Beezer Sans

Christian Robertson's picture

beezer.swf (8 k)

Hi. Here is another face I've been playing around with. I am experimenting a little bit with process here. I think to be good one has to master the medium (or at least learn to work with it). For ex. while the stone has a lot to do with what the letters on the trajan column look like, the masons were in control of what was going on. My medium, in this case the bezier curve, often masters me. (how many clunky s's do we need to do before we can get it right?) That being the case, I decided to do a face without using any geometric crutches (circles, squares, etc.) or duplicating any parts of letters. It's still a sketch right now, and is just a lineale (sp?).

Some of the letters are still pretty lumpy. I'm trying to decide where the roughness is working and where I need to apply a little more polish. I'm torn on the Q. It could be really cool or completely off. (it could be a bit less lop sided for sure, but is the tounge working or not?).

Christian Robertson's picture

Ok. I've decided the Q is nasty ugly. Try to ignore it.

Stephen Coles's picture


Don't let this one sit on the shelf like all your
other beauties that taunted us once and we never
see again.

There is great potential here. The replication of
glyph parts has been done. Adding a human,
organic, hand drawn touch to a text font isn't
often done - and when it is done, it rarely works.
When it works, it's usually a design based in
calligraphy (Zapf) or brush forms.

Beezer is something new. It reveals clearly the use
of computer-based tools, but the human touch is still
evident. I'm interested to see how the quirks affect
the font at small sizes (Flash doesn't exactly allow a
good view of tiny type). I'd also love to see more of
the Brush style.

My favorite glyphs: "a","g","l"
Glyphs that make me extra glad: "a","g" of Bold Study
The glyph that makes me sad (and might benefit
from a more conservative approach): "G"

I think those letters with more gradual curves work
best. The sudden kinks of the "G", "K" "R" and "Q"
(oops, was I supposed to ignore that?) are
distracting and mar an otherwise clean design.

Focusing on gentle curves still leaves room for your
hand-massaged expirimentation and I think it works
great on those glyphs I mentioned.

Noting the method and the preview sample, I predict
the Bold style will be the star of this family.


hrant's picture

Wow, something really new. Many many others have tried to introduce/adopt such iconoclasm in type design, but 99% have failed.

Christian, I think you're really onto something here. Those sporadic but tempered quirks in an otherwise docile
design really work, to my surprise. Maybe put a spin on the UC "Y" as well? But it would have to be non-calligraphic.

It seems to me that the biggest difficulty in such an unorthodox design is to avoid over-rationalization, and trust your instincts. But at the same time don't fall into the "artiste" trap that renders a font unusable.

Anyway, go all the way with this!


hrant's picture

BTW, I actually think the "Q" is just right!


Christian Robertson's picture

Yes, the kinks might be kind of gimicky. I'm not sure if they don't add some character, though. I might try making the curves a little more subtle. It all started with the lc f, who's shoulder ended up a straight line (a happy accident). I wanted to apply that same feeling to some other characters, hence the lc a, the uc G and even the Q (which has grown on me over the past few hours, though it will definitely be refined).

Oh, I thought I'd explain the name. I had a high school teacher who (while she explained Aldus Freehand) thought bezier curves were called "beezers".

Stephen Coles's picture

Something to look at:

Mr. Badani showed up at TypeSmith's chat room today.
His Index has a similar feel.

Christian Robertson's picture

Here's more.


Stephen Coles's picture

Even better. Don't tell me where you live.
I'll be knocking your door down for this.

I've always adored Burin Sans. If you didn't
know it before - the resemblence is uncanny.
But I prefer your 'g' and 'r' and something
between Beezer's and Burin's 'y'.

Christian Robertson's picture

So I'm starting to pull some of my fonts into the old
fontographer. Here's what I got out of this one so far.
I'm starting to get the hang of the spacing thing, but
I'm not all the way there yet. Any ideas on the following
text? I added some numbers and limited punctuation.

application/pdfSample PDF
beezer_sample_03-01-11.pdf (17.3 k)

Christian Robertson's picture

Another viewer for the same build as shown in the pdf: Sample.

The viewer requires flash 6. I haven't really done much work on the numbers or punctuation (or any international characters), and flash doesn't support kearning, so it's a good test of spacing.

