Semi-Serif up for critique

David Jonathan Ross's picture

While I haven't posted much, I've been reading the boards (especially the critiques), and have gotten a lot out of looking at everyone's comments. As a design student and beginner in type design, I'd really appreciate any input you might have on this face, not only regarding technical inconsistencies between individual letters, but also your overall impressions, etc. If any of you were at the TypeCon 2006 TypeCrit, you may rememeber this as the "other" semi-serif that was present. It has no name as of yet.

Thank you in advance!

specimen v19.1.pdf416.92 KB
specimen v21.pdf416.73 KB
Pixion's picture

Hi David,

Looks great! It definitely is very energetic.

One thing that jumps a bit at me is the terminal of the lower ear of the g. This brush stroke terminal only occurs at the g and feels a bit off-tune. What about giving it a cornered serif just like the j?

While having only serifs on the right stem of all multistem letters (e.g. m, n, x, h, k) gives it that creative off-the-beaten-track-energy (I think 'Froggy' from Dezcom also has this scheme), it impedes a bit the readability I think. But depending on the application this could be perfectly o.k.

Did you consider having two-sided serifs on single stem letters like l, r, f? Their current a-symmetric right pointing serifs look a bit confusion if you just see the individual letter, but when reading words, it's o.k. What sbout a serif having a small left pointing part? Why doesn't the i have a serif?

Btw, your specimen looks great!

Take my input with a grain of salt, I am a beginner myself...


brampitoyo's picture

The beaks immediately remind me of Swift's a and f, and to tell you the truth, I was kind of looking for a semi serif that reads like butter myself. Hopefully I get to print the specimen out tomorrow and give a more in depth critique.

I think you should make a teapot glyph for this face, too :)

Termopolium's picture

Looks great! Definitely has a personality.

Some observations:
* The L is optically too narrow.
* The R feels a little "tense". Relax the curve a little bit. This is currently the biggest problem I see with the typeface. Same thing, in much smaller degree, with the Q.
* g feels slightly awkward. I'm referring to the lower ear. Makes the g sort of stick out.
* When faced with a choice, always go for more restrained and readable. I think you do that, most of the time.

Really looking forward to seeing this one finished!

David Jonathan Ross's picture

Thank you very much for the comments so far! I plan to come back and respond to your critiques in more depth, but I'm running late for class so I must be brief. I did want to let you know, since two of you have mentioned the lower ear of the g, that I spent a little time on an alternate g that with a closed counter. The open counter was in the original drawings, and I guess I never had the guts to switch it out. Do you prefer that?

Something about it to me still doesn't feel right, but maybe I just haven't spent enough time with it.

And bampitoyo, a teapot glyph is in the works :)

More later...

Pixion's picture

Hi David,

The new g looks better, but is in my opinion has a brush stroke feel which seems a bit estranged from the rest of the letters. What about the g below? I used the same serif style as you used for the j.


David Jonathan Ross's picture

Termopolium: Thank you for commenting on the "tense" curves. The curves and the verticality of the face make it a bit rigid and static, and maybe letting them loose will improve it. I'll try to work on this and get a new specimen up, but it might not be immediately.

Bram: I am indeed trying to make something that is very readable in text, and hadn't looked at Swift before you mentioned it. I'm eager to hear how you think it reads.

Sebastian: Thanks for showing me what you mean about the g. I think I understand your point, but I want to make sure. I know that you're talking about the brushy end of the stroke, and adding a terminal there is an interesting approach. I was concerned about the gap being too quirky before, and this makes it quirkier. Will it still work in text?

Normally the terminal comes out of a thin stroke, not a thick, and I'm worried that all that weight next to that gap might be too distracting in text. It's worth playing around. However, I see now that you were also talking about the contrast of the loop, and I really like what you've done here; it matches the other letters much better.


Pixion's picture


I see your point. Maybe the curve of the ear needs some manipulation to make it a bit rounder. I played a bit with it but you are right that it has to fit in the text.


David Jonathan Ross's picture

Sebastian: Oooh...I like that first one especially. Yeah it doesn't have the terminal, but I was looking for ways to bring more of a sans serif feel out (so that it doesn't start to look like a serif that's just missing serifs), and that might be a good start. But, you're right, that if I wanted to put a terminal there, I'd have to round it out a bit.

I forgot to mention: the i should definitely have a bottom serif, I don't know what I was thinking.

I'm going to be working on getting a new specimen up with some of the suggestions that you all have made, focusing mostly on curve tension, my handling of serifs, and that pesky g.

Again, thanks.


David Jonathan Ross's picture

So I've finally gotten around to incorporating your suggestions on this semi-serif face (still unnamed). A pdf is up top in the original post. It's been a while I know; I've been letting this font simmer while focusing on other projects.

I tried to fix the curves up a bit, but things still seemed a little tense. In the old version, the stems were vertical, and to me the serifs made them optically lean back a touch, adding to its stiffness. In this version, I've tried compensating for that by giving it a little tilt. Let me know if you think it works.

I couldn't get bilateral serifs on the single-stemmed letters to work; it impeded the rhythm too much. I did work a lot with the lc g, using Sebastian's examples as a guide (thank you again Sebastian for your work on those).

I'm excited to see what people think of the changes, and of course to get any general comments on the design. I'm also curious to hear if people would ever use this font if it were fully developed, and if so, what size and treatment you think it is best suited for.

Much appreciated,


brampitoyo's picture

From a quick glance:

How about moving the bottom serif of f to face left, and eliminate the one on r? I know it's not exactly consistent, but I'd like to avoid both letters from falling over.

Otherwise, I like the overall refinement of the design. I do have to agree that it still felt kind of stiff, though.

More explanations are due tomorrow. I'm way too tired right now :)

David Jonathan Ross's picture

Thanks, Bram. The r and the f have always felt unbalanced, and I was futzing a lot with them to try to make them work. I don't know about you, but they don't bother me too much in the text, but at larger sizes they definitely sticks out. Here's what I did real quickly:

I think the r still looks out of place, but I don't mind the inconsistency in the f as much as I thought I would. I also tried a descending f out for fun. Is this kind of what you were thinking of?

As far as the tense issue goes, do you have any suggestions on how I could get rid of it? I'm thinking the best way would be to just redraw the letters.


brampitoyo's picture

To tell you the truth, I never actually printed your specimen, so my analysis wasn't exactly done in full justice.

That two-storey f was a nice idea. I would reduce the space between the f's by a touch, though.

About the stiffness, my theory is that the strong vertical stroke, when coupled with the Swift-like slabs on a, c, e, f, etc. (this is not your bottom slabs which I like), might have something to do with it. My suggestion is to move your pen angle to the side and tone the slabs down a little bit.

Beyond that, ask Typophile's many experts :)

Anyways, below is two hastily done pen-tool tracing of your f to illustrate my points. It's too wide, so I'm afraid you have to scroll right too see it in full-size.

brampitoyo's picture

I meant the upper half of your f, sorry for the mix-up.

David Jonathan Ross's picture

I like the terminal you've made for me quite a bit, Bram. Cutting it at an angle makes the form less rigid and mechanical, and that slabby-wedge shape is more graceful than the thick square that I was using.

As far as tilting the pen angle goes, I think it's worth a shot. It may take a little time to implement, though, so don't hold your breath. Some diagonal cuts and subtle curves would help this design chill out a little. I don't want to lose too much of that stark verticality, though; I may be wrong, but I think that's what gives it some personality.

This is exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for, and I am very grateful for your help.


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