Feedback on font creation

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Ivan J. Melendez's picture
Joined: 10 Aug 2004 - 11:25am
Feedback on font creation
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I wanted to know, is it okay to use a font as a ‘skeleton’ to design a typeface?
For example say I use the letter ‘e’ in helvetica, put a piece of tracing paper over it and sketch an entirely different letter. I would do this method only to help me differentiate the font i’m designing. Is ok? and if so is it common practice among type designers.

IM

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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As Dave Farey joked about his design of one of his faces that was apparently close to two other design, he said he had both of those fonts right in front of him during the entire design to make sure his wasn’t the same.

To me what you’re doing is so far from being unethical that it doesn’t even deserve a mention.

hhp

Brendan Callahan's picture
Joined: 28 Oct 2003 - 11:00am
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Ivan,
I feel you should study the typeface you do not want your typeface to look like, in this case Helvetica. Think about the qualities of Helvetica you do not like, and the characteristics you feel need change. Then draw your letters. After drawing them on trace paper, lie them over Helvetica to study both together and draw conclusions from that.

BTC

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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Just figure out where the line between ‘inspired by’ and ‘copied from’ is and stay on one side of it.

Ivan J. Melendez's picture
Joined: 10 Aug 2004 - 11:25am
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thank guys. I appreciate the feedback.
another question. does looking too much at type cause you work to look more like other peoples work? I really don’t think so but what do you guys think.

IM

paul d hunt's picture
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Joined: 15 Jan 2004 - 11:00am
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does looking too much at type cause you work to look more like other peoples work?
I tried looking at FB’s Dispatch when putting together a slab serif for some lettering i was working on. After I looked at it i was shocked to realize that what i came up with would probably be what my own handwriting would look like if it were a bold, slab serif.
oh, and i don’t think i got very close to emulating Dispatch. ;^)

A. Scott Britton's picture
Joined: 6 Apr 2004 - 11:00am
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To your first question—Using Helvetica ‘e’ as a “template” doesn’t seem horrible (how much are you changing?). Are you studying the “e-ness” or the “Helvetica-ness”? Anyway, seems okay, as there are some features of ‘e’ (and of course every other letter) that makes it undeniably ‘e’ (see Gill’s study on defining-letterform-characteristics), and ya can’t trademark the ductus.

To your second question—My ‘Corba Sans’ is in a desperate race away from what seems to be a subconscious and unsettlingly penetrating influence by ‘Tahoma’.

Ivan J. Melendez's picture
Joined: 10 Aug 2004 - 11:25am
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thanks everyone your comments are very helpfull and insightfull.

Scott where do I find info on Gill’s study.

IM

A. Scott Britton's picture
Joined: 6 Apr 2004 - 11:00am
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Not sure exactly, Ivan. Give me a while and I’ll find out where you can read it—unless anyone else knows the study I’m talking about and can direct you to it.