Ambicase Modern

eliason's picture

Inspired by the funky Romanian 'A's of the images posted by Florinf (for example here), I have begun to develop a single-case font. Where uppercase and lowercase conventional forms of a given letter differ, I've tried to make hybrid letters that borrow from both forms.

The results are far from graceful, but interesting and more readable than I expected. Does this have any potential?

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ambicasespecimen.pdf425.73 KB
ambicasespecimen9july.pdf433.44 KB
ambicasespecimen18july.pdf437.84 KB
ambicasespecimen1september.pdf449.61 KB
ambicasespecimen3september.pdf453.36 KB
ambicasespecimen13september.pdf464.87 KB
ambicasespecimen12january.pdf89.68 KB
ambicasespecimen14january.pdf92.59 KB
ambicasespecimen23january.pdf106.69 KB
ambicasespecimen4february.pdf121.29 KB
ambicasethicknesstest.pdf31.19 KB
ambicasespecimen11april.pdf226.54 KB
esandts.pdf20.2 KB
ambicasespecimen20July.pdf253.61 KB
nina's picture

This latest "N" reads like a clumsy "W" to me (think blackletter).

But: The bottom-most one in your 26.Aug.2009 8.22am post is exciting!!
The way the bottom-right corner "hints" at the diagonal (which actually isn't there) is very reminiscent of the top of your "A", where that same effect is *very* successful. It needs some fiddling but I think the general idea might be "it".

FWIW I still prefer Eszett #3, but I'm not sure. They're all looking like healthy almost-caps, not as remixed as the rest of your glyphs… but I'm being picky.

riccard0's picture

These Ns don’t seem to work to me. I would stick with the current one.

eliason's picture

Here's the image from the 12:14 post, in case it's not coming though for you (it isn't for me):

Bendy's picture

>The bottom-most one in your 26.Aug.2009 8.22am post is exciting!!

I agree with Nina, you're onto a fantastic idea with these phantom hairlines! That's totally original and seems to get more interesting the more you look at it.

BTW I found this: Prototype, a font that combines upper with lower case and sans serif with serif features. I think your Ambicase is looking like it'll be much much more interesting but it may be a point of reference. Check the numerals...I don't think they succeed.

eliason's picture

Thanks for the link, Ben. I guess this is not a first, but I have hopes that it will be "best of class".

How about this for an N?

Bendy's picture

I think it's seriously worth considering different glyphs for upper and lowercase. You've come up with a lot of different ideas for lots of the letters and I'd like to see the E with and without the bulge and these two Ns as well.

>I have hopes that it will be “best of class”
It is already!

anhng's picture

The new n, kinna remid me of the devil tail thingy.

riccard0's picture

N #5: the stem and the hook aren't "glued" together.

Bendy's picture

>The new n, kinna remid me of the devil tail thingy.

This font would be perfect for Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which plays with ambigrams.

Sindre's picture

Wow! That third 8.22 "N" is delicious! (Though it looks like the "arrow tip" needs to point downward a further few units.) I think the last one suffers from a slight structural problem, that join doesn't quite work for me.

Ben's uc/lc idea is a good one, and I would even consider contextual or stylistic alternates. You have far too many great variants for a pure unicase.

Sindre's picture

By the way, may I ask how you generate all your glyph variant images? Do you paste to Illustrator? If so, how do you line up and space the glyphs?

eliason's picture

By the way, may I ask how you generate all your glyph variant images?

Everything is in FontLab. Got some tips from this thread I started a while back. I copy and paste a glyph onto itself and let FLab generate a replacement, which I then edit. Then I choose all the variants I want in the sample in the Font window and open a metrics window. Then I add all the other characters for context, copying and pasting the variants as needed for multiple appearances. Make sure the metrics window is on preview mode, then take a screenshot.

(For the screenshot, I use Quicksilver plugins to quickly capture a region of the screen, convert it to .gif, and rename it suitably.)

Sindre's picture

Thanks a lot! That's really valuable information. I've been generating new font versions all the time, and that's boring and time consuming.

Closer to topic: That excellent half-arrow "n" half-serif really rocks! I hope to see it on more glyphs, if you choose to use it.

Now I know what your typeface reminds me of! Pierre Didot's wonderfully weird 1819 typeface!

