13 Nov
Posted in: Font creation
By    5 Comments

Fresh letters – progress report

It’s been a while since my last progress report but life and having to grade 50 exams intervened. Anyway, building on my previous work and trying to take in some of the suggestions I got, I expanded my range of letters.

What I found out

Drawing these letters and comparing them to established fonts really helped me to get a better idea on how to achieve some kind of “harmony”. Here is what I found:

  • It seems simple but it took me a while to fully understand: letters have different widths. In the beginning I tried to stick too much to a roughly equal width, now I’m more liberal in changing sizes. I think it looks much better.
  • As predicted, it gets a little bit easier to draw new letters after a while because you can re-use some fundamental shapes and curves. They still need to be adapted but the rounding of the g can be reflected in b, p, o and so on.

What I want to know

New work always brings new questions, and here are some for you, the expert, fellow beginning type designer, or just casual onlooker of this developing type wreck. Every opinion is welcome.

  • First of all: any general thoughts on what you see below? Don’t worry, I won’t take it personally.
  • What about the little “hook” on the l, t, and i? Too cute?
  • Apparently contrast modulation and proportions are important for coherence. Are any of these recognizable in the samples below? What could be improved?
  • Finally, one more important question: how much cut and paste is ok? Obviously the b and p are pretty similar if you turn them around, same with u and n. There are also similarities in e and c, h and n, and even n and r.

Thanks for the input

Letters a and g
Letters a and g


  • I think the “g” doesn’t really fit. It kind of dwarfs the “a”, and we all know about type a’s and how they feel about being dwarfed…

  • Oooh, this is fun!

    I find the cut-and-paste similarities aesthetically pleasing.

    I’m with Becca on the “g”. The counter looks too large compared to the counter on the “o”. And the “a” also… maybe the top of the bowl on the “a” could go up some to decrease the disparity between the two?

    Also, I don’t know the terminology for this, but I think the space between the main part of the “i” and the dot on it should be closer to 1/3 of the height of the main part than 1/2. That is, I think the dot might look better a bit lower!

    The “e” seems top-heavy.

    I like how the ascenders appear a bit longer than the descenders. Looks good and is easy to read.

    I love the little hook on the i, l, and t – very nice!

    Are you going to do diacritics, punctuation marks, etc. as part of this project?

  • Melissa, thanks for the feedback – you are right on with your terminology. Do I spot a hidden typophile?

    I agree, the g is a little bit large. I was looking at other typefaces and their “g”s are usually larger but this doesn’t seem to harmonize in my font.

    I didn’t really give much thought to the dot of the i but you are right – it needs to come down a bit.

    Ok, your comment on the hook on the i, l, and t seals it – I’ll keep that one. And yes, I’ll add punctuation marks etc. once I have the software all figured out.

  • You have to draw and redraw your letters until you distill their essential form traits. In the process there are some parts that could be used modularly but I suggest doing optical refinements by hand in the end because slight variations are needed in order to polish tension and compensate for optical illusions or stiff mirrored curves.

    I see a more developed idea of tension in “e” but it’s basically monolinear and then you have some modulation on “a” and “g” so you have to decide which way to follow. The upper leg of “k” can shoot a bit higher and also the arm of the “f” and of the “t” are too short. “s” is too narrow. The dot on the “i” is also small, you need to compensate optically for it.

    If you go down this way cleaning up your design you might end with a kind of generic sans serif so I would advise to try to merge the tension of lc “e” with a cleaner modulation of “a” and “g” and to explore more cutesy but discrete terminations as in “l” and “i” so you can end with a display face with a more defined personality. Also try giving your font a small inclination, maybe 1 or 2 degrees.

    It is also time to go back to capitals and see how are they going to play into defining the personality of your face.

  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree, so far this font doesn’t have a completely unique characteristic but I thought it might be a good idea to get a feeling for the basics. I also wanted to create a font that is usable in not just one way.

    One question I have is about “tension” and “modulation” – can you clarify these terms a little bit particularly when talking about combining the tension of the e with the modulation of the a and g. Thanks!

So, what do you think?

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