Ernestine, a wide slab

nina's picture

Dear Typophiles,

Here is the first version of the lowercase alphabet of my first typeface*, Ernestine**. Backstory is here.

* I have made a little family of bitmap fonts before, but I'm not counting this here because Curves Are Hard.
** See below.

The intended use for this is twofold, my main focus being small text (thanks to Hrant, as well as Hans Jörg Hunziker in class, for bringing this idea to mind); the other, possibly, display: The plan is to first finish this "base" cut shown above, and then deduce two additional optical sizes from it, which will likely be of more practical use than the base itself. First, an optically corrected small size cut with more weight & looser spacing; intended point size is 3 to 8*. And second, if time permits, a display cut with less weight & more detail.

* Some quick experiments with ink traps, opened counters, and the like revealed that this can be surprisingly legible at 3pt, and rather comfortable at 4.

I'd be very grateful for crits, and any opinions really. I've been *very* immersed in this over the past couple of weeks or so, so I presume I don't really see most of the issues myself. (I must say a monoline typeface really seems to be quite a beast to try to tackle, too.) Spacing btw is still quite preliminary.

** Oh, and the name. Ernestine is the working title that I kind of got stuck on. I think it matches the feel of this rather nicely, but the word looks uh, suboptimal (very long, and somewhat boring) when set in the typeface, so I'm open for different naming ideas that would also look good. :-)

So, I'm throwing her out there. Please don't hold back, and don't be gentle for the sake of it: I'm trying to learn, and I'm wanting to actually make this usable.

—Nina

nina's picture

Wow. Thanks guys (-:
I'm happy that this seems to be clicking!

Craig, about the "g": I'm not sure I need everyone to find the "g" of their dreams in this font. Imagine Meta having an alternate "g". (Or does it? I don't have it.) Or Kabel! Those are basically defined by their "g"s, some people hate them, others love them. I think that's great.
Which doesn't mean I've decided against making an alternate. But I guess I don't think it's vital for the font.

Marcelo, I was chuckling before when I realized we're both quite involved with the "g" right now.
Spacing: There is none. It's horrid. I know I should at least have something like preliminary spacing, but I feel I need more glyphs first to work out the sidebearings.

"though I’d like to see how it looks with a larger ball, since optically it seems small a bit against, let’s say, the c"
? I don't have a current "c" yet. Are you comparing this to the old one up top?

Actually, yes, I agree the ball should be larger.
But don’t change anything else! :->

Haha. I promise. I mean I promise I'll try. :-)

Marcelo Soler's picture

Are you comparing this to the old one up top?

Oops, yes!

MarS

nina's picture

Bigger balls all around:

PDF: http://altaira.de/posted/ernestine_honigmohn_3.pdf

She's getting quite yummy I think. Looking at that huge tittle, maybe the ball on the "g" could even be larger than this? So far it seems to read OK; but I do prefer that tail to remain quite open optically…

(Hrant: Haven't touched the "g", other than the terminal. <:-) )

I'm looking forward to having time to work on the other glyphs. But that won't be until a week or so from now.

speter's picture

I wouldn't make the ball terminals much bigger for text sizes. (But then again, I'm not a ball-terminal fan, so I'm probably not the best one to comment on that.)

One request: could you use non-food words? Every time I visit these critique sections, I get hungry. (Mmm, poppy seeds...) :-)

hrant's picture

I think the tittle (not large at all - "she's a good size", as they say) and the terminal of the "g" are well-balanced. One thing I'm seeing though (perhaps a hold-over from a previous iteration) is that the bottom stroke of the "g" is getting a bit too thin close to the ball; you don't want it totally monoline since the ball add visual weight to it, but I think it needs to be a hair thicker (which might make the ball a bit larger too - but you have room for that).

BTW, I just realized something: I don't think the "m" needs
to be so narrow; it detracts from the character of the face.

hhp

nina's picture

Steve, haha! I actually wanted to do "honigmond"; but the "d" is still off getting its bowl polished. I'll try not to post while I'm eating though. ;-)

Thanks Hrant. There's definitely some weirdness where the ball terminal is connecting; the inner & outer contours seem disharmonious right next to it. On the other hand, you're right that when I do make it completely monoline it looks clogged. Will need to play with that some more.
"m": Its proportions have carried over pretty much from previous iterations, and to be honest I haven't given them too much thought yet. So that's on the list too – thanks.

By the way, every time I look at that "i", the tittle seems to be off to one side, but it's never the same side twice. Dunno.

hrant's picture

> it’s never the same side twice.

