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
eliason's picture

Okay, here's the results of my swash/punctuation kerning pairs experiment. First, the "before" picture, showing the init & fina forms turning off when next to punctuation.


And "after": showing the init and fina forms allowed next to punctuation, and kerned to not crash with it. The punctuation that allows this are the ones that only come in high (e.g. quotation marks), middle (e.g. hyphens), or low (e.g. periods). (Things like parentheses and colons still shut the swashes off.)

As you can see, there was an unforeseen consequence: a fair number of swashes crash with glyphs on the other side of the adjoining punctuation (/K-A/, /O-”/, /W.T/)

I'm leaning towards trashing all this kerning I just did and going back to the "before."

eliason's picture

"Titling".

That's good too. Thanks.

riccard0's picture

I like the thinnered hairlines. I think they work well with the hinted ones (as in the A).
Unfortunately the Bold command makes the wide strokes thinner too...
As for the naming, I would go with something more creative.

eliason's picture

New .pdf up top (ambicasespecimen11april.pdf).

I think I'm getting close here. Still have to polish the "poster" cut, including putting its de-bolded thicks back to the width of the regular cut. The specimen uses a bit of this poster size on some of the larger settings, but I suppose I should make that more explicit. Besides that cleanup, maybe some spacing/kerning checks. Let me know if you see anything else - anything at all - that you'd think I should reconsider or fix.

My plan is to release this for sale as an .otf. Each of the two cuts available individually, or discounted as a pair.

nina's picture

Fantastic work Craig. Exciting to see this nearing completion. You're sure getting close.
Here are a few comments, focusing not so much on the alphabetics but other stuff less discussed. Being extra picky – mind the salt.

- To my eye some of the spacing/kerning can indeed do with some polishing. For instance the "T" and the final/swashed "E" seem potentially unhappy.

- Diacritics: Why leave the breve and circumflex monoline when the tilde, acute, and grave are modulated?

- Dieresis seems a bit timid – it looks possibly ok on "E", but too small on "O" etc. I'd make them a little heavier overall (& maybe move the dots a hair farther apart).

- The ring on the Uring might be too far to the right.

- Why are Math symbols heavier than the parentheses/slashes etc., but not the "logical not"?

- The parentheses have a bit of unexpected reversed stress? I would have expected them to be completely monoline. (I especially see this in the bottom of the closing parenthesis.)

- Something funny going on with the second "D" on p. 8 (I see an overscore?)

…and those Drop Cap examples are gorgeous. Great usage idea; and that initial "T" really is one of the nicest glyphs I've seen lately.

(Before you make this the official specimen, be sure to fix the "RHTHYM" on p. 2!)

eliason's picture

Fantastic, thanks so much for the feedback, Nina!

riccard0's picture

Splendid! :-)
(I'm just not sure of the blue on page 2, both as a choice of colour and of randomness)
Just one thing about the type: the A on the last page seems to have a little artifact at the end of the bowl.

eliason's picture


- added some contrast to breve/caron/circumflex
- made the dieresis dots larger and spread them a bit
- made the ring larger/heavier, and moved it up (rather than sideways)
- still unsure about diacritic weights/placement. as I look at this now, maybe circumflex is a little too high and caron a little too low yet.
- thickened logicalnot (though what such a glyph is doing in this kind of font I have no idea!) :-P
- fixed monoline weight on parentheses

eliason's picture


A different approach for final swash forms of Z/L.

riccard0's picture

I like! :-)
Though, it could appear a little too open (leaning downward) on the L.

eliason's picture

I can see what you're saying.
Here's some options:
1 is as before
2 fills the area by extending the curlicue.
3 fills the area by raising the whole stroke
4 does both


I think I like 2.

riccard0's picture

Seconded #2

BeauW's picture

I actually quite liked the original 'A', and like that you are coming back towards the idea- the ball terminal seems too dark however...

eliason's picture

Hi Beau. Thanks for the input, but I'm wondering if you're looking at letters at the bottom of the first page of comments? (We're now on page 5!)

eliason's picture

Working on the "poster" cut, and on pulling back on the .medi swash characters - their proliferation was starting to make swashed words lose their sense of wordness. So I've cut the descending A.medi I had added, as well as U.medi and T.medi (though it may be my favorite glyph I've drawn for this. My consolation is that shape will live on within the T.init and T.fina forms I'm keeping.)

What do you think of this:


At (1) is the regular font and at (3) is how it currently looks with the swash feature. (2) shows what it would look like if I abandoned the E.medi, which I am tempted to do.

riccard0's picture

Dunno. Judging by how decorative the typeface developed, I'm tempted to say "the more the merrier"...

eliason's picture

Some more evidence for you: This shows the possible combinations of keeping or cutting medial swash forms of /E/ and /T/.
(Ignore, if you can, the little comma diacritics under some of the /T/'s - some glyph pallette issues...)
I have posted a pdf of the same attached to the top post.

traviskochel's picture

Either 'E' works for me, but I prefer the swashed one. I think the unswashed 'T' lonely next to all the other swash characters. So I vote yes for both swashes.

Bendy's picture

This is a hard question. In the end I agree with Travis. This is a poster cut after all.

eliason's picture

Hmm, thanks for the input, all. I'm going to lower the top of the swash /T/ and see if that makes it stick out a little less.

nina's picture

I'm not sure, but I wanted to say I really enjoy the multiple personalities of this typeface. The unswashed version is so strange and stern, and the swashes really take it to some different, much more playful place. In the image above, line #1 and say line #5 feel almost like different fonts. That's a good thing in terms of the ton of options you offer users; but makes it more work to produce (I don't even want to imagine the number of glyphs) as well as trickier to *use*, too. An easier option might be to make a swash version (perhaps in this case only with the swashed medial "E", not the standard "E") and a standard version and sell them as 2 fonts? Obviously less versatile though, but simpler and perhaps clearer. Just a thought.

eliason's picture

Hmm, I'm not sure why switching fonts would be easier than switching an OpenType setting. Can you elaborate?

One feature I have already implemented is a stylistic set that just substitutes swashes for the initial forms. So that would be an out-of-the-box setting for someone who just wanted a little swashiness, I suppose.

nina's picture

Ah, so for the user it's just a matter of switching swashes on or off? I was under the impression that it is (or should be) possible to get different degrees of swashiness, maybe via different features or something. Which, I would wonder how many users would actually fiddle around with it in that amount of detail. But yeah, it's quite possible that I got something wrong, and/or that I'm not making sense. :) Mostly thinking out loud.

eliason's picture

Yes, as set up now, the user can:
- select a stylistic set to automatically get initial swashes; or
- select the swash feature (or another stylistic set) to automatically get all swashes; or
- select his/her preferred glyphs from the palette.

eliason's picture

Making progress on the "poster" cut (shown at bottom).

eliason's picture


Changed the ball terminal at the bottom of the swash E to a swirl; then changed the remaining fishhook terminals (bottom of C and top of G) to swirls in the medial swash forms too. Also made a medial swash form for D.
(Top line shows the unchanged non-swash forms for comparison.)

eliason's picture

Also since recent updates, lowered the tops of the swash T forms, and raised the bottoms of swash L forms (and Z and £) which makes swashed words stay on track a bit better.

eliason's picture

We're coming up on one year after my first post about this font idea, and I think Ambicase Modern may be done! I've attached the lastest specimen to the top post (ambicasespecimen20July.pdf). See anything that still needs fixing?

riccard0's picture

Swashy question marks! Wonderful! :-)

nina's picture

I think it looks great, Craig. Congratulations!

eliason's picture

Thanks guys!

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