Miss Tiffany's picture

To quote Stephen:

>Don't let this one sit on the shelf like all your
>other beauties that taunted us once and we never
>see again.

This is still enjoyable. Why did it get put on the shelf?? I'm glad you've *dusted* it off. Ditto for me on the extended version.

Question: The lc 'g' (non-extended) for me with the bad eyes, the shape of the top bowl seems a little to idiosyncratic. maybe? I don't *feel* this happening anywhere else, yet?

hrant's picture

Floating periods are good for you.


Christian Robertson's picture

I have to admit that the leg on the lc k bugs me too. I am planning to re-engineer it in the next version. I also think I will revisit the lc g and open up the space between the top and bottom bowls. (It makes a dark spot in small set type).

Christian Robertson's picture

I've added caps to the extened version. Here is a text setting.

application/pdfextended setting
beezer.pdf (13.5 k)

marcox's picture

Like Stephen, I love Burin Sans. This has a charm all its own, though.

Your caps seem too narrow for the width of the lower case. The E, F and P jumped out at me while reading your setting. The v looks a little wide, too.

Hildebrant's picture

I love the straight arm character of the 'G' glyph, I wish it was echoed in the 'C' as well. Its seems like the should have more in common.

Maybe the 'T' is a touch too wide?

My thoughts.


Christian Robertson's picture

Now that I've finished PIll (for now), I'm getting back to Beezer. I added a bunch of other characters today, and pulled it all into FontLab. I calmed down a few characters, the lc g in particular. I included a new text setting. The first thing that jumps out at me from the setting is that I need to work a little on proportions. Some characters are too wide; the x,k and z, are a couple that jump out at me.

I'm still thinking about how to resolve the point Stephen brought up: the lumpy curves are too digital as the font scales up. I think I either need to smooth out the lumps, or soften up the terminals. I may try my hand at a script to round them off.

application/pdfNew Characters
beezer_sample.pdf (43.3 k)

application/pdfText Setting
Beezer_setting1.pdf (16.8 k)

[ By the way, I have no idea what the French and German say in the setting. I just grabbed the first two books I saw on If they say anything offensive, I'm sorry in advance. (I think the French is about the French revoltion) ]

aquatoad's picture

Hi Christian.

Here comes a shotgun blast of thoughts.
Much prefer the extended version at this point (for some reason I can't put my finger on)

You've got to love the gj combo in german!

In the regular width:
m: What up with the assymetry in width between the legs?
I vs l: That's capital *eye* versus lowercase *el*. They are quite similar (you're not alone here!) At one point in the french there is the word Il. Looks totally weird. Of course it's a weird word.
x: the / stroke looks ok. The \ looks like it could use a more vertical stance.
E: I'd extend the middle bar. That's just me.

hrant's picture

Your French text is perfect: very French, out-of-context, but not bland.


Jared Benson's picture

OK, In the spirit of "S" research, I offer the following specimens. I took three of my preferred sans serif typefaces, namely Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk, Trade Gothic, and HTF Knockout. Note their differences in construction. I found it particularly interesting to note that Hoefler's bezier handles appear at right angles and both sides of the handles are the same length.

I asked him about this and he mentioned that while it worked for this particular specimen, a rectilinear approach is sharply at odds with letters that are either wide or heavy, as seen in some of the heavier faces of Knockout.

The specimens follow:


Stephen Coles's picture

The text setting is suprisingly balanced and even. Nice.
Maybe your periods are a tad light - and they're above
the baseline. Was that on purpose?

By the way, I'm a much bigger fan of the extended version.

My earlier link to Badani's Index is broken. Here's the new one:

Stephen Coles's picture

1. Congratulations on your 'f' spacing which works well next
to 'l' without a ligature.

2. Your periods are still floating above the baseline.

3. The face doesn't work as well above 24 pt. or so where
the digital nature of the curves get a bit distracting for me.

4. Gimme extended.

Joe Pemberton's picture

This is beautiful Christian.

My only comment is the lower leg of the k. I can't decry it,
because it fits the design well, I've just never liked that
form--and I'm glad it didn't show up in the cap R.

Looking forward to seeing more.

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