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Unicase

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Kyle Gallant's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2005 - 11:51am
Unicase
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In my Typography class we have been asked to create a unicase font, I've already got a rough idea about what that is. I've looked at examples and looked on the internet, but alas I can not find the information that I want (all I find on the internet, is UNicase fonts to download)

I know that it's a full set of 26 letters that has upper and lower case letters (whichever you want to pick) but what it looks like is that all the letters... weither they be upper or lower case, all take up the same space (same x-height?) anyways, can anyone help me with this problem?

For give my lack of Typography know how... I'm a newbie to all this, but I'm on the road to learning... and slowly developing a love for type.

Thanks

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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It sounds like you mean monowidth, not unicase. That's a font where all the characters take up the same width (not related to x-height). Typically such fonts are used for setting computer programming code, if also to convey the programmatic.

And I hope that's the case, because unicase fonts are generally
quite useless (although Panoptica manages to avoid that fate).

hhp

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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Googling unicase type finds this, which would seem to be quite helpful. The first thing I thought of was Bradbury Thompson.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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OK, re-reading your message more carefully, I think I did actually misunderstand, and you do in fact mean unicase - sorry. Besides Thompson, Licko and Shinn have made good unicase fonts (although those two have had cultural motivations, as opposed to Thompson's more functional one). And from a historical perspective you could look at Uncial.

Try this too:
http://www.myfonts.com/search?search%5Btext%5D=unicase

But I'm curious why your teacher wants you to make a
unicase font, especially as an early type design effort.

hhp

Kyle Gallant's picture
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Joined: 6 Sep 2005 - 11:51am
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The objecttive of the project is...
"To adapt a unicase typeface and create a new typeface design presented in a booklet format"

So we have to take a existing font like (Bodoni, Times, Ect.) and turn it into a unicase making small alterations where we want. What I wanted to know is do I have to make the lower case letters that I use, the same height and width as the Caps?

She really didn't touch down on that, as I think we were supposed learn that for ourselves... and from the examples I've seen, the lower case look the samll height and width as the caps... I'm udderly confused, so if anyone can help.. :)

"I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs, or insanity to everyone, but they've always worked for me" ~HST - RiP

Carl Crossgrove's picture
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Joined: 8 Sep 2003 - 2:07pm
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If that is a direct quote from your professor, no wonder you are confused. ;)

You mention width.... Make the widths such that the shapes match; i.e. the letters will all have different widths, but when you combine them, none will look weirdly narrow or wide. Do not try to do what Nick Shinn has done and make them monospaced as well. One thing at a time.

A more important thing to worry about is the weights of the strokes. If you started with UC letters and scaled them down to match the heights of the lowercase, you would have a few letters looking light and small. You'll have to beef up the serifs, stems, and hairlines of the scaled-down letters.

You might pick a font with small caps already supplied, so there will be less work matching the weights. There is likely to be some difference in height between lc and small caps, though.

For a very clear example of a unicase font, take a look at Filosofia from Emigre. Licko has made a regular family of fonts and added a unicase one for fun.

It's your call whether the new alphabet is x-height or cap height. Just consider how it will look in use.

Dana Chen's picture
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Joined: 21 Aug 2004 - 3:00pm
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Yes, Filosofia has a good unicase.

Your post about unicase reminded me of a part in Simon Loxley's Type: The Secret History of Letters. So here's a little tangent that might help you decide which uppercase to drop in favor of lowercase or vice versa in your unicase design.

Loxley talks about Bradbury Thompson's Alphabet 26, his project to combine upper and lowercase letters into one consistent set of letters (in essence unicase). Thompson had felt that the variations between upper and lowercases of the same letter were too inconsistent and made it hard for children to learn to read. He eradicated most of the lowercases, except for a, e, m and n.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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BTW, Thompson's "trigger" on the effort was his own son.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Alphabet 26 is not the only unicase strategy to consider.
How about a "Peignot" version of Bodoni, Times, etc.?
And there are other strategies. You may even invent your own.
The choice of "donor" typeface might have something to do with how your design evolves.
When I taught the unicase course, I was always thrilled by the wide variety of design solutions that students came up with for the same brief.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Indeed, "strategy", but to me that applies more to the functional realm - a unicase font doesn't have to have style as its only/main objective. In fact, Thompson and Cassandre (Peignot) were both after improvement, not fashion: the former like Dana said, the latter because he felt -not without reason- that the lc forms were "bastardized" and he wanted to return to the more dignified uppercase roots*. So one can make yet another pretty font, or one can try to "serve" users.

* See my "Improving the Tool" for more on that.

hhp

Robert Guy's picture
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Joined: 15 Sep 2005 - 1:39pm
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My type prof also has just started us on a project to create a unicase typeface, we're in the middle of the research at this point.

Small world I guess