Feedback on font creation

ivan_melendez's picture

I wanted to know, is it okay to use a font as a 'skeleton' to design a typeface?
For example say I use the letter 'e' in helvetica, put a piece of tracing paper over it and sketch an entirely different letter. I would do this method only to help me differentiate the font i'm designing. Is ok? and if so is it common practice among type designers.


hrant's picture

As Dave Farey joked about his design of one of his faces that was apparently close to two other design, he said he had both of those fonts right in front of him during the entire design to make sure his wasn't the same.

To me what you're doing is so far from being unethical that it doesn't even deserve a mention.


aluminum's picture

Just figure out where the line between 'inspired by' and 'copied from' is and stay on one side of it.

ivan_melendez's picture

thank guys. I appreciate the feedback.
another question. does looking too much at type cause you work to look more like other peoples work? I really don't think so but what do you guys think.


pablohoney77's picture

does looking too much at type cause you work to look more like other peoples work?
I tried looking at FB's Dispatch when putting together a slab serif for some lettering i was working on. After I looked at it i was shocked to realize that what i came up with would probably be what my own handwriting would look like if it were a bold, slab serif.
oh, and i don't think i got very close to emulating Dispatch. ;^)

A. Scott Britton's picture

To your first question--Using Helvetica 'e' as a "template" doesn't seem horrible (how much are you changing?). Are you studying the "e-ness" or the "Helvetica-ness"? Anyway, seems okay, as there are some features of 'e' (and of course every other letter) that makes it undeniably 'e' (see Gill's study on defining-letterform-characteristics), and ya can't trademark the ductus.

To your second question--My 'Corba Sans' is in a desperate race away from what seems to be a subconscious and unsettlingly penetrating influence by 'Tahoma'.

ivan_melendez's picture

thanks everyone your comments are very helpfull and insightfull.

Scott where do I find info on Gill's study.


A. Scott Britton's picture

Not sure exactly, Ivan. Give me a while and I'll find out where you can read it--unless anyone else knows the study I'm talking about and can direct you to it.

Brendan Callahan's picture

I feel you should study the typeface you do not want your typeface to look like, in this case Helvetica. Think about the qualities of Helvetica you do not like, and the characteristics you feel need change. Then draw your letters. After drawing them on trace paper, lie them over Helvetica to study both together and draw conclusions from that.


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