These are glyphs from a revival by Optimo, I hope it's okay showing this image from their online typetester here.

eliason's picture

Aw, I thought I was onto something with that lachrymal experiment.
Okay, here's variations on the barbed N without the funky intersection.
0 = current
6 = pi-shaped one from 8.22 post, but with point lowered.
7 = same, with lowercase top
8 = same, with northeast detail to suggest the diagonal.

I think 8 works pretty well.

Sindre's picture

Oh boy, I think they're all great. Yes, 8 is really good, but then you'd have to repeat that NW notch in other glyphs, I think. 6 is way cool too, but I think my vote goes to 8. But then 0 really should be an OpenType option.

riccard0's picture

Don’t know why, but those down-pointing barbs continue to remind me of this:

Bendy's picture

What is that?

riccard0's picture

What is that?

:-D “That” is the graciously downward pointing foot of a classical dancer…
But, yes, I think that I could have made my point with the same words (albeit really too rudely).

eliason's picture

X was the sole pristine letterform left, so I decided to play with it as well!

riccard0's picture

Nice movement, still a bit unbalanced.

Sindre's picture

Cool shape! I think the balls should be larger. The glyph is a little left-leaning, and needs some more support. Perhaps the vertical is a little heavy, too?

X was the sole pristine letterform left [...]

Oh really? I think I see an unadorned "O" up there ...

eliason's picture

Rebalanced X (#2):


Oh really? I think I see an unadorned “O” up there ...

(But seriously, would an O like this be too whimsical, or workable?)

Bendy's picture

I like it. You could have it as an alt.

I'd really like to see an ambigram of the word 'ambicase' made with this font. Who could do that?

Sindre's picture

"X" no. 2 is really well balanced, but the thick vertical looks perhaps slightly broken -- though this is hard to judge at this resolution, it may be that some wrong pixels makes the join look a little cluttered.

Great comeback with the "O"! I would,'t use it as the main O, though.

riccard0's picture

As already was said, beautiful but a bit excessive O.
As for the X, have you tried reducing the curve of the light stroke (something more along the V or K, perhaps)?

eliason's picture

How about these for an O?

eliason's picture

As for the X, have you tried reducing the curve of the light stroke (something more along the V or K, perhaps)?

Here's a couple of attempts (3 & 4). Only difference between them is 4 is soft rather than cornered on the sides of the intersection.

riccard0's picture

Maybe I’m too conservative, but I would keep the O unchanged. As something plain that quietly balance and sustain the general decorativeness of the typeface.
As for the X, I like these new attempts better.

eliason's picture

Ambicase Modern phase II has commenced. Check out the last two pages of the new pdf attached to the top post.

Having fun with my first swashes. I've invented initial and final swash forms for A-Z, as well as medial (?) forms for CDQRS. I have no confidence about what I'm doing here - I think the scale of the swashes may be way off, and I think the amount of tension in the curves varies too much. So what, if anything, do you think is working here, and how might I improve what isn't? As always, brutal honesty welcomed.

Sindre's picture

Wow, this is impressive. Those swashes are really something! I have only had time for a very quick glance now, as I unfortunately very soon have to leave the house (and my laptop) for the remains of the day. However, I promise you a thorough critique in the morning. Now I just want to say that I, a connoisseur of "boring", conservative type, and who normally have no interest of swashy display type at all, think this is bloody brilliant!

Sindre's picture

OK. Here are my thoughts on each glyph. (I'm sorry I can't give you much advice on the swashes.)

A: The outer bowl curve now ends in a short straight line at the bottom. Could it perhaps continue its arch upwards instead? That would also take some strain off the whole curve.

Left side of foot serif is now softened where it meets the stem, right side is not.

B: I still think it's a little tight at the bottom. Pulling the part of the stem under the bowl join a few units to the left would open it up.

C: Just right.

D: Slight bumpiness too the inside of the swashy curve, but that might not matter.

E: A little abrupt transition from stem to curve on the outer side?

Also, is the difference between top left serif height and "roof thickness" of D and E (and bottom of L) a little too great?

F: Absolutely brilliant.

G: Ditto.

H: Perhaps the crossbar bend should be a little smoother.

IJK: Great.

L: Se note concerning D and E.

Lslash: To thin and boring slash.

M: Top of thin vertical a little bumpy on the inside.

