High contrast Didone

Nick Cooke's picture

I'm working on this new Didone style. It's characterful with high contrast and ink-traps as a feature, tapered stems and a 'bumpy' appearance. I'm not sure about the cap G, but I quite like its quirkiness.

Any comments welcome.

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

i like it ; keep going, i already want one!

J Weltin's picture

Why the ink-traps? It’s ‹bumpy› enough as it is – looks promising. Not sure about the corner ending of the r’s drop though.

dhannah1000's picture

It has that "Kepler-like" style. Very good!

eliason's picture

Two thumbs up!
The serifed thins (upper right of C/G, and maybe lower left of A/M) could use more weight IMO.

akos.polgardi's picture

I don't know if this is helpful at all at this stage, but you might want to have a look at Faberfonts' Dagi for a related approach.

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks everyone.

Craig, I have added a bit more weight to the terminals of the C and G.

Why the ink-traps? - They help to create thin strokes and also give 'air' to what would otherwise be a very dense design.

Dagi is interesting Akos, but maybe not so relevant to this design. It reminds me of Stilla.

More samples to follow.

Nick Cooke's picture

Here's how it's progressing.

eliason's picture

Is there any bend (e.g. cupping) to those horizontal ends at top and bottom (e.g. terminals of stems, top of T, bottom of L, top and bottom of E)? If not, should there be? They look a little rigid in these images.

William Berkson's picture

This is a very nice idea.

My feeling is that the long concave sides (caps, ascenders) need some more work to fully realize this design. The right and left curves seem a little different, with the extreme generally being lower on the left, and maybe pulled in a little bit too much. The column of the I seems a little top heavy to me. I'm not saying it can't succeed weighted more toward the top--I don't know--but it feels a little too much now. The difference between the left and right of the "l" also doesn't feel totally right.

Nick Cooke's picture

Yes Craig, there is subtle cupping on the T, L and E.

William, the stem curves on the left and right are not similar - intentionally. Having done so many sans fonts with symmetrical aspects I decided that I'd had it with symmetry for this typeface.

William Berkson's picture

Nick, you may well be able to make asymmetry work. What may be unsettling to me is that it is *almost* symmetrical. I know Matthew Carter, in his critiques at TypeCon, often makes the point that if something is going to be a feature, it needs to look like a definite decision. I do think you can have subliminal stuff that works, but I'm wondering whether if you go further one way or the other it will strengthen it. In any case, it looks good already.

Nick Cooke's picture

I'm trying to create a Didone with distinct character that will be taken seriously. I want a look that is formal, but just veering towards contemporary informality. I don't want to go too far down the road that leads to fonts like Nueva and Jimbo, however much I might admire them. I wouldn't want to exaggerate any inconsistencies which may introduce a note of 'cartooniness'.

IMO it looks distinctive enough without any more quirks, besides if it's unsettling it's interesting.

Nick Cooke's picture

Here are all the caps and lower case plus numbers.

Looking at it now - are the cap stems heavy enough?

William Berkson's picture

This is going to be lovely. A few things I wonder. Is there too much space in the top "v" of the "k"? Looking again, I think the asymmetry of the tapers on the caps generally works well. But the H still seems off to me. Is it too narrow? Maybe it should be more straight internally, and/or widened. I feel like the I needs to pull up his pants a bit--the waist is maybe too low. The 5, should the top going into the thin vertical be more like the 7?

On the weight of the stems, maybe the issue on the caps is the relationship between the vertical and diagonal strokes. I don't know of the diagonals should be a little lighter or the stems heavier. With heavier stems you'd probably have to adjust vertical arches...

eliason's picture

I second what Bill said about the /H/ and the /5/.
The thin arms of /X/ may be a little too floppy in their curves.
I'd consider getting a little more white into the counterish interior of the hooks of /J/ and /j/.
In addition to considering widening of /H/, /B/, too, could use a touch more width to its counters, IMO.
Does the shape of the serif of /c/ threaten to be read as an /e/?
I love the upright of /G/, and the tails of /y/ and /Q/. The energy of the lowercase is just delightful.
Have you ever looked at Novarese's Fenice Ultra?
A mixed-case sampling of words would help judge the thickness issue.

Chris Dean's picture

For interest: ITC Bodoni Brush.

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks, some valid points there. I shall amend some characters accordingly.

Nick Cooke's picture

Altered characters; c, j, k, A, B, H, I, J, K, M, N, V, W, X and Y. All cap diagonals are thickened, plus more weight on top right of V, W, X and Y.

I like 5 and 7 as they are, the top of 7 goes into the stem with a slight inward curve to compensate for the acute angle, whereas the top of the 5 joins the stem at an obtuse angle so it isn't needed.

Nick Cooke's picture

How is this German double s looking? Is that little serif at the top of the x-height on the left of the stem necessary? i quite like it, but it doesn't have to be there does it?

J Weltin's picture

The spur on the ß comes from old designs of the long-s. As a readability issue it is not necessary. The top stroke on the right is way too thin if it follows a brush stroke.

Nick Cooke's picture

I think that thin stroke at the top of the ß is acceptable in the heavy weights of this genre - quite a few have this.

