Your thoughts please...

G T's picture

Good day to you all.

I've been nosing around Typophile for a while now and would like to have your opinions on what I'm working on.

The usual question asked is what is the typeface going to be used for - and originally I wanted to make a font to be used for body copy in magazines, something that had serifs, but looked modern rather than like a classical prestigious (considered 'old' by my previous art director) serif-font. I say originally, because to be honest I don't really know enough about magazine printing and how to go about trying to achieve what I'm trying, so I'm just kind of seeing where this is going and trying to find my feet.

I haven't really made many characters yet, but I would like to get a few comments before I continue for the sake of consistency and the probably glaring errors that I am making.

But I'm waffling. So, please be as blunt as you like in any comments you give as I will not be offended, I would just like to learn.

Thanks in advance,


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jmickel's picture

Hey Graham,

Looks really nice. I've never seen any traps quite like those.

My only thought is that they might be too subtle. Especially if you're using it as body copy in a magazine, they would more than fill in, and you wouldn't see any of those details.

So maybe exaggerate it a little more? Have you done test prints at various sizes?

crossgrove's picture


Do you know what traps are for? It's not a decorative element.

litera's picture

Traps are in did very shallow and "sharp" in a way. They are definitely not subtle. And there's also some strange stroke variation going on.

To my taste "v" is a bit too narrow. "v" and "w" have to long serifs on the top.

"a" looks as if it would be set a bit lower than other letters. It's probably also smaller than other letters.

The shape of "c" is ok but has much less stroke contrast as other letters.

But continue. With refinement you may get a nice body font.

jmickel's picture

Do you know what traps are for? It’s not a decorative element.

I think in this case they could definitely be a decorative element. They seem to be too unconventional to be merely functional.

And there are many fonts which use traps decoratively: Amplitude and Freight Micro come to mind, and Bell Centennial has been exploited this way as well.

crossgrove's picture


My first thought was that this design is not attractive but sturdy. There are plenty of examples of excellent types that also fit that description, so don't be insulted. You expressed an interest in designing something modern rather than traditional, but I think the shapes are still pretty traditional.

There are some features you might enlarge or darken to strengthen the visual identity of the letters, but overall this should perform very well in small sizes for reading. Your spacing seems right for about 9 points (check m right sidebearing). At small sizes certain features visually shrivel, making them look thin or weak. The tail, the top of the bowl and the top of a could be heavier to strengthen it, the beak of r can be quite a bit heavier and the curves of hmnu could be slightly heavier. Another feature that visually fades is the serifs. I agree they are too long on v and w, but they could be larger on the tops of m and n, and especially the tails of u and a. When text is reduced or set small, those look too light. I don't necessarily think the serifs should all be heavier or longer, because the short ones on the bottoms of hmn might give an excellent readable feel in text, but do strengthen the serifs that are essential to the identity or structure of the letter. The spur on the left of t is an example of a structural or essential serif, and it's the appropriate size. There is some extra weight in the various strokes of w and v, you might taper some strokes and thin others.

The subtle ink traps you've added will probably help the face look crisp in reproduction, but the overall low contrast still give the face a smooth, possibly dull flavor. Larger triangular cuts in crotches of hmnuar would add sparkle on a visible level that will be useful and attractive in text, while the more subliminal tiny cuts help the shapes retain their crispness through the printing process. There are places that connections or joints can be surprisingly thin and still hold the letter together: joint of k, bottom of bowl of a, joints of arches of hmnu to main stem, and elsewhere. To see an extreme example of this, look at Lexicon ( The overall stroke contrast is not high; for example s, o and z exhibit very little contrast. Most of the main strokes are similar weight. But see how thin it gets at the various joints (like k, a, g, h etc.) and how this still does not weaken the letter in text (Lexicon is excellent for extended reading). There are parts of letters that are like main identifying features, and other parts that are nearly vestigial, which have much less visual importance.

You are well on your way to having a readable and sturdy text face. Nice details, too; the variation might prove very interesting in a display version.

crossgrove's picture

"And there are many fonts which use traps decoratively: Amplitude and Freight Micro come to mind, and Bell Centennial has been exploited this way as well."

This tells me you do not know what they are for.

jmickel's picture

Geesh. People can give so much attitude on this site.

No wonder I've heard it referred to "The Genius Club"

Yes, I know what traps are for.

crossgrove's picture

No attitude, Jeremy. It's just that you refer to the ink traps of Bell Centennial as decorative. Sure, since a lot of graphic designers have noticed them and made a fetish of showing them off at large sizes, I guess you can see them as decorative, but my opinion is that it's a misguided thing to draw a lot of attention to. It's like the 80's trend of "High Tech", Centre Pompidou, exposed beams and rivets, concrete, etc. Making a style out of industrial techniques just doesn't interest me.

hrant's picture

> I’ve never seen any traps quite like those.

Actually some metal fonts had traps like that: _
See the crotch of the "b" but also the inside of the counter of the "A".

Traps can be functional, but they can be decorative too. Amplitude is a great example of the latter, and Christian certainly "knows" what traps are for. But lumping Amplitude and Bell Centennial together is a bit confused, because of the difference in intent.

> Your spacing seems right for about 9 points

To me it seems too tight.
But first we need to see the full vertical proportions.


G T's picture

Thanks all.

I'm gonna re-work what I've done, and also attempt some descenders and ascenders.

In regards to spacing, Carl and Hrant, I do not own any type-design software as yet, and so have constructed all this in illustrator so far (I know this may cause problems later on, but I don't have the funds right now) so all spacing is just me sticking one character next to another so not in any way indicative of how I will eventually space them, but I'll bare in mind what you've said.

As far as the ink traps are concerned, I did not particularly set out to make them decorative, but thought it sensible to include them as I was aiming for a body text. As far as their being unconventional, it just seemed a natural way of designing them and I haven't based them on any particular model.

I'll get back to you soon.



G T's picture

Right, updated version of what I posted before at the top (cunningly entitled _02).

Have made the thins thinner and the ink traps a little larger in places.

Please tell me if this has improved it at all?

I realise that this is not really achieving the modern feel that I was aiming for, but maybe I'll try that next time. I'm a firm believer in when creating things to let your instincts take over to a certain extent so I'll let this become what it will stylistically.

The pink letters are the originals and the blue outline the changes that I've made to make things a little clearer.

Thanks again


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