Just Getting Started, looking for a little advice

ag_alt's picture

Hello, I am about to begin work on my first typeface. This will be a digitization of the letters that my grandfather drew on Christmas cards and the like. It's sort of a Bodoni-esque style filtered threw my grandpa's congenital hand tremor.

The reason I am posting is this: I have enough experience in other things to know that there are usually important questions to ask one's self at the outset of a project like this. Having zero experience in making a typeface, I don't know that I'm asking myself enough questions, or the right ones, or all of them.

My question for you is this: from your experience, what are the major and minor considerations for creating a typeface based on the sample posted below?

Thank you very much,

Alex G.

The year he got me a subscription to the Nation...

hrant's picture

I think the main question to answer in such a design is how you will balance faithfulness to the original against typographic integrity.


ag_alt's picture

As I get further into this, I'm understanding better what you meant by balancing faithfulness to the original and typographic integrity. I find myself making a lot of decisions. Right now I'm looking for this balance as I sketch the forms of the caps in Illustrator.

Here's about as far as I've gone. At this point I'm interested in comments that could help make this useful.

nicolai's picture

Charming... and authentic so far.


Some of the curvy letters might need some optical adjustments.
For instance: the O

glutton's picture

That's outstanding.

Some suggestions: give the serifs a little more weight on some of the glyphs. For instance, your grandpa's N in Nation has very pronounced serifs.

Also, and I know this is somewhere in the future, but I'd love to see an italic version, such as he used in "for a year." Good stuff!

ag_alt's picture

You're right, this is very close to Didot. I'd been looking at a version of Bodoni for guidance, but there were some differences between it and the character of my grandpa's letters that I had to work around. Didot is a much closer fit.

And thanks for your comments. This is my first typographic effort, and it's more difficult than I expected. I feel encouraged. Ultimately I'd like to do the italic, and also an outline version of the capitals.

ag_alt's picture

Well, I haven't given up yet. I do need some critical guidance though: I've been trying to reconstruct the lower case using a combination of g'pop style and didot. I'm particularly concerned with the letters: a, e, and especially g.

The 'g' is driving me nuts: sticking to the principle that this font is a version of didot as imagined by an 80-something retired architect with a hand tremor, I've decided that a binocular 'g' is not something he would have done. I've also decided that using an uppercase 'g' in the lowercase isn't something that I want to do. I think the best approach is to didonicize a cursive g, which is what I've been trying to do with very little success. Any suggestions would be very welcome.

Another concern: I read somewhere that having many anchor points in a font outline creates problems with computer printers, etc. Is this style a problem? Or is this a concern that belongs to several years back when things weren't quite as robust?

Current samples:



ag_alt's picture

Okay, Current samples:

ag_alt's picture

Oh, and please ignore the spacing. I'm not at that stage yet, I just pasted this thing together! :-)

Miss Tiffany's picture

I agree with John ... I do like the N is NATION more than the one in NASAL. I agree with Nicolai's comment about the O as well. The R in HONOR seems a little too droopy. The B might be a little narrow, or maybe the E is too wide?

This is fun, reminds me of Didot. You might reference Didot on a few of these characters. I really d like the warmth of it, reminds me of old movie titles.

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