Untitled Grotesque

bensyverson's picture

This is my first post, so: Hello! I'm not a type designer by trade, but I've been interested in typography for 25 years. A few months ago, I finally bought Glyphs and started noodling around. I had no goal, and wasn't looking at any references, but what came out was this friendly blend of Avenir and Akzidenz, with capitals that are more upright and American. Somehow, the more I tried to remove my own hand, the more of a self portrait it became. Has anyone experienced that?

Anyway, it has already been a fascinating process, but at this point, I'd love some feedback. I'm open to any type of comment or critique. I have 3 masters so far.

Regular
regular

Hairline
hairline

Black
black

Hairline
hairline

Regular
regular

Medium (interpolated)
medium

Black caps
black

Black
black

Block text (Regular)
regular

eliason's picture

Why is the /l/ so tall?

Birdseeding's picture

For a first-time effort, in an ambitious genre, that looks surprisingly good! You do have experience of bezier curve drawing from before, obviously. It's not the most innovative thing but it's a good start – I think you need to consider the personality of the typeface more, what direction you're taking it, because especially with the black it seems to hover between some chunky, fun characters and some that are more straight-laced.

If possible, could you upload a PDF specimen? With the inherent limitations of pixelled bitmaps it's hard to tell whether something is, say, a major spacing issue/a black blob of a stem width, or just a result of the bitmap itself. Not to mention curve wobbliness, hard to tell at this magnification level.

/u/ is, at least, too wide. The black /t/ looks somewhat too heavy compare to the other characters, and it's a pity (though perhaps unavoidable) that the /y/ loses its connection to the /j/.

hrant's picture

It's looking solid. But maybe too solid... What I mean is, unless you intend this simply as an exercise in learning how to make a polished typeface, it seems to need something to stand out for its potential users, to be worth buying, or even just selecting. Which is hard to do without gimmickry. But don't fret about your work turning out as somewhat of a self-portrait; you're a person, making something. Just make sure the objective isn't self-expression, because that becomes mere art; you want to make something useful to others.

BTW, I like the mirrored AKA "rationalist" (as opposed to 66/99) quotes.

hhp

George Thomas's picture

First reaction I had was "Futura". No comment (for now) on individual letters, but the spacing in all weights needs an overhaul. You also need overshoot on round letters; I don't see any.

bensyverson's picture

@eliason: Good catch! I made it taller for contrast with the /I/, but neglected to propagate that change to the other ascenders. Thank you.

@Birdseeding: Thank you so much for your feedback. I'll upload a PDF this weekend. It's interesting that you mention the /u/. I think it's the same width as the /n/—is that typical?

I agree about the black /t/ and /y/ vs /j/. The /t/ can be saved, but in the black weight, the /y/ is a challenge. Maybe I can thin out the curve of the /j/ a bit to match.

@hrant: That's interesting—I'm definitely hesitant to make the face more idiosyncratic simply to make it stand out, but I see your point. I suppose that's the challenge of this style: to tread the line between "understated" and "boring."

I'm still torn about the quotes. Sometimes they feel too cartoony, but I like that they're clear. As opposed to, e.g., Univers, where the contrast between open and close quotes can be lost at small sizes.

@George: The overshoot is perhaps too subtle. I admit it's hard for me to notice it on the samples I posted. It's an overshoot of ±10 units with an x-height of 500, which is about the same as similar faces (I just measured two at ±12). However, it's consistent from the hairline to black—should it overshoot more in the black weight?

I haven't even begun spacing or kerning yet. I'm dreading it!

Thank you so much, everyone—I truly appreciate your input.

hrant's picture

If the other descenders will be made as tall as the unusually tall lc "el", that might very well be the "something" I mentioned...

hhp

cerulean's picture

Hang on! The difference between /l/ and the other ascenders really improves readability. Accidental though it may be, I think it is a brilliant innovation. It distinguishes the forms in a characteristic way and isn't disruptive at all.

hrant's picture

Varying extender length (especially in the largely non-descript, and less cramped, ascender space) is indeed an unexplored gold-mind! I've actually mentioned this as far back as the late 90s. And this could very well be a "happy accident", but ideally you do it by wrapping your head around it first.

hhp

bensyverson's picture

Very interesting to get different takes on my ascender mixup. FWIW, I just raised the ascenders on /bdfk/, and I'm still living with it to see how it feels. I created a very rough PDF specimen (PDF link) for those who wanted to peek at the curve. I'm still deciding whether or not to put in ink traps or other reproduction affordances.

Preview of PDF

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