N: Brilliant, but perhaps too alone? Could that top left notch be repeated at the bottom of B and U and the top of P, perhaps?

O: Booooring! ;-)

OE: Too black at the top, I think.

P: Se N note.

QRS: All beauties.

Eszett: I still prefer the foot serifed version, but this one is also good.

T: Slightly stiff bend on the hook?

U: See N note.

VWXYZ: Just right. Have you considered slanting both of Z's serifs?

Great pilcrow and section mark! Lovely!

Copyright, Trademark, number sign and Registered look a little light.

Cent bar looks unconvincing.

I think 4 is too black.

Swashes are all great, perhaps except initial S, its curves looks a little awkward. I'm mightily impressed, I couldn't draw a swash to save my life, I think. (I've never tried.)

All in all, wonderful work! Keep it up! I want to see this released!

eliason's picture

Thanks Sindre so much. I'll do some revising along those lines.
In the meantime here are some swash redraws.


New here are initial M, S, and B, medial Q, and terminal Z.
I like the idea of that B though I'm not sure it's working yet.

riccard0's picture

I second Satyagraha on the ß (my favourite remains #1 from the 25 Aug. post). And I too am not a big fan of the N…
I like § very much!

As for the swashes:
A - feels a little squeezed. You could enlarge the loop under the baseline in order to smooth the curve.
B - the PDF one is a bit plain. The new one is wonderful! (not sure about the upper terminal of the stem)
E (and others) - I like the curl very much, but would make it just a little bigger.
G (and others) - Doesn’t seem to “flow” to me.
H (terminal) - I would rather go extending the crossbar.
L and Z - you could dare more.
O - maybe you could try a curly one as medial.
Q - the new one seems to me a step in the right direction.
X - I can clearly see a medial which extends the left-to-right stroke.

nina's picture

Oh wow Craig's going wild. :-D
I'm not generally a swash kid, but these swashes are awesome! Is it just me, or does the whole thing get a nice art nouveau flavor (but very current/"new" all the same)?

Some spontaneous comments on the swashes, but bear in mind this is very uneducated opinion.

The "B" in your most recent post is awesome. It might be interesting to experiment in that direction more – where the distinction between what's letterform and what's swash becomes blurred. Maybe.

The way the top-left swash on your "Z" extends from the straight horizontal looks a bit stiff to me. Can you wave/curve that more maybe?
(Same applies in milder forms to "V" and "X".)

I agree the one on the "G" doesn't flow (I see you have the same squiggle on the "Y", "W", "V", and "Q" too). I think generally it might be too small/thin, but the one on the "G" also looks like the curve is too flat/squished a bit. Looks a bit embarrassed to be there. ;-)

I'll have to look at the rest more in-depth. Just needed to say this is exciting!

eliason's picture

Great input, thanks to all. Lots to work with! Good changes underway and I hope to post an update when they're complete.

eliason's picture

A: The outer bowl curve now ends in a short straight line at the bottom. Could it perhaps continue its arch upwards instead? That would also take some strain off the whole curve.

Like this?


Before the idea was that the curve ends where and how the serif on a capital A would, but now that I see this I don't think there's much reason to hold on fast to that conceit.

Left side of foot serif is now softened where it meets the stem, right side is not.
Yeah, I rather arbitrarily decided to leave obtuse angles as corners, to soften right angles, and to trap acute angles. Should I put corners on everything?

Lslash: To thin and boring slash.
How do I make a slash not boring?! :-)

N: Brilliant, but perhaps too alone? Could that top left notch be repeated at the bottom of B and U and the top of P, perhaps?

Here again we run into my weddedness to concept - the angle there is supposed to suggest the diagonal of a cap N, so (in origin anyway) it isn't analogous to those other letters. Maybe that's stubborn of me (or I'm putting to much faith in the ability of that line to suggest the cap form?)

Eszett: I still prefer the foot serifed version, but this one is also good.
Okay, I'll make the curly one a swash letter!

Have you considered slanting both of Z’s serifs?
I thought giving different treatment to the terminals would help it fit in with the funky ambivalent character of the other letters.

I’m mightily impressed, I couldn’t draw a swash to save my life, I think. (I’ve never tried.)

Try it, it's more fun that I thought it'd be.

