Untitled upright cursive

Frode Bo Helland's picture

A while ago, I posted a logo for a youth magazine. The logo eventually got turned down, but I felt the idea for the letterforms were to good to abandon and started sketching out a full typeface. The structure is inspired by cursive designes, something I believe must have been the idea behind Lucas de Groot’s The Mix — as I found the serif placement of his design very similar to mine. This structure sometimes seem to interlock letterforms perfectly – other times make a mess out of the spacing. I’ve not yet drawn the alternate glyphs I have in mind (cutting down, or cutting off serifs), as I want some good opinions on the basic alphabet. The typeface is intended for display use.

I’d love your criticism.

Edits:

12/10: Follow this link (1,4 mb PDF) for a text setting example.

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specimen01.pdf237.36 KB
specimen02.pdf206.78 KB
specimen03-1210.pdf94.42 KB
specimen05_1215.pdf220.16 KB
specimen06_1215.pdf423.27 KB
Fontgrube's picture

Very nice typeface, I like it. Especially that cheeky right foot of the x :-)

A few ideas:
- The upper serif on C and S are somewhat standing out in the upper case. Why not on G? I'd rather do without them.
- The upper left stroke end on lowercase x: what about a slant?
- l, m, n end in a thinner stroke - sugg: more like k
- I'd prefer the slant in the lowercase serif more like the blue line (see picture)
- The M looks a tad wide in the middle.
- smaller i-dots.

Just my 2p from an amateur. Andreas

riccard0's picture

I too like it. Maybe the lowercase a little more than the uppercase, which lacks somewhat on the "italic" side.
The v right stroke is maybe a little too curved.
That said, shouldn't you be working on Noir? ;-)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

So Noir is the thing, ey? I’m working on that one too. Thank you for the comments, both of you.

eliason's picture

I think this is a good start.
I particularly like the drawing of /N/, /Q/, /c/, /o/, /v/, /z/, and /!/.

The cap height looks awfully short to me.

Top of bowl of /d/ looks clunky - taper it more as it heads into the stem.
I agree that you might want to dial back the size of the tittles just a little, and reconsider the /S/ and /C/ serifs.
Top counter of /s/ gets a little pinched.
Slants of bottom vertices of /W/ look strange to my eyes.
/M/ seems a bit of a hedge: I'd expect either splayed verticals or a raised middle vertex, but not both. I'd have to see it in text to judge whether it's bothersome to have both.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Could you explain the M-bit in plain english? I’m not fluent.

hrant's picture

This is quite charming! And it looks nicely balanced. Speaking of which, I notice you've slanted the "el" slightly (presumably to prevent it from tipping backwards) but then you probably need to do that for everything else. Evert Bloemsma had this problem in his Avance - but he solved it differently (since he didn't want any slant).

The main thing I would change first is the vertical proportions. The font is sitting too high (descenders way too long compared to the ascenders).

- The "s" is very nice!
- To me the "x" is too much, but maybe it's OK since it's infrequent.
- I'd make the join in the "k" thinner.
- I'd make the middle part of the "w" not curl. Or maybe just gently.
- The "C" is a bit wide and that serif is too lonely - I'd dump it.
- The "X" is leaning left.

> The structure is inspired by cursive designes, something I believe
> must have been the idea behind Lucas de Groot’s The Mix

As somebody who's done a semi-serif design (although not upright, more like a slanted-Roman) I would caution against that "must"...

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Thank you, Hrant. I should have said “might”. I’m aware the x-height/cap-height is a bit wierd, but this is not intended to be a text font. If you (plural) still think it should be more normal, I might have to reconsider.

eliason's picture

Sorry, how's this:


(1: Helvetica, Droid Sans) shows what I think of as "normal" M-shape: true verticals on the left and right, and all strokes bottom out at the baseline. This can lead to cramped looking counters left and right compared to the upper, V-shaped counter in the middle.

One solution that some fonts take is (2: Optima, Myriad) to splay the side strokes, so that instead of being vertical they angle out, evening out the counter areas.

