Prodigal Text

aquatoad's picture

Hi everyone.

This is an idea i've been kicking around this summer and
wanted to get your reaction. It started as sketches that had
the diagonal break in the bowls, over time it became more
economical in width. I will certainly need loads of help with
the forthcoming italics. What do you think so far?

Randy

Prodigal Roman

emor's picture

I like it. One thing I noticed right off was that the bottom serifs on both the a and b look almost like mistakes(bumps)when I'm not focused directly on them. IMHO the serifs might need to be a little more pronounced. I usually don't post since I'm just starting out learning about typography, but this struck me purely on an asthetic level.

hrant's picture

The descenders are too long with respect to the ascenders (for a text face).
And that's not a matter of "concept" mumbo-jumbo, but one of linguistics.

hhp

ideagent's picture

Hey Randy,

Very impressive! My eye went immediatly to the lc a. It made me wish the "e" had the same flair. It would be interesting to see a closeup of the b, h, p etc. Does the diagonal stroke meet the curve at a point? If so, what would it look like if this was more exagerated or obviously angled?

aquatoad's picture

Tom, LC a was the first glyph. Tried the e with the same angle as the break in the bowls but it looked too odd. Here is a pdf for close viewing. The answer is that they are curved slightly. I felt they gave a bit of sparkle without hurting legibility.

Hrant, linguistics? Please explain.

Randy


application/pdfsample
prodigal_sample.pdf (41.9 k)

hrant's picture

Looking at the PDF, my only problem is that you're using both
totally sharp corners and slightly rounded corners: discord.

Linguistics: The Latin alphabet (when used for most languages, and particularly English) uses the vertical Cartesian space in different proportions in terms of ascender, x-height and descenders. The x-height conveys the greatest chunk of information to the reader, and the descenders almost nothing. You still have to balance that against the importance of diverging boumas, but irrespective of the proportion you give to the x-height/ascender ratio, the descenders have to be notably shorter than the ascenders. In a real text face.

hhp

ideagent's picture

Randy: Yes, I see what you mean. I guess what I am missing is possibly what Hrant is alluding to: the terminal of the "a" is not reflected in the other characters. I almost want to see the s and f end in the same manner. I also agree that the descenders could be slightly shorter. I do like the angled strokes.

The letter "e" is jealous of the "a" though. I can sense it. ;-)

aquatoad's picture

Hrant, thanks for the explanation, makes sense.

Tom & Hrant. sharp + round = discord.
Yep I detected that but was hoping it might be ok. The
slight roundings are mostly noticed at the break in the
bowls which Tom saw, but also in the f, t, c and r. The
sharp corners are most pervasive in the serifs (which I'm
not totally thrilled about).

a) round the serifs?
b) sharpen the joins?

This has some garamondation to it which makes me lean
toward rounding the serifs. Not sure though. Shorter
decenders it is.

Tom, tried the a-style beak terminal on the s, c , f and r. It
hurt legibility bigtime. But I don't want to lose it in the "a"
as it's one of my favorite parts.

Thoughts on the g? I like how it keeps that nice angular
rythm, but not sure about how it looks up next ot a foot
serif as in "-ing."

Randy

hrant's picture

Sharpen the joins. Out with mush.

The "g" seems decent. Try setting some words with
double-"g"s. You might find that the join is too thick.

hhp

kris's picture

I like this. But I am not sure about yer lc 'a'. It looks like someone has punctured the counter, and it has a flattie. the bottom terminal o the lc 's' looks a little odd to me as well. But overall, it has a solid feel.

ideagent's picture

Randy: I don't mind discord in a font as long as it is done purposefully and consistently. I agree with Hrant, between those two options, I would sharpen the joins. This, to me, is what makes the font interesting. But how far do you go with it? If the beak terminal does not work on the other letters, perhaps you should modify the "a" so they are consistent? Another thought: perhaps the angles could be slightly more obvious? (see below...it was easier to show than describe)

Angled on the top stroke, slightly rounded on the bottom. Just a thought...

gulliver's picture

I really like this too.

For some reason, it makes me think of an angular version of Poppl Pontifex (http://www.identifont.com/show?U6), although it really is quite different in many respects.

The only thing I might suggest so far is to try thinning the join of the lower-case "a" where the bottom of the bowl meets the main stem above the tail. It looks a bit dark there, and might clog up a bit at smaller sizes, or at least muddy up a bit. That might help alleviate the "flat tire" look that Kris mentioned.