I have been working on other weights, I think 3 would be good:

William Berkson's picture

I think your light weight loses the charm of the heavy one. I suspect that narrowing the characters will help in the light will help. It may be that even the light should have heavier verticals, to keep the higher contrast. That's an essential part of the Didone look, I think.

Nick Cooke's picture

I'll try that.

William Berkson's picture

You might check out ITC Bodoni in its various sizes and weights as a point of departure for dealing with the different weights.

Nick Cooke's picture

I tried it, (ie. more condensed but with bolder stems) and I think it looks better:

It's strange that the blend between the 2 extremes looks almost exactly the same, but the light is significantly different. I must therefore be on the right path.

Nick Cooke's picture

I've developed a new Display style of this font (which will probably be called Saltaire). It has much thinner thins for ultra-high contrast.

It's caps only at the moment:

J Weltin's picture

Funky.

matt_yow's picture

I really like some of the quirky characteristics here

Nick Cooke's picture

I think I like this new style of K, k better, does anybody else?

riccard0's picture

I like it. It almost alone gives a different, softer feeling to the entire typeface. (I would keep the old ones as alternates, though)

eliason's picture

It's great!

William Berkson's picture

I really like it also. Have you tested terminal on other diagonals also?

J Weltin's picture

Maybe the upper diagonal is coming too abruptly?

Nick Cooke's picture

Where? what do you mean?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

That K is wanting in the middle, compared to the R. The legs seem somewhat disconnected and the colour is lighter. Maybe you should tighten it (less expansive).

Nick Cooke's picture

Make the legs thicker and move legs and arms left towards the stems?

Special-K's picture

Beautiful!
just an opinion - I'm not a type expert or designer. One thing that stands out to me, is the "A" and the "4". The counters look like really sharp geometric triangles, that doesn't match all the curviness of all the other letters. The 4's stem looks somewhat chopped off at the top too.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Fun stuff, Nick!

Is the bottom of the g pushed to the right too far?

Trevor Baum's picture

That Q is a beaut.

johnnydib's picture

I also noticed the counter on the A being very sharp, but I really liked that.
Do you think a more outrageous more eyecatching ampersand could benefit the typeface?
I feel that the question mark lacks contrast compared to everything else.
The @ symbol is awesome.

This typeface is gorgeous, it reminded me of Aldo Novarese's Normandia (bold and a bit out of the ordinary) would you contemplate a Normandia style numeral 8?

Nick Cooke's picture

Thanks.

I don't see how the A could be designed differently. The 4 could be pointier and the question mark a bit thinner at the top. I like the g as it is, but maybe I'll move the top half over to the right a bit which will have the same effect. Maybe a Normande style 8 would be better - I'll try that.

Nick Cooke's picture

Here are new altered characters: 4 8 ? and g. I'm quite happy with them and think they'll stay that way.

1996type's picture

Take my comments with a grain of salt as I'm not a professional. Having said so, I can't help sharing what I see. I think the thin verticals of eight might be a bit too thin, making eight look too wide and slightly lighter than the other numerals. The bottom of 7 is a bit too round for me. Perhaps make one side straight, with a similar approach as the terminals? 2 and 5 really look stunning!

Nick Cooke's picture

Hmm... maybe a bit thin on the 8, but I like that contrast. You've got a good eye for a young whippersnapper Jasper! You've been bitten by the type bug very early - I hope you never recover from it!

Moving on... what do the good folks out there think of these K's? I quite like the ball terminal on the arm even though it's slightly out of character with the rest, giving it an almost Cyrillic feel.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Nick: your overshots could be stronger.

Neither of these are quite there yet: top one is unbalanced, middle one is way better but the angle at which the hairline stroke departs from the leg feels unnatural to me. The ball terminal K has the same issue, and the ball it self doesn't look all that comfortable there. Maybe it's leaning out too far to the right? Maybe it's because it's so vertically compressed.? Have you tried an Ambroise style K where the hairline is bent and curls around the ball terminal, or would that be too much? All-in-all: Of your three samples, number two is the best one IMO.

William Berkson's picture

I like the ball terminal as going with the leg of the K and R. I'm not sure about the size and placement, but it is better than the serif, which is hard to make big enough for balance without looking awkward. I think it's worth trying the ball terminal on the terminals of other thin diagonals also.

1996type's picture

I like the round terminal, but it does need some adjustments. My eye tells me that the ball is slightly too large and the bottom leg should go down steeper, but that could be wrong. Do you have any idea when this is going to be released?

Nick Cooke's picture

Too large? I was thinking that it's maybe too small, or could be a bit rounder.

It may be released this year, but I've a large (paid) project on at the moment which takes priority. I work on my own stuff when I don't have any commissions. Anyway, it's good to leave things for a few weeks or months, that way you have a fresh eye when you return; like spotting if the overshoots aren't big enough :^)

1996type's picture

"Too large? I was thinking that it's maybe too small, or could be a bit rounder."
I could well wrong on that part, but there's definitely something a little off.

Nick Cooke's picture

I've altered the K and increased the overshoots

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