Nordic Family - an update

Rene Verkaart's picture

For all who cares is this an update on my Nordic Family I'm working on. This is the Nordic Narrow in the variaty that I have ready until now.
I completely changed the 'g', the previous one was too boring for the romans. It moved to the italics where it fits perfectly.
I created the italics, which are real italics. If someone has some more suggestions to make them more sparkle... feel free.
I'm currently working on an update on both Q's, they need a bit more character to stand out of the crowd.
I created the XP (expert) and NR (numbers) character set. This are extra's for the creative designer. They could come in handy if you have to spice up a typographic layout.


application/pdfNordicFamily(c)ReneVerkaart
RV

Rene Verkaart's picture

Hi Stephen,

No, I don't mind your bluntness. Everyone is intitled to have his own opinion.
I have planned to make a Text version later. This will have higher contrasts, longer ascenders and descenders and a more rounded touch to it. Then I also want to create small caps and better italics. But first I want to get this behind me.
Perhaps there's also a serif version in here...

Thanx for you opinion.

Regards,
Ren

hrant's picture

It strikes me that Nordic would be a prime candidate for having a smooth interpolation axis going between display to text extremes - this would be a first. For handling the rigid<->curvy transition, check out MM Generation (available through FontShop, albeit as single instances).

hhp

Rene Verkaart's picture

I'm sorry hhp, but I can't find the MM Generation on FontShop. Also not on MyFonts. Do you have it or do you have an image of it?
This rigid elements and the sharper edges are an important characteristic of Nordic. I can imagine that some people don't like it because it feels to unflexible, or un-textfont-like. It's not a textfont in such a way that it's balanced, perfectly readible, saving space on the page, etc. The Text Family will be more like that. Nordic is a bit bold with a touch of restraint. More like daring interesting and boring at the same time.

Hhp, how would you see the interpolation of the Nordic? Can you explane that some more? I would like to handle the interpolation in a good way. The Text should lean to the Nordic, but has to be more accessable to a wider audience and more functional.

Ren

hrant's picture

For some reason only the German branch of FontShop shows Generation...
http://www.fontshop.de

I think for the interpolation you need to address two tricky issues:
1) How much to "soften" the design for the text version/extreme.
2) What features not to implement in the transtion from display to text. This is because the transition is actually not "continuous" (to use a mathematical term, since that's what interpolation is), so either the display version has to be somewhat texty or the text version display-like. The second choice is safer, especially since there's a tight limit as to how texty this can get anyway (without losing its character).

Working from the top sample in your PDF above, I'd say the text version needs to be:
1) Much darker.
2) Less mannered (more "normal") forms.
3) Shorter rigid segments.
4) Smaller x-height.

But before you get too enthusiatic, you should be aware that the benefits of a display/text axis are largely ideological - few people will know how to really use such an exotic animal.

hhp

Rene Verkaart's picture

I found it. Strange that only they have it. Propably nothing for the American market?

I see the dangers in this exotic animal. I would not go so far as this font to make a real blend between the Nordic and the Text version. I would like to make a Text version out of it though that feels like the Nordic, but has enough personallity to stand it's own man.
Ofcourse you have 4 good arguments when it comes to making the Text version of Nordic. I compared some of the best fonts out there (at least to my opinion) and found that most of them have stem widths between 60 and 80 em. On average they are about 65 em in diameter. Is this a good 'weight' for a regular version? Is there anything you can say on that? Are serif regulars thicker or thinner then sans regulars?
From Nordic I have now the Light (21 em) and the Bold (91 em) version. I will create two weights inbetween of 44 em and 67 em widths. The 67 em will then be the regular and the basis for the Text version. Judging from the other fonts I investigated, this should be OK.

It's hard to design fonts without having any education and/or constructive help from the outside.

Thanx for your help.
Ren

hrant's picture

Since the phototype days until very recently, the weights of text fonts have been too light (as far as I'm concerned). You have to make an aesthetic decision for yourself, but I for one am happy that there's now a trend towards more "meaty" Regular weights. Although there's also a trend of making Bolds too dark, and I hate that.

