This is (more or less) my first attempt at a serif typeface. Any comments and criticisms would be most welcome.
Attachment did not work. Try this: www.adgie.f9.co.uk/typophile/Ledbury1.pdf
I just wanted to say that this is excellent for text, I printed the pdf and think you've managed to create a face that very self-effacing (a good thing) and doesn't intrude on the content.
It's very English, both in the solid unobtrusive nature and that leg on the 'R'. It feels quite nice, but the curved leg on the 'K' doesn't do it for me. (I am funn ywhen it comes to k's…)
Some Ledbury updates: www.adgie.f9.co.uk/typophile/Ledbury2.pdf
This reads so smooth. It's like some kind of airy amaretto mousse melting in your mouth, but for reading. Once you work out a few minor kerning issues (the most obvious example is how "ry" or "rv" touch), you should have publishers lining up at your door with bags of money.
Thanks for the encouraging comments, everyone.
On the subject of kerning, I would not normally get fully into that until a much later stage, i.e. when I have completed at least ISO8859-1 and a full set of punctuation. I like to work on the base spacing and shaping of the awkward letters first. On the other hand, it does appear that I made a rather unfortunate choice of name in Ledbury, as it contains at least one kern problem. I think I will do some temporary kerns for now, just to smooth out the major problems in the samples.
By the way, the numerals in the last sample are horribly rough. I banged these out quickly, and posted the sample before looking at a printout.
Here is my latest update, including a decent amount of text to judge readability in book form.
Character set: www.adgie.f9.co.uk/typophile/Ledbury3.pdf
Right Ho, Jeeves: www.adgie.f9.co.uk/typophile/jeeves1.pdf
It has a nice "soft" look; a good balance between vertical (x-height, descender, ascenders) and horizontal (width) proportions. Some letters (K and R for example) look a bit odd at big sizes but I think they work fine at text-sizes.
- a: maybe a bit too narrow;
- g: the stress of the lower bowl looks odd to me, it feels like it is falling off (try rotating the lower bowl 10 degrees counter-clockwise);
- ij: dot too low?;
- 5: I'd give it a top serif;
- 7: the diagonal is too "curvy" to my taste.
This is one of two fonts to be discussed from 1–3 pm EST as part of Critique Thursday 2 (read about it here)!
This is an excellent face. What are your plans for it?
Frankly, when I look at this, my first and main thought is: Why? It looks like a PDF substitution font. Technically it has a lot going for it, but isn't it just way too maintream? Unless the point is to: provide an extremely generic serif face (some people value genericity), sort of like Kievit does for sans; or simply provide for practice. That said, I do think there is sometimes value in designing a new font that "distills" so to speak the essentials of a few dozen existing faces that sort of define a category. But that's really hard to pull off - I'd be afraid to try.
But I don't want to be too negative. Even if I'm right about the stylistic paucity, at the very least we can have some elaboration on: if this should be given more character; how, and how much; what Glyn feels about doing that. This last bit is of course very important, but fonts are for other people, so it's not everything.
Looking at it more closely, I would say that if one wanted to make this design more idiosyncratic, some structural strangenesses here and there would be an easy -if I guess superficial- way. But if my doubts are unfounded, let me know and I'll get into the micro stuff. But one micro thing I can't resist pointing out: the top of the bottom bowl of the "g" is a superb -and rare- form.
Very nice clean rendering, a silent partner in reading.
Some of the weights of glyphs are a bit out of balance, The i is too weak as is the left side of the e. ; good g. The spacing is a tad too tight for me but not much.
It is a comfy face that you feel at ease with and there fore not as distinctive as some may wish. This is not a bad thing, it just means your font won't separate itself from the rest easily.
Yes, I also agree that your rendering is clean and crisp.
For me, curved legs of the uppercase K and lowercase k seem to be the only unique aspect of this balanced design. I like them on both K/k but the treatment of curved tails on uppercase Q and R are slightly bothersome to my eye.
Critique Thursday has ended, but there is no reason for the great discussion on this thread to have to, too! What do you think, Glyn?
OK, I'll just jump into the warm micro waters then...
"J": tail out of character.