Another solution to the problem, seen in (3: Gill Sans, Tahoma), is to raise the center vertex, which also opens up the top angles.

Your M does both. There's no rule against this of course, but I wonder if one or the other of these accomodations would look better than having both.

nina's picture

This is nice!
Reminds me of the Shire types a bit.
Mind the salt with everything I say. :)

I agree with what Hrant said about the relative extender lengths – it's the first thing that struck me as odd.

Not sure about the shears everywhere (especially when they're on the baseline, or at the apex). I think you might need more rules to govern them. Like, you usually don't have them on straight stems, so why on the exclam? And the stems of the "M" – but not the top, where it would be logical compared to the "W"?
Also, consider making the angles [more] consistent. For instance the different angles on the 2 arms of the "F" give me an unhappy, almost 3-D effect. But maybe that's just me.

*Love*: "v", "y".
"w" seems a bit much. (Compare the "m" where the middle "foot" is "normal".)
Have you tried making the "x" "dance" in the other direction? It looks funny next to the "y". Also, at least the "x" and "k" look like they're ever-so-slightly leaning backwards.

Edit/add: Considering how much funky stuff you're doing, I think you should really be entittled (sorry) to keep the large tittles. :) Maybe raise them a little though? But that'd be easier to tell in context.

Bendy's picture

Mmm, tasty! Reminds me of FS Lola :)

I'd agree with Craig about the s. The counters of c and a are quite open at the top and s seems to loop a bit far round by comparison: try lifting its head up more horizontal? Same for S I think.

I like the funky stuff going on here, like Nina said. I'd make that serif on C a bit chunkier, also on S. What about vertical serifs?

What about a head serif on f too?

F looks a bit wide? G: Longer crossbar?

Counters on B and K look a bit small: can the forms be widened?

X: traps?

Z: looks a bit left-leaning?

q: foot serif?

Re the x and y: I really like the dynamic between the contrasting swashes! y is really clever.

Good stuff :)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I’ve attatched a new specimen in the first post!

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I’m trying a different approach with the 'l' and 'i'. Do you think any of the other letters are optically leaning left also? I’m not quite happy with the 'w' yet, but this is much better. On the S/C-serifs: They feel very right to me, especially with the lower case constructed simililary. Guess I’ll have to give them some time.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Uppercase “X” is horrible, so is my spacing.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I had some problems attatching the file. Follow this link (1,4 mb PDF) for a text setting example.

Tweaking 'w'.

eliason's picture

This is a very charming font!
That w looks much improved.
I wonder if the /t/ looks a bit short relative to the tittles and ascenders.
One issue that you'll face with those large tittles is /i/s followed by seriffed ascenders. (There's an /il/ and a couple of /ik/s in the text setting for examples.) I think that may pose a spacing problem. If Nina gets her way and you keep the tittles this size (:-)), you may want to consider contextual alternates that reduce or remove that serif.
Those oslash counters are too tiny.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I’ve intended contextual alternates from the start — read the first post. I just want to get the basic alphabet right first.

eliason's picture

Sorry, I had forgotten that!

sgh's picture

Very nice! One thing that catches my eye is the top right of the u---it's very square and rigid, compared to the tops of the other lowercase letters (maybe x also has the same severity, but it's softened there by the angled strokes). Unfortunately, I don't have a good suggestion how to fix it. The u is too narrow and the serifs too large to add a serif there. Maybe slant the top a little to the left?

hrant's picture

Nice progress.
I'd lower the hyphen.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Good call, Hrant.

Nina: Would you care to elaborate on the shears? I removed those that felt unnatural to me, but I’m afraid it will loose some of it’s playfullness. How do you feel about the center of the 'M' now?

Stephen: The 'u' is on my fix list. It follows the logic behind 'n', 'm', 'h', but it doesn’t really work. It think widening it, and adding an inner serif is the way to go.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Quick and dirty c/s experiment:

hrant's picture

Serifs all the way.

hhp

aric's picture

I agree. Those serifs are classy.

riccard0's picture

I agree: serifs.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

And some cap angles I think work better:

nina's picture

Whatever you do, keep the serifs. I personally just wonder if they could be a tiny little bit stronger/thicker.

