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Below is a GIF character set of a sans I am working on. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. ChrisL
Too bad we can’t have MM Leporello ;-) Overall, I like it, especially the lc g. The entry stroke on lc b and lc thorn isn’t working for me, although I like it on the lc i. Perhaps it’s because I then expect it elsewhere, like on lc h, l, k, etc. Also, the counter in uc Thorn looks a bit small to me, especially next to the lc version.
Interesting stuﬀ. There are some strong stylistic ‘contradictions’ in this ‘face (see, for example, h versus n). I wonder what’s the rationale behind such design conﬂicts. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, per se, I just think that the contradictions are too strong/ evident here. The letters need a little more formal coherence, IMHO.
I like the uppercase a lot, but I ﬁnd the lowercase too ﬂowery in places (entry strokes etc.). That’s a taste thing though. I’m not qualiﬁed to oﬀer any professional opinions … R
Interesting, but some glyphs needs work. Lc & uc “s” is too weak, lc “j” is a little bit too heavy. You should shift ogonek to the right on “Aogonek” and “aogonek”. Lc “k” is too wide for me. All alternative acutes (Polish kreska) on sacute, cacute, nacute, oacute and zacute have too much stepper slope, and now should go to the left. It is nice that you did an alt.acute but for me the ﬁrst one, is enough for Polish language too. All accents above (not dots) are to weak (light) for me.
You have taken on an interesting challenge of having a greater variety of treatments of individual letters, and still have the whole harmonize and balance. I think a PDF with text would help to see how well it harmonizes or fails to and contradicts itself. The few words you posted promise a nice harmony and balance. If it does harmonize it would be valuable, as you would have achieved a greater diﬀerentiation of letters, and possibily easier readability, than is usual in a sans.
Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I have made most of the suggested changes: beefed up the S & s, shifted A & aogonek, narrowed k, ﬁxed Uc Thorn, beefed up all diacritics except dots. I think the “j” weight was an illusion caused by the GIF. Besides the helpful comments of Robert Ole
I get an error message when I try to start up your PDF. ‘Acrobat cannot decript this document’. Can you check it? The more I look the more intriguing this is. Overall, I think the ‘inconsistencies’ work harmoniously together-though I want to see that PDF! I wonder whether the h or k or both need the b treatment for the sake of the harmony of the font. Even though they don’t have a ‘reﬂection’ they could, and it might look more harmonious. The ldq would still have a visual ‘reason’ not to have the bend. The only character I don’t think works is the g, because unlike the rest it looks odd to me and the oddness doesn’t go away. A single story g might still keep to your design rules for this font and work better.
Hey Chris, you’re talking alphabet reform! A pet project of mine since ‘98. Using “conﬂicts” in the Latin alphabet*, I arrived at the following structures: http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/maslucida.gif It’s not a font, of course — just structures, and explaining everything is a pretty long story — like the fact that they represent an “ideal”** and a given actual font can “tame” the structures as needed — perhaps arriving at somewhere close to Leporello. * http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/m&s.gif ** Actually, they need tweaking. Again. :-/ You could read my essay in this book if you’re interested in learning more: http://www.gunnarswanson.com/GDandR/GDandR_Book.html Of course to some people it’s the highest form of Blasphemy to suggest that their alphabet is anything short of divinely perfect — and they can hold a covert grudge against you for all Eternity, devoting a big chunk of their lives to striking down anything else you might ever say about anything at all, using any maneuver, any awkward angle of attack — such is the nature of true Devotion, I guess… — BTW, I couldn’t load the PDF either. hhp
> It’s not a font, of course — just structures, and > explaining everything is a pretty long story — > like the fact that they represent an “ideal”** and > a given actual font can “tame” the structures as > needed — perhaps arriving at somewhere close to > Leporello. I understand that polishing those structures and making it a real font would require it to be ‘less ideal’, but on the other hand, how can you measure, how can you tell if it ‘works’ or not if it’s not a typeface, just an ‘idea’ of typeface? I mean, how do you know that it needs re-tweaking? I only ask because I really want to know. > You could read my essay in this book if you’re > interested in learning more: […] I’ve read it. I like your ideas about reform, but the article seems ‘dated’ now (well, probably because I read Typophile every day).
Oh, and thanks for the explanations, Chris. I’d like to see the PDF too, to see how the divergent letterforms work in text.