I'd also apply the same aesthetic that you applied to "hamb" above to all of the curves. The lower-case "f", "t" and "s" seem to want similar treatment.

Nicely done. This will be a font to watch.

David

jfp's picture

The main problem in this nice font, is that the counters follow too much forms. The horizontals of the n, m, h and b, d, p etc. are really toooo light. The lower part of the a don't follow enough the usual way to connect u for example. You've designed mainly a vertical typeface and miss that horizontals exist too., connections between horizontals and stems are a key part in typeface design. really.

To see more what I wrote, check the usual suspects: Galliard, Adobe Garamond, Sabon Next, Palatino, Apolline, etc.

aquatoad's picture

Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement!
I'm digesting it all before making further revisions. More is
welcome.

JFP, I have noticed the "mainly vertical typeface"
phenomenon and would like to work it out. After looking at
the usual suspects I'm still confused about how to add
more horizonal. Could you explain more, please?

Also, when you write the counters follow too much
forms
are you saying it's too mechanical?

Tom, David good thoughts. David (Kris) JFP's observation
about the a vs. u may solve the flat tire problem.

Hrant, goggle eggs here I come.

Thanks again all.
Randy

piccic's picture

I'm not sure how you started, but what do you think of printing a sample big enough to redraw some letters in pencil, trying to find common traits among related letters as well? Usually I'm not worried about having very different forms within an alphabet, but yours seems pretty ordered and it would benefit from a bit of homogeneization. I think you'll be able to get what Jean-Fran

aquatoad's picture

I've taken your advice claudio and printed, going back to
the pencil (started there too!) With certainty, the next
incarnation will not be quite as condensed (this is definitely
helping the horizontal flow). Plus I am reworking the serifs.

I've been fooling around with an assymetrical serif--
bracketed on the left, not on the right. The reasons I like it
are:

1) It seems to drive the type forwards
2) It has some of the sharp round discord found elsewhere.

However, I see those same serifs (ok, not exactly exact!) on
two recent postings in the serif forum, Quetzal and
Bertrand (both super by the way). I don't know the history
of this form, or how unusual this treatment is, I hadn't seen
much of it in mainstream fontland. If there's a history
lesson coming, I'd love to hear it...

Please tell me: "One of the old/dead guys thought this up
long ago and it pops up from time to time, so don't get
worked up about going there."

- Is this treatment left over from a serif drawn in one
motion with a flat tipped pen?

- What are some other fonts that have this kind of serif?

Thanks,
Randy

hrant's picture

> Is this treatment left over from a serif drawn in one motion with a flat tipped pen?

Yup. So it's very old. Like Jenson old.
Maybe the best recent font with that feature is Rialto.

hhp

kentlew's picture

>Please tell me: "One of the old/dead guys thought this up
long ago and it pops up from time to time, so don't get
worked up about going there."


Yeah, what you said.

>- Is this treatment left over from a serif drawn in one
motion with a flat tipped pen?


Yeah, what you (and Hrant) said.

>- What are some other fonts that have this kind of serif?

Off the top of my head: you can find this kind of
treatment in Frutiger's Apollo and de Does's Trinit

jfp's picture

Apolline, Berkeley too.

Anyway to answer to the question about asymetric in serifs:
"Is this treatment left over from a serif drawn in one
motion with a flat tipped pen?"

Yes, the form came from a study of the ductus produced by the broad edge pen when doing the terminals. But, as there is various interpretation how humanistic letters has been done at serif level, their his place for infinite variations.

I like particular the "ecce hereditas Domini" typeface done by Noordzij as illustration of his essay called 'The truth about the serif" published in letterletter dating back the end of the eighties for ATypI.

You can access again to the reprint of his texts published in lettereletter in a book of the same title published by Hartley and Marks in 2000.

aquatoad's picture

Thanks everyone. I'll be posting up a new sample in the
next few days. Thanks also for the links. I'd not been to the
Ensched

aquatoad's picture

Version 2.0
What do you think?

- Randy


application/pdfprodigal 2.0
prodigal_v2.pdf (81.4 k)

emor's picture

Looks great. Version 2 definitely has crisper look to it. The 'a' feels a lot more energetic. The old 'a' looks kind of sad in comparison.

hrant's picture

Getting there!

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Hi All.

