1st LC letter ... please critique...

Eric_West's picture

This is the very first stage, about 7 or so hours, of my senior project. I would appreciate any feedback. My inspiration for has been blackletter. It is roman semi-serif though. I didn't want it to have the characteristics of blackletter or even the feeling of it, just used as inspiration.

1> this is a miniscule h. I've only done a partial uppercase roman alphabet before. ( if it sucks, tell me )
2> this is very preliminary, please excuse any dirty edges
3> specifically, i'm not sold on the upper serif on the stem ( work or no )
Sometimes I think it works, other times the part of me that is never happy with my own work says no.
4> intended to be a text face, thinking about a display version, too early to do that.
5> also, advice on how to develop my other weights. should i do one entire weight set, and then do italic and bold/light/small
caps from that, or should they be developed side-by-side?


Forrest L Norvell's picture

I'm a newbie working on a blackletter-related project of my own right now, so maybe my insights will be of some use to you. Before I say anything else, though, I have to say one letter's not much to go on. You probably knew that already, though, right?

Remember that the German name for blackletter translates as "broken letter", which means that the calligraphic articulation in the letter forms is very strong, and stroke changes are often dramatic and irregular. Right now, there's some sort of conceptual breakdown happening between the left side of your h, which reflects this understanding, and the right, which is more like a traditional antiqua. The foot on the right stem makes the entire stroke feel a lot heavier than the stroke on the right, because it's so stolidly planted and the serif is so heavily bracketed. Also, having the calligraphic tail on the left pointing up conflicts with the flat orientation of the serif. You might be able to resolve this conflict by slimming the right stem, but that might unbalance the whole letter.

I think the real solution is to figure out how to get the two feet to work together, either by making them more similar, or by making it clear in the design that they're supposed to be so dramatically different (the way that some of those postmodern remix fonts use obvious discontinuities to show you, the viewer, that they know they're a bizarre mixture of Bodoni and Helvetica, or whatever). What you have right now is kind of a camel, and needs refinement.

dan_reynolds's picture

Smacky, I think that it is a fine h. Letters work together in combination, though. A typeface is a "beautiful collection of letters, not a collection of beautiful letters." Try this out across a few words, post that, and you'll probably get better feedback. If you post it in the "Crtique" section, you'll probably get more eyes, too.


Eric_West's picture

sorry, getting ahead of myself. want to do a good job.

dan_reynolds's picture

I want you to do a good job too ;-). Almost any form can work in combination with other "imaginary" forms that don't yet exist. Its the getting the combination to work right that is the magic. Try it out. You don't need to make a complete lowercase. Try a word with lots of different "parts" in it, like "adhesion" or "absicht" (or anything, really…)


hrant's picture

I agree with Forrest that there's a detachment between the two halves of that "h" - that's the first thing I thought of when I looked at it. And yes, one thing you could do is reduce that, either by changing the terminals (which might however tame the original concept too much), but also possibly by changing the connection from the arch to the stem - like making it flow into the stem instead of having such an abrupt join.

But I can see another approach too: make a font that looks intentionally "hybrid". This might make extra sense here because your source of inspiration (blackletter) is looking largely absent now to be honest - and if it DID inspire you somehow it might be smart to make its presence stronger*. But if you try this route, be careful of one thing: that the result doesn't look like it was made in the 90s!

* Look at the Fraktur subcategory of blackletter to see an old-school hybrid in action.

As for the funky head serif, I think it could work, but maybe try to make it more like the bottom-right foot serif (which might also help tie the two halves together better, if you decide to go that way).

And yeah, make more glyphs! Although a single glyph can be a firestarter, a font is like a little machine, a car engine, and you need a lot more than a spark to get it going places!


Eric_West's picture


That first post kicked my butt... I gotta get my stuff together. I've already chucked that foot on the lower right,( replaced w/bracket similar to top ) I've got my h,i, and working on k, c, o , p , r, then I'll repost.

I think i'm going to pull that pdf. I'm embarrassed I posted that.

p.s. Hrant, if it makes a difference. I'm trying to do blackletter inspired, not something that looks kind of blackletter, kind of not, but I will take the advice under consideration.

p.s.s. - 5.19.05 ..

Have decided to freeze the current 4 or so letters I have, as they are beginning to look conspicuously like letters from an illuminated manuscript. Which is NOT what i was going for. It seems my subconcious is doing the talking. I was flipping through Goudys' 'alphabet', and ran across something.

"the craftsman must master the basics before he can focus on something new"

which is what I was coming to myself. I was trying to hybrid something, and I've never even done a complete set of Roman. So, not only was I being pretentious, I was in over my head. SOOOO... I'm going to do an old-style roman. Updates later.

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