> how can you tell You can never know, but you can always “tell”, so to speak. Fear of being wrong is something you have overome to create progress, otherwise you’re just rehashing established practice. So don’t really want to know, really want to invent, I guess. Yes, the article is dated. But it still ruins lives. ;-> hhp
Sorry about the PDF. I saved as version 6. You guys probably have older Adobe readers. I resaved it as version 4 and hope it is now readable to all of you. Also, I meant to include the PolishDiacritics link: <http://studweb.euv-frankfurt-o.de/twardoch/f/en/typo/ogonek/ogonek.html> ChrisL
>You could read my essay in this book if you’re interested in learning more:
OK, the PDF works now. Not surprisingly, this is a face that cannot be evaluated in the normal fashion — otherwise one would blindly conclude “it’s ugly” and leave it at that. The relevance of such a design is tied to the existence of the “dark half” of reading, the half where a reader doesn’t notice the details of the font, but is aﬀected by it nonetheless. Evaluating such a font requires a very strong understanding of readability, and the deeper mechanisms of reading, for example to what extent familiarity matters, and what details readers notice. I don’t know anybody who can do this. But I can try to share some of my own hazy insight. - I think the “a” needs its lower-right spur. - And the “g” needs its ear. - The “k” needs staggered arms, maybe one of them bowed. - The “v”/”w”/”y” are too static as a group. - I’d make the “J” descending. - The “@” is too chirographic. - I’d ﬂatten the UC acutes/graves. - The BP is oﬀ. - That “L” in the Pilcrow is bril! - I don’t think the Diﬀerential should lean. - The Florin should lean though. BTW, looking at the vertical proportions and color, it looks like a face that would work best at larger text sizes, like around 12 point. But for that the spacing is slightly loose. Whatever you do though, don’t expect virtually anybody to understand what this is about — the Modernist age is not good at tolerating such extrapolation — it’s just something you’ll have to believe in, and apply in the best way you can. — > If that were not so, what would we strive for? I feel the same way. But some people like to celebrate more than strive. I guess they have more fun though. > some of the letterform structures you used > in your GIF look very Middle Eastern It’s possible — although probably based more on my own [circumstantial] background than some actual “old-world” merit… hhp
Hmmm. The text in the PDF for me doesn’t solve the harmony problem well enough. It may be the width of the letters is the problem rather than the forms, though. I suspect that you need to narrow the stemless letters — doesn’t Dax do this? And also the a seems too wide to me. The ﬂag at the top of the b sticks out too much; its seems visually higher than the straight ascenders — would shortening it make it more harmonious? You have quite a challenge getting even rhythm into your unconventional forms, but if you succeed you will have something unique. I don’t think it’s there yet.
Please, look at Victor Gaultneys essey: “Problems of diacritic design for Latin script text faces”. www.sil.org/~gaultney/ProbsOfDiacDesignLowRes.pdf. Look at acute in Gentium and Linotype Palatino. Palatino has acute about 27 degree, Gentium has acute about 35 degree. This is correct for Polish language. aogonek and eogonek looks good now (may be very good). Look at http://fonty.pl/pliki/eurofonty.pdf Most of Polish diacritics are correct in this example. (But not all of them) When ogonek is merged with lowercase a in order to create aogonek, should be placed near the right boundary of “a” and sometimes can exceed it. Ogonek in eogonek should not exceed “e”. Yours is OK.
