Script Typefaces & legibitity, a research about the viability of script fonts for body text

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Javier Rosa's picture
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Joined: 20 Apr 2015 - 2:22pm
Script Typefaces & legibitity, a research about the viability of script fonts for body text
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Hello Everybody.
My name is Javier Rosa, I am from Barcelona. I am both a graphic design professional and student. Currently I am working on my final degree project.
A week ago I've sent emails asking some information for that project to relevant people in the script typography field. One of this relevant persons, Bas Jacobs, suggested me to post a message in this board, and I thought it was a good idea, so here am I asking for your help.
This project is a theoretical one, developed in basis of a hypothesis. I personally have decided to focus the paper on script typography. The starting point of the work is the hypothesis below:
Studying the process used in designing text typefaces and the knowledge in legibility it is possible to develop a new design process for script typefaces that, if applied, would originate better script typefaces for large text use.
The main subjects in the body of my paper are script typeface history, legibility / readability, and the differences in design processes between sans serif/serif and script typefaces.
I have found a few sources that reflect the basic process of designing typefaces, but I have not found many resources related to script typefaces. So, here are the issues I need to deepen:

Sketching:
Given that the simulation of calligraphy and handwriting is the main treat for considering a typeface as script, I would like to know:
-How important is the use of specific writing tools such as pen nibs, pencils or brushes?

Tracing glyphs:
-Should we draw the entire character set in paper before digitalizing it? Or, it is possible to work with modules, sketching just the few that contain the main treats at first, tracing them, and then developing the rest of the characters in the set with pieces and strokes of the firsts?

Optical corrections:
I know that there are some issues in diagonal crossing paths that look unaligned, which makes necessary to correct these intersections by using the eye as the main tool.
- Is there any other specific optical adjustment in script typefaces?

Letter spacing & letter connections:
This is a key point. Laura Worthington has made a webinar (some kind of workshop via videoconference) in collaboration with the FontLab web. There, Laura explains a method for making seamless connections between letters. In short, in this method she traces a master character, which is a copperplate "r", whose entrance and exit strokes coincide seamlessly when placed consecutively.
In the next step she attaches the entrance and the exit of the master letter to the rest of the characters of the set that need it.
I think that this method does not take into account the rhythm needed for legibility, because of the fact that the letter spacing is determined just by the entrance and exit strokes previously created for the letter "r".
- Is there any other method that takes into account the rhythm in connected scripts?

A selection of high legibility scripts:
Besides the process behind the designing of script typefaces I've got another question related to the same research. In the next step of my paper I'm going to analyze a number of different script typefaces, chosen by its good legibility, comparing its properties with legibility facts such as glyph differentiation, consistence in the forms of the typographic set, contrast, inclination, letter spacing, opening of the counters and so on.
It would be very useful if you suggest me script typefaces that stands out by its legibility.
I've pre-selected a few which include Bickham Script by Richard Lipton, Supernova by Martina Flor, and Savoye by Alan Meeks.
But anyway, my opinion is not too relevant in this field, it is by far more rigorous if some professional specialized in script typography provide me some better examples in order to reference it on my project.

I will be very grateful if you could answer my questions. Otherwise, if you cannot answer them, I would like you to provide me with names of professionals who could help me with this task.

Thanks for giving me a portion of your time.
Javier Rosa

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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I conceived of Handsome with text font functionality.
For this reason, it has a large x-height and relatively short capitals and descenders for a handwriting typeface, enabling close leading.
It also has a variety of weights and styles, better enabling typographic layouts.

When I produced the Pro version, I used the Contextual Alternates feature to:
• employ the traditional “joining rules” of connected, cursive writing
• avoid duplicate double-letters, for organic comfort
• remove entry and exit strokes at the beginning and end of words, to create more discrete word spaces, which, in my opinion, produce smoother reading.

It is not as polished a face as, say, Sanvito (the original OpenType script typeface), as I wanted to give it a lively and casual quality, and “wrote” it in Fontographer using a Wacom tablet and stylus, which lacks the feel and control of writing with pen on paper. But I don’t think that has much bearing on legibility.

Javier Rosa's picture
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Joined: 20 Apr 2015 - 2:22pm
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Hi Nick
Handsome looks very readable, it is a very good example to start comparing.

Sanvito, although it is very readable, poses a new problem. This is a script typeface? I mean, is based on the Carolingian calligraphy and therefore, by definition, it is a script. However, in my opinion, the fact that does not resemble traditional cursive handwriting may cause to not look like it is handcrafted to most mortals.
It seems that it is a dillema between polised - readable and organic-handmade look, so if we want a very readable script typeface it will end up in most of the cases in a not-so-handmade-look typeface. I'm I right?

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Typefaces that look like handwriting both signify certain values, and also mimic the experience of reading handwriting.

Les O'Neill's picture
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Joined: 15 Jan 2014 - 5:05am
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This must be the first premise of your thesis, what do YOU mean by the word 'script'

Javier Rosa's picture
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Joined: 20 Apr 2015 - 2:22pm
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Hello Les ONeill, I agreed. This is how my project starts.
Based on the opinions of diverse typographers and the Vox-ATypI definition, I conclude that the main treat of the script typefaces is its cursive or italic structure. Besides that, there are a number of aspects that can reinforce its handwritten appearance, such as connecting letters, inclination, variations on the letterforms and texture. This optional features, as said, reinforce its handmade look, but often goes in detriment of legibility.