Expletus (update: pdf now includes bold caps and lowercase)

1996type's picture

Hello,

I'm 14 and I've been interested in type since I was 10. I've designed a typeface called expletus sans. Since I'm only 14 I don't have any educational background about typedesign. This typeface is meant as a project to learn from so any comments, good or bad, are welcome. To judge it properly I suggest you download and print the pdf, so you won't make any misjudgements because of rendering issues. On flickr I've already had a lot help from Alexei Vanyshin, so special thanks to you Alexei!

Thanks a lot in advance,

Jasper de Waard

AttachmentSize
expletus-sans-pdf4.pdf40.02 KB
expletus-sans-pdf5-bold.pdf41.51 KB
1996type's picture

I suggest you download it first so you can view the whole picture. Sorry for the inconvenience.

xil3's picture

First off Kudos to you. That is great work!
I think the look you're going for really shines in the lowercase 't' and uppercase 'F'.
It really creates a look of dimension in the negative space.
In places such as the lowercase q and p. the curve at the end seems a bit forced.
Obviously there will be difficulties in that area because your dealing with a curve that needs to flow into another. That styling cue works well with all straight lines but all curved lines seem to have the same fault.

Again, great work, i'm so impressed.

1996type's picture

Thanks a lot. What you say about the curved lines is absolutely right, but I'm afraid there's just no way around it. Offcoarse I'll give it a go, but I've had headaches over this many times before.

avanyashin's picture

Jasper,

Nice to see you here on typophile,
It is great to see your skills excell.

The bold version is more consistent in proportions, I would suggest
you to compare these weights. One way of doing this is to
paste the bold outlines as a mask to the regular font.
You will see, that /j/ needs to be shortened in the descender,
loop of /g/ gets too narrow in regular, bold is ok.
I would also extend the /z/ (top to the right and bottom to the left.)

Alexei.

1996type's picture

Hey Alexei,

When I saw florentina is was almost gonna mail you that somebody had stolen your typeface. why did you change the name?

I'll have a look at the j, g. I'm gonna be stubborn about the z and keep it this way. I did actually use the bold as a mask for the regular, but If I did it according to the mask the regular became to condensed. Because it doens't line up with the mask neatly I might have missed a few things. thanks again.

Jasper

avanyashin's picture

Florentina is just a 'working' name.

BTW, I have published the promo Amperisk typeface.

jonathanhughes's picture

This is really nice. I only have a few comments (take these all with a grain of salt -- they're purely my opinion):

• The curve at the bottom of the bowl of the "d" is a lot sharper than other letters. Maybe see what it looks like if it's more like the "b"

• the hook on the bottom of the "j" might be a little long (i.e. too far to the left). This seems more of an issue on the lightest weight.

• the way the righthand stroke on the "y" gets thinner at the top seems out of place

• the right half of the "m" seems narrower than the left. This could just be an optical illusion, but even so, you might need to widen that half to make it look more balanced.

You might be better off really perfecting one weight before moving on to the others. It's very tempting to do (I've done it myself), but it can create a lot of extra work, and all the changes can be hard to keep track of.

nice job!

1996type's picture

Thanks jonathan

The curve in the d is indeed sharper than other letters, but I don't cinsider it TO sharp. It can certainly not be like the d because that way the gap between the bottom of the bowl and the stem would become to small. Thanks for telling me this though. Maybe I should have another look at it.

I already changed the j, but it seems a bit useless to upload a new picture for one thing.

You're probably right about the y, so I'll have to find another way of getting the right colour. There has to be a contrast within that stroke. Any suggestions?

The right half of the m is indeed smaller. I thought the differnece was to small to make a difference, but while working on Expletus Serif I realized it does make a difference. In the w the left part is clearly narrower, but the gap creates whitespace, although I'm not sure if that's enough. I think I'll move the left and right part in the w apart and make the stroke that 'creates' the gap longer.

Thanks for your clear and positive help.

