octopi's picture

Dear Typophile Pros,

I was wondering if any of you guys would like to share any approaches you have to making alternative weights to your fonts. Where do you start, do you use any scripts or other applications to help you on your way. What is your basic methodology.

Don't mis-understand me, I am not after a quick and easy solution. After having made 3 fonts, all for a greetings card company and designed by their head artist, I wanted to try something completely different. They were hand-writing, scripty type fonts in a single weight so basically, I could get away with a lot and it was a good way to begin.

After doing these fonts I decided to make a font of my own but wanted to try a much more rigid sans serif to counter what I had already done. A little more disciplined if you like. It is quite a heavy font so I have decided to add a lighter weight which brings me back to why I'm posting.

I was looking at Bodoni Egyptian Pro by Nick Shinn, especially the wonderful PDF that you can download from MyFonts. In the 'Evolution' section Nick explains how it has come to be in it's present form but if you were starting this again, what would your approach be to the weights and italics?

I know you can alter the weights globally in Fontlab, with all it's pitfalls and advantages, but this does get you on your way and moving in the right direction. Any insights on methodology would be mostly appreciated as I am struggling a little with this and going in circles.

Thank you so much for all the outstanding knowledge in this forum.


hrant's picture

One trick is to use Fontographer -not FontLab- to generate an automatic weight shift and use that in the background as a guide.

And some rules of thumb: darker weights need more contrast, more width, tighter spacing, and a higher x-height.

- Weights often get used in pairs, so plan them accordingly.
- Setting light-on-dark text makes a font look lighter; if you have a fine enough weight gradation you can build in an accommodation of this (meaning the color of weight_n will look equal to weight_n+1 reversed).
- You can make a -narrow- range of weights uniwidth (meaning changing the weight doesn't affect linebreaks). Beyond this range you can still use a favorite trick of mine: make them "fixed offset", which means applying let's say +5 tracking to the Light makes it uniwidth with the Regular.

See also De Groot's non-linear scaling method (which some people don't believe in however).


hrant's picture

Something else:
Although I'm still not buying this new trend (championed by Yanone and Hasebe) of making each weight/style its own animal (it seems too self-indulgent, and really, that's what different fonts are for) I do think there's a threshold beyond which a weight is too light/dark to be used as a text face and that means it can -and probably should- have a different nature.


octopi's picture

Thanks for your insight hrant.

One thing I am certainly not doing is making the lighter weight its own animal. To me, the whole point of different weights is to keep a continuity throughout the face. I do tend to agree that if one decides to make them too different it should be a different font.

You have given me some avenues to pursue.

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