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
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ambicasespecimen20July.pdf253.61 KB
eliason's picture

You mean the loop is too narrow, or the letter as a whole?

p.s. 300th post of the thread award to Bendy!

Bendy's picture

The loop.

How does this strike you? Not sure of the stress pattern but I like the way the uppercase M is more apparent.

eliason's picture

That may be promising, if I can supress the distraction of the diamond somehow, which I think makes it rather harder to read in context.
Here is my previous narrow one, my take on your diamond idea, and a version that tries to be more diamondy while avoiding angular corners on the sides of the loop.


(The thins on the latter two are yet too thick, but this gives you the idea.)

Bendy's picture

I think that's getting there, the last one. Nice work, Craig.

riccard0's picture

The last one seems the one that better flows with the rest of the lettershapes.

eliason's picture

Good, here's a go at swash versions of it.


And here's some experiments with ligatures.

eliason's picture

What do you think of this third T.init?

Bendy's picture

Yes. Really good solution to the dark join. Yes.

riccard0's picture

Lovely blackletter! Just when you'd think you've seen it all... ;-)

eliason's picture

Riccardo, thanks for that comment, which got me reflecting on the top part of this T, and how the contrast pattern is really alien to the font. Another light bulb went off and I realized that not only this piece, but almost every other part of the font that didn't look quite right to my eye has the identical problem: a stroke that modulates like a broad-nib rather than split-nib pen (i.e. that uses translation rather than expansion). Moreover, some of the things I was most excited about (like that reversed Y tail) take a more daring approach to more sudden expansion of stroke. So I've been rethinking a bunch of glyphs, most especially those with prominent horizontals (TLZ257). Feels like a real breakthrough. I'll post an update some time soon.

eliason's picture

Okay, new pdf up top. And below is a shot of some of the new or adjusted letters.


Check out the swash /T/s on the fourth row!
(Obviously that Z.init swash on the fifth row needs rethinking.)
Besides the f-ligs (which are actually set not to appear in swashed text) and the 25 and the percent & permille, these are all swash forms.

Bendy's picture

Wow!


This is completely amazing.

eliason's picture

Thanks Bendy, I thought you would appreciate that. I was beaming when that solution came to me.

riccard0's picture

I still maintain that you could do something along these lines with X.medi swash:


(sorry for the horrible crudeness of the sample)

eliason's picture

That kind of X would probably require designing and complex coding for eight different glyphs: init forms preceding letters with and without ascenders, fina forms following letters with and without descenders, medi forms following letters with descenders and preceding letters with ascenders, or following letters without descenders and preceding letters with ascenders, or following letters with descenders and preceding letters without ascenders, or following letters without desenders and preceding letters without ascenders.

...

Okay, I'll do it!
:-)

eliason's picture

Here are all those new swash Xs.


I hate to say it (since coding these permutations alone is already going to make my head explode), but: doesn't XI scream for another ligature? :-\

(* the last line is the old X.init and X.fina for comparison)

riccard0's picture

What can I say? I like them all! :-)
And, sure, that XI ligature is tempting.

eliason's picture

X_I ligs

Miss Tiffany's picture

Crazy. Looks at all those loops!

I think the N is too wide.

Sindre's picture

Oh boy, I just realised that you've done a lot of amazing work on this since I last read and contributed to this thread. I just want to say I'm mightily impressed by your work, and your stamina. I'm not sure if I dare offer too much critiquing help at this stage, though. As I'm still learning how to make basic letterforms, typographic ornamentation at this level is something I simply do not feel I have much knowledge on.

Still, that "t" in "marxist" is glorious. It looks like the SW ball of the "XI" and "XI" ligatures should go a little deeper, optically they sit a little high on the baseline, I think. That new "M" shape is wicked. And I think I have to second Tiffany's view on the "N", though then the "U" is probably a little wide too. Make sure their widths are harmonious with the width of the "H".

Keep it up! How many glyphs do you have now?

eliason's picture

You may be right. I'm trying to fudge the width between the lowercase and uppercase forms, but I may have missed it. I think the hump breaks into vertical too high and/or too suddenly at the northeast, too.

Here's a taste of the fun I'm having with the OpenType programming:

eliason's picture

It sits at 210 glyphs; that will grow quite a bit when I get to adding the diacritics. I don't know how it got so big considering there's no lowercase! :-)

Don't be modest about your critical authority, your suggestions are always helpful and welcome.

eliason's picture


New Z.init

kyrmse's picture

Amazing! Haven't been here for some time, and now I see all this!
When, oh when is this going to be a font we can all use? (Could even be a "normal" ttf)
:-)

johnnydib's picture

Wait a second! The swashes automatically change depending on the position in the word?
Is the code that does that included in swsh?
Is it a lot of coding?
Can you still use classes?

I love how the brackets are almost monoline. The whole thing is looking beautiful, but I think it was a great idea to add the swashes. The typeface looks very useful and the open-type features make sense.

Good stuff.

eliason's picture

@ kyrmse: Thanks for the encouragement. It feels like it's entering the home stretch, but unfortunately I can't give a deadline for release more specific than "soonish"!

