My first Type Face ... Words of wisdom??

Hildebrant's picture

So im about to embark on a journey I have been envisioning for quite some time now. I have always been rather involved in the field of typography, be it mostly digital and related to graphic design. I have been waiting for the right time -- and what I thought to be a good knowledge base -- before taking this road. So I think I'm ready. I find myself here, requesting advice, requesting a map or guidlines to guide me down this path. Anything you could give would help. A charcter map to follow? (western that is) things I should consider? Links to documents that may prove usefull. Just about anything would help. I just finished reading "The elements of typographic style", so I'm quite excited about the whole process.

Cheers.

(p.s. forgive my improper use of quotes:-)

beejay's picture

Kyle - help us help you.

Are you going for display or text or something else....

are you creating glyphs in Freehand, Illustrator, FontLab, Fontographer...

Are you trying for form, function, or some combination of both.

Any other information you could share will help others help you.

bj

Hildebrant's picture

P.S.S

I forgot to mention my direction.

I thinking I will takle something in the sorts of a semi-sans, more of a Slab serif really. I was think something with only one serif per stem? does this make sense? Something with say east oriented serifs at the baseline and west oriented serifs at the hightline. Not sure if any of this makes sense.... but ohh well :-)

hildebrant.

Hildebrant's picture

glyphs will be done in illustrator 10.
I have not purchased a font editing program yet. I would like suggestions as to the best in this area. I would assume you can import some sort of .ai .eps vector data into the majority of them... you dont actually have to draw the vector in these programs do you??

hrant's picture

> semi-sans

Good, good - we need more of those - it's a huge untapped well.

But there's a core issue with semi-serifs: they will lean "backwards" if you just leave them as-is.
I know of two solutions:

1. Put some counterweight on the other side. The best example is Avance:
http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/29/3226.html

2. Gently lean the whole thing forward. Like in Harrier:
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/nour&patria/dev/harrier-beta.gif

hhp

Hildebrant's picture

Hrant:

I saw that post a while back. Good stuff, I have printed the PDF for reference.

As to Harrier, is this a type face of your development? This is really quite close to he direction I had envisioned. Possibly leaning more twards something with a slightly more exagerated serif.

Still looking for advice as far as the development process is concerned.

hildebrant.

hrant's picture

Harrier is the "code name" for the Latin subordinate component of Nour, an Armenian face of mine. BTW, that image is a "beta" - some things have changed since then. Plus the whole thing isn't even finished yet. :-/

I think something like Harrier could possibly be used to set an entire book - but I'm not about to spend my life trying to convince other type designers of that...

hhp

Hildebrant's picture

No one else has any words of wisdom to offer?

peterbruhn's picture

A tip -read this before starting on your journey:
http://briem.ismennt.is/2/2.3.1a/2.3.1.01.notes.htm

Hildebrant's picture

many thanks. Will read today.

hildebrant.

eolson's picture

Kyle -

I would recommend against drawing in Illustrator (or Freehand) as it can lead to some bad habits and time wasted. Additionally, drawing in a type program allows you to think over your spacing while you're building your glyphs. I drew in Illustrator for years and looking back I think my work suffered (mainly the proportions and spacing) for it. I've fully switched to just drawing in Fontlab. Of course money is an issue so I fully understand sticking with Illustrator for awhile.
Best of luck!

Hildebrant's picture

Eric --

Would you care to elaborate more on this? What makes Font Lab a better choice to develop vectors in? What kinda of "Bad habits" would this promote? and how would it "waste time"?
Does FontLab allow you to do things like importing raster images to use as preliminary templates? How would you go about the process? from sketch to finish, what tools would you employ?


thanks,

hildebrant.

beejay's picture

I'm curious about FontLab and whether it has anything that approaches the Illustrator Pathfinder tools.

From just a glyph-building perspective, Illustrator is the ••••. (I can see how it could be time-consuming to someone who doesn't know shortcuts and other tricks.) But then again, I'm just doing wack display stuff. Illustrator let's you do wack stuff. :-)

Have any Mac addicts purchased FontLab...

bj

eolson's picture

Kyle -

The bad habit I was referring to was the tendency in Illustrator to design letters as individual pieces rather than related groups. You can shuffle the glyphs around so they sit side by side but nothing beats seeing them in strings or up against numerous other glyphs. Unlike Illustrator, you can do this easily in FL or FOG by having the metrics window open in the background.

As far as templates, you can import a PICT or TIFF into the background layer. I've never done this as I've only once designed a face from a scan. I however use the template layer often when designing a new weight of the face.

Bj -
I'll give you that one. The pathfinder in Illustrator is amazing. You can do anything. Especially bang out geometric and display style fonts. FL has a tool similar to this that requires you to reverse the contours in order to perform similar operations. In short, it adds an extra step. So basically it's just a different way of doing things. I only prefer it because you can work with the exact coordinates and measurements that will appear in the final postscript version. Remember that when you paste into FOG or FL everything (stems and handles) will have to fit the 1000 unit grid somehow. That means either rounding up to the nearest or down to the nearest. This can be trouble with an ultra light version of a typeface (something with a stem weight of 20 units or less).

I'm however not totally gung ho yet for FL. It's very buggy and has TERRIBLE kerning assistance for diacritics and alike characters. I've been importing back into FOG for this lately. I would love to use OSX but it will be a few years before I can afford a machine that will run it. Maybe it will run better there. My G3 isn't up to the task.

Hope this helps.

Aaron Sittig's picture

Using FontLab to draw glyphs is worth it if only for all the time you save joining points. Rather than dragging two points on top of each other, hitting cmd-j, selecting the type of join, and hitting ok, in FontLab you just drag one point on to the other and they automatically join.

As for the pathfinder like tools, with FontLab I don't find myself ever carving out spaces, since I can just draw my counters and when I preview the glyph, it draws the counter carved out. In illustrator I used to draw the counters filled with white to see how it would look, but it's nice to not have to worry about setting the right color for these paths anymore. Sometimes I build my glyphs in pieces; joining these into the final shape is simple (cmd-F10).

The comment about helping you think about your spacing is dead on. I work most of the time with the preview window up. If I'm trying to adjust the weight and metrics of, for instance, the 'g' glyph, I set a sample word in the preview window, say... 'glowing', and I watch the word as I make adjustments. Once I'm satisfied with the word 'glowing', I try a few more words and make the changes that seem necessary.

I also used to be really happy with Illustrator for drawing glyphs, but since trying FontLab, it's painful to go back. It comes down to the fact that FontLabs drawing tools are designed only for drawing glyphs, while Illustrators tools are much more broad, not as focused, so the extra power just gets in the way.

sean's picture

What ever program you end up using, don't let it compromise your design idea. You will find a way to make your idea work eventually. I recommend the Derwent Graphic Fine Lead pencil myself. Good luck.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Jonathan Hoefler's Intro to Typeface Design 110 may
help you understand the color and the unity required
for a successful set of glyphs.

Also, before you start, figure out why you're doing it. Are
you doing it to say you've done it or because you see a
'marketing' opportunity for a design you have in mind?
Or simply because you want to learn the craft? Is there
a client (real or fictitious) that will drive the aesthetics
or functionality of your face?

Maybe there's no right or wrong answer, but your
answers to these questions will help you gauge
your progress as your face develops. It's your sort of
personal 'creative brief' that will help you figure out if
you're on the right track.

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