New pdf up top shows a few more glyphs but mostly a lot of work on the swashes - nearly every one has been changed or adjusted.
- Which forms of the swashes work and which don't now?
- There are many different weights here which should be made more uniform - on which letters are the weights of the swash strokes and terminals most satisfying?

Thanks again for your careful suggestions, Sindre, Riccardo, and Nina. I've agreed with and incorporated nearly all of them.

Sindre's picture

Man, this is really getting seriously nice. All your improvements are ... improvements. New "A" is even more delicious.

The only thing I notice now, is that the tittles of "I" and "J" perhaps should go a little to the right. Or perhaps that's just a convention, I don't know.

And that Eth/Dcroat doesn't work for me, I thought it was some kind of measurement symbol first. (I do read some Old Norse, so I'm quite familiar with that glyph. But perhaps you should ask someone from Iceland or the Færoese Islands. And don't forget the thorn, by the way. Just move the bowl of "P" downward, and make it a little flatter, but as wide.)

Should I put corners on everything?

I don't think it matters much. I've softened every corner on Mondegreen, even the insides of ink traps, and I'm starting to think I've done a lot of work nobody will ever notice. Leave the decision till the final polish.

Try it, it’s more fun that I thought it’d be.

I will, but I don't think it'll be any good. While I'm decent at lettering with pen and ink, my manual swashes really suck. But I'm seriously considering, inspired by your effort, giving Mondegreen Italic some swashy cap alternates.

I'm afraid I again must refrain from commenting on your new swashes, I think they all look brilliant, perhaps with the exeption of the leftover "O". Its different weight from the other swashes makes it stick out, I think.

eliason's picture

I'll have to keep working on the Eth.
Here are some updates - all new or revised glyphs except the figures.


'I' has joined the list of swashed medial forms.
I tried to set up an OpenType ignore rule so that the medial letters with long legs (KQRX) use their regular forms when preceding a letter with a crashing descender, but I got errors I couldn't debug... maybe the Build forum can help.

eliason's picture

Which Z.fina is better (difference is in the bottom of the diagonal stroke)?

eliason's picture

And more revised swashes - all of these initial and final letters are reworked, as well as the interior N and L.

eliason's picture

Or here's a little different treatment for U.fina, patterned after M.init

eliason's picture

And here's an E.init that doesn't descend (with the middle reworked a bit, too). And a new L.init.

Special-K's picture

The "texture" of the this font remindes me somewhat of Plantagenet Cherokee:

eliason's picture

Interesting - I can see the resemblance (but that's certainly not a model I had in mind consciously).
That's probably why somebody (in a comment a month ago) thought to suggest I could adapt it to Cherokee.

eliason's picture

Or maybe a simpler E.init is better.

eliason's picture

New pdf up top - again, most changes are refinements to the swashes.

I'm not happy with any of the swash Ls. Pretty unsure about the terminal N swash too. I loved my medial swash Q's tail at first, but now I'm wondering if it's working.

Happy to say I solved the opentype debugging so that the tailed medial letters KLQRX are kept as normal when followed by a descending letter with which they would crash.

Bendy's picture

Waah! I missed all the excitement! I'm on an incredibly slow connection in Bangkok so will leave the pdfs until I'm back at my desk next week...this is looking *wonderful* Craig!
Is there the possibility to have just initial letters swashed with your opentype features? I don't know offhand what the swsh feature conventionally alters, but you could make use of stylistic sets too?
Will look forward to seeing your pdfs! :)

eliason's picture

Is there the possibility to have just initial letters swashed with your opentype features? I don’t know offhand what the swsh feature conventionally alters, but you could make use of stylistic sets too?

Presently all changes are encoded in the swsh feature: if a designer wanted just the initial letters swashed, he/she could either just apply swsh to those letters, or insert the glyphs manually.
I asked a related question in the Build forum about this.
Do you think just initial swashes would be a setting frequently sought by designers using this font? If so, it'd be trivially easy to copy that part of the swsh opentype code over to a stylistic set too, I suppose.

I eagerly await more feedback when you get a chance - thanks for the encouragement.

eliason's picture

This shows that I've gone all out on I.init.
Also, I'm working on D.init - the current one (DECOR) seems a bit tacked-on, but the new one (DIVINE) may be too round?

Miss Tiffany's picture

I like them both.

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