As I said in another thread recently, that means it's fine! It's you. :-)

hhp

Bendy's picture

I think I'd move it left a tiddly fraction; the centre of gravity of the stem is a bit left because of the serifs. But that could just be me :>

speter's picture

the centre of gravity of the stem is a bit left because of the serifs

Which is why I think it's perfectly placed. I think the tittle should be ever so slightly to the right of center.

hrant's picture

Steve, is that because of the "f", or something more subtle?

hhp

nina's picture

I just tried this again: when I move it left by one (!) unit, it looks off to the left
to me every time I look at it. So I guess I'll leave it where it is! (Sorry Hrant, seems it didn't register you just said this someplace else.)

speter's picture

Steve, is that because of the “f”, or something more subtle?

My eyes prefer it that way :-) All of the text faces I really like seem to have the tittle just slightly to the right of optical center, so I don't think I'm alone. (Jenson's is quite far to the right.)

I think it's part of a broader pattern of asymmetry in the Latin alphabet, but I want to let my theory bake a bit more before I present it in public.

hrant's picture

> Jenson’s is quite far to the right.

But at least in that case it's most probably to make room for the massive beak of the "f". In digital -especially with OT now- that's far less of an issue.

hhp

nina's picture

Interesting.
Conversely, are there any good reasons for a far-left tittle placement,
as in Adobe Caslon?

speter's picture

Hrant, absolutely (and the long s as well).

hrant's picture

Far-left?! The only thing I can think of is replicating
some flawed historical model. Caslon for one was a slob.
(The abattoir is humming!)

hhp

eliason's picture

I think the right-trending dot also keeps things moving forward along the line. When printing, for example, I write the stem first, then the dot, then the following letter. As my hand approaches uniform motion along the line, the dot will likely be between the stem and the following letter. (By this I don't intend that type should be or always is an emulation of writing, but I think some of the dynamics are parallel.)

Joe Pemberton's picture

Handpicked. Late to the critique, but handpicked. Nicely done.

nina's picture

:-> Thanks!

I'll continue soon… crazy busy this week.

nina's picture

Did some more work on the tail of the "g". I wonder if this is still too much tapering? I've been doing a lot of non-type work this week, and my eyes feel kind of rusty (ouch!). But I'm wanting to get that terminal to work before moving on to the "c", etc.

Since the tail got heavier optically, I felt I had to strengthen the ear a little too. I'm not sure it doesn't still feel a bit too light though.


--
(PDF is up at http://www.altaira.de/posted/ernestine-g-4.pdf; due to popular request, this time [almost] without added foodstuffs! :-> )

eliason's picture

That tail is definitely improved! If you're worried about the bottom counter closing up (it doesn't help that foot serifs like the n's in the above pic poke right into the gap), I think there is a little room to reduce the size of the top bowl - but on the other hand it looks pretty great as is!

nina's picture

Thanks Craig! Actually the thing with the tail closing up doesn't seem to be as bad as I feared. Though I'm still caught up in trying to figure out the optimal settings of my fancy new printer; it's doing a lot of strange stuff to stem weights and such, so I actually can't judge text sizes that well at the moment :-(.

Bendy's picture

g is looking very very cool :)

nina's picture

:-) Thanks Ben!

Craig: I just went through all possible options on my printer and think I've actually found a way to print 10pt text. So the tail looks OK, but you're right about the foot serifs sort of "poking into" the counterspace. I suspect this may be alleviated once I start working on spacing – the pokey serifs might be a bit too close to the "g" now.

speter's picture

this time [almost] without added foodstuffs

Just change the name of the typeface to Poppyseed! :-)

I think the g is just a bit too tight near the terminal. The tail flows nicely, then makes a fist.

nina's picture

Aha! What exactly does "tight" mean though – tapering too much, or not enough?
I assume you mean the terminal starts too abruptly?

Btw: I think the only thing that'd really make me consider a naming change would be a great new name that has a "g" in it. :->

nina's picture

Hm!
Is it that pink and flowery though? Or thorny?
And can anyone actually pronounce that?

speter's picture

Sorry, Bendy, already done.

By tight, I mean not just the taper, but the flow. The bend doesn't quite work for me.

Bendy's picture

Ugh! Knew I should have checked first!

hrant's picture

I actually think it's all nicely balanced,
but maybe there's something I'm not seeing.

> The tail flows nicely, then makes a fist.

Now I know what it reminds me of: Popeye! :-)

hhp

eliason's picture

If you want to go with the knitting idea, "Selvage" (or "Selvedge") is a knitting term that could work as a name. (Too close to "salvage" or "savage" perhaps.)

nina's picture

<:-D
That'd explain why it seemed to want more weight close to the fist!

Craig, I'm not that fond of knitting after all.
Of course now I could call it Spinach! But I think Ernestine will be fine. :->

Marcelo Soler's picture

Perhaps... Geraldine?
(Nothing to do with Geraldine Wade, from Microsoft, of course!)