"Q": much thinner bowl-tail join.
"R": nicely non-generic character (sorry :-).
"S": a bit wide.
"Z": correct left lean.
"c": correct left lean.
"f": extend bar leftward.
"g": stronger, rising ear; slight malformation at very bottom/bottom-left.
"k": nice, but bend upper arm more evenly, throughout (although the UC one seems to work).
"s": make slightly narrower.
"t": malformed at bottom.
"w": slightly too dark.
"&": make bottom bowl bigger/rounder.
"fi": define beak better.
"2": malformed at top-left.
"4": needs more presence (a "standard" problem).
"5": make join thinner; give upward serif to end of bar.
"7": diagonal unconvincing; maybe make bottom terminal like head serifs.
"8": bottom bowl too small, and malformed at bottom.
"#": looks mechanically warped.
Pound: longer base.
"@": circle malformed.
"!": too heavy.
And two macro things:
- I'd make the ascenders a hair taller.
- Spacing: balanced, but loose in spots; blank space could be a hair thinner.
> Critique Thursday has ended
Half an hour early?
Oh. That was my bad. Sorry :(
Blast! I missed all the fun. Anyway, here are my belated replies to the comments so far.
As to Hrant's 'Why?': well, yes, it is a rather conventional design. On the surface, it appears pointless to go over the same ground that has been well covered before. However, I think each designer's interpretation of the traditional forms and decorations tends to be different, as long as the designer is not simply doing a revival of a particular typeface.
My basic idea with Ledbury is to make something functional: easy to read, and suitable for use in many settings. From several comments above, it appears that the design succeeds in the readability department, and I am obviously pleased about that. Beyond readability, I am aiming for something that looks attractive in blocks of text and headings, without being artsy and cute. This means that I need to be careful about stylistic oddities, like the 'g', and the curvy 'k', 'K', and 'R'. I think, though, that I can do more to give the design character, without detracting from its usefulness.
Thanks for all the help and encouragement chaps. I will more than likely post some more stuff soon.
I have been working through some of the changes suggested above. Most of it I agree with. There are a few places where I think I will keep my present letter forms, as a matter of personal taste.
Hrant, why do you think the tail of the 'J' is out of character? I have not put a blob on it, because I did not think either 'J' or 'j' actually need blobs, as the termination is in the form of a thick stroke tapered down, like the bottoms of 'c' and 'e'. This taper also fits in fairly well with the slanted stress, I think.
As an aside, on the subject of blobs, the typical blob on the 'a' is inconsistent with a slanted stress, unless the top stroke is curved down alot towards the end. A blob termination, and curving the top down, both eat into the small top counter. One of my pet hates is an 'a' where the top counter is almost closed off by the blob. Perhaps I could try leaving the blob off altogether, and go for a taper like the bottom of 'c'. The typeface in one of the books I was reading recently had a blobless 'a', and it did not harm readability at all in my opinion.
My 'S' and 's' are wider than is typical. I think this results from my disliking typefaces with particularly narrow esses. However I will try narrower forms, and see how they look in my text sample.
On the subject of the bottom bowl of the 'g', Eduardo, there does seem to be a potential problem with the slant causing it to look like it is falling off. However, I am reluctant to change this letter too much, as everyone else seems to like the somewhat unusual shape. From a function point of view, I was trying to avoid trapping a small white space between the two bowls, which I think can create colour problems. My earlier efforts (not presented on this forum) produced grey smudges in the text, which could have been due to that effect.
On the subject of the little oddities like the 'g', the curved legs of the 'k' came about from solving a colour problem, where the bottom of the 'k' looked to dark. The shape of the 'k' also helps with letter spacing with rounds on the right, I think. The curved legs on the 'K' and 'R' were to harmonise with the 'k'. As with 'k', I think the curved leg of the 'R' also helps with letter spacing. Contrast the effect with an 'R' that has a swash-like tail (curving the other way), which makes spacing really difficult, due to the need for a large negative right sidebearing, which then causes serif collisions. I do not know if all this makes sense. Comments would be welcome.
