Typeface Family Workflow

Michael Jarboe's picture

I'm curious about type designers workflow in regards to complete type families that range from the extremes of Hairline/Thin to ExtraBold/Black, including italics.

The reason I ask is that I understand it comes down to individual preferences, but I'm wondering if there is a standard that carries over through everyones process.

I'm most comfortable starting with a 'Regular' weight and then moving towards either light or bold extremes and with FontLab Studios limitations using Multiple Masters it seems it would be best to develop either extreme first then generate instances in between.

I also understand that external tools such as Superpolator can help develop styles beyond the limitations of developing weights with FontLab Studio alone.

Regardless of what tools are being used, is it best to develop either extreme first Thin/Black and generate instances in between, or is it just personal preference? What is the most efficient workflow when developing full typeface families?

If you have a chance to briefly comment on your process it would be appreciated.

oldnick's picture

It probably depends on the particular typeface. A monoline sans serif could probably begin anywhere but, if there is a lot of diagonal contrast and/or serious ink traps, it would probably be better to develop the two extremes and work toward the middle.

Nick Job's picture

First I made a regular (to see if the proposed font was viable).

Then I made a bold (I figured a regular needs a bold complement).

Then I made a MM and extrapolated to get a heavy master then made necessary adjustments to the heavy master.

Then I made a MM between the regular and the heavy and extrapolated to get a thin master then made the necessary adjustments to the thin master.

I then made a MM between the thin and the heavy and interpolated to see if the regular was anything like my first regular. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was better!

Not sure why I did it like this but it worked for me.

For another font, I started of with a hairline and then went right up to the other end of the weight spectrum to get instant masters but was far less satisfied with what lay in between :(

Of course some will insist on more than two extreme masters on the weight axis and you can see why when you start getting very heavy and very thin.

Michael Jarboe's picture

Thanks for the feedback.

I figure it varies depending on the style of typeface and I can see how it would be easier to work extremes in a monoline face.

I think I'm going to stick with the original vision for the particular type in the Regular weight… from there develop a Bold… then generate instances to open up the design space and towards the end generate any extremes such as Hairline or ExtraBlack.

For myself it's highly unlikely for a text face that I would ever start designing with either extreme as there seems to be more room to design and finesse a particular design with something that lies in the Regular weight range.

Of course it depends on the initial vision for a design as some display types are inspired and created from the start as really light or heavy weight.

I think I was just looking to see if anyone would state that they have an absolute process for developing more complete type families that they never stray from, but the more I think about it the process must vary greatly between designers for one, and for two between the particular style of type that is being designed.

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