Trajan Modern

James Random's picture

I don't post here very often, but when I do, you know, I do.

So. I had an idea that, so far, has proven popular among typographic types: Cleaning Trajan.

The typeface is probably one of the oldest, dating back to the Roman Era (but not one of the oldest fonts),
the trouble I find with using Trajan at large sizes is that many of the glyphs appear uneven and raggedy through
a combination of it having been translated to computer before the modern day wizardry we have access to today
and the age of the typeface itself. Though I suspect that the guy who first carved this typeface was very, very
precise about it.

So my intention is to re-do the outline and tidy it up a bit. I'm not sure if this has already been done, but it's
been fun to do so far.
I'm already receiving positive feedback and critique from some of the communities I inhabit and the two
attachments are pre-feedback, but it gives you a general idea.

Trajan Modern.jpg114.1 KB
TrajanAGlyph.jpg121.85 KB
riccard0's picture

Maybe the Critique/Serif section would be a better place to move the thread?

J Weltin's picture

Sorry to comment, but this kind of minimalism is taking all the tension of the letters. Your T looks kinda bloodless to me.

James Random's picture

The preview wasn't done with any particular mind for design, it was really just about the letter itself.

@riccard0, I thought that too, but then I considered that that was probably for finished typefaces.

riccard0's picture

I considered that that was probably for finished typefaces.

Not quite (as you can see browsing the threads).
Sure, having at least 26 letters helps giving more insightful advice.

Nick Shinn's picture

The typeface is probably one of the oldest…

It was designed in 1989.
You won't get very far by tweaking the Adobe outlines.
The Trajan typeface is only one interpretation of the Trajan’s Column lettering.
If you are serious about this, you should start from scratch by analyzing the original lettering, assimilating and synthesizing the letter shapes, and working out a system of serif treatment that is appropriate for a particular size, or at different sizes.
One of the reasons that Twombly's Trajan has been so successful is that its serifs are micro-detailed and small in proportion, making it suitable for display setting.

You are misusing the term "modern"—in type it generally means either a Didone, or related to 20th century modernism, whereas what you are after is merely "clean".
Here's a clean Roman capital:

typerror's picture

Werner is a master of the Roman. Senatvs is an incredible font... he really outdid himself on this one.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I see a good deal of 60ies-flavoured Zapfism in the Senatus shapes. This one does not outlevel Twombly’s type.

Queneau's picture

As Nick said, there are many different interpretations of the letters on the Trajan Column out there, as well as letters inspired by roman inscribed lettering on buildings and monuments. They all focus on different aspects, some are more calligraphic, some more sculptural, some more clean whilst taking the basic shape of the letters. If you would be interested in doing a new interpretation of Trajan it would be better not to start from an existing interpretation. Rather have a look at the original letters. As these letters were chiseled into stone there is variation among the letters. Also you could have a look at the various interpretations already out there. Two the top of my head:

Goudy Trajan

And there are many that share its spirit but take more liberties with the original, echoing the original more in feel than in exact design.

typerror's picture

More of a Poppl flavour Andreas :-) And I agree about Twombly's... just a different interpretation, with a pen influence as opposed to "brush/chisel."

dberlow's picture

>the trouble I find with using Trajan at large sizes is that many of the glyphs appear uneven and raggedy...

No only are there many interpretations of the type on Tranjan's column, but any one of them is sensitive to use at a particular range of sizes.

>Though I suspect that the guy who first carved this typeface was very, very
precise about it.

And likely precise about rendering larger sizes with size and word-specific solutions.

So, I think you could be onto something, but you'd need a more precise target in order to "clean" Trajan.

Nick Shinn's picture

I fantasize about doing a version of "Trajan" with a centred period in lieu of the space character.

William Berkson's picture

There are a number of other good interpretations of the Trajan letters, including Penumbra and Garda. Maybe Penumbra serif has done what you are thinking of?

Ray Larabie's picture

I made a stripped down Trajan a few years ago called Byington.

Trajan has historical blah blah and there are many fine interpretations etc. For the general public, it might be more familiar as the official font of every movie poster ever. Byington was commissioned by Roxio for use in DVD titles, back when video interlace flicker was an issue, hence the chunkular, totally flat serifs. The proportions of most of the caps were drawn over photos of the column engravings. The lowercase, numerals are Sabon/Garamondesque; mostly modular with some relation to the caps.

CanwllCorfe's picture

Wow! The first thread I read and I'm at a complete loss at what people are saying. So much new terminology! I need to do a lot of reading. But anywho, I know Cyan is based off Trajan, and is quite a gorgeous font.

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