Jasper

Igor Freiberger's picture

Jasper, did you see there is a recent release with a similar approach?
It's Oxo, from TypeDepot. They included very interesting variations as College, Outline and Deco weights.

1996type's picture

Yes I have noticed, but I wouldn't call it similar. Oxo, is much more computer based and has a totally different feel to it. Just to make this clear. My typeface was not inspired by oxo at all. Instead is was inspired on a single x in one of the various Sanex logos.

1996type's picture

I uploaded a pdf with a text sample, some minor changes and the bold and regular capitals. I'm not very pleased with the regular capitals yet. Any comments are welcome!

1996type's picture

The bold and semi-bold are not included in the pdf, because I decided it's best to get the regular right first. In case you hadn't noticed. The descenders are longer than the ascenders. This is because the all glyphs with ascenders look better and work better with caps now, but I can't vertically compress the g anymore, so the descender had to stay the same. Does it look weird to any of you?

brianskywalker's picture

Looking very good! The font is very interesting in larger sizes, but the breaks seem to basically dissolve at text sizes. I think your upper- and lowercase S need some work - letters like a, p, q, and so on are very smooth, in a way reminiscent of Myriad, but the S's seem to have slightly harsher curves, with proportions a little closer to FF Meta. The line also doesn't appear quite consistent (the spine needs to be a bit thicker....). I still think the r doesn't quite match with the font. It just sticks out. Maybe if you made it join the stem lower still, that would help. This would also help it to appear a little more even in text.

The breaks in you letters are also a bit inconsistent in that, while some of the letters break in some places, and other letters break in other places, most seem to only have one break. The m sticks out a bit because of the two breaks - what would it look like if the middle join smoothly? The lowercase w has a break, but the uppercase W doesn't? The line thickness of the W needs work too I think...

The lining numeral 2 is also needs need some work I think....

Keep up the good work!

1996type's picture

"The font is very interesting in larger sizes, but the breaks seem to basically dissolve at text sizes." True. It's a display face, but it can be used as a text-face, though it's not optimilazied for that. "I think your upper- and lowercase S need some work - letters like a, p, q, and so on are very smooth, in a way reminiscent of Myriad, but the S's seem to have slightly harsher curves, with proportions a little closer to FF Meta." I hadn't noticed that. I'll see what I can do about it. "I still think the r doesn't quite match with the font. It just sticks out. Maybe if you made it join the stem lower still, that would help. This would also help it to appear a little more even in text." Working on it. "The breaks in you letters are also a bit inconsistent in that, while some of the letters break in some places, and other letters break in other places, most seem to only have one break." True, but for every glyph I have carefully considered where to put the gaps for a very long time. It might not be very 'logical', but the gaps never seem out of place to me. "The m sticks out a bit because of the two breaks - what would it look like if the middle join smoothly?" I've tried that. Horrible. "The lowercase w has a break, but the uppercase W doesn't?" The W doesn't because it looks a bit out of place compared to the M, I'll have another look at it though. It used to be with a gap in a very early stage. "The line thickness of the W needs work too I think..." That could well be. I think I need a short break from the caps, to get my mind back to blank. "The lining numeral 2 is also needs need some work I think...." True.

Thanks your help!

brianskywalker's picture

I assumed your font must be at least intended for text somewhat, because of the large blocks of text in your PDF>

1996type's picture

Well, to be intirely honest, expletus was not intended for something untill half a year ago. When I started the first designs (which are absolutely horrible), I thought that the concept of the gap itself would be enough to make it a bestseller. I was 10 years old. As I grew older and more experienced I learned that there was still A LOT to learn for me and perfection doesn't exist. It wasn't untill half a year ago that I took my time to think about what it's actually supposed to be used for. I decided it was mainly for print, but, like most display typefaces, could also be used at large (24+) sizes in websites or other screen usage. It also wasn't untill then, that I decided to view expletus as a project to learn from, instead of a rush for gold. It seemed important to me, to understand what happens to a design when you print it at a smaller size. To make expletus an even bigger challenge, I decided to make it reasonably legible at smaller sizes (9+) though not a real text face. "I assumed your font must be at least intended for text somewhat, because of the large blocks of text in your PDF>" Yes, you could say that it was somewhat, not intirely, intended for text.