BTW, exact measures can be misleading because you have to factor in other things, like size-on-body, spacing, etc. Two fonts of equal stem thickness can have very different color when each is set at a point sizes suitable to it. Fonts that have lesser apparent size tend to get set at larger point sizes, and they gain more weight.

In terms of determining the weights of a set of four, your best bet is to:
1) Do it mostly by eye.
2) Determine the Regular first, then its Bold (for emphasis), then the Semi to work well for smaller sizes of text, then backwards* from the Semi to the Light.

* By which I mean that the Semi should work for emphasis in a body of Light.

BTW, why 21 & 91, and not 20 & 90 for the extremes?

> It's hard to design fonts without having any education and/or constructive help from the outside.

Yeah, tell me about it! :-/

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Rene,

Do you have this set up with a MM weight axis? I had not done that before, but discovered it sure makes life very nice when you want to fiddle with the weight by a hair this way and that. I wouldn't make a MM final product (generate the weights you settle on), just make sure you check over the interpolation results. The FL manual explains how to take two fonts and make them the masters. Clear, quick and easy.

Another factor (Hrant alludes to) is how big the glyphs are in the em square. I tend to make them quite large so stems of 80-90 ems are right for text. The fact that people like light text and heavy bolds means it is nice if you give them that option even if you don't prefer it. Let them use light and bold.

In future I plan on making fonts smaller in the em square. The reason being I think a naturally open leading will improve the looks across all users (ie, better at default 12 pt with auto leading).

Randy

hrant's picture

Yeah, weight axes rock.

The way I think is generally best is to:
1) Make a midling weight that looks good for text.
2) Make a Bold "candidate" (maybe using auto-weight-gain + mucho tweaking).
3) Extrapolate the lightest and darkest extremes.
4) Clean up the extremes real good.
5) Make new intermediates and compare against the originals.
6) Tweak only the extremes to make any new intermediates come out good, dumping the original intermediates.

In this way you have clean results but you never have to tweak intermediates again.

> improve the looks across all users

I think this is well-intended but unrealistic: people who just use defaults (like anaconda 12pt lines with no leading) don't use strange (read: our) fonts.

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Yeah, weight axes rock.
Hunh Hunh. Yeah. Hunh Hunh. They like. Rock.

Hrants plan seems like a good one to me. Before I would have thought it a lot of work, but it is simply much speedier than drawing all the weights from scratch! One other handy part about using weight axes: It helps identify minor problems in your stroke modulation. When you extrapolate to a thin weight it shows any wobbly curves in technicolor. Yuck! On my current project I'm going from light to black, with original masters at regular and heavy. (no stroke modulation issues in Nordic though!)

> Improve the looks across all users

You'd be suprised (or not) how many designers leave the default, or possibly just follow a formula they've set up (ie. I think 12pt over 14 looks good for text) without regard to the font specific needs. Granted, these folk will be buying only the most popular and trendy fonts (din, meta, mrs. eaves, interstate and company), but hey, I wouldn't mind it if my fonts were popular, trendy and good looking at default settings:-) Besides, unless your font has crazy littly display details, using a smaller chunk of a 1000em square wont kill you. I'd rather err on the side of more leading than less.

> strange (read:our) fonts
Speak for yourself! :-)

Randy

Rene Verkaart's picture

yes, hhp's plan sounds good. I never created a family this big. I feel that I like to work like Randy, make both extremes and the middle man and interpolate between them. In the extremes you can explore the borders of the font and see the character of the details.

Ren

Rene Verkaart's picture

For you who haven't heard it yet; Nordic Narrow is now officially available at Fountain. I just wanted to thank everyone here who helpen me out during the design process.
Check out Nordic Narrow. Perhaps you might even wanna use it:
http://www.characters.nl/fonts/nordicnarrow/characteristix-nordicnarrow

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