Pairing Whitman & Fedra

nina's picture

Not really (not yet) a typography critique request, it's "only" about the font selection/pairing: Am I crazy, or do these two really look quite happy (or at least interesting, and definitely not bad) together?

To my eye, they seem to click – in an interesting and not quite friction-less way. Maybe beyond the surface differences of their curves, they share some "deeper" character traits that make them work together – a certain tautness/springiness maybe, which of course is much more overt in Fedra (which is fine, since it's playing the display part here)?
But does that make any sense, or am I over-brainalyzing things?
My eyes say it's good, they think, but I'm not sure.
In any case, of the faces FB recommends as being "compatible" with Whitman, I only have a couple weights of ITC Franklin, and that looks a bit lazy/plump next to Whitman (& nothing against Franklin, I'm using it in a different book currently where it works great).
In any case, Kent, if I haven't said it before, congratulations, and thanks – Whitman is truly a thing of beauty, and already a joy to work with! :-)

Bendy's picture

I'm quite a fan of Fedra Sans but what is going on with the spacing? The a in 'Beautiful' is almost a separate word.
But — I think you're right. The forms click really neatly.

I think the line space could have something to do with it...have you added more leading?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Is this the alternate version of Fedra?

nina's picture

Huh, you're right, that "au" looks un-good. I haven't actually looked at it on that level of detail yet. I basically just threw the fonts on the page to see if they'd click. (I'm glad you agree they do!)

"I think the line space could have something to do with it...have you added more leading?"
Yes I have, but where do you mean? Between the title & subtitle?

Frode, yes this is Fedra Sans (Pro) Alt. Less quirky than the regular version.

Bendy's picture

Yes but also in the running text below. The line space gives the text lots of breathing room. What I mean is that the line space:x-height ratio looks very comparable for the title and text.

thranduil's picture

I think the body leading improves the match of Fedra and Whitman. Fedra is always elegant when given breathing room, and Whitman's counterforms seem to breathe as well...

Stephen Coles's picture

I think this is proof that font pairing isn't a science like some students and beginners want to believe it is. There are not really any hard rules about what typeface looks good with another.

Bendy's picture

What makes a serif and sans serif work together? Here we seem to have comparable line- and word-spacing, similar countershapes/proportions, same angle of contrast...?

Stephen Coles's picture

Nearly anything. What's most important is that the combination fits the subject matter, voice, and audience.

Bendy's picture

@Stephen, really? This is really interesting. There must be combinations that just look bad no matter what? (I know that's not quite what you said.)

On the other hand, aren't the and 'tonal' characteristics of fonts (such as voice, connotation) reducible to their structural characteristics (such as a similar ductus or stress angle)?

nina's picture

"aren’t the ’tonal’ characteristics of fonts (such as voice, connotation) reducible to their structural characteristics (such as a similar ductus or stress angle)?"

I'd think the example in this thread (if it does work) disproves this (maybe depending on your definition of "structural characteristics").
It seems like a classic approach to pair faces that share a similar historical lineage, stress angle, construction principle, overall proportions, stuff like that. Seen from that angle, I actually don't think that Whitman and Fedra are very much alike; but for some reason (and I can only really hint at some similar "attitude", or posture maybe if you think of them as humans) they still seem to relate to each other here.
It drives me nuts, but I really can't pinpoint why – I think I've reached the point where the way I can talk about what I'm doing gets all touchy-feely-mystical. :-\

In any case, I agree with Stephen: There are so many variables that can provide the "link" between two typefaces, as long as the "tone" is right. Of course there are still pairings that don't work well. Many. Actually, this outlook makes it harder to combine fonts, if anything, because it's less about following a given recipe. (And having fewer "hard rules", as safety nets, makes it harder to trust one's eyes – which is probably also why I posted this here.)


Anyway, yes, I felt I wanted to give Whitman some extra leading, to give its extenders some room to well, extend. :-) It feels like a generous face and I don't want to squeeze it onto the page. And also because the measure might end up being a bit long.
But all that hasn't really been carefully figured out yet – please see this thing above as a raw sketch of sorts.

nina's picture

Finished brochure with Whitman & Fedra pairing (inline no less):

BTW, Ben: I hate to say this (because I *heart* Fedra too) but there really is a bit of unexpected bumpiness in the spacing. At least if you use the small caps, prepare to do some manual kerning. It's not bad – it's just not extremely, utterly perfect. ;)

Bendy's picture

Interesting about Fedra's spacing. Maybe it was designed for languages other than English/German? I wonder if Typotheque are aware?

I hadn't seen Whitman's italics before, they're pretty interesting actually. Unexpectedly oldstyle?

nina's picture

Interesting, what makes you say «unexpected»? They are rather cursive in structure, yes – minus things like the «g»; and they retain angularity/rigidity in detail, which keeps them from being overly soft. Actually Whitman overall has some slightly «oldstyle»/bookish details that I find quite charming, like a slanting hyphen! But it's not affected – it's genuine, and I enjoy how it brings together these details with an overall fresh and clean feel.
BTW, for the record, the large type in the headings is Whitman Display.

Fedra's spacing: Dunno – like I said, I don't want to make it sound worse than it is.

Bendy's picture

Hmm, I was expecting the italic have more swashy/curly hairlines like a Bodoni or Baskerville. Whitman's italic is more tasteful somehow, like you say, more determined/restrained/rigid than other moderns and transitionals.

Syndicate content Syndicate content