Critique - Untitled typeface

smongey's picture


I have been working on several different typefaces lately and have found myself sketching type all the time. I'd really like to find out how and where to learn type design properly. I've undertaken the task of designing a usable typeface.

The sample below was made from scratch and I tried not to look at other typefaces during the process.
I would appreciate some guidance or direction on type design as I am very unexperienced!

smongey's picture

If it's any use.

Is it worthwhile pursuing?

cerulean's picture

Your basic design is solid, and pretty fresh for its category. The J particularly makes me happy.

All that remains, then, is to learn how to tweak your curves. There are a lot of visible bends where a curve meets a straight line. For example, look at the top of the P; you can tell exactly where the curve and the line meet. Check the joining node, and if the handles aren't lined up, straighten them out. If they are, but it still looks kind of pointy, then you'll want to use your eyes and make subtle changes to smooth it out. Pure geometry is often not in agreement with what you actually see. Study other fonts to see how they achieve this visual smoothness. If you're still working with one thick stroke, you'll need to convert it to outlines at some point so that you can adjust the inside and outside independently to really make it look right. You'll have to do that eventually anyway to make it into a font.

It looks like the top of your E accidentally got moved very slightly off level. In future, if you can get your stuff into a PDF to post, it will help you get better feedback here, because then people can examine the vectors more closely and be more sure of what they see.

smongey's picture

Thanks for your feedback. I'll put up a pdf. I wasn't sure if jpegs were ok. I'll expand the strokes to outlines for tweaking because at the moment it is even all over. In a typeface like this, do I still need to add contrast or will that throw off the geometric style I'm going for?

cerulean's picture

Contrast can still help something like this, as long as it is so minimal as to be imperceptible. Try making your pen proportions something like 97% high by 100% wide, more or less. If you get that proportion just right, it should look more even.
Be sure to save your original strokes before you convert them to outlines; they may often come in handy later.

Quincunx's picture

> I’d really like to find out how and where to learn type design properly.

Here are two Post-graduate / MA courses in type design (both 1-year courses)

- Type&Media at the KABK in Den Haag (The Hague, The Netherlands)
- MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading.

smongey's picture

Thanks for that. I was looking at the Reading course. It was mentioned a lot in that thread about what people are working on. Thanks for your feedback also. Much appreciated.

Nick Cooke's picture

Hi Seán. There is something fairly similar already:

Chevin DemiBold

Nick Cooke

smongey's picture

you sunk my battleship :(

Jens Kutilek's picture

I think you should continue nevertheless, even if your typeface comes out resembling an existing one. You'll learn a lot in the process anyway, like when you encounter a design problem and look at similar faces to find out how the designers solved this problem there.

And besides in typedesign it's the small nuances that can make a big difference.


smongey's picture

Thanks, I appreciate that. I guess i'll try and be a bit more experimental with the lowercase. I can always look at Chevin and steer away from the way its lowercase is designed in order to hopefully come out with a slightly more original typeface.

Nick Cooke's picture

Sorry Seán, I didn't mean to discourage you. Still, it's a good effort for a first typeface. As Jens says it's all part of the learning process, which is never a waste of time. That's the trouble with type design - producing something original requires as much thinking as actual drawing.

Not looking at other typefaces while you're producing a design is a good idea. Looking at other typefaces then doing something different is also a good idea.

Keep at it. It'll only take a lifetime, and you'll still be learning.

Nick Cooke

crossgrove's picture

There is no rule that you have to release any typeface at all, and it's really quite a good idea to develop your first typeface(s) with the understanding that you never will release them. In 10 years time you will cringe when you see your earliest student work on packaging, movie titles, etc. and all the naive and inept flaws will stick out at you. Take this opportunity to learn from everything you see, including Nick's counter-example. Go hunting for all the typefaces that have these traits. see how they are different as well as similar. Look at your point structure and try to refine it. Be willing to redraw things to get a better shape. Set your typeface in 7 point and see if it works (being honest about that is one of the hardest lessons).

Honestly I'm confused when you say you're sketching all the time, because this typeface looks completely made of straight lines and circle segments. Nothing about it looks handmade. It looks machine-routed. One thing about type is that even if things all look the same thickness, they probably aren't. Joins between rounds and straights, or several diagonals typically get thinner to avoid the clogs like you have in the bottom of G and middle of K.

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