Hrant, I agree that the ear of the 'g' looks a bit weak. This is another problem I have had with the letter. However, I am not sure I want the ear to overshoot the x height much more than it already does. I prefer a 'g' which keeps things simple along the x height, rather than cluttering the reading line with extra blobs or sticky out bits. I will look into the malformation at the bottom, though. I had quite a few problems getting the contrast right in this area, and it still needs work.
Anyway, I am off down the pub now with pencil and paper, to see what I can do to zing up the style a bit.
Just another thought before I go. Does anyone think my capital straight sidebearings (e.g. 'H') are too big, or do I need to kern all capital straights next to rounds? I am thinking of the unkerned straight-round spacings in the words 'WODEHOUSE' and 'Medium', for example. I generally try to space all capitals a bit wider than the small letters. The fact that the capitals have longer serifs than the small letters also motivates some extra spacing to the main stems. Perhaps I have overdone it.
Hrant is doing a great job here. You don't need me here.
Are you a subset of me?... Hey, get out!! ;-)
What? What to add/say?
My problem with the "J" isn't that it doesn't have a strong terminal*, it's the shape of the curve being "skewed" uncharacteristically. It looks a bit too calligraphic, while this design seems strongly Transitional.
* I don't think it should have one anyway; but be careful about thinking "it doesn't need one", especially concerning the lc "j", since immersive reading depends heavily on presence/divergence in the extenders.
> the typical blob on the ‘a’ is inconsistent with a slanted stress
Worry more about reading than writing. There is actually a good reason not to have a strong terminal in the "a", but that's because it helps diverge boumas - it make the contribution of the "a" to the shapes we read stronger. My Patria has a terminal-free "a", and so does Proforma. Please see this: http://themicrofoundry.com/ss_read1.html
> My ‘S’ and ‘s’ are wider than is typical. I think this results
> from my disliking typefaces with particularly narrow esses.
I like bulk too. But a text font is not [only] about one's aesthetic preferences. Divergence in width is also valuable -in fact very strongly so- in readability.
> cluttering the reading line with extra blobs or sticky out bits.
Clutter mainly in the realm of display; in text, it's information.
I think this has a very pleasing color and texture. It is conventional, but the amount of warmth and humanism you've infused it with is very welcome in a text face. Delightful! Also, Economical!
Re: Kerning: your default spacing (sidebearings) of cap straights and rounds should be such that they do not need kerning. It's oddities and difficult overhangs like L, T, A, Y that need kerns. To space a font well leaves very little need for kerning. Bad spacing needs so much remediation by kerning it's not worth the time. Measure twice, cut once.
For a book typeface, caps will be used mostly in combination with lowercase, so the lowercase spacing is the most crucial. Adapt the cap spacing to work well with lowercase. This will result in all-cap settings that seem distinctly tighter than the lc, but now with OpenType you could offer a feature to letterspace caps. In the case of Ledbury, there does seem to be a bit too much room between the straight-sided caps and lowercase.
for your intriguing g, consider redistributing some of the weight around the lower bowl. There's a drooping feel, which could be eliminated without losing the nice open notch between bowls. Experiment with less weight on the left of the bowl and a little more on the outside of the link as it turns right. Nice work!
> now with OpenType you could offer a feature to letterspace caps.
Or brute-force it with kerning for all the cap pairs!
Thanks for the explanations, Hrant. I am now back from the pub. That said, please forgive any dropoffs due to the affluence of incohol.
I can see what you mean about the problems with the undecorated terminations of 'J' and 'j'. A bit of extra divergence of forms is going to add to functionality, which is all to the good, I would say. Reading your previous brief comment, I was a bit puzzled, as I thought that you might have been encouraging a more conventional design, which would certainly have been out of character. I will try blobs on the 'j' and 'J', with stronger curves, but I am a bit concerned about descender collisions with 'gj' and 'QJ'. Not very likely. you might think, but my alphabet investigations show that 'gj' is a common digraph in Albanian (one of your other posts put me onto this), and, with capital combinations, one must assume that anything goes, due to acronyms and such.
