Here’s a text face I’ve been working on for a couple of months. There are some problems but I’ve been looking at it too long to be objective. Let me know what’s wrong. Be brutal.
i’m about to go to sleep, so i don’t have a ton of time, but the ﬁrst thing i noticed is the length of the extenders. the t throws me oﬀ the most. i dig the g, mostly for it’s sheer oddity. funny how something so small can make such a big diﬀerence. the serifs on x and y seem a little sharper and more pronounced than the rest. this has been far from brutal, but i’m sure others will be. i’m curious to see what hrant thinks of your boumas.
I’m not sure where I got “chapter 7” — a short circuit, sorry. It’s in “The other hand”, from page 79. “they should write readable writing downwards.” Never mind that’s not readable at all, of course… It’s actually somewhat cryptic (maybe for a reason) — the ﬁrst time I read it I misunderstood him. But then it hit me: they have to write downwards to maintain the angle of the broad-nib pen wrt the Holy letter structures, even if that means they can’t read their own writing. So of course forget the user! :-/ The plain truth is that left-handers don’t ﬁt into the GN universe. They are uncivilized. The worse truth is that the GN-ers are in fact not interested in much more than their own self-expression. Artists. And this pops up here and there, like in Peter Bilak’s recent interview with Majoor, where the latter says that designing fonts does not depend on the language being set. Ergo: design is an individual exercise; the user doesn’t really matter. Saying the user matters isn’t enough, your fonts have to mean it. Your italic needs to visibly lean. hhp
Saying that the writing of left-handers writing in a particular direction (left-to-right) with a particular writing implement is not readable is very diﬀerent from saying that left-handers are illiterate. Illiterate typically means unable to read, not unable to write readably. You ignore GN’s statement that ‘I encourage left-handed students to write with their left hand [as opposed to some teachers who still force lefties to try to write with the right hand], because they too should work under optimal conditions.’ This seems to me a very long way from saying that left handers are ‘uncivilised’. He goes on to to say that the broad nib is ‘essential for discussing left-handed writing’ [my italics]; he is not saying that everyone must use broad nibs, as you seem to be suggesting, but that the broad nib reveals the diﬀerence between left and right hand writing in the same direction. His point about writing downwards is that this is the only way for left handed people to obtain the same stress pattern that readers expect and are used to recognising in, ahem, boumas. He does not say anywhere that the result of writing downward is unreadable to themselves or to anyone else: he says completely the opposite, that it is only by writing downwards that they can produce something generally readable. Rather than being contra-reader (user) as you seem to be suggesting, he is saying the opposite: that in order to satisfy the reader a lefty with a broad nib needs to write downward rather than left-to-right. Basically, I think you have completely and utterly misread every sentence of this short piece, perhaps because you have convinced yourself that it is ‘cryptic’. It is not: it is straightforward. I have not read Bilak’s interview with Majoor, but I’m not sure that you are correct to identify the latter as a ‘GN-er’.
Graham, sorry about the digression. Really, we do care about your typeface, and reading Noordzij is good for anyone, even or especially those who decide that they disagree with him. One of the nice things about Noordzij is that there is something with which to disagree, which wouldn’t be the case if it were all about art and personal expression.
Hi Graham. I’m going to echo John’s thoughts about sticking to upper case to begin with, because of the reduced number issues. Consider comparing your caps with the capitals from Bodoni in a Bold or Black weight. This will give you a great sense of the way the weight should be applied. Two Rules of thumb you will ﬁnd in well drawn font: 1. The weight goes from upper left to lower right. Look at the Bodoni M compared to yours. It has to be: M = l + \ + / + l (hope that makes sense, it
> …. is very diﬀerent from saying that left-handers are illiterate > This seems to me a very long way from saying that left handers are ‘uncivilised’. You’re right — those statements make me sound as polemical as GN himself. It’s just so much fun. But at least it doesn’t take me long to admit it and revert to rationality. Anyway, GN can butter things up as much as he wants, the fact remains that: 1) When you can’t read your own writing (because you’re writing vertically) that’s pretty bad… 2) GN sees the invention of printing as a fall. This is not my idea — I got it from Kinross. 3) GN never addresses reading to any usable depth. 4) GN thinks that civilization depends on writing. Like your Eskimo friends are animals. John, don’t be such an Ari Fleischer. > I have not read Bilak’s interview with Majoor Please do — it’s very revealing. http://www.typotheque.com/articles/interview_martin_majoor.html And tell us honestly what you think/feel. — > The weight goes from upper left to lower right. But what about the “Z” for example… The exceptions to chirography even in type from chirography worshipers are so fundamental, that it’s best to just make a clean break. Already. hhp
He he. Touche. The Z. But that simple rule of thumb would solve many of the issues he has working in the caps. BTW here is the scan I was talking about for modern cap form and proportion. Don’t know what will happen when I upload it. Graham, hope it helps. (should provide something for people to chew on anyways) Regards, Randy
1) When you can’t read your own writing (because you’re writing vertically) that’s pretty bad… Get some comprehension skills Hrant. GN doesn’t say that lefties can’t read their own writing when they right vertically. He says it is *only* by writing vertically that lefties, if using a broad nib, can produce readable writing. Not just readable to them, but readable to anyone, because if they write from left-to-right the stress in their letters falls in an unfamiliar pattern that makes it diﬃcult to read because readers, including lefties, are used to recognising bouma-shapes based on a particular set of stress patterns that developed from the writing of right-handed people. Writing vertically is not the problem: writing vertically is the solution.
