ill sans

hd steve's picture

hello friendly people of the type world. I have spent my Easter weekend working on my first little type-face project. Which i have called 'ill sans'. Being a novice at such things i thought I'd start out with an homage to a classic. That way i have a much needed reference point. I have always been intrigued by the black sheep of the gill sans family—the ultra bold weight. It seems so comical and quirky compared to the rest of it's family, which seems, well, quite serious. It's like that Hawaiian shirt i like to wear to work on casual fridays. Anyway, i digress. What i wanted to do was make a kooky rounded hand-rendered version, that was less 70s and more party. I thought it would go nicely with some illustrations that i'd been working on for a little recipe book i'm putting together.

This font is obviously just for display purposes. So i thought I'd try it out for that specific purpose in my recipe book. I've paired it with Ludwig, because: although they may have a different heritage, I find Ludwig to be a beautifully refreshing alternative to Gill Sans. I figured they could be friends.

But what i would love to hear is: some feedback. obviously it is pretty clumsy, but that might be part of it's charm? but some letters seem a lot darker in shade than others. but it's kind of like that with Gill Sans Ultra Bold...

things i have changed: i've given the l a tail, and made a single and double storied a. Can't decide which one i prefer as the default. Also—can i expect to get a cease and desist from Monotype?! Looking forward to hearing your aesthetic and legal and otherwise expert advice.


daverowland's picture

Hi Steve

Surprised nobody has commented on this one. I like it a lot, which is strange considering I hate Gill Sans Ultra Bold. I can see it being useful, and your examples in the recipe book look great. I think as long as you haven't used a digital version of Gill Sans as a starting point and just messed around with some curves, you shouldn't expect any heat from Monotype, Adobe etc. The name might be tempting fate though!

Regarding the actual design:
1. I like the tail on the l
2. I prefer the single storey a, but keep the double storey as alternate
3. lower case i - I never understood that silly little tittle in GSUltra, and changing it might be a good way to get away from comparisons - maybe have a wide oval tittle, or drop the stem hight to make room for a big circle
4. ff looks like crashing glyphs - make a ligature with smoother connection
5. On the subject of ligatures, either make a load of double letter ones with different wobbles or (even better) make a whole set of alternates and code them to alternate - good article about this by Nick Shinn on I Love Typography at the moment
6. A few useful dingbats - hands, arrows, stars, borders, frames etc. in a similar style to the mouth illustration above would be a nice addition to the font


1996type's picture

I hate gill sans in general, but this is seriously good. The reason (I guess) why you haven't recieved much feedback is because you don't show a simple a-z & A-Z sample.

The only thing that isn't working IMO is the top of the t. Make it curve the other way, so that the triangle becomes larger.

The dots on i and j (tittles) are often small in Display fonts of this kind, but I'd like to see larger ones as an alternate.

PLEASE DON'T STOP WORKING ON THIS. I'd say this has great commercial potential if you select the right audience.

Jasper de Waard

1996type's picture

BTW: what's the typeface you used for the text "Beat egg yolks...Fold in firm" in your sample above?

"Ill sans" doesn't sound fun enough IMO. How about 'Waffle' ?

hd steve's picture

Thank you Dave and Jasper for your comments! Unfortunately i was burgled and my laptop and the backup to my laptop were stolen. So I'm back to square one on this but thanks for your feedback, I am encouraged to give this font another go. Should be easier the second time round. Yeah would be real cool to have random alternates. I don't know if i am able to do this with TypeTool? Might have to invest in Fontlab? Will read the article and look into it.

And next time round i will also play with the i dot options. I kinda don't mind the small dot but yes it is quite iconic to gill sans ultra and would be cool to see what other options i can come up with. Yes i see what you mean with the 't'. And dingbats would be fun to make. Oh, and Jasper, that beautiful font in the recipe book is 'Ludwig' by OurType.


hrant's picture

Sorry to hear about your computer. I hope you do finish it - for one thing it would be great to see this mixed up with Gill Kayo for a form of "emphasis".

But I do have a concern: exactly how is/was this derived from the original?


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