MarS

nina's picture

Hey, not bad. But that's a capital "G". I don't know yet if that's gonna be a cool glyph ;-)

eliason's picture

Evangeline.

Marcelo Soler's picture

Nice, Craig!
MarS

hrant's picture

The reason I still like "Ernestine" is because
it evokes a bygone sincerity, something both
appropriate to this design as well as timely in
our society.

You can't beat a slab serif when it comes
to saying "let me tell you how it really is".
Leonard Cohen is a slab - although not as
wide as this design.

hhp

nina's picture

Evangeline is nice, but sounds too Christian for me. I'd see an Evangeline as chanting stuff and floating mid-air, rather than being honest and down-to-earth.

"Sincerity" is a good word, Hrant – I agree pretty much completely with your perspective.
I like "Ernestine" because while the name is feminine, it derives more or less directly from "earnest". Both of those sides seem to match the font well – in relative terms; I think it is more of a "she" than a "he", although definitely not "girly" – and yes it's meant to be serious in a, well, earnest kind of way, which doesn't mean it can't be quirky here and there and have its own mind about things. It's just not whimsical.
Plus, I like the "bridge" between the old-fashioned name and the newish design.
(And I can definitely see Leonard Cohen as a slab. Just not Archer. :-D )

Actually, the more I think of it, I think I'm quite married to the name. Guess I'll just have to live without a "g" in there! But questioning it was worth it.

eliason's picture

I suppose you could call it Ernestine Regular! :-)

nina's picture

:-D
Great point!

speter's picture

For me, the name Ernestine calls to mind Lily Tomlin's routine on TV when I was a kid.

nina's picture

So taking my baby steps, I've been working on the "m" (which I think benefits from being wider – is it a bit too wide now though?) and started working out the "a", which is still rather wonky – mainly trying to figure out the overall proportions, the amount of tapering on the hood, and such. My main problem being, I don't want to make it look desperate to be as wide as it can. It may also be too dark right now. Any opinions?

(This is really just a mini-update; I'm hoping to be able to spend more time on this later this week. But the bug bit me NOW. :-) )


(PDF: http://www.altaira.de/posted/ernestine-a-m.pdf )

--

Steve: Now there's a cultural association I completely missed. :-)

speter's picture

If you really want the a to be that wide, you can pull back a little on the top while leaving the bowl wide.

hrant's picture

I think you might even try a wider "m".

In the "a" I like the lateral relationship between the top and the bowl, but I would make the whole thing a bit narrower and the bowl a bit shorter. Also, I would shear the top terminal perpendicular, not at an angle; if you can match the angle with the inside of the foot serif, that would be a bonus.

hhp

nina's picture

Thanks for your feed-back guys! Will try a slightly narrower "a" (and maybe a wider "m").

Hrant, when you say to make the bowl of the "a" shorter, do you mean flatter (vertically)?

hrant's picture

Yes, flatter vertically, but if/when you make it
narrower too the aspect needn't change too much.

hhp

nina's picture

Gotcha! Cheers.

nina's picture

Medium-sized update.

First, more work on the "a" and "m":


I think I like the new widths/proportions, although I'm not sure the new "a" isn't disappearing a bit between all those wide glyphs. That'll surely be easier to judge once I have things like the "s", "f", and "t".

Btw, going back to Industria, I realized I really like the foot terminal on its "a":


…so I spent some time playing around with an alternate "a" that would have a "curved" terminal that would still be perceived as serifed (kind of like in Patria); but I couldn't get that to work with the overall serif size/weight. And a plain curve, like say in National, seemed too soft and cute in this context. I guess the idea might be moot in a slab (and it's not like I actively dislike the current foot serif on the "a").

What I did do was transfer the more slanted inside angle of the "a" foot serif to the top-left of "m" and "n",* which I think works well – this way I need to taper the curves less as they're approaching the join, which helps the monoline look.
* You can see that in the topmost image of this post, though only in the "m".

--

Also, I have a first "postable" version of "b"/"d"/"p"/"q":
(Please ignore the ugly "u", it's not supposed to be here yet.)

--

PDF with the current state of things:
http://www.altaira.de/posted/ernestine_090306.pdf
(I'll attach an "official" one to the top of this thread once this third incarnation of Ernestine has a complete lc alphabet.)

Any comments muchly welcome of course. :-)

eliason's picture

FWIW I think you may have narrowed the 'a' a touch too much.

New letters look great. The serifless bowls of 'b' and 'q' work well with your 'g' in style, I think.

I like the reasoning behind the new angles on the insides of those serifs. Perhaps the angle could be hair more upright; you're approaching a thinness that makes those serifs look like they could break off. Or alternatively perhaps keeping the angle but just sliding that line a touch away from the serif (of course it has to align well with the stem on the other side of the join).

Salt to taste!

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