@johnnydib: Thanks to you too. Yes, with the font set for swash, it will recognize when a letter appears at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. By that I mean I've had to program it that way, with a byzantine (and probably laughably inefficient) set of rules I made up myself. Here's a thread I started which helped along the way:
http://typophile.com/node/60990
So it starts with one lookup that says ignore these rules for anything with a letter preceding this one (to separate out the initial positions), then if it's an X before an ascender, use the special X.init, else if it's a K or R before a descender, use the special K.init or R.init, else replace the letter with its .init version. (Yes, you can use opentype classes and would really need to to stay sane.)
Then it has a lookup that says ignore these rules for anything with a letter following this one (to separate out the final positions), then if it's an X after a descender, use the special X.fina, else replace the letter with its .fina version.
Then it has a lookup that says ignore this rule if the letter is K, Q, or R followed by a descender (to prohibit tail crashes), then change out the letters that have .medi forms to those.
Then it has still more complicated coding for the X.medi (since that has to take into account both the letter before and the letter after).

Bendy's picture

Wow, Craig, wow. The opentype demonstration looks amazing, I'd be addicted to trying different words!

The new z.init? I'm loving it. Sindre's right: what stamina!

eliason's picture

Okay, some questions:
(1) What do you think of doing this with the Z.init?


(2) Opinions on these pounds?

(3) Are any of these N's on the way to something better than the present default (#0)?

riccard0's picture

Z.init: the second one.
£: not sure. None of it gives me the "ah!" vibe other glyphs do. Just a thought: the pound sign starts as a capital script L...
N: I'm afraid that none of these really conveys the N+n idea. Could we see them along the M for comparison?

Bendy's picture

I like the third £, but I think maybe try a loop on the bottom left?
N: hmm, yes, I'm not sure either. Are there any other, crazy ideas you can try?? ;)

eliason's picture

Other, crazy ideas:


Maybe #10 has something?

Bendy's picture

Yes, 10 is promising. What about giving it something like the right leg of 6?

riccard0's picture

The £ reminds me of this ;-)
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gondola_ferro_di_prua.jpg

The N is nice, and in some way it share something with the M. But I think it is maybe a little light compared to other letters.

Sindre's picture

That new pound sign is a very strong shape! Greatness! Nice association, Riccardo. I see something of this in it as well. Your last "N" is very clever, and becomes a defining glyph, as it now shares the "eaten by white"-characteristic of the "M" loop, "A" and "4" (and possibly others). I think this is a keeper. I was going to suggest joining the Z.init swash to the foot serif, just as you did. Perhaps the loop is a little too large? Your glyph substitution demo looks mouthwateringly promising. What's your thoughts on the optimal size range for Ambicase, by the way?

eliason's picture

Same altered N in the second and third lines. I darkened it, and tried to move the thinnest part from the side to the top. It also occurred to me that this could be a place where the Y.calt could kick in, which the third line shows. Though I could also kern over the regular Y and probably be okay.

I also enlarged the swashy parts of those figures, and on Z.init I lowered the swash, and also made the top right less pointy.

What's your thoughts on the optimal size range for Ambicase, by the way?
Ugh, I was afraid someone was going to ask that. I came to realize with my first font design attempt that I didn't think about that question early enough, and it was gnawing at me that I'm probably doing that again!
At what sizes do you think a font of this character would be useful? 48pt and up maybe? It did occur to me that when the design is finalized it might be useful to make a large display cut with thinner hairlines.

eliason's picture

So, I liked that new N but in context it kept looking backwards to me... So I flipped it!

Sindre's picture

That may work, but perhaps the diagonal then should be more ... diagonal? The NE part looks a little cramped, I think, and the NW a little too open.

eliason's picture

The difficulty is the design is trying to split the difference between a lowercase form (a 100%:0% counter relationship) and an uppercase form (50%:50%). So I guess the question is, if I make the diagonal more diagonal, will the roundedness of the hump be enough to suggest the lowercase even though the overall shape is far closer to uppercase. Here's some adjustments: 0 is as above, 1 narrows the hump, 2 is the same with the thin stroke on the right kicked out a touch (which I don't think works).

Sindre's picture

Option 1 looks good, although the glyph looks a tad wide to my eyes. How about a compromise between Options 0 and 1?

Miss Tiffany's picture

That new N/n is insane. In a good way.

eliason's picture

#0 and #1 are as above, #3 in between is, well, in between them.


although the glyph looks a tad wide to my eyes
I think you've been looking at Telefon Ns too long! ;-)

Sindre's picture

:-)

Aw, this is difficult. Number 1 is in my opinion the most harmonious shape, while number 3 is possibly the best choice for this typeface. Still, number 0 is perhaps the most conceptually correct.

eliason's picture

@Tiffany: thanks!

eliason's picture

Think I'll use N #3.
Here's some work on swash forms of D: new D.init which I'm not sure about, new D.fina which I'm sure is better, and thinking of cutting D.medi.

Sindre's picture

The medial "D" in the second line (not sure which is old and which is new) relates nicely to the whiteout-theme. I think some unexpected simplicity is crucial to this design.

The initial and finial (is that the right word? Someday, I'm going to read up on English typo-nomenclature) in the second line look best to my eyes. Perhaps the loop in the finial gets a little close to the stem.

Just had another look at your latest specimen, by the way. Those are the coolest daggers I've ever seen. Section mark and pilcrow are also wicked. I'm envious of your graphical imagination.

eliason's picture

I should have specified old and new, but glad to hear you like the second line as that's the new!

Thanks for the compliment.

riccard0's picture

I second the second line! ;-)

eliason's picture

What do you think of this idea for a swash form of /E/?

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