With the bit about the blob on the 'a' being inconsistent with the slanted stress, I am coming round to the idea that type letterforms should not neccessarily be dictated by the forms generated by writing. I must admit that I often work out stroke thickness variations by assuming a notional pen, and use a nib-shaped guage on the background to check things. I have tried to avoid doing this in Ledbury, but the habit remains. By the way, my pencil sketches did not succeed in making a good blobless 'a', so the blob stays for now.
Regarding the generous esses: I must admit I am fond of the fulsome shape, but I agree that this should not come at the expense of readability, especially given my stated aims.
Must go now, my dinner is ready.
Carl, thanks for your remarks about the warmth and humanism. This is precisely the feel I was going for.
I can see your point about about expecting some tightness in all caps if the cap spacing is determined by working as initials for the lower case. I will tighten up the straight sidebearings, as I had thought I should. Opentype cleverness apart, it would seem to be normal practice for typesetters to loosen all cap spacing anyway, so perhaps overtight all caps are not really a problem.
Regarding the weight distribution in the lower bowl of 'g', the weak bit from my point of view is the bottom left, which does not do justice to the top part. With the top part, I was going for a gradual flare out to the right corner, followed by an s-like reduction to minimum width around the bottom right. After that, I must admit I was unsure what should happen next. As I have said before, I think I need to be really careful about knocking this letter into shape, for fear of subduing its character. Much of the conventional nature of Ledbury has, I think, come about from knocking off the rough edges for the sake of functionality.
Hmmm, what about this idea for spacing caps:
Give them more left than right sidebearings.
Hrant, I have considered doing just that at various times. One problem I can see is that it would widen the word space in front of initial caps. Not too bad for sentence breaks, maybe even beneficial, but would it make things like proper names embedded in sentences look wrong?
By the way, Hrant, I would have posted my reply and some remedial updates on Saturday, but I could not access the forums due to some Typophile server problem over the weekend. In the meantime, I have started the italics. My first test printout and studying other fonts raised a question about spacing (conventional) italics: should the spacing (rounds and main stems) be looser than the roman?
Here is my latest update: www.adgie.f9.co.uk/typophile/Ledbury4.pdf
This (I hope) fixes all the dodgy contours and proportions mentioned above. Blob terminations have been added to 'J' and 'j'. They look more positive now. The tail of 'Q' has been reshaped, to lighten the joint and make a more definite curve.
I have tightened all the capital straight sidebearings, but I have not offset the caps as discussed with Hrant.
Just an a few remarks about Hrant's earlier comment that Ledbury looks like a distillation of a stylistic category. I think I know why this has happened.
As a self-teaching aid, I have several other fonts on my system open in Fontforge, while I am working on my own. At the moment, I am looking at New Baskerville, Garamond, Aldine721, (all from a Bitstream collection that came with Wordperfect), and Adobe Minion Pro, that came with Acrobat Reader. I then look at things like proportions, stem widths, and decorations, and decide where I want my design to be placed, e.g. darker than this, but not as dark as that, or slightly bigger x height than most, and so on. I also look at the things in other designs I do not like, and try to 'fix' them, or adopt (but not copy) features from other designs that I like. This no doubt has the effect of making my design a sort of average, where I have not been confident enough in my own judgements.
I am hoping that I will get more confidence as I go along, so I can base new work more on my own efforts, rather than always comparing my designs to others.
Anyway, I am wondering what more experienced, and formally qualified, designers think about the benefits and drawbacks of detailed study and criticism of long-standing designs. My own feelings are that this rather old-fashioned learning process helps build technique and judgement, and that self-expression needs to wait on learning the basics, or it will result in naive and primitive work.
> it would widen the word space in front of initial caps.
Add space-UC negative pairs? You'd need a lot fewer than kerning all UC-UC pairs.
> italics: should the spacing (rounds and main stems) be looser than the roman?
Well, generally italics have lighter color. Looseness is one way of getting to that, but I personally don't like that idea.
Studying/following precedent: it's a two edged sword, or like an addiction. The more you do it, the more you have to remind yourself it can be dangerous.
