Ambicase Modern

eliason's picture

Inspired by the funky Romanian 'A's of the images posted by Florinf (for example here), I have begun to develop a single-case font. Where uppercase and lowercase conventional forms of a given letter differ, I've tried to make hybrid letters that borrow from both forms.

The results are far from graceful, but interesting and more readable than I expected. Does this have any potential?

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ambicasespecimen12january.pdf89.68 KB
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ambicasespecimen4february.pdf121.29 KB
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riccard0's picture

Wonderful job!
Just a couple of thoughts:
1) The “A” seems a little misplaced/light compared to the other letters. Maybe you could’ve dared a little more in borrowing from the “a” letterform.
2) The “D” stand out, both because of the taller ascender and because of the prevalent lowercase letterform. Maybe you could try to make it more like a mirrored “6” (borrowing from uncials).

eliason's picture

Thanks Riccardo!

'A' and 'D' have been through many iterations - both started close to your ideas, but I couldn't get them to work.

'A' began with the stroke coming down from the 'a' top around like the top of the bowl of an 'a', but then dropping down to make the left leg of 'A'. The problem was that if this was a thick stroke (my first impulse) the letter as a whole got too dark. And if I made that stroke a thin, the windiness of it looked weak. I even tried thick down to the crossbar and thin below that, but that was hideous.

D has been problematic from the get-go, because of the differences in the forms of uppercase and lowercase. My first idea was the uncial-like d, but I found that the thinning top was unconvincing as a D-like shape. The resulting form didn't fit the style of the other letters, and also threatened to read as an 'a'. Here are some more recent attempts:

Any of those preferable to the one in the first post?

I also have some ideas for revisiting 'M', and I'm toying with giving 't' an ascender.

Bendy's picture

Ooh, it's fun experimenting with type design, isn't it?! ;) Seems like there's a lot of possibilities with this...

I think your Q is very clever! I like the way you've shrunked the capital portion of G to make room for the descender...did you try a two storey descender there? Y and T are interesting.

I think A looks a bit narrow, or the crossbar could be lower? Could Y be flipped vertically and the stress changed to make the A?

E isn't quite working for me, the top seems to need more squareness, perhaps.

Rhe bowl of R is a funny shape...what about if there was a lc arm with ball terminal used to form the bowl of an uppercase R, then the leg connecting only to the stem? (not sure my description works so here's a quick thingy:

Perhaps that won't work though, this has turned out looking a bit Celtic :S ...)

eliason's picture

I hate to touch the G since I like the way it's working.
T ascender experiments led nowhere.
I widened A and lowered its crossbar too.
My wife didn't like E either! A new version below.
Played with your R idea but I kept winding up with Ks!
Refined D, changed M entirely.

eliason's picture

A different go at 'R':

riccard0's picture

A: the new one is better to my eye (have you tried to tinker with flat or curved top shaped As?). One problem I notice now, though, it’s that it seems swashed, leading the reader to expect more swashes in other letters too.
B: a little too uppercase (I would try to do a “R” treatment).
D: I liked better your first or third revisions (have you tried to separate the vertical stem from the top of the curve?).
E: better (maybe a little bit too uppercase, maybe you could consider making E and F more similar).
G: don’t change it!
M: though it’s a tricky one, I liked much better the first one. What's with the Y inside? Also, the first one works with the N, whereas the second one stands out, so lonely...
R: not sure which one I like better. Sure, that second R is black, almost blackletter...
T: don’t change it!

In general, if you like to experiment with ascenders (or swashes), I would “confine” them to alternates.

eliason's picture

A: the new one is better to my eye (have you tried to tinker with flat or curved top shaped As?). One problem I notice now, though, it’s that it seems swashed, leading the reader to expect more swashes in other letters too.

Such tinkering came to nothing, but see below for a completely different structure.

D: I liked better your first or third revisions (have you tried to separate the vertical stem from the top of the curve?).

Ending the vertical short of the bowl make the 'a' reading too strong. See below for a widened structure.

M: though it’s a tricky one, I liked much better the first one. What’s with the Y inside? Also, the first one works with the N, whereas the second one stands out, so lonely...

I raised the middle join to try to make it more 'm'ish (and less 'Y'ish), and I made an N to match. But I think you're right, the originals are working better.

