"Amarach" An attempt at a "dutch face"

Gary Lonergan's picture

One of the problems with designing a typeface is getting feedback. Most designers work in a vacuum and that's why a forum like this is so useful.
I have started looking very critically at my half finished type projects and decided that my passion for Dutch typefaces could provide enough impetus to design a really nice text face.

So I looked at a lot of the typefaces I really like such as Lexicon, Van den Keere, Swift, and Lectura. I started drawing without referring to any of these in particular and tried to make the characters as quiet as possible. I'm looking at a useful typeface for extended reading.

Here's a first jpeg of work to date and i would really appreciate any comments.

amarach.pdf20.03 KB
Quincunx's picture

I too am a big fan of the Dutch style typefaces. Your sketch definitely has a nice character to it. I find it a bit too sketchy at this point to really go into too many detail, but a few things you could look at:

Mind the contrast (thick/thin), some letters are quite heavy compared to others (i.e. bottom of d/e are heavy compared to the c and b).

The o looks a bit like a rotated transitional o, instead of a humanistic o. Perhaps you could draw a few o's with a broad nibbed pen or broad felt tip (or tape two pens to each other!), to see how you can get that interesting humanistic relation between the inner shape and the outer shape. Some other characters might benefit from this too.

I find the s to be out of place; it doesn't really fit with the typeface (it is also too light), perhaps it's not humanistic enough. I.e. look at the terminals of the c and a, they are more brushy, while the s is very angular with its serifs. Speaking about the a; the top terminal looks a bit too light.

The bottom of the t looks a little bit wobbly. The g looks more French-ish to me than Dutch.

I also think what I said about the s could be applied to the capitals, they look a bit too rigid, especially because of the terminals and serifs. You know, the lowercase looks broad-nib/brushed, while the capitals look like they're chiseled.

Gary Lonergan's picture

fantastic feedback: one of the things i did was to use sharp unbracketed foot serifs while the head serifs have a bracket. I will try some brackets on the capitals E F L etc so the contrast is not so abrupt, Yes the s, always a problem, if I increase the weight it seems too dense. The o was drawn completely in Fontographer so it looks a little transitional – I will have a look again But thanks again for taking the time to comment

Gary Lonergan's picture

The proposed name for this typeface is "Amarach" (pronounced a maw ruck) which is the Irish for tomorrow – an allusion to the fact that it's taken me a long long time to get this far

Quincunx's picture

> ...The o was drawn completely in Fontographer...

Well, I think a typeface like this would really benefit from actually writing some of the letters with a broad nibbed pen or two regular pens taped to each other, so that you start to really understand how the tool has (historically) influenced the contrast and the relation between the inner and outer shapes.

As for the o; it's probably mostly that the contrast is wrong compared to the other characters. The axis of the contrast is something like 30 degrees, but with the o it isn't. In other words, the thickest parts of the o should be at the 2 and 8 o-clock positions, approximately. Just like the thickest part of the b is at 2 o-clock and on the d at 8 o-clock.

Max Phillips's picture

This is gorgeous. And unlike a lot of new designs out there, I think it really does have its own personality, its own reason for being. Very strong and elegant. Favorite glyphs: R, a, h, m, n, r, s. And those tilted squarish tittles on i and j are killer. You can't tell from a large-scale showing like this, but it looks like it might make a really readable face. Mazel tov!

That said, I do agree there's work to do. For one thing, I just can't get comfortable with a mix of bracketed and unbracketed serifs. I know rules were made to be broken, but it seems self-conscious to me. I'd bracket them all, if I were you.

The upper case and the lower don't quite marry for me yet. For one thing, the upper case seems lighter. The stems on the upper case should be a bit thicker than those on lc characters, since they need to be proportional to characters that are bigger overall. The curved strokes need to be heavier still; the fattest part of C should be much thicker than the fattest part of I. The diagonal legs of R and K seem too light to me. (So does the diagonal leg of the k.) And the feel of the whole upper case strikes me as more delicate, lapidary, and van Krimpen-ish than the lower, which has a vigor that reminds me of Lexicon. Maybe you could try beefing up the upper case and bracketing the serifs, and see where that gets you?

The u and t seem a bit heavy at the bottom, and the crossbar of the t seems short on the left side.

The top of that wonderful R seems a bit fragile; the big counter looks like it's ready to burst through it.

There are a few places where the transitions from thick to thin stroke seems too abrupt; the eye of the e, the o, and the lower bowl of the g.

But this is a terrifically strong start. I'm jealous, and I'd love to see where it goes next.

1996type's picture

It looks as if you have quite a good understanding of typedesign, but you're having trouble with the vector tool. All your curves look a bit clumsy. Furthermore, take in acount that diamond tittles are distracting at text size. I would include them as an alternative option.

Keep going!

Max Phillips's picture

For what it's worth, 1996type, Goudy Oldstyle's been a readable, reliable text face for nearly a century, diamond tittles and all. I can't ever recall being distracted by them.

