Lunchbox #003 with Jean Fran

Joe Pemberton's picture

Ahem, I know the chat was scheduled for 1 hour. So,
being that it's 21:58 in France, we want to be courteous
and let our gracious guest go, if he chooses. =) Though
I'm sure this thread won't end here.

Thanks everybody for your patience with our chat
difficulties. We discovered quickly today that our free
chat engine doesn't like more than 2 dozen people.

We've seen the benefits of live chat sessions and
we're committed to finding a robust chat app to
continue them. You can be sure we'll be using your
membership funds to do it.

hrant's picture

Thanks JF!

hhp

graficartist's picture

Thank you JFP most of all for the stimulating images. Bon soir.

brennan's picture

Yes, thanks JF. Very interesting topic.

Are you keeping the legibility stuff online? I am going to translate it if I can.

jfp's picture

I'm still there, despite some erudite go away already!

there is nothing on tv, and last couple of days has been busy with work at night, so, nice to chat more.

Peter: Does there is difference between the two part of Belgium in term of design? (to try to make the discussion more wider)

jfp's picture

1 hour, or less depending if people still there.

graficartist's picture

>there is nothing on tv

Some things are universal.
********************************
Unfortunately, lunch is long over for me. Thanks again.

jfp's picture

What you mean by bland?

Rayuela
About Spanish, you should ask to Alejandro lo Celso, he have done nice comparisons with his first family when he was at Reading Univ. His type was more lively in Spanish that others language, very imressive.

David Cabianca's picture

Thank you for your time, M. Porchez.

This is sort of an unscientific way of gauging a number of issues raised, but I am curious whether you find that sales of your typefaces tend to go mainly to French speaking countries? (Of course this could be owing to knowledge of the "Le Monde" newspaper, among other things.)

John Hudson's picture

I've tracked down the JFP/PC-O interview/article to which Hrant referred. My mistake: it isn't in one of the US design mags at all, it's in Eye No.45 (Autumn 2002).

hrant's picture

OK, well, since you're staying awake for now!

> others views?

I'm basically like John: I try to analyze a lot, to clarify what design problem I'm actually trying to solve. But -like John implied- cultural issues have to be taken into serious consideration in parallel to functionalist ones.

In fact I was struggling with this myself, after I made Nour (an Armenian font), and wanted to make a "counter-balanced" Latin. I ended up realizing that any single compromise design would simply either make one half happy and the other happy very unhappy, or make both of them a little bit unhappy! And that's when I realized I needed a "network", with primary and subordinate style in each script. Like this:
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/ss_rome2.html

On the other hand, languages in the same script (like what I've been calling "Latinate" here) might be close enough that it doesn't make sense to add such complexity, and it's better just to "snap-to-grid", to some intelligent average. But I have a feeling that some Latinate lanaguages are just too different, for example German.

> Alejandro lo Celso

His site has some great papers (in PDF) that you can download - including on this topic, I think.

hhp

Miss Tiffany's picture

Bon Soir, Allo, Gute Nacht, Buona Sera ... etc

What I find really amazing about image #5 is how seemingly unimportant descenders are for all three languages. Go figure!?

jfp's picture

David: The best customers are US people, not at all French. 1, because its larger country, 2, because the ratio of Internet connection is larger, 3, Franec as latin country show more piracy.

this is not funny. ;-)

hrant's picture

> seemingly unimportant descenders are

Exactly!
The highly bothersome paradox is that the structures of the descenders are much richer compared to the ascenders which are all just sticks except for the wonderful "f".

hhp

Miss Tiffany's picture

I realize of course that descenders are very few.

and with the German language, it has very little variation in letter use amongst the lowercase characters.

Miss Tiffany's picture

So perhaps this could serve as a good reason to make, slightly different, the lengths of ascenders on characters. Taking into account the surrounding characters.

jfp's picture

Joe, I agree perfectly with you. Perhaps Univers still good for headlines, when using Akzidenz Grotesk for text?

jfp's picture

About descenders, I don't what to think? Perhaps as you say, we should differentiate them much as we can, as they are not enough frequent?

brennan's picture

What about the accents in image#5? Are they not calssed as extenders? I have noticed that "i" is.
Would the accents increase the frequency of accenders in both French & German?

Miss Tiffany's picture

Could you perhaps say that using the double-story a and g would help? Or do these characters hinder more than help? I would say they help.

jfp's picture

be careful about the text I used, its the same text translated, so, the structure of its is not completly typical. Impossible in 10 lines!