R: not sure which one I like better. Sure, that second R is black, almost blackletter...

Yes, the right side of the new R needed lightening.

Bendy's picture

Mmm, you could have both A designs, one for UC and one for lc...makes me think you could almost design alternates for every letter...the new A is really interesting. Prefer the original M and N. With the new D, can the lowercase bowl be larger or does that go funny?

Bendy's picture

With M, there's another possibility...


(Again just an idea, maybe don't take too seriously, not sure how it'd translate into N :)

eliason's picture

makes me think you could almost design alternates for every letter

It's hard enough just coming up with ONE plausible design for each letter!

Here's a D with a bigger lowercase bowl, and one that removes the thickness from the bowl.

I added a bracket to the left head serif of the old M and N - I think I'll keep those.

Lex Kominek's picture

I'm reading that 'D' as 'nd' (e.g. DOG BEND / MAINDEN).

- Lex

eliason's picture

I was worried about "Id" (for both of them). Hmm...

eliason's picture

Time to throw a bunch of stuff and see if anything sticks! Here's 11 D's (along with both versions of A):

riccard0's picture

I say... D!

But also E and F could work.

(have you thought of numerals that are a mix of standard and old style?)

Bendy's picture

>numerals
Or Roman and Arabic?! ;O

riccard0's picture

Or Roman and Arabic?

I almost suggestet that, they seem too clashing. With standard and old style, instead, I can imagine some nice forms for 1 and 0, and maybe 2 too...

eliason's picture

I was planning to do the figures pretty straight. The distance between oldstyle and lining is too small to make much of, and the distance between roman and arabic is obviously too big!

Here are a couple more versions of A. Perhaps it's too swoopy but I rather like version "O"

eliason's picture

And some F variations to consider:

natalie_F's picture

I like that A with the complete bowl, but maybe the bowl needs to be a touch more extended for some extra balance. Really cool typeface - very interesting!

Bendy's picture

I love the last two Fs, the second and fourth As. Not sure which D, maybe versions C or F.

eliason's picture

Ben, does this last F work for you? I thought the lowercasey ones that you love were getting too fiddly at the top, so U shows some proportions altered and V shows a structure without the stem cut in. I think V may be the best of the bunch.


EDIT: Or these proportions, which fit with the other letters better.

eliason's picture

Actually I moved the f hook out even further. Along with a bunch of other small stuff. Here's where it stands now.


I think the letters are shaping up nicely. Should start on the figures I suppose.

eliason's picture

BTW thanks Natalie for the input and compliment!

kyrmse's picture

@eliason:

This project of yours has reached memorable proportions! I would very much like to see where it leads to.

Of course all other posters have made suggestions much better than I could dare to offer, but I would appreciate being able to use this font - even if still tentative - in some of my work. Mainly titling, strictly private ;-)

Good luck - keep up the good work - expect to see more of this at Typophile!

Best, 8^)

Ronald Kyrmse
http://kyrmse.googlepages.com

eliason's picture

Thanks for the compliments. My plan is, once it's done I'll make it available for purchase online, and I'll certainly announce that here on Typophile. So thanks for both your interest and your patience! :-)

eliason's picture

Check out the 'I' here. I guess Goudy was right about the old guys stealing all our best ideas!

eliason's picture

Returning to the troublesome R.


A was my first go.
B was the revision I proposed earlier. Clever, I think, but maybe distractingly so.
C has a ball terminal that becomes a thick stroke
D, well, now that I look at it it makes me blush. Forget D.
E is too convoluted, and reintroduces the K-reading problem I wrestled with before.
Hmm. At least I like my new ampersand and at-sign.

riccard0's picture

I’m unable to help you with the R: I like the first two equally. The second one remains the less K “ish”. The fourth is... funny ;-)
Not that I want to nitpick, but isn’t & a little too plain?
And @ is based on the earlier design of A...

eliason's picture

I thought I'd play the ampersand pretty straight, though after your comment I couldn't resist playing around a bit:

cerulean's picture

I'd take the regular & and stick a vertical stem on the top and bottom.

riccard0's picture

The first one remains the prettiest.
The second one is good and more in line with the rest.
The others, to me, aren’t recognizable as &.

eliason's picture

Ooh, thanks Kevin for the idea. What do you think of this:

nina's picture

Craig, this is so wild. :-) And a really interesting experiment – I'm surprised how "workable" it is throughout the alphabet (and how weird is it that nobody has attempted something like this yet?!).

