LexLuengas's picture

On August 2009 I decided to make this book typeface.

While reading a book on September, I was caught by an ff ligature (I know, cliché, but I can't change the facts), and for the first time I became interested in typography and design. I started to read a few of books about typography, including The Elements of Typographic Style (of course), taught myself calligraphy and began working on Rhetorica right away. The Regular and Bold style were constructed using exclusively FontLab. By contrast, the Italic style was based on my hand-script, and then fine-tuned in Fontlab.

After a pause of six months, now I had time to resume the design. The character set has grown, and with it my knowledge of the dynamic of shape has improved.

All kinds of comments are welcome. Main point it help's me build up Rhetorica. I'm sure I have something to learn from most people here; I just hope they share their knowledge to me c:


The most recent SPECIMEN can be found HERE. (Sorry, I've had problems uploading it directly to typophile).

Specimen (27.03)461.98 KB
Specimen (8.03)438.85 KB
Revision Sample (8.03)63.65 KB
Specimen (16.04)41.42 KB
LexLuengas's picture

copying glyphs out of someone else's proprietary font, making minor changes, and presenting them as your own work is never okay
As Martin and hrant noticed, I never altered Minion. My work ended up being a thorough study, and focalized in Minion. Stared, compared, tried, failed, tried, failed. I learned a lot, I don't regret having worked in that manner. What was really nonsense was the idea of releasing it. I blindly turned my study into the "knock-off" it finally became.

I encourage the analysis of different typefaces, and agree with hrant, that if you ever plan to do a typeface (not a study), it is very important focusing on genres, rather than selecting what you think that is the "best representative".

Martin Silvertant's picture

I have read that review. I tend to agree with you there but then you're not blowing anything out of context in that review.

My main question now is how come type hasn't evolved since like Legato since Legato. Honestly, now that I find myself looking at and talking about more often I would love to do a typeface like it and especially a serif one, but I still think it's more of an aesthetic design than something which truly brings type to another level. I quite agree with William here:

> I don't see Legato as a significant breakthrough for the future of type design.
> Note for a start that Bloemsma's theory of Legato is not Hrant's theory. Bloemsma
> was concerned to get 'flow' from one letter forward to the next, and correct the
> tendency of Roman letters to turn into a picket fence--which is indeed a real and
> important problem.

There have been several typefaces tackling various specific problems. I don't feel like Legato solves all problems, or a single one problem tremendously better than before.

> However: is there a single Sans font that can take
> most of the credit?
Not to the extent that Gutenburg's work was revolutionary, no. But that's exactly my point. I don't think Legato could get much credit given the time and context in which it was designed in. Baskerville was ahead of its time, and the design of the grotesque itself was. I'm convinced Legato isn't going to make that kind of impact. For starters, you're about the only one I hear talking about it; I hear more from Museo for example. A Legato genre however could be very significant, but until that happens I don't care about Legato as much as you do. It's perhaps comparable to running into the LHC, accelerate and smash particles into each other one time and then come screaming out of the building you just discovered new physics. No, you didn't; Smash those particles another billions of times so it gains statistical significance. Equally, Legato alone does nothing more than impress people with its design, but doesn't win people over to adapt this method. Not yet anyway.

Another thing which both annoys and amuses me about Legato though is no matter how divine you think it is, at body text size you don't observe the stroke modulations anymore; you might as well have used an other typeface which battles the fencing effect for the body text.

> However: is there a single Sans font that can take most of the credit?
Not to the extent you're giving credit to Legato, I don't think. However, there are several sans which in my mind are incredibly refreshing (as is Legato) but not revolutionary. As I tried to explain with the LHC analogy, we need more experimentation and more typefaces like Legato to make it a revolutionary genre. Legato alone doesn't do it. Perhaps it would if it had optical variants with a more severe modulation effect in the body text variant, but would that really give it that extra push? I think it's brilliant theory which works in a much more vague and subjective sense in practice.

> So, if we do choose to focus on individual typefaces, exactly
> what font is more significant, culturally? Ideal Sans?
I don't find Ideal Sans to be culturally significant. Perhaps Gotham to some extent but that's only due to its use in the presidential campaign and not because of Gotham's design (pretty much the same case with Helvetica). A typeface I thought was about equally "revolutionary" to Legato is Calluna. Since Calluna there have been a few typefaces with the same directional serifs but it didn't exactly impact the type design community in a big way other than to appreciate the refreshing new detail in the serif base. Equally, Legato might be forgotten if you weren't here to mention it so often.

> All that said, nobody should think in terms of THE or "perfect".
I agree, and that was my initial objection against your statement about Legato. Legato certainly helps modern type evolve, but to say it's revolutionary is an overstatement.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Legato pulled us back to the punchcutter's treatment of contour (shape and negative shape, really) separate from the tool. There's more, but my English isn't good enough to do it justice.

Gill, Syntax, Frutiger -- those (and prob. others) are the significant faces that paved the way for the humanist sans, and thus Ideal.

hrant's picture

Martin, I think your wonderful last post deserves to be in
a better place: the "What makes Legato so unique?" thread.
Replying to it here seems problematic and less effective.
Do you mind moving it? We'd leave a marker here saying
"continued there".