1996type's picture

I uploaded an updated pdf with:
the new r, which is thinner at the point where it meets the stem.
new S and s which have smoother curves.
lining + oldstyle 2
all cut-off strokes (e.g in c, e, a, s) have been made 2 (pnts?) thinner for an optically better result.

It's not much, but I thought I'd upload it anyway.

brianskywalker's picture

Most of this is an improvement. The S and s are better in terms of weight and where that weight is, but are more wobbly. I'm not sure how I could explain this, except by editing the original glyph and showing you where the points should go. You're close, though.

Also, in the type I believe you refer to the measurement as (correct me if I'm wrong) units, or em units (u?). I always have seen and used pt as an abbreviation for points, and p is an abbreviation for picas.

brianskywalker's picture

Nice update. Perhaps the comma should take on a different for - it doesn't quite fit.

:)

1996type's picture

Yo're probably right. Any suggestions are welcome!

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Jasper, great work!
I notice from your PDF that the width of some glyphs are off. For example, compared to o, a, h, k, K, m, n, u and w are too wide. s leans to the left. Why not make x more like k? And I think y could be more in style with the other glyphs. Furthermore, the upper bowl on S isn't really flowing, G feels a little narrow and T, V, W and Z could be more in style. You've designed 1 with an apex, I'd consider keep the top flat, like you've done with 4. 7 seems a little off too, perhaps keep the leg straight, or at least less curvy?

1996type's picture

Thanks Jean Paul, that's a lot of usefull things. I'll have another look at the what you said soon. There are some things I don't really get though.
For example, compared to o, a, h, k, K, m, n, u and w are too wide. What should be compared to what, or are all of them too wide in your opinion?
Why not make x more like k? I really don't see what you mean with this.

If you can clarify this a bit, that would be very helpfull. Thanks a lot for your comment and the email about the workshops.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

It was a bit of a cryptogram, sorry ;-) What I meant was that a, h, k, K, m, n, u and w are too wide compared to o.
I think the white/rounded edge/interruption in k should be more like in x; it somehow doesn't feel right. Perhaps it's not k but the x that needs rethinking...

1996type's picture

the k has a sharper 'interruption' than the x, because the angle at which it meets the stem is sharper. I'll have another look at it though.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Since you've already started designing a bold weight, why not post it here too? It might help you define character shapes better.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I keep thinking you should ditch the stencil cuts for now and just get the shapes right first. When they work you could go back and try your shapes in some real life cardboard stencils. That’ll probably reveal some trouble spots.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

“It might not be very 'logical', but the gaps never seem out of place to me.” You’re here to learn right?

1996type's picture

@JP: Since I made the bold weight, I've changed a lot of things in the regular. I could change the bold accordingly, but I think it's best to get the regular right first.

1996type's picture

"I keep thinking you should ditch the stencil cuts for now and just get the shapes right first. When they work you could go back and try your shapes in some real life cardboard stencils. That’ll probably reveal some trouble spots." There's no point in trying the shapes in cardboard, because it's not a stencil, it's semi-stencil. The gaps are just there to create a sense of openness. The gaps cause a lot of trouble in curves, so if I try to implement them into a curve that was made without the gap, I'll probably end up with the same thing as I have now. The gaps also change the whitespace in some characters, so I really do think it's best to include them from the start in the design process.

"You’re here to learn right?" True. I still reconsider some (possible) gaps, such as in the W, k, K, r and y.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Semi stencil? It looks like a stencil face designed by someone who never used a stencil :) Forgive me for not considering your age.