Widths are a key factor, Jared. As previously say: English suited typefaces, generally show quite wide bdpq. I generally made them narrow to save space and give more rhythm (to my view, I don't know how you -- English speaking guys -- can see that effect invisible or not?)

Also, there is a very strong factor we need to take in our discussion. 80% of major classical faces has been made for Linotype-Monotype will all widths constraints. Just look at Times and check widths, many are same number to fit in Lino and Mono. Same for many others, such past Sabon... So, perhaps Dwiggins, Tschichold and others have some whishes about that question that they never find a way to achieve. no?

jfp's picture

Brennan, you right, but, sometime, we need to make some restrictions in the visual analyse! or we spend the life on such things. I prefer to spend the life to chat with you or designing letters.

I just spend 2 weeks researching this stuff during summer 97 to built my Reading presentation. that's it.

Perhaps, today, some others will continue on similar explorations and bring new ideas. I'm pretty sure Hrant will do.

jfp's picture

All of this stuff is mainly a tool to understood better how we design forms. If it help to explorate the various letters widths we can do in a new typeface, its already very interesting. no? Why follow usual rules to lc widths, when for caps, there is at least two main one, Roman inscription proportions, and Didone/Grotesk proportions.

hrant's picture

> I'm pretty sure Hrant will do.

:-)
Well, to avoid the issue Brennan brought up (deciding if a glyph belongs in one group or the other), what I've done is set a string of letters with their widths scaled according to their frequency - like this:
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/image/s_rome1-4.gif
(Top is English - but you could do one line for each Latinate language.)

In this way, you can immediately get a quick view of actual language! For example you can see that descenders are less important.

hhp

jfp's picture

So, its time to say good bye for today. thanks to Joe and Jared for the invitation, who despite the technicals troubles, who helped to spend good time to discuss this topic. Thanks all. Hope the discussion will stop there!

Next ATypI topic is "between Text and Readers" (something like that). We can perhaps consider this discussion as an introduction of the future conference discussions?

jfp's picture

Hrant, you must design a true typeface (right color) with theses kind of contrasts, its can be interesting, or at least fun to see it in action.

jfp's picture

Hrant, you must design a true typeface (right color) with these kind of contrasts, its can be interesting, or at least fun to see it in action.

brennan's picture

Thanks again JF.

hrant's picture

When I was living there I was admiring things besides the tildes, sorry... :-)

But it's an interesting observation that experimentation is usually best when done by natives.

hhp

Aaron Sittig's picture

The page at the center of this lunchbox chat <http://www.typofonderie.com/legibility/> seems to have gone missing. Has anyone saved a copy that would be willing to host it for posterity, or at least for those of us who missed it.

jfp's picture

yes, sorry for you. I removed them this weekend. I hope to publish them again in another form, into my Gazette or something like that.

defrancisco's picture

Jared, as a spaniard, I can back you up on the tilde above the

Joe Pemberton's picture

Is someone prepared to take on some homework and
figure out how Spanish compares?

Regarding Univers: I didn't realize this benefit of
Univers, other than that it performs very well on screen.
I've always shied away from it because it's very bland.
More bland than Helvetica even. (I know that's
unpopular to say, but I'm sticking to it.)

Joe Pemberton's picture

bland = vanilla = plain = sterile

I mean, if I want the effect of Univers, but I want to add
some nuance, some subtlety or some flavor to it, I
would use News Gothic, Trade Gothic or Akzidenz
Grotesk.

(Ahem, but if I were to set them for multiple languages,
I'd have to look at all three of these again, in a new light!)

Jared Benson's picture

Beyond letter frequencies, what other factors must one take into consideration in designing a typeface for multiple languages? How does the role of character widths play in?

Jared Benson's picture

Can you share some essential kerning pair differences between languages, or would that be considered propietary information?

Jared Benson's picture

What about cultural influence when designing special characters? I've heard of instances when an American designer might be asked to redraw a (Czech?) character (the actual character name eludes me, I'm thinking of that Crossbar-L character) because "you guys always draw those wrong."

When I lived in Spain, I noticed that it was common to see the curly tilde above the

jfp's picture

50's Swiss approch to typeface design. Perfect universality. Universal newspaper typeface, Universal book typeface, Universal signage typeface etc. All of that with in fact only one typeface family, Univers. Remember boring Newspaper design ragged left, asymetric layout, composed with strong grid in Sans serifs. The Guardian was like that longtime ago I think? no?

So, I see three approch:
John rationnal approch who tend to analyse anything, then do it.
Swiss, no analyse, just applies universal rules.
jfp, you design typeface in your image, you can't go another way. Vive la diff

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