Why dangerous? I try to criticise long-standing designs, to see if things can be done better, so I am not saying that the traditional forms are set in concrete. I suppose I am being a cynical old engineer: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Regarding the spacing of italics: knowing that the different decorations from the roman would affect this on straights, I started with the assumption that at least the round sidebearings would be the same, and tinkered with the serif length until the straight sidebearings looked right relative to this. Ledbury roman has rather short serifs, and I wanted to preserve that idea in the italic. This worked fine at larger sizes, but a 10 point print just looked far too tight. My point about some other italic fonts being loosely spaced was based on Minion Pro Italic, which appears to be much more loosely spaced than the roman. This is not the case with the Bitstream fonts.
On the colour thing: I have not lightened the italic by much, the main straight stem width is about 95% of the roman. Same goes for the width: it is only a bit narrower in general. I am trying to avoid a thin spidery look here, while providing the expected style contrast.
I have not posted any samples of the italic, as it really is in a state of flux. It is mostly conventional in style at the moment, which is good for test purposes, but I think I can work in more adventurous stuff than I managed in the roman.
Here is Ledbury Italic, with just the lower case done at the moment.
Looks fine (except the spacing).
Only the "s" is off: make it narrower, and maybe more "wound-up".
BTW, the bowl of the Roman "a" is a bit too ample.
This update should, I hope, fix the worst of the spacing problems, or at least prod things in the right direction. I am still working on various letter shapes. I am wondering whether to lift the bottom of the arch of the 'y' a bit, or maybe tinker with the descender, as the top counter looks too big to me.
Just noticed a hinting error, which causes severe distortion/trunction of the descenders. Should be OK for print, I hope.
The first thing that strikes me about the italic is that the ascenders apprear too short compared to the Roman. The x-height may be too high also, but you will find out testing them in line with one another.
William, I just checked the x height and ascenders, in case I had made a mistake. It looks like I have made the italic ascenders except 'f' a hair short compared to the roman. There is only two font units difference, but perhaps this being amplified by rounding effects in rendering. The x height is the same, with the same overshoots.
I recall reading somewhere, almost certainly on Typophile, that an optical correction for apparent height is sometimes applied to italics, but I cannot recall the details.
I will be in a position to do a sample with in line italics shortly, after I have done the leftward offset of the italics. This sample should show if there are any real problems.
Here is an update, showing italics in line with roman. Regarding the apparent ascender or x height mismatch, I found small error in the ascender serif slope, which might make the ascenders look short. Also, the hinting error I mentioned earlier might possibly have expanded the x height, by affecting the rendering of baseline overshoots in a different way to the roman.
The italic offset has been set roughly according to the guidelines suggested by Mark Simonson and Thomas Phinney in reply to a question I posted in Build. I have set the alignment point at about 55% of the x height. This was just a convenient number for the purpose of quickly updating all the glyphs and construction guides.
This is admirably successful: very ugly and very readable.
Head and bottom serifs on b,i,u etc in the roman lowercase are too concave. Reducing bracketing on the serifs such that brackets do not reach the ends of the serifs would give the face a touch of severe elegance. Think how x might be improved, for instance.
a: consider lowering the upper part of the bowl, at the join especially, such that it is possible to give more definition to the ball-terminal without diminishing the optical size of the aperture.
e: reduce counter by thickening at top left.
f, t: thicken bars.
g: too beautiful for the rest of the face. Or consider altering bdpq to fit g (and also to fit O and Q). That is the route I should prefer.
o: too light.
s: too broad, and the serifs are lifeless.
y: Lighten crotch.
z: serifs are lifeless.
All your thins in the Roman caps need thickening, as it is, they cause slight refocussing in reading to accomodate their greater dazzle (with plain letterforms, colour must be very carefully standardised). Lighter brackets would also especially benefit the caps.
B: Pull the upper bowl inwards and/or reproportion to reduce the relative size of the upper bowl. Consider shaping the central join by having it curve with the lower bowl.
M: drop or otherwise darken the central meeting point.
S has the same problems which s does, and consider leaning it rightwards minimally.
O and Q: too beautiful for the rest of the face, unless the rest of the face is changed instead.
b: darken bottom of stem.
k, z: thins are too thin.
p, q: consider regularising the descenders' serifs to horizantals, each a little longer under the bowl.
Hope this helps,