1996type's picture

I don't want you to consider my age. A typical stencil has the gaps at different places. I think that with the computer age, stencil's are used less and less often, so it's not so much about the function of a stencil-typeface, but more about the way it looks.

brianskywalker's picture

>> A typical stencil has the gaps at different places. I think that with the computer age, stencil's are used less and less often, so it's not so much about the function of a stencil-typeface, but more about the way it looks.

I think what Frode means is, for you to make a stencil (or semi-stencil) typeface properly, you should understand the nature of type for stencils anyway, how they work, and where the most optimal places for breaks are to make them sturdy enough. It's easy enough to think that the breaks are in the best places, but a much better informed typeface can be created which will end up looking better, because it's creator knows what works.

As you say, it's not about the function of a stencil typeface, but how it looks. What does a stencil typeface look like but a stencil?

1996type's picture

"What does a stencil typeface look like but a stencil?" That's my point. Expletus isn't a stencil typeface. I call it a semi-stencil, but the gaps have nothing to do with stencils. I don't think the breaks are in the best places, but I have considered them all very carefully. This doesn't mean I won't add or delete any gaps. It just means it's not very likely that I'll do so, but I will still consider it.

1996type's picture

Above is an update including changes in: KCGSXYacfghkmnstvwxyz7.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I know you’ve carefully considered the notches, but they don’t appear to follow any logic or system.

As for your one story g, I think you could lift the bowl slightly to compensate for the white space above the descender.

1996type's picture

"I know you’ve carefully considered the notches, but they don’t appear to follow any logic or system. " They do. The notches are placed at places where two strokes cross and one of the strokes continues in both directions past the gap. In the n the stem continues in two directions past the place of the notch. In the v, it would only continue in one direction, so there is no gap there.

The 'e' has only one possible place for a notch, the x has two. To create more unity I limited it to one notch per glyph. I had to make an exception to this in the m. If I follow the rule in the y, it should have a gap. I think I'll make the y without a gap an alternate. Here's a pict of the y with a gap. Any suggestions?

1996type's picture

The one story g is already changed, but I forgot to change it in the pdf.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Two things Japser:

  1. It seems that all capitals are too thin compared to lowercase, or is it just me?
  2. In your last uploaded picture, l seems too fat. Come to think of it, in p for example, the downstroke seems fatter than the bowl.

As far as comments on "semi stencil" go, that's just semantics. Don't bother.

And about "logic": I always tried to design type as logically and systematically as possible. But I learned that that is just a good start and that the design needs much more work after that. Study Myriad for instance and you'll see that there are lots of minor differences or indiscrepancies even between characters which don't follow rules of any system but still make a great font.

1996type's picture

1. Yes. That could well be. In the pdf, when taking a few steps back, the caps do indeed look lighter to me, but I wonder if that's really a bad thing. If I make them darker, do you think it should be just the stems or also the horizontal strokes?
2. Now that you say so, I have to agree. Maybe this is only in expletus, but I find it very hard to get consistent stroke thickness.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Caps are usually fatter, but only fractional. This applies to all strokes and curves, horizontal, vertical and diagonal. It has to do with even colour. Compare capital and lowercase i and o in another font. To start, make all vertical strokes the same thickness, then adjust to create a more even colour if needed.
I'd try making all vertical strokes just a bit thinner so optically they have the same thickness as the bowls.

1996type's picture

Thanks. I've already changed all vertical strokes in both caps and lowercase, but i guess it still needs some fine tuning. It does make quite a big difference already. I currently can't reach my documents, but i'll upload an update thursday.

Luma Vine's picture

I will qualify my observations by saying that I am not very experienced with designing typefaces as the lovely folks who already gave suggestions. I hope it is helpful anyway!

There seems to be a couple different concepts in terms of how the breaks read:

- Shadow/depth like A, X, w, x. I really like the dimensional quality of the cut.
- Hand written stroke feel like B, D, P, a, b, d. Maybe like overgrown ink traps. The stroke is sort of trailing off to a taper.

I think the difference has