Six letters hope to become a font

daniele capo's picture

in the last day I started to draw these letters. I started with a sketch I made while thinking about the recent Legato thread. I don’t know if I will be able to transform these in a complete set of characters, so I decided to start the thread.

The idea is behind my initial sketch was the contrast between an upright counter and a stretched contour (the dashed lines, more or less).

That’s all, I must say that I quite hate the 'a'.

first_pdf223.27 KB
typo-4.pdf9.62 KB
proof-2.pdf18.91 KB
proof-3.pdf36.58 KB
proof-4.pdf42.73 KB
proof-5.pdf45.54 KB
text.pdf34.88 KB
Marcelo Soler's picture

I agree with you the "a" is not in tune.
I'm not sure about the high weight at the bottom of the left stem in the "n", though I think it works well in the other letters.
The "p" is quite good, but I'd try a shorter descender.
Your idea is promising.
I'd like to see more.


Quincunx's picture

I agree that it looks promising. The problem of the a is mostly located in the top and the tail. The bowl is pretty nice, although the top of the bowl might be a bit too heavy.

Looking forward to seeing more.

nina's picture

Wow, amazing to see effects of that Legato thread spring up everywhere! This is looking quite interesting. It reminds me a bit of Avance for some reason (especially the "i").

I agree the "a" doesn't quite click with the others yet. It looks kind of… bored. I think maybe the bowl might reach too far over to the left? Also not sure about the terminal.
I like the "o" a lot. I have a somewhat similar sketch of an "o" sitting on my hard drive ;-)

I wonder how the funny shape of the serifs will work in text.
So yeah, I'd like to join in with the others in wanting more. :-)

daniele capo's picture

I’m back. For the moment my 'a' is sleeping. I made two 'n' without that enormous flare at the left base (the first one here is the old one).

I also shortened the descender of p (now it is similar to the ascender but I still have to decide a good proportion) and made an 'm'. the problem with the m is the middle stem. I think that it can’t be the repetition of the right stem but I’m not sure if the solution I adopted is the right one.
What do you think?

Bendy's picture

I think it needs to be somewhere more slanted. See how the left contour of the left and right legs are curved, try repeating that so the middle leg fits between the shapes either side. But actually it's handsome in its non-confirmity anyway, so maybe not... sorry that's not much help! :)

William Berkson's picture

Having a slight forward slant is tricky, as it can make you dizzy if it is in a certain range--Hrant calls it "the barfogenic zone" :)

I'm afraid you might be there, though you have some interesting stuff going on.

The l looks like it slants more than the shorter letters. Good luck with it!

daniele capo's picture

Hehe barfogenic zone made me laugh.

Yes the l is more slanted, I made it like that for some reason. But now it seems simply wrong. Or I can slant everything like that to avoid the 'zone'.

As for the m, when I was drawing the curved inner leg seems to me too much, but now I understand that it is a bit out of context.

Marcelo Soler's picture

"Or I can slant everything..."
Be aware of slanting it all, except you want to make a slanted-non-regular face.
In my opinion, the middle leg of the "m" should be slanted, not by repeating the right leg of the "n", but by interpolating the left one (just look at the counters, instead of the strokes).


Bendy's picture

Maybe I mean curved instead of slanted...

hrant's picture

This looks pretty charming, although frankly I'm not seeing the essence of Legato click yet (assuming that's something desirable for you). And Avance is certainly echoing in your design. Enough so that I might make this practical suggestion: make this into a direct companion for Avance - maybe even a font somebody might use for special emphasis in place of Avance's own italic. To do this you would have to match the apparent size and color of Avance (or possibly its Italic).

As for your slant, I think it's a good deal outside the barfogenic zone* (although it does depend on point size, and you seem to be aiming small, which makes the zone larger). You might still want to increase it though (especially if you go with the idea above).

