Tensa: Please critique this book font under construction!

Pixion's picture


I am new to this forum and to type design in general. Below my first design for which I would like to get your honest critique!

I started the font under construction via pencil / marker sketches of some of the important small faces, following the general guidelines in the book 'Designing Type' (which I think is an absulote must for every beginner).

I want the font to be applicable as a book type with good readability but 'with some tension and movement' here and there. I started with the 'a' and instead of having a rounded hook, I settled for a 'curve under tension' (i.e. a high curvature at the upper right shoulder. This was then used as the underlying theme in other faces as well (very noticeable in the 'e', 'c' etc.

I would appreciate some feedback so that I can roll in some changes during further development.

Thanks a lot!,


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Sebastian Nagel's picture

This looks quite readable already in text-sizes, so the overall proportions seem to be right. But actually this can only be assessed if all characters are present, at the moment the more difficult ones are missing yet.

a: too narrow in textsetting I think, wonky lower left part, and it falls to the right. I like the upper part, but maybe it's just a bit too much tension.
d: the bowl is somewhat "undefined" yet. give it more tension (upper right part of the bowl is too near to the stem, lower part of the bowl is malformed)
h: is it wider than "n"? It appears to me, but I'm not sure.
r: the right flag seems to be slightly too thin. Don't make it bigger, just thicker.

Please take these tips with a grain of salt and please don't rely on them solely, because I am not the Master of Typedesign, but I can only tell what I see, and give some of my experience with my own drafts.

About "Designing Type": I own the book as well, and after several months in the bookshelf, I have found how it can be used: I draw my characters without the aid of the book, but when revising them I have a look at the book, and often I find the little "problem" the character is suffering from.
If I read before drawing, I'm so hooked up in "rules", "proportions", "tendencies" that every creativity is killed...

Pixion's picture

Hi Sebastian,

I greatly appeciate you took the time to comment! To learn about font design I went through the string of reviews / posts on your Sofa font (which looks great!).

I spend some time over the weekend and did the remaining lower case letters. During completion of this, I also start making some changes to the original version. I put in a sharp corner instead (as in Bembo) and did the same in the 'q' (not as in Bembo).

One of the things I wonder about as a beginner, is how rigid one needs to stick to the design language, especially for a text font (which seems to me like the 'high-school' of type)

a: I wasn't happy with it also. I put it upright, removed 'tension' and tweaked the bowl.

d: Changed the bowl to be more to the left. The stress is now more to the left. I tried to do that with the b and the q as well.

h: I made it a bit wider than the n. (as outlined in the Desiginging Type book). But I have the feeling that there may be a bit too much white in the counter.

r: Made some changes here to make it thicker. I homed in on the 'swash' a the common theme in this font (a, c, f, j, r and the y).

Also, I moved away from the spurs in the b and q. They didn't seem to belong in this font. Instead I used sharp corners (as the 'b' in Bembo). One of the things I wonder as a beginner is how strict the use of certain design elements is in a text font (which seems to be the most rigorous branch of the art). For instance, in Bembo the 'b' has a sharp corner, but the q has a spur. Would it be "ok" to have a font in which the 'b' and the 'q' are identical in 'design language'?

I use the Designing Type book more or less the same way lately. When I do a group of letters I look up the general 'rules' and then start drawing and wrangling Beziers. Also, I printed a number of samples of fonts I like and look at how diferent elements are used in those fonts.

Anyway, thanks again for your feedback. I hope you can have a quick peek at my updated version.


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