Martin Silvertant's picture

Gill, Syntax and Frutiger were also "revolutionary" if you don't take the term too seriously. I've been pondering what it is about Legato which makes reading more fluid than Syntax for example, and I think it has to do with the general color. Obviously type designers value a good texture and color, and humanist typefaces tend to deliver that quicker. I think I came to the right conclusion. What it is about Legato which makes it calm on the eyes is the fluidity.

But here's why I don't think Legato is necessarily the better way to design type. Legato really isn't clear, crisp and pure. Ideal Sans comes much nearer to that ideal. So there's a bit of a dilemma as to what makes a typeface more legible. Clarity or fluidity? I think there are arguments for both and it might be contextual, as this is also the reason why we have specific typefaces for books and other typefaces (sans or serif) for shorter texts or display use or whatever. I find myself leaning towards clarity rather than fluidity most of the time though, which is why I find Ideal Sans aesthetically more pleasing.

Legato is — when you look at individual letters — more a work of art than a typeface. It's fluid and humanist, and makes the other humanist sans serifs look more mechanical.

Having said this, I must take back a bit of my passion when I was criticizing Hrant for calling Legato revolutionary. I still think it's a bit of an overstatement, but I have to admit I haven't seen a sans serif typeface more fluid than Legato regardless of how many humanist/cursive elements the other sans serifs might feature. As such, maybe Legato really can be the beginning of a new genre I would call "fluid" instead of "humanist".

Martin Silvertant's picture

No problem. I will move the posts in a moment.

Sindre's picture

I never altered Minion.

Well, that would have saved you a lot of work.

This is Minion 27,5 points, tracking -25 (transparent yellow), superimposed on a line from your first specimen (black), kerning turned off.

My point is that people might be excused for thinking that you have worked directly on Minion. I could definitely not make something this close to an existing typeface just by eye.

hrant's picture

Please note that Martin's two first posts of today
have now been replicated in a more suitable thread:
Hopefully this thread will now be
free of this -delicious- tangent.

* Note the trick BTW: to link directly to a comment on
a page after the first page, manually insert "?page=n"
right after the node number, where n is one less than
the page number.


Bendy's picture

Thank you Sindre; I think that image speaks for itself.

LexLuengas's picture

My point is that people might be excused for thinking that you have worked directly on Minion
I agree.

Well, that would have saved you a lot of work.
It was about working, not saving work! I was more like a painter than a typographer. With that image you are confirming the nature of what I did: focusing on one single typeface. As I pointed out earlier, this typeface shouldn't have been released, and for that I feel foolish and ashamed. I'm indisputably in debt with typography.

I'm really sorry Sindre and Ben.

Martin Silvertant's picture

> I'm indisputably in debt with typography.
Does that mean we can expect another typeface from you? I honestly believe you could even still use your Rhetorica to develop it into a new typeface. You would have to do a lot more than just change details though. I would start by coming up with a concept; possibly something you haven't seen around before.

Some of my typefaces are vaguely derived from other typefaces and I have 1 revival in development. Mostly though I try to find gaps in the market rather than base my typeface on an already existing and successful typeface. Without a concept I think there's little you can do. That explains why your changes were so subtle, because the concept was already defined in Minion.

hrant's picture

> you could even still use your Rhetorica to develop it into a new typeface.

This is dangerous, certainly as a second effort. It might even be
dangerous a decade later after Alexis has -hopefully- released
numerous original designs.


Martin Silvertant's picture

I admit it's dangerous business if you're not well versed in type — or indeed at all. I was hoping Alexis would have received new insight after his project to first develop a concept before designing a typeface — whether that be a typeface from scratch or one modeled from Rhetorica.

If indeed this Rhetorica is taken as a base then I think it should first be stripped completely from all its curves, give it a new x-height and proportions, etc. I have to be honest though, you might as well start from scratch if you're thinking of using an existing typeface as a base.

hrant's picture

I meant dangerous as in how people perceive him.


Bendy's picture

I can't personally see much of a reason to adapt Rhetorica. I would hope if anything this episode has shown the futility of adapting an existing design. I'd really recommend drawing from scratch: that's a much better way to learn how to make design decisions about proportion, rhythm and typographic tone, and how to control curves. Those decisions are the fun part of the design process, testing ideas and seeing how they affect each letter, and how everything interrelates. For me the starting point needs to pose a question. Starting from existing curves precludes reaching a true answer, and curtails creativity.

Alexis, I hope you haven't been put off type design, and I look forward to critiquing your next work.

nina's picture

Ben, he is drawing something!

(Alexis – I too applaud your gracious reaction here. Looks like a lesson learned in the best way possible.)

Martin Silvertant's picture

I'm not saying there's potential in Rhetorica as we've established it's Minion, but it would be a pity if Alexis is being put off the idea of designing type now.

Bendy's picture

Ah, ha. Let's see if I can follow through on that critique ;)

Martin Silvertant's picture

Good to see he hasn't given up.

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