* For the record, I got that term from a book about multimedia, in reference to animations with frame rates of between 8 fps and 15 fps, which can actually induce physical nausea (because the human "firmware" can't decide if its moving or not).


daniele capo's picture

Hrant, Marcelo, Bendy, thanks for your suggestions. I made some variations before reading your comments but now I think I want to study more carefully the options I have. La notte porta consiglio – The night will give me advices.

I wonder how can I translate 'barfogenic' in italian, vomitogeno maybe.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Interesting! I like it a lot. I don't agree with Marcelo on the descending p though, but it all comes down to what use you wanna put it to.

daniele capo's picture

Ok now I add a pdf with more letters in it.
I decided to slant a bit more, now the angle is 3 degrees (at small sizes I start to understand the 'zone'). I added letters, even if they are only sketches, to start seeing how it works in a small text, so I really appreciate comments and critiques.

The design is so curvaceous (is it a word?) that achieving a certain uniformity in stems weights is a big problem. Also, I added to much weight at the connection between the stem and the curve in m, n, etc. the previous solution was a better one.


William Berkson's picture

I just checked Eras bold. Eras seems to average about 4 degrees, if that's any help. I know that Syntax has a 1 degree slope, and that one you just kind of feel rather than see.

This has good potential of being jolly while still having strength, and so a very nice display face. Since your angles and bulges are freely drawn--which makes it nice--getting the weights right is tough, as you say. That why they will pay you the big money :)

Try making the l more straight rather than more slanted than the mn and see how you like it. To me it looks like the a is a little haughty should bow his head in prayer :)

paul d hunt's picture

a quick comment without reading everything: the a is not bad and could be improved if the top curved followed the same arch structure as does the rounded upper part of the n.

paul d hunt's picture

without setting some faux text, you can't really gauge how well the slant is going to work. try setting some fake paragraphs with your letters you have thus far using to give you some 'copy' to work with. post a pdf and let's look at it in context.

Quincunx's picture

Yes, adopting (not copying) the arch from the 'n' to the 'a' would probably improve it. At least the main problem with it is located in the arch, like I said in my previous post.

The lowercase L seems to be a bit too heavy, just like the bulged n was before.

daniele capo's picture

I just added a new pdf with more text in it, but I was too busy and not worked enough on this project.
I want to print it large enough to redraw the shapes by hand and making another ‘iteration’. Now, as you can see, the weights seem to change randomly; simplifying the curves while maintaining the overall free-drawn appearance can be a way to have a better control on the design.

And the spacing is awful, I know.

eliason's picture

I think this concept is working well - you have some beautiful letters that are also impressively functional.
To my eye the 't' is too curved ('c'-like) - it distracts.
'u' seems bottom heavy; 'n' (now that you've removed its bell-bottoms) seems right-heavy.
'b' looks like it rides high on the baseline and could use more overshoot there, but that my just be my eyes or printout.

daniele capo's picture

I’ve been so busy in the past month, I hope I can resuscitate this thread. I have completed the lowercase and made a print with more text (attached you find the pdf proof2), and this was before reading your comments, so I suppose the same things are still valid.
My printer is terrible so I can’t really judge, but I find that this work well at small size (maybe because the strangeness of shapes disappears).

I really need some critique.

cerulean's picture

't' stands out as bending forward far too much, but I think this is mostly to do with its crossbar. I'd bring down the left end so that the whole crossbar doesn't appear to be sloping downward. (It looks fine on the 'f', just not on the 't'.)

eliason's picture

Yes, I still think the leaning 't' needs attention.

Some very nice drawing here. I like the diagonal letters (w, for ex.)

I think 'k''s arm and 'g''s ear could use a touch more weight.

daniele capo's picture

I’ve uploaded a new pdf with some improvements in lowercase t — less curved and less forward leaning — g and k (I’ve made a bit heavier the leg). I also added a small set of uppercase letters: CDEGHLO.


eliason's picture

Terrific work!

Did you strengthen the arm or the leg of 'k'? I meant before that the arm (top diagonal stroke) looked a touch weak, and I think it still might.

You could consider lengthening the right side of the bottom serif of 'f' to balance it out (although a little forward lean seems to be part of the character of this font).

