Primus: Font under construction. Please critique!

Pixion's picture

Hi,

I have been working over the last couple of weeks on a font, posted earlier as 'Tensa'.

After implementing lower and uppercase, I started to play around with the lower case to give it a bit more character. Basically I added some 'gravity' by lightly 'flaring' the vertical stems. I didn't update the upper case yet as I am interrested in getting some feedback first.

I gave it the working title 'Primus' as this is my first font. Also I attached two pdf's with some sample text set in Tensa and Primus (text from WikiPedia: Punchcutting).

I really would appreciate any feedback!

Thanks,

Sebastian

AttachmentSize
Tensa.pdf26.55 KB
Primus v1.pdf26.82 KB
hey's picture

This is going to be a great font. I specialy like the s, b, r and g, but I think you overdid a bit with adding ‘gravity’ on h, m, n and j.

crossgrove's picture

Hi Sebastian,

Another SF typophile!

Did you notice all the "gravity" in Adobe Garamond Premier? It's everywhere. I haven't yet heard Robert Slimbach's thoughts on this effect. It might be an authentic artifact from Garamond himself, but I wouldn't know. What's your rationnale?

You've adopted the currently-trendy soft terminals on s. Any reason? I keep wanting to see someone use a terminal that's somewhere between the beaky traditional type and the new, softer, fluffier kind. The f top is very wide; extends pretty far to the right. Test the f with i and with b to see their interaction.

Pixion's picture

Hi hey,

Thanks for your comments! I agree that here and there the gravity pull may be a bit too hard. I will go back and tweak the letters you indicated.

Sebastian

Pixion's picture

Hi Crossgrove,

Thanks for your feedback.

I just downloaded the Garamond Premier specimen and yes, it's everywhere! It is also very notable in "Quadraat" (FF), and this is one of the fonts that inspired me to try out the 'flaring'. I don't have a real rationnale. I am a 'freshman' and started out playing around to see what it would do to my font. What is noticable is that the flaring helps to firmly 'ground' the letters on the line. It adds a certain 'down to earth' mentality to the font. Although, overdoing it may lead to the opposite direction, a 'fantasy' sort of mood.

The direction of the flare could serve as a cue in the reading direction, especially for the m, n, i, r etc. where the flare is asymmetric. (also visible in the Garamond Premier) For some of the other letters, it should have a direction such that it helps to optically balance the letter (esp. the long-hooked f).

I wasn't aware of the trendy soft s-terminals. The first letter I designed was the a, and after some sketching I homed in on that type of terminal, which I used as a design element for some of the other letters (c, f, j, s, Q, J, etc.). After reading the thread on the 'Feijoa' font, I saw that this terminal was used in the s (and x), so I tried it out as well.

Yes, the top of the f is very wide. I tried the fi and fb combinations and I will need ligatures here for sure. I like the long hook as it seems to add character and liveliness to the font. Note that a lot of fonts have overlapping f and b (I tried Bembo and Garamond).

Are there particular letters jumping out that need changes? Did I infringe any established design rules?

As I mentioned, these are my first steps in this field. Your comments are very much appreciated!

Sebastian

crossgrove's picture

There isn't any such thing as "design rules". But there are conventions which evolved with the alphabet, which are in place for comfort, familiarity, and speed. Some people are interested in finding out how to diverge from these conventions, and which of them are meaningless and vestigial. Others confine themselves to the conventions, finding a narrower range of variation to work within.

The conventions, taken together, make a typeface readable. But there's so much leeway there, that what makes a typeface readable is highly subjective. That's how you can have Bodoni, Goudy, Unger, Jannon, Tyfa and Dwiggins all doing essentially the same thing: making type for reading.

I think you ought to avoid, or at least be very skeptical of, literal concepts like gravity, weight, directionality. Reading is such a singular, complicated phenomenon, and I don't personally feel we are prepared to analyse it thoroughly. Meanwhile, you can certainly observe, and respond to those effects in type design which speed or facilitate reading, and those that impede it. In your design, right now, I see very few things that weaken the design for reading, and this is because the structure, or skeleton of your letters, is very conventional and familiar. If you set a page in your typeface at 8 point, however, you might find the fit is a little tight. Try more samples, and visit Adhesiontext to get some text that uses only the characters you have drawn.