Robert, Thank you very much for the links, I will study them and then make improvements. The scholarly “Problems of Diacritic Design
> http://fonty.pl/pliki/eurofonty.pdf Huh. Are these legit derivations? And I like that Twirl on the last page! Assuming it’s also derived, does anybody know what the original font is? hhp
I am attaching another PDF witth the changes I have made so far. This time I have only included a limited character set. I have slightly condensed the font and made numerous tinkerings. There is also a couple of words in other weights. I actually started the face as a medium weight. Even though medium is the least usefull weight, it gives me clues about all other weights. I then did a bold and a black before starting the regular. I did not show the bolder weights before because they would not work well as a text face. I still have much work to do on them all but would like your collective feedback on what I have so far. Thanks, Chris
In an attempt to show my overall plan, I am posting 2 more PDFs. The ﬁrst is a showing of lc alphabet and brief line of text in 2 styles and 4 weights. The ﬁrst showing is “Leporello Plain” which has no entry strokes. The second is what I call “Leporello Cloaked.” It is the same one I have been posting. I intend a third variation “Leporello Masqued” which will be a half serif version (I have yet to start this version). The other showings are very rough weight variations and obviously need much work. These are: Medium, Bold, and Black. The second PDF shows a synopsis of the opera Don Giovanni used as text. It explains the opera as well as my reasoning for the naming; Plain for Leporello as himself, a servant; cloaked for Leporello partially disguised; and Masqued for him as his master. The left column of text is in “Plain” and the right column is n “Cloaked.” ChrisL
I think the narrower letters and the change in the serif on the b are both good improvements. Now I see your idea of great variation in the letters in your ‘cloaked’ version. It think it is too much. There is a balance between repetition and variation in any pattern to make it work aesthetically. I have heard, I forget where, that in music it is about 50-50. If the melody doesn’t have some kind of repetition it doesn’t come together as a melody, but just is a series of notes. Thus you have the typical establishment of the theme in four bars, the next four bars with variation of the theme, the third four a diﬀerent variation, and return to the theme. In other words with too much variation a melody just doesn’t come together as a ‘gestalt’ that the mind can wrap itself around. On the other hand, if there is too much repetition it becomes boring and annoying, like the infernal ‘Doublemint’ jingle. I think that this kind of patterning principle also holds for readability. And I think you have gone too far in the variety direction. But if you ﬁgure a way to pull back — there are a lot of ways to do it because you have so much variation — you could end up with something that is balanced and innovative. By the way, the narrowed top of the g works now for me, where it didn’t before. But I think the connecting loop to the bottom is oﬀ somehow now.
>… I think you have gone too far in the variety direction. But if you ﬁgure a way to pull back — there are a lot of ways to do it because you have so much variation — you could end up with something that is balanced and innovative. < Thank you William. I will keep working on it. I have started work on the italic, perhaps I will ﬁnd some clues in that process that I can bring back to the roman. I will try to bring it back far enough to more approach the 4 chord progression. Perhaps I was going too close to Sch
Here is yet another tinkering. Besides many small adjustments throughout, I have mostly abandoned the 2-version concept since the diﬀerence between Plain and Cloaked was so small it made no sense to keep both. I went back to just “Regular” and made the entry strokes more normal and predictable at least for now. I also added, just for fun, a few dingbats that were in keeping with the libretto of the opera. I added a mask, swords (pointing left and right and dueling) and even a “Leporello folder” I also changed the Pilcrow to resemble a sword broken in two (even though Hrant liked the earlier one. I still have no kerning but am working on the diacritics now and ﬂirting with an italic. Hrant-I never liked the stepped “k”, it always lookedlike a broken chair to me. I tried the ear on the “g” and the “a” but it looked silly and out of place with the rest. Please have a look at the PDF and let me know what you all think. ChrisL
>And I think you have gone too far in the variety direction. But if you ﬁgure a way to pull back — there are a lot of ways to do it because you have so much variation < I think I have “pulled back” enough this time. I ﬁxed the ligs so that they were not too heavy like my previous post. I have putzed with the sidebearings more and am ready to do more work on kerning now. I ﬁnished the complete character set and added text in Italian, Polish, Czech, and German. I read Victor Gaultneys essay: “Problems of diacritic design for Latin script text faces” (thanks Robert) and Adam Twordoch’s article as well so I hope I got it right this time. I have attached a 2-page pdf ﬁle which I hope will get some comments (he says, speaking but to himself). The character set and language texts are on page 2. ChrisL
I’m just working on my ﬁrst typeface, so be forewarned you are not getting the voice of experience here. The thing I like most about this now are your serifs at the top of the ascenders. My suspicion is that if the n, h, and o were slightly narrower it would make for a better rhythm in the text. I wonder whether it would be better with the l with the serif on the ascender. The bl combination is a little jarring in the text. Having the d with no serif is more ‘natural’ looking as the serif on the d in a serif face is sometimes diﬀerent than all the other ascenders. The bottom serif on the l — should the terminal be more similar to the ascender serifs? The i serif. I think this needs to relate more to the ascender serif also — maybe just being shorter would work. Now, with the serif bending down, it think it should overshoot like the o; it looks short now. Also you could consider putting a stem on the r. As the Underware fellows explain here the r usually has more of a notch than the m,n. And that helps keep the rn from looking like an m. If you are going to have as serif on the i you might consider doing something on the j and r also. I don’t know what can work here, but I do think that the serifs on the ascenders are a success, and working the face to make it harmonize and work best with these is the way to go.