The way the bottom terminal of 'c' stretches right seems to pull that letter "upright" instead of leaving the forward lean I just mentioned. I'd need a text setting to judge whether that would stick out or not. I think a text setting could also help tell if the 's''s balance works. (I hope it does.)

Does the crossbar of 't' get too pinched as it intersects with the downstroke?

Besides the appealing drawing of the characters, I like the bounciness of this font, particularly as it's pulled off with such strict horizontals at the base-, x-height-, and cap-lines.

daniele capo's picture

I’ve added more uppercase letters in the new pdf. I also shortened the bottom of c, made the left corner of the t crossbar curved, used the same foot of the r in the f, and added some weight to k arm (before I misunderstood what the 'arm' was).
I started thinking that the problem with s was its width, and now I have two s, one more balanced (the new) and one wide.

Maybe I have to think about the weight of uppercase letters.

Bendy's picture

This is really nice :) I like the dynamism and curviness. I especially like w E and R.

The narrower s works well. I think the leg of k needs to have its toes flattened slightly.

The tails on j and Q look a bit forced to me. j might not need a serif.

The crossbars on f and t look slightly high.

I think N needs more dynamism on its diagonal. It looks too straight.

Lovely work, keep going :)

eliason's picture

Yes, I'd re-look at N's diagonal, and that lower right serif doesn't quite seem integrated into the letter. I agree with Bendy on the crossbars and the Q tail, too.

I wonder if M's central vertex should be brought up above the baseline. The glyph could be widened a bit, too.

I'd think about lowering e's crossbar a hair; while you don't want to regularize it too much, that small counter does threaten to close up at smaller sizes.

A kind of looks "scalped" to me. Did you try any serifs or other, more "weighty" solutions to the top vertex?

Keep it up!

daniele capo's picture

Thanks for your help. I agree, the Q tail must be ‘normalized’, but somewhat I like the j. For the other uppercase letters I’m always insecure, I need to think about and do more sketches. Don’t you think the leg of R is too ‘fat’?

And now, I feel like this font need a name. Big problem!

Miss Tiffany's picture

The t is especially apparent if you look at the ta as a pair.
I also wonder about the u. Should it lean a bit more?
And the g seems to big too big. The top counter of the g is almost as big as the p. I'd think it shouldn't be so.
Is the r leaning too much? Or is the p leaning enough?
I think your first s was better.

Overall I really like this. I appreciate how dark it is on the page.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Oops. I just noticed that your new s is on the left. I'm so used to new being on the right. Your new s is better. I still think the spine is a little flat. And the g is still too large.

daniele capo's picture

I’m back with my font with my usual slowness.
I’ve made some of the changes you suggested and now I also have all the uppercase letters. now I see big problems with the weights of some of the uppercase letters (W, N, W, for example) but I don’t know if it is my printer that worsen the situation at small size.
Uppercase S and J need to be redraw (maybe trying to extend J hook below the baseline), L stem needs, perhaps, to be more slanted.
Is it time to consider spacing?

For the name: I’m thinking to name the font Decameron.


eliason's picture

Looking good! From looking at the printout, here are some questions I would pose. For your consideration only - don't go and make these changes, the answers to any or all of them may very well be "no"

- Does the ear of g get too wispy at these small sizes?
- Should the top half of g be shifted left a touch?
- Is the diagonal of N a bit heavy?
- Are K's arm and R's leg too cartoonish for the rest of the font?
- Is l (lowercase L) too tapered in the middle?
- Is the right stroke or top right corner of w and y too light?
- Should v (and maybe w) have a hair more overshoot at the bottom?

daniele capo's picture

Thanks Craig,
yes, the diagonal of N looks too heavy (but I see the same problem with other diagonals in W etc.). I need to fix it but I wonder if I will have also a problem with hinting. The problem of weights is the main issue with this font (and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to draw a bold version of it)

For R what I want to do is to reduce the upper part, now is too big.


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