Here's a third version. I've done the spacing and some kerning. Also, I revisited the shapes. Previous versions still showed too much up and down movement -- not enough horizonal. I've reworked the branches and bowls to give more emphasis to the horiz/vert. transition of the curve (see the diagram in the pdf -- blue is old, black is new). In addition, I exaggerated the angle of the break to keep the character of the old sets despite the thicker horizontals.

I'd love some of the experienced text folk to give me some feedback at this point. It seems much improved to me, but i value your opinions.

Would you set long text in it? If not, why not.

Thanks,
Randy


application/pdfprodigal 3.0
prodigal.3.0.pdf (205.4 k)

aquatoad's picture

Didn't mean for that to sound elitist.
I value everyone's feedback!

-R

hrant's picture

f: Stronger beak.
g: Much stronger ear. Go up.
j: Descender unconvincing.
k: Superb.

Spacing is a hair loose.

I'd use it.

hhp

aquatoad's picture

g: up, as in up like goudy? (away from the x-height)
j: more convincing if it shows more pen/angle?

BTW, the new printer is fantastic. Going to have to reinforce the floors! 6-9 pt text looks great. One quick test i've used is to take a well hinted font, and compare a paragraph with and without type converted to outlines. All at various point sizes. Haven't compared output vs. offset vs. film yet.

Thanks,
Randy

hrant's picture

g: doesn't have to be vertical (and certainly not a Goudy horn), but I think making it more of a "clockwise" curl going above the x-height would be better.

j: I don't do pens. :-) Aesthetically it just seems to need something at the end of the terminal, instead of the wimpy tapering. Strong terminals on extenders help readability too.

--

> compare a paragraph with and without type converted to outlines.

So what was the result?
And I will be waiting for the lino comparison! :-)

hhp

aquatoad's picture

At 1200x1200 dpi

Sabon at 6pt
Outlines version looks like a semibold version of the hinted text. Outlines are still crisp and well defined (you could id it as sabon), tight counters (lc e) still well open.

Sabon at 9pt
Outlines version looks marginally darker than the hinted text.

Sabon at 12 pt
Very very slight difference.

Don't know if this is a good test or not?

Cheers,
Randy

hrant's picture

It's a good test, although somewhat predictable: assuming your printer isn't out of whack, outlines will gain half a pixel (on average, of course - since it's binary) in size when converted to outline. This is because of different rendering algorithms within Postscript - not smart, Adobe - unavoidable?

On a 600 dpi laser outlines will gain twice as much as on a 1200, so the 12 comparison would be like your 6, and you'd have to go to 24 to get "Very very slight".

The best test would be somewhat subjective: figure out at what PPEM most people can't tell the difference between a real font and outlined text.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW, you guys wanna see a seriously horned "g"?
Check out the one in ATF Artcraft:

horned_g.gif

Friggin' rhino of the typecase.

hhp

hrant's picture

{Not my fault!}

horned_g.gif

hhp

hrant's picture

You want something done right, you gotta do it yourself...

http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/horned_g.gif

hhp

eomine's picture

It looks nice, Randy.
Quick comments:
-y is too light;
-a is too squarish;
-t is too short.

> ATF Artcraft

Interesting name, weird "g".

aquatoad's picture

I've been agonizing over the a for some time now. It was the original sketch that triggered this whole project, squarish-ness and all. I've rounded the bowl and you're right. It's better :-)

I've also been working over the e and the c. They both feel awkward -- like they're not sure if they're oldstyle or modern. Also on the e, i've been toying with a diagonal bar ala Berkeley. The nice part about this is that it keeps the hard diagonal theme i have working in the a, b, d, g,h, m, n, p, q, r, s ... we'll see.

I'll post up a new pdf tomorrow -- Randy

aquatoad's picture

Here's the latest version. What's changed:

1. a is less square
2. two versions of e for comparrison
3. g ear slightly heavier
3. g lighter throught the waist
4. y slightly heavier
5. t slightly taller
6. more puncuation added

eomine's picture

Quick comments:
-u is slightly wide;
-j: agree with Hrant, there's something missing down there;
-e: keep the horizontal bar;

>I've rounded the bowl and you're right.
>It's better :-)

I still think it's a little squarish... And the top curve doesn't seem to be "flowing" right. But it's much better indeed. :]

fonthausen's picture

I'm getting the urge to start something else. Must... fight... through!

Well Randy, you are getting there. But you stil have to make at least the Upper Case. :-)

---Jacques

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