Pixion's picture

Thanks for the lesson crossgrove!

I will try follow your advice and set a page at 8pt. I already noticed that the font is not 'super economic'. Probably this has to do with the b, d, m, n etc. being quite wide.

Also I haven't started any kerning whatsoever, although the test pages may be 'autokerned' by InDesign...

The adhesiontext site is a handy link.

Sebastian

crossgrove's picture

Right; don't do any kerning until you've finalized the spacing. If you're using InDesign, it will do a good job of autospacing, but be sure to switch from "Optical" spacing to "Metrics" to see what your built-in spacing looks like. Your font needs to be spaced well anyway, so you might keep "Metrics" spacing on by default while you develop this design.

It's not particularly un-economical either. The economy gained in condensing a face has a tradeoff point where the font has to be set larger to look big enough, so don't worry too much about economy at this stage.

If you're interested in the tapering or gravity effect, consider doing a small test on 4-5 letters where all your outlines are curves. Even your stems could be curved. See where it takes you. FF Clifford is one typeface with lots of fluidity.

Pixion's picture

Crossgrove,

That sounds like an interesting excercise. I will give it a go over the weekend. I checked out Clifford and it has indeed a lot of fluidity, although the maximum point size on the FF site, didn't allow me to take a good up-close look.

Sebastian

dezcom's picture

Sebastian,
Take a look at your g and see if it feels like it is slightly tilted to the right?
The point where you start adding "gravity" seems like a pinch to me. I think, if you are going to do it, it must evolve out of the stroke, not create a kink in it.

ChrisL

Pixion's picture

dezcom,

Thanks for your input (I was just reading the replies on your Froggy font post, which is very nice font!).

Actually, a couple of days ago, I made some changes to the g as I wasn't too happy with it (lower ear was both too high and a bit too rectangular). Also I updated the s and the k.

"Pinched", so you don't like the "gravity" aspect of the lc in general or were you refering just to the g?.

Sebastian

Choz Cunningham's picture

I particularly like the gravity effect where it is applied the lightest. The matching soft ends of the s and a look quite nice together, as well. There is something about the external shape of the 'e' that seems off from the rest of the round letters, but I can't describe it. The 'f' is excellent, and that indulgence is exactly what ligs are for. Perhaps including an alternate "narrow" 'f' might suit some, but it depends on who you are targeting with this face.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry

dezcom's picture

Thanks Sebastian,
>“Pinched”, so you don’t like the “gravity” aspect of the lc in general..."

No, I did not mean that. I meant that the effect is too abrupt and should transition more gently. Look at most of your vertical stems--the worst offenders are in the lc n, m, h where you begin your stem widening right where the curve meets the stem giving me the pinching effect right at those points. You might begin the gravity transition a bit lower and gently curve into it rather than so straight and abrubtly.

ChrisL

Pixion's picture

Thanks Choz,

I see your point on the e, I am also not sure what is off exactly, but I will play with it and see where it brings me.

Good point on an alternate f. Although I like its curvy, writing hand aspect, some uses may require a clipped version.

Sebastian

Pixion's picture

dezcom,

Now I got your point on the pinching! I think this is what crossgrove also mentioned earlier.

I applied the flaring rather quick to see what the effect would look like. Especially on the lc l, k and h, I started the widening right at the upper stem serif, which is not optimal. Note that I have to start implementing it on the uc. After figuring out 'what the rules are', this is the next step.

I will try lowering the 'flaring point' down and see what can be done to the h, k and l. These are a bit tricky as they do not have a natural midway point where the flaring can start logically.

Btw, I tweaked the g following your comments. To me, it now looks more balanced and the lower ear is more firmly aligned with the base-line. I believe the g is one of the harder letters to get down, as it is made up entirely of curves.

Sebastian

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