Perfectionist Indecision Regarding Stem Height of Letters

tbufano's picture

I have modified a font to create the logotype of a clothing accessories company that I'm starting. Some of the changes I've made was changing the "B" to look more like the "O" at the end so that the letter forms create almost a mirror symmetry (i.e. the F mimics the A, the U mimics the N, and the B mimics the O). Originally the B was not curved off as much as it is here. This, in comparison to the other letters made the B seem smaller and weaker. To compensate, I shortened the stem height of the U at the top and the F, A, and N at the bottoms. Based of a height of 72 points in illustrator, I reduced them by one point in one version and by 2 points in another. I'm really pulling hairs here, but thought I'd open it up to the community here to see if anyone had an opinion.

P.S. I've also made other changes to the original by making them all exactly the same width (not by stretching the whole letter, but by moving the stem node by node to keep the integrity of the line weights). I also modified the middle "bridge" (don't know the actual typographic term for them) element of the F and the A so they were at the same height and had the same thickness. I changed the humps of all the letters (like the top of the F, the A, and the N) so they all had the same curved shape, etc.

So here are my questions to the community:

1. Do you have an opinion on which stem height looks more right to you?

2. Are there any overall glaring issues anyone has given I've tweaked the original font quite a bit. I'm being as sensitive as I can using what I know about typography, but haven't officially taken classes in it, so I'm open to criticism.

3. If anyone would like to see the progression of how I got to this point, I'd be happy to post that as well.

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Justin_Ch's picture

You need to reduce the height of U a little bit more to optically balance it with the curved tops of all the other letters. At the moment it looks taller even though it is actually a little shorter.

I don't notice any difference between your two different overall heights, except when you overlay them. I like FANO. There is a nice, chunky, slightly-industrial look to them.

I think you need to do something with B to make the top loop a little smaller than the bottom. It looks a bit top-heavy at the moment.

tbufano's picture

@Justin_Ch - Thank you!

I had forced the original B (which originally has a flat left side) to look more like the O. I liked how it looked but couldn't put my finger on why it looked slightly off. Here's a modified version of the B.

Regarding the optical height of the rest of the letters, I had already reduced the height of the middle 4 letters significantly from the original font to give it more balance with the "B". Unfortunately, when I reduce the height just one more point, it starts looking unbalanced to me. I think I'm going to stick with the way it is now unless someone screams bloody murder.

Ratbaggy's picture

the U and the N do look a bit weird. The U in particular breaks the rhythm...as has been said.

As an alternative...perhaps you can scale the B and O as added punctuation on the ends of the excellently bold type.

the B could probably be a bit wider (...as much as you've made it the same as the O), and sit closer to the U

riccard0's picture

One option could be to give a curve to all terminals...

tbufano's picture

Thanks, Ratbaggy.

The U and the N are very close to the original font and actually work quite well outside the logotype. You guys are all definitely pros as you have taken the things that I've changed about the original letters and spotted them instantly as "mistakes".

My question, is how critical does a logo need to be typographically correct? What I had determined as king were the following:

1. That all 6 letters are exactly the same width. I know this is breaking the rules since part of what gives letters in a family balance is varying their shapes and sizes slightly. Instead, I was aiming for having perfect symmetry. 6 letters. All exactly the same width.

2. I wanted a B that looked interesting on its own. The original B does work better as a font letter. But as a logo identity (I'm imagining it as a belt buckle for example), this stylized curvy one, I like better. Unfortunately, now that I twisted the B away from its original more blocky shape, it's throwing all the pro's off on the "U". Poor "U". It wasn't his fault, lol.

3. Again to achieve perfect symmetry (if I wanted to stack them in a pattern on a fabric, for example), I can't space them closer or further apart. Each letter is not only exactly the same width, but spaced exactly the same amount of space from each other.

I love this website. You guys all called me out instantly on what was wrong, even though I had done it intentionally.

@ riccard0
I did try cutting the stems matching the curve of the "O" as reference as an option a while back. Although it looked interesting, the "F", "A", and "N" started looking like fangs so I had to pull it back to the original blocky shapes.

Thanks for all the feedback. This is great.

SebastianK's picture

Although it looked interesting, the "F", "A", and "N" started looking like fangs so I had to pull it back to the original blocky shapes.

... and what if you only do this to the top of the U?

Still a bit fang-like, but at least ... Or had you already tried that?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

U and n need to be narrower than the O and B because they have more white inside. I'd even make U slightly narrower than n. I also think the U in the post before mine is moving in the right direction. Perhaps those innermost nodes shouldn't be that high. Your F needs less space on it's right side. Type isn't about math, it's about optics. Here's an idea for you: if you double up that A, and make two legs (the first one's right, and the second one's left) overlap, you only need to remove a slice of the top and the crossbar to get a nice mirroring.

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