I am posting another updated PDF with adjusted metrics (started more kerning) and ﬁxed the f ligs so that their joins do not look so heavy. I also narrowed the o, O, c, C, G, Q, and D. William, I see you are a neighboring northern Virginian. Thanks for taking the time to look at my font. Now I don’t feel as much like I am talking to myself here online :-) >The bottom serif on the l — should the terminal be more similar to the ascender serifs?< I was going by my old caligraphy days where an entrance stroke from a ﬂat pen had a diﬀerent character than it did at pen lift but that is just a minor historical rationalization. The truth is, I like it that way. It is a mix of caligraphy and character reognition fonts of late where the “l, I, 1” are diﬀerentiated. It just feels right to my eyes. I have tried it your way and several others and have gone back to this. The “i” does overshoot but not quite as much as the “o” because it is MUCH ﬂatter. ChrisL
I am posting a ﬁnal broadside speciman of Leporello regular. Thank you to those who have commented. ChrisL
It seems I posted the wrong ﬁle last night. Attached is the correct one. Sorry, late night brain farts. Chris
Chris, you’re not speaking to yourself — on my end I was saving the best for last. Few people can appreciate what you’re doing — it’s way out there — it requires a dedication to the dark depths of reading — something very rarely promoted. Know that most type designers who see this will think it’s garbage (and most of them won’t have the balls to tell you). Some people will think it’s “cute”. My advice is this: ﬁlter feedback based on context: learn to ignore certain speciﬁc kinds of advice from people who might be great conventional font designers but have no real idea of the dark currents sweeping to and fro in the recesses of the human brain. Or: Don’t ask a poodle trainer to handle an anaconda. — It’s a good time to back up. What I think you should go for (and you might already be doing this) is a font that creates a texture (at reading point sizes) the layman won’t reject, but diverge the forms as much as possible nonetheless. I think you’re actually being slightly conservative! But it will make for a great test case. You will have to publish a booklet (not related to typography) that uses it, and ask laymen (NOT other designers) what they think — and ask them in the most indirect -even devious- ways — to see what’s really going on. Some speciﬁcs: -Why are the caps and numerals so conventional? -I’d make the eye of the “e” smaller. -I’d make the “s” narrower and the “y” wider. -I think your accents are generally smallish. -Try making the blank space a hair bigger. — > There is a balance between repetition and > variation in any pattern to make it work > aesthetically. But there’s a critical diﬀerence here between display and text, between deliberative and immersive reading. The threshold of harmony/discord depends on how deep into the subconscious you’re aiming. What is seen as discord by our ﬁnicky -and subjective- conscious aesthetic appreciation is used by the subconscious to read more eﬃciently. > the infernal ‘Doublemint’ jingle. Tellingly in fact, a study has shown the more obnoxious a jingle the more memorable it is! What we think we like isn’t necessarily what we really like. > I never liked the stepped “k” But it’s less of an “x”. hhp
Hrant, Thanks for your input. I needed your push to tilt me back to heresy and away from dogma :-) I was never one who liked to adhere to ﬁxed absolutes. »-Why are the caps and numerals so conventional? Because I ﬁgured caps rarely appear in text and didn’t seem to be an issue—However, I have some ideas for the caps too and will try them out. >-I’d make the eye of the “e” smaller. I just did, it is better now. You will see when I post the next PDF. >-I’d make the “s” narrower and the “y” wider. I see your point with the “s” but I will have to be careful not to make it too dark; tinkering is 90% of this work. The “y” has always bothered me, maybe it is something as simple as the width. I kept thinking I needed to curve the right fork back. >-I think your accents are generally smallish. I just enlarged them. (god, I sound like those awful SPAM emails) >-Try making the blank space a hair bigger… . I have this dilemma with the word space. It seems to need more, as you say, at text sizes but a bit less when used larger. I guess I should trust the user to track the larger sizes tighter. >But it’s less of an “x”. « Yes it is but I am working on a somewhat diﬀerent solution involving curves but not stepped. I will post it when it is more resolved. I have been trying to push a solution (probably too quickly) just to have something for TypeGallery so I went conservative. After I step back for a couple of weeks, I will have a more distant vision and be able “see” better. Right now I am too close to the forest. All of my less-than-typical attempts at this point look completely normal to me. I don’t see anything at all radical in what I have done. Perhaps it comes of being too immersed. I hope you will review my next PDF as well, I need someone to keep me oﬀ the straight and narrow :-) ChrisL
Chris, Yes I’m a neighbor not so far away. I do think your narrowing the o helped a lot. I don’t quite know how to react to the typeface as it stands. It has polish, and a much more lively texture than most san serifs, which is all to the good. But to me it also looks excentric to a point that is a bit distracting. It may be that Hrants view is right that the way to go is just all the way with the concept, and just make it as good looking as possible with its varied shape, or maybe even more varied shapes. Emigre has done a lot of to me excentric stuﬀ that has found a place in the type world, so maybe that is a model.