In case you're still looking for feed-back on the "R": my favorite is #2; I wouldn't think it's too distracting, and as you say, it definitely is clever! (I like Ben's sketch a lot, too; but can see how it might become too "K"-ish.)

FWIW, I'm more distracted by the "H", but I wouldn't know how else to solve it. :-\

In the "S", did you try playing with different terminals – think one ball and one serif, like in the "C"? It looks strangely "untouched" now; maybe one ball terminal would make it feel a bit semi-lowercasey.

And maybe I'm weird, but I love (and actually prefer) the old "E"! Maybe you could leave it in as an alternate? (This might be the sort of font that calls/allows for a bunch of alternates anyway – think logos and funky headlines and stuff.)

eliason's picture

Thanks Nina. Glad to see you in here!
I'll try that on the S. I was basing the serifs on Bodoni but I think your idea might help impart a little funkiness to it.
What do you think of this H?


("F" is as before, "G" is new.)

eliason's picture

Here's the S ("I" is new):


I like it!

riccard0's picture

Very beautiful H... a little too “usual”, perhaps?
Wonderful S!

nina's picture

Yeah, I'm back. :-)
I think the new "H" is better in terms of legibility (I read the old one as a "W", or as a strange ligature) but I agree it's not as exciting… sorry, I'm feeling very uncreative here. Maybe if you bring the left-side join of the crossbar a bit lower, and make it springier – more different from the right-side one essentially?

Love the new "S". (Remember this? http://www.typophile.com/node/53395?page=1#comment-334989 – but in your font it actually makes sense! :-) )
I wonder if the top bowl is pulling/leaning to the right, but I'm *ahum* no expert on "S"s.

BTW, I know you didn't ask, and I know you know I'm going to say that, but I'd make that tittle bigger. :-)

cerulean's picture

&: Right on.

R version b is the best idea, but it lacks the waist to distinguish it from an n. See if you can make something similar with the ball located closer to the center of the glyph.

For H, have you tried bringing the thin stroke up from the middle of the wide stroke, instead of the outer edge? And it would help if the serif on it was as long as the other serifs.

eliason's picture

Old above, new below.
R according to Kevin's suggestion.
S and H tweaked after Nina's suggestions.
Reproportioned the ampersand.

nina's picture

All great improvements to my eyes. Nice work Craig!

eliason's picture

Oh, and I didn't show it in the pic, but I enlarged the tittles. Made stroke widths more consistent, cleaned up a few more problem spots. I'd like to build more graceful transitions into the ball terminals. And I suppose I have to get to the figures soon.

Bendy's picture

This is all proceeding very well! What a fun solution to &. The new S and H look great. Can we have pdf?

eliason's picture

Here's some figures.


eliason's picture

Thanks, Ben. PDF will come soon, maybe after I find time to get these ball terminals closer to what I want.

eliason's picture

Okay, PDF attached to first post.
I think 1 is too slight and 8 might need starting over from scratch.

eliason's picture

New ideas for 3 and 8.


And 4, too.

riccard0's picture

The new 3 and 4 sure are more in line with the alphabet, but now you’ll need to rework all the remaining eight! ;-)

eliason's picture

Here are some 1s, not too sure they're working...

riccard0's picture

I still maintain you should try something involving old style numerals (also the 7 could gain from a stroke).


Please forgive the crudeness of the example image.

Bendy's picture

I'm not sure that works for me with three numerals so different to the others. I really like the new 3 and especially 8...the unequal bowls are a clever solution to the UC/lc mix.

On the pdf:
Loving CFGQST!

I wonder if V and W (and why not X too) could have ball terminals perhaps on the right side? Or would one curved bowl suit W? To me these letters look a bit too capsy, though I do like the serif treatment you've come up with.
Could U do with a foot? Y may need a bit of tweaking...the uneven slopes of its arms look slightly unresolved but it's definitely heading in a promising direction.

Would you consider a zero with a dot inside? 6 and 9: ball or fish-hook terminals?

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