts that use contextual alternates with chopped-off serifs, like the ones below, to prevent crashes and/or enhance "word images", and do you think it makes sense?

I'm doing something similar to my f + ascender combinations, but that seems more conventional than the r + x-line-serif combinations, at least I've seen it done before (and also discussed it with a couple of people), so I'm less uncertain about those.

I'm pretty excited about these, but would love some second eyes/opinions before I take this too far (it obviously is a pretty expandable concept :-) ).

Dunno – are these too "designy"? (Maybe specifically the "rt"?)

Oh, and please excuse the still somewhat wobbly spacing, I'm in the middle of fixing it.

nina's picture

Oh my, this is another one of those infinite questions?! Aaarg, type design… ;-)

"You pass the test if you read through it without stopping to bitch at yourself for the pattern"
This sounds good, Chris. Reminds me that I was meaning to put this away for a moment, anyway. :-)

William Berkson's picture

>Is it not directly opposed to spottiness?

Yes, that's the general concept.

I don't think there is a strict definition. I think it has to do with *apparently* even density and rhythm, but no one has given a scientific definition.

It's been more like Justice Potter Stewart's the famous definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it" :)

My own way of testing for it is like Chris's, put your letters in words, and see if they hold together and read well. When in doubt, change something and see if it helps.

For rvwy, etc, it is always a compromise between the letter looking more like itself and having a bigger hole or gap, so you decide what you like. I think with the caps, you go more with the letter looking like itself. With lower case, since most of it works to get even color, there's often more "cheating" by pulling in serifs, narrowing angles, tapering, etc.

Peter Enneson can actually read those crazy Fourier transform diagrams, and explained them to me once. It actually all made sense, but I don't think I could repeat it. But in any case all it tells you is that there is a rough convergence around certain frequencies, basically, twice the frequency of the width of an n. So even though 'nina' has one narrow letter, the two stems of the n, the i and the blacks of the two sides of the "a" cluster around the one frequency, with similar density.

dezcom's picture

"this is another one of those infinite questions?! Aaarg, type design…"

Yes, Grasshopper :-)


nina's picture

Oh, Fourier transforms correspond to those frequency analysis things?! I didn't realize that was the same / connected. Interesting. I don't really understand either of those yet, but I think I do see that it's about having sort of a consistent pattern of verticals going, yes?
(To be balanced against not wanting picket-fence monotony either I presume…)

"But if you don’t get *relatively* even color the “word image” or “bouma” doesn’t come together properly"
Hmm, but there's the "cohesion" of boumas, and then there's their unambiguousness (if that's a word)? – so basically, what you said about "a compromise between the letter looking more like itself and having a bigger hole or gap". In a way, trying to reconcile decipherability of important letter features (such as in this case the beak of the "r") and "even color" is what I was trying to achieve with the substitutions in question.
Obviously, the execution hasn't been very good/informed so far, but the more I think about it, the more I think the concept in itself is valid (or at least interesting enough to keep trying).


Chris: grasshopper? :)

dezcom's picture



nina's picture

I'll train my ear. ;-)

hrant's picture

I'll try to find the time to read the
entire thread, but in the meantime:

Randy: Where are you now with your semi-serif work?


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