Actually I think this (or at least what I’m talking about) is a world apart from the Emigre school, because the “eccentricity” is not [purely] for aesthetic eﬀect — it’s not a form of artistic expression. In fact more than eccentricity you could call it “realism”: referring to the reality that laymen don’t care about formal aesthetics the way [most] type designers do — they’re essentially concerned with accessing the content instead. Crazy laymen. hhp
I have made numerous adjustmentsto the Regular and have since drawn an Italic version as well. Here is a GIF to see as well as a 3-page PDF which shows alphabets and some large text in Regular, Italic, and mixed together. ChrisL
Wow! I quite like the direction this is going, but a few things bother me. 1) The diﬀerence in dots for i and j, while I appreciate it, doesn’t work for me. 2) The roman feels slightly as if it’s leaning left, especially at smaller sizes. 3) And speaking of left, the italic K needs to bulk up on its left side. 4) The italic p looks too `pinched’ to me; maybe bring the join down just a hair. Overall, though, I could see using this for a couple of projects I have. Keep up the good work!
Hi Steve. Thanks for your comments. One question regarding the dots on the i and j italics—they are the same, just a copy and paste. Did I perhaps misunderstand you? BTW, the “K” bothered me too but I think the solution is in thinning the right half. I will give it a shot both ways. ChrisL
Chris, FYI you might want to look at Beret by Eduardo Omine, one of our typophiles here. He recently did a sans with a ‘bent’ ascender, now published by Linotype.
they are the same, just a copy and paste I think the dots must have been on my eyes! I swear they looked diﬀerent the ﬁrst time I checked out the PDF, but now that I go back, they do indeed look the same. Hmmm.
William, Thanks for the link. I just looked at Eduardo’s “Beret”. It is quite a strong family. He should be proud of his excellent work. Steve, The “eye of the beholder”? :-) Maybe you just needed one of Starbuck”s famous “Red-eyes” :-)
Here is a corrected version of the italic. I ﬁxed the K and p, smoothed the ﬂatness on the bottom of the s, worked on the punctuation to make it more italic like, ﬁxed the tail of the option-R, and included some 10 pt text at the bottom. ChrisL
The K and p look much better. The whole thing works well at text sizes, which pleases me greatly. FWIW, I looked at this on my iBook, and the dot issue I saw before seems to be from the screen on it (both Preview and the Shubert plug-in). So, I’m not crazy (or at least this isn’t conﬁrmation).
>So, I’m not crazy (or at least this isn’t conﬁrmation).< But Steve, we had conﬁrmation years ago :-) BTW, I am toying with the idea of diamond dots for the italic instead of round, Would that be too calligraphic? ChrisL
I don’t think it would be too calligraphic, given the rest of the traits of the font. Just keep the diamonds the same size ;-) (and don’t make them too pointy).
I tried the diamonds but they are not forever—perhaps it was the setting. I went back to round dots. ChrisL
Diamonds are but lumps of coal. Have you had a chance to look at the slant issue I brought up earlier? I’ve recently been playing with Syntax, and its ever-so-slight forward slant is very pleasing.
>Have you had a chance to look at the slant issue I brought up earlier?< Maybe it is me but I don’t feel the backslant you mentioned. I showed it to a few friends and none of them saw it either. Were you on your iBook again? ChrisL
No, it deﬁnitely isn’t an iBook thing. I even printed out the PDF to make sure. My wife’s comment was “It looks like it’s going to fall over.” Give it a 1 degree forward slant and see if it doesn’t feel more dynamic.
By the way, some of the discussion over in the serif forum is I think relevant, even if serifs aren’t the cause of what I see here. http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/29/50587.html?1097103444
I am posting a new version of Leporello Regular with a 1 degree slant to test Steve’s concept. I have also completed a “Light” version (not slanted) for reviw as well. ChrisL
I like it! I think the slant gives it vibrancy and removes the feeling I had before that it was tipping backwards.
Thanks Peter. Any comment on the light version? I guess it is time to revisit the bold weights.