Shears: Not sure, my eyes might be totally wrong for the kind of font you're making (I've never made a display font, nevermind a «playful» one, and I'm Swiss, so get a salt mine!).
I just wonder if it wouldn't be good to have a little more of a system as opposed to deciding on the shear/angle on a case-by-case basis… It seems a bit random, and in places a bit contrived. Like, why is the apex of the "A" at an angle, but not the vertex of the "V"? OK, maybe you have shears only on top. Then what's up with the vertex of the "M"? And why do the stems of the "M" have slanted ends on the baseline, but not the legs of the "A", which seems like a sufficiently analog construction? – I keep trying to find a system and I keep failing. Makes me think there's probably just something I'm not getting.
But here's a thought – since you're apparently aiming for an alternate-rich font, how about having «straight» base forms, and stylistic alternates with all sorts of different shears, for individually adjustable levels of playfulness?

BTW, the caps remind me of the title pages of Tintin comics. :-)

hrant's picture

Look at H&FJ's Whitney for a good shear treatment.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

My idea was to have top left shears. Since the M have a very logical connection with W, I wanted to rotate the shears 90 degrees. N is an oddball, but kinda build on the M.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I had Whitney in mind, Hrant. One of Norway’s biggest newspaper use it, and it looks really great. (A good candidate for the “best typefaces of 00’s” thread.) However, it isn’t nearly as playful as my upright cursive.

I’m afraid I might be guilty of just going with what I think looks nice, without any real through thought system.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Two new pdf files (#05 and #06) in the top post! I drew some new taller capitals. The old caps are kept as small caps (higher than the x-height – I’m not sure yet if there’s a need for petite caps as well, given this is a display font.) Also a new shear treatment and some redrawn glyphs.

hrant's picture

I think the previous caps are too big to be smallcaps. But if you are in fact going to have two sizes of smallcaps that would actually work out. In fact I might keep the old caps as alternate full caps - some types of text, like German, might benefit.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

The lower case here is really nice, congratulations. I don't think the caps go with it--too rigid, without either the italic bits or the sometimes-serifs. I think it needs more resonance with the lower case.

Whitney is beautiful but to me is marred by a capricious treatment of terminals, and so I think it's a mistake to follow that aspect.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Edit: Double post.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Might be. I’m thinking maybe the X/Y and x need shears top left!

eliason's picture

I really think this is looking great.
I think the new cap height is a nice addition, and repurposing the older ones a smart move. I wonder if both sets remain a bit too dark.
I agree with all that the C and S serifs shouldn't be cut entirely, but that S serif on both sets of caps closes up the counter too much to my eye.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

William: I think I have to let this rest some time and come back with fresh eyes.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

@ William: I disagree with you on Whitney. I think it really work well. Have you seen it in print? Thank you for the comments.

@ eliason: Thanks

@ hrant: I always run into trouble when the small caps are to small, in my ideal world they should be notably taller than the x-height (but perhaps not as tall as mine).

eliason's picture

but perhaps not as tall as mine
If you agree with me that they're a touch too dark, you may be able simply to scale them down a bit and you're done.

William Berkson's picture

Well, I'm a big admirer of Tobias Frere-Jones's work, so maybe it's just something I don't get, but I indeed don't get it. I have seen Whitney, mainly in advertising, big.

I just looked at your pdf 6, and it seem to me that the spacing and maybe characters in the lower case need subtle adjustment to work together better.

On the caps, the diagonal characters are sort of asking for some cursiveness to match the lower case.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

@eliason: Good point!

@william: Maybe I can get hold of some scans of Dagbladet for you. It really looks amazing. Spacing/kerning: I’m redoing it every now and then, but never really hit the spot with any of my designs. I’m at a state were I wish I had a mentor to help me move forward. I just don’t know of anyone in Norway. Caps: I agree.

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