1996type's picture

As many things, it's just an opinion. It's at least worth considering.

Max Phillips's picture

Absolutely, 1996type. Just wanted to provide an alternative view.

Gary Lonergan's picture

Max Phillips: you are a top man your comments, are very encouraging and I will take them all on board
The cap R is a result of the way I do a calligraphic R. I tried it on my other post on Typophile (Erato) but it wasn't successful

1996type: when you say ALL my curves are a bit clumsy I'm a bit concerned. Looking at C and D for example C looks good
while D not quite lowercase g is a bit wonky as is u and the arm of lowercase k. If i really can't see where curves are bad I am as I say a tad concerned that I lack the necessary skills to see this through.
I will make the suggested ammendments and post a revised image soon. Maybe a pdf is better

Sindre's picture

Your curves aren't bad at all. I really like your typeface, though I would try to make it a bit more original. 'R' is brilliant (though I agree the leg is slightly light). If you upload a pdf, I'll give you a more thorough critique. I recommend you have a look at TEFF Renard too, by the way.

Bendy's picture

I'm going to come back to this in a day or two, as it's very nice. One thing I see now is that f and r may need a stronger terminal/hood/beak. And I'll second Sindre on the Renard R. In haste...

Gary Lonergan's picture

Amarach round 2:

Some curves improved in the Capitals, more brackets then an Ikea shelving system, redrawn g, i didn't do anything to f as I'm want it non kerning, arm of K and R strengthened. o redrawn, I tried to install this in my system but it won't replace the old version as I want to make a pdf. Off to bed to think about the italic etc

Max Phillips's picture

Much stronger. I think this is really pulling together and shaping up as a useful and distinguished face. Big improvements to c, r, and t. The R's both gorgeous and sturdy now, and fitting in nicely. I'm still not convinced by the g or the o, though; the g looks a bit heavy and as if it's tipping backward to the left, and the o seems light and just not, I dunno, organic. And I prefer the previous tittles; the very slight rounding of two opposite corners just looks tentative and unfinished to me. I miss the old Palatino-ish broad s, but the new one will probably read better. Though I do think it's got kind of a bump on the bottom of the spine, toward the upper left corner. And could the crossbar of the e be a tad light? But overall this looks tremendous to me, and I think it's getting to where it should be reviewed in text sizes in running text before a lot of further revision is done.

Nice work!

Trevor Baum's picture

Gorgeous, Gary! Can't wait to see the rest.

Gary Lonergan's picture

I over egg things sometimes, the diamonds (tittles is a new term for me) seemed a bit basic so i went in and did some sanding on the corners. I may revert to the simpler form, I'm going to look at g and o again, go over all the characters, add a period and comma
and generate some text. Thanks again, I may even have another look at Erato at this rate

Gary Lonergan's picture

I have generated some text and made a pdf any kind soul like to tell me how to upload or link to it cheers

Gary Lonergan's picture

/Users/user/Desktop/Newfont G/jpegs grabs/amarach.pdf

Trevor Baum's picture

You have to attach it in the original post, or host it somewhere like Google Docs, and then provide a link to the file there.

Gary Lonergan's picture

Thanks Trevor there is now a pdf attached which i want you let loose on

Sindre's picture

I really like this design. Some quick, candid thoughts: 'C' slightly too wide? 'F' looks wider than 'E', should look narrower. I'd widen 'E' a bit. Arm serifs on both look more prominent than their other serifs. 'K' diagonal is too fat. 'a' looks a little unbalanced to me. 'g' beak should be better friends with 'i', 'n', 'm', 'r' serifs. Also, 'g' is too fat above its waistline. Try to rethink that glyph, I'd suggest. Tittles look crisper than the rest of the glyphs, I'd dullen them somewhat. 's' a little to narrow for my taste, but it works as it is. Some serious issues with its curves, though. It looks like you use too many points. Use as few as possible, and mind your extremas. There are similar issues with other curves too. Get rid of all the uneccessary points, and this will be good.

Trevor Baum's picture

The name sounds like it came from a fantasy book, or a metal band. I might look for something more distinctly Dutch (while still pronounceable to the layman), or something else entirely.

Gary Lonergan's picture

I printed out some text today and had the horrors. Weights all over the place, rendering on the screen very blotchy but that's why it's a good idea to test early.

Trevor: Amárach. = tomorrow Beidh sé críochnaithe agam amárach. I will have finished it by tomorrow.
An allusion to the fact that this design took so long to come to fruition. I have about 11 other unfinished type designs

SIndre: I agree with most of the comments its also occurred to me that this face needs more weight this is a light version.
might also be sticking to close to Trajan proportions. and Mike Oldfield??? I'm more of a Planxty man myself

Max Phillips's picture

Your text sample certainly highlights some problems, Gary, but I also think it's showing a whole lot of promise. The paragraph already has a very pleasing look to me; firm, bookish, and distinctive without being eccentric or distracting.

Maybe you should refine the letterspacing in your trial font before you go too far redrawing your glyphs? I agree that the color is blotchy now, but a lot of those dark spots certainly come from too-tight and too-loose letter combos. The left sidebearing of the a seems pretty narrow, for one thing, and the i's seem unmoored.

I agree that your g needs rethinking. It's very dark now, with a very strong horizontal stress; the gg in your sample really jumps out. And I find it just less handsome than most of your lowercase letters.

I think the widths of s & e are spot on, and that the a balances beautifully; I'd hate to see you mess with it too much. But, yeah, those tittles look a little out of place now. Maybe save the tilted squares for another face, and use some sort of rounded shape here?

This is a pretty substantial face now, in my view. Are you sure you want to make it darker still?

I like the name. But then, I'm writing this from Dublin, where I'm visiting my in-laws. I agree that the name suggests something a bit more Gaelic than this.

Gary Lonergan's picture

Here's a first experiment at finding some bolder friends for Amárach. The boldest weight is probably too much but the light weight I have now is a bit bit weedy for text. So the top line is the type as it is middles is a multiple master instance and the bottom is a computer generated bold which was then edited.

JanekZ's picture

O ..... The bolder the better! Obligatorily make an UltraBold.
Best wishes

ncaleffi's picture

Gary, your typeface looks quite beautiful indeed, but when set at small size it has some weakness. In particular, I think you should strengthen the links/necks (see the image attached). I'm not enthusiast over the squared dots, but it's an original design choice. That said, it's a very interesting typeface and I hope you can get to a fully working version.

litera's picture

I tend to agree with @nceleffi. Your links look as if this font is display sized and not text sized. links are too tapered.

But just wow how I like /R/. Very original. It should be the pillar of your font style. Try to style other letters in the same way. /K/ and /k/ could quite easily be done in the same manner. And possibly /B/ and /Q/ but not /P/ etc...

Bendy's picture

Ok so it's taken me a month to get back to this... sorry!

>its also occurred to me that this face needs more weight this is a light version.

No, to me this is a book weight. Your new weights are too heavy to me...if you're going to add weight, leave the hairlines as they are.

I'm enjoying this a lot. I even like the thinning at the junctions.

u too wide?

f...crossbar looks shorter than on t...and a different shape?

g: ear higher?

o (and f): I'd check the contrast in relation to the p, q etc. /f/ may need more overshoot.

H: is the crossbar at the right height?

E & F: there's something unhappy about the down facing middle serifs.

I'd like to see a Q in the same style as the R :)

1996type's picture

I agree completely with Bendy.

'Lexicon' also has very thin junctions. My newspaper (NRC next) uses Lexicon those thin junctions work perfectly fine IMO. In fact, they help to make the text look crisper and more vivid, without being distracting.

The g really seems to be too quirky compared to the rest. Try to base it slightly more on the g in lexicon, which has that crispness to it.

I think it will help the comfort of reading if you let the joints in /n/ (and alikes) and /p/ (and alikes) meet the stem at the same height.

Your thin points in /o/ should be the same thickness as the bottom of the bowl in b.

I think it's a bit too early to move on to bolder/lighter weights, but it's your choice.

Keep going!

btw: There are still some quirky curves, but this isn't much of an issue at text size, so you might as well just ignore them.

ncaleffi's picture

"'Lexicon' also has very thin junctions."

True. But when I look at Lexicon's pdf text setting, the balance between the thick and thin serif looks quite right, while Gary's typeface pdf example gave the impression of lacking strenght in those linkings. Also, Lexicon was originally conceived and
drawned for small size text settings, so I guess every devices has been carefully taken by de Does for achieving the right balance.

Max Phillips's picture

I'm with Bendy: the highly tapered junctions look good to me, and I also thought of Lexicon (and, of course, Swift). Though of course these may need fine-tuning when you see high-res proofs of running text.

I'd also like to draw your attention to Hendrik Weber's Lirico from Ourtype, where the junctions have been tapered down to literally nothing: there are tiny gaps between the stems and the arches. And the result looks lovely and reads just fine:

And I agree that the first iteration was about right for a book weight, and that the newer versions are getting a little plump.

hrant's picture

In the Headland thread* you mentioned you'd also like feedback on this design. Luckily you already got some great feedback! I especially agree with Max's view that this is a nicely individual take on the style, not following precedents too closely.

* http://typophile.com/node/96037

The "g" is especially striking. When I first looked at it I didn't like it, but then I realized it's quite a mature and functional shape - in a way innovative even. I would however make the ear stronger (not least by raising it above the x-line).


Gary Lonergan's picture

Thanks for the great critiques. Thanks for the feedback in general. I got busy doing other font projects and as I have a day job Amarach has taken a back seat. The strange thing is I'm not sure of the g I think it may be a little to lively. But I'm going to revisit Amarach this weekend and I may go back to having sharp unbracketed serifs.So watch this space. G

Syndicate content Syndicate content