The only problem I have with left handers is they write with the wrong hand. Other than that some seem to be okay. Wink, wink. I’ve ordered Letter Letter and it should be here the middle of next week. I’m in the middle of Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style, but while that does have some good parts on design of letterforms, it’s mostly about page composition. Are there any other texts I should be searching out? Just to let you all know the reason for attempting this typeface is to learn all this stuﬀ. I’ve always found that failure teaches me more than success does. Graham
> GN doesn’t say that lefties can’t read their own writing when they right vertically Probably because it’s so damning! But that’s what it leads to. In eﬀect lefties would have to learn two ways to read to get through the day. And for what? Because supposedly the only “readable writing” is that built according to the GN dogma? Ideological hogwash. Who today friggin’ reads handwriting anyway?! The bottom line is that GN is telling lefties they should write vertically if they want it to be “readable”. It reminds of something he himself has said about Updike: How could somebody so intelligent say something so stupid? Simple: vested emotional/psychological interest. > unfamiliar pattern At no time and nowhere has GN ever seriously discussed “familiarity”. And it’s extremely funny that that same lame excuse is the foundation of both the GN school and the Emigre school, its nemesis! Of course, they’re both wrong — because they’ve never taken the time to actually analyze. Artists. hhp
Hey, Randy, Thanks for posting the Modern Caps but even if I choose “Save Link to Disk” I get nothing but encoded gibberish. Maybe as a .pdf or a .swf? Thanks, Graham
This is in the wrong folder… The g’s ear is generally considered an essential part of the character, but you have at least one historical precedent for an earless g: Frederic Warde’s Arrighi, which eventually became Centaur italic.
Sorry bout that, must not like a tif. Try this pdf. R
I should note for the bibliography that this sketch is Benton by way of Benguiat. Some of the features are exagerated (like the X and the cleavage in the B) so that you can really see them. Anyways, hope it’s useful. R
Got it, Randy, Thanks. Graham
Hrant, I’m not even going to bother responding to your latest inanity. If anyone is interested, they can go and read Letterletter themselves and, presuming most people have better comprehension skills than you display, will quickly understand what GN is actually saying about left-handed writing. I’m satisﬁed, at this point, simply to have disproved your ‘GN says that lefties are illiterate’ bollocks.
Hey, come back here! In any case, bollocks is relative. What about these two gems (from Quaerendo)? “Writing is linking our study with the roots of civilization; the analysis of writing encompasses everything.” “The nature of contrast, translation and expansion, is the main factor in any typographic image. The measure of the contrast, the weight of the stroke come only second. The details of the serifs are secondary.” Riiight. Illiterate cultures are not part of civilization, and a text face can be hairline thin or ultra black… hhp
and a text face can be hairline thin or ultra black What? He’s saying that the nature of the contrast, i.e. whether it is formed by translation or by expansion, is primary, and the measure of the contrast, i.e. whether there is a lot or a little, is secondary. In this, he’s encouraging people to look beyond the superﬁcial appearence of type as dark or light, and look at the structure of the letters: to see how they have been made dark or light. There’s no comment at all in there about what kind of *weight* is appropriate for a text face. Where do you get these ideas, Hrant? Seriously, for someone who spends so much time talking about reading, you don’t seem to be very good at the part of reading that involves comprehension and understanding.
John, you consistently side-step most of my points, typically choosing only one for which you can make a semblance of a refutal. It’s not going to work. > he’s encouraging people to …. Not really. He’s stating what’s Good and Bad. He’s saying for example that Perpetua’s lc “d”* is Bad, and even the dark weights of Ruse are more appropriate for text. Bull. * John, you’ve said that that glyph doesn’t bother you. Good for you. You’re not a GN-er. Admit it and stop evangelizing something you don’t really even believe in! hhp
Hrant, your basic misconception is that in attempting to understand something, I am evangelising it. My interest is in understanding what Noordzij has to say, which so far has turned out to be diﬀerent enough from what Papazian thinks Noordzij is saying for me to reject your interpretation. But now the conversation has become silly: you quote Noordzij without context and pronounce an outrageous conclusion that cannot possibly be supported from the text that you quote; I point out that what you quote doesn’t support your conclusion, and suggest an interpretation that is better supported by Noordzij’s words; you ignore me and begin again by changing the focus to the Perpetua d or the weights of Ruse or some other thing that is completely without reference to the original ideas under discussion. I’m sorry but I can’t discuss this any more with you, since you repeatedly refuse to stick to what interests me, which is to understand. You say that I ‘consistently side-step’ most of your points; this is because I believe most of your points are red-herrings and empty provocations thrown up to distract me from the one thread of the conversation that I’m doggedly trying to follow. You wrote earlier that you argue because you enjoy it, not because you’re right. I engage in conversations because I’m interested in understanding the subject of discussion, and know that other people, even people I disagree with, can contribute to that understanding. It’s a pity that, because of your hobby, almost every conversation with you becomes an argument.
Getting back to Greetham… What’s salvageable? Thanks, Graham
If this is a display face: It has the potential negative stigma of “ITC Syndrome”, but I think it escapes that thanks to its roughness, which seems to give it a nice character. The cramped descender can be seen as a character trait, but I would raise the ascenders a little bit. If this is a text face: It needs more color (and tighter spacing), especially since the short descenders make it most suitable for very small sizes. But I’d still raise the ascenders. I think the lc “g” works — only certain other type designers will complain. The bar of the “t” needs to be rounded on the left. UC needs mucho work. Good luck, and happy bouma design! :-) hhp
I don’t think we’re going anyone a favour discussing whether a ‘g’ without an ear works while studiously ignoring the fundamental problems of weight, proportion, stress and consistency. It seems obligatory on the Typophile critique to ﬁnd something nice to say about every typeface, and to limit criticism to details, but the fact is that this is a typeface with a hell of a lot of very basic problems. Graham, you need to go back and look at a lot more type much more closely. Begin with the uppercase letters* and concentrate on proportion and stress (pattern of thick and thin strokes). Letters in your design with extreme problems are A, J, M, N, P, R, U, and V. When you’ve ﬁgured out better proportions and have the stress falling in logical places (see especilly M and N), than start looking at details. Check the consistency of your serifs (B, P and R all have problems). The uppercase R probably has more problems than any other letter. From looking at some features of your design, especially the E and L, I see that Goudy has been a inspiration. Fred Goudy was occasionally a genius, but he has very little to teach anyone else: his work is idiosyncratic, and when it succeeds its a happy surprise. As a beginner, you would learn more from a more systematic designer like W.A. Dwiggins, Matthew Carter or Walter Tracy, in whose work one can see the logic behind the design decisions. Goudy was a kind of freak of nature. I recommend that you pick up a copy of Gerrit Noordzij’s Letterletter. Don’t treat it as a text book, and don’t accept everything that it has to say as gospel, but it will provide you with the mental tools to understand what is happening structurally in a typeface. *I wouldn’t nomally recommend to a designer working on a ‘text’ face to start with the uppercase, but I think it is a good way for a beginner to cut his teeth because the number of issues to deal with is smaller than in the lowercase. I think everyone’s ﬁrst typeface design should be caps only.
Awwww, stupid me. i was bleary-eyed when i posted it. Yes, it goes in serif. I worked a “g” with an ear and didn’t like it but that was early on. I’ll revisit that. I’ve never been satisﬁed with the “t” and what you see is the result of a bunch of redraws. I need to go in and rework the lc v,w,x,y series and the UC B, M, N. Any speciﬁc suggestions? As for the spacing, what you see is an overcompensation of an earlier crowding. Is there a metrics fomula for text faces, or at least a guide line to go by? I’m working at home and my dog doesn’t know anything about type design. He’s happy, but dumb. I have been intending this to be a text face and will be conducting rennovations to that end. Wonder why all the hyphens dropped oﬀ when I converted to .swf, anyone have any ideas? Thanks for the help! Graham
Thanks, John, that’s exactly the type of criticism I was looking for. It presents me with a hell of a lot more work than I want at this stage, but you know, I want the typeface to be good, so it’s work I have to do. Thanks, Graham
I think some of what John says is right on. Like the UC is such a mess that you can see I avoided it entirely… :-/ On the other hand, I think maybe this is a design that doesn’t appeal to John, and he’s not appreciating that it might still appeal the others, and even make some money? Hey, frankly it doesn’t appeal to my aesthetic either, but to me a good critique starts with putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Oh, and do read Letterletter, but with a 20 pound bag of salt under your right hand. Or your left hand if that makes it more convenient — except according to Noordzij left-handers are illiterate (chapter 7), so… hhp
It isn’t that this kind of design doesn’t appeal to me: there are a few Goudy faces in a similar style that I really think are brilliant. I’ll admit that I wouldn’t be inclined to work in this style myself, but I don’t think that’s clouding my judgement. Note that I didn’t make any comments about the style of the type, only about proportions, weights, etc. As far as I’m concerned, only the users of type really need to fuss about style: for me as a type designer, everything is in the details, and I think it is possible to examine any style of typeface from the inside out.
except according to Noordzij left-handers are illiterate (chapter 7) Hrant, can you point me to a speciﬁc passage in Letterletter where Noordzij says that left-handers are illiterate? I can’t ﬁnd this. Thanks. There’s certainly some nonsense in chapter 7 re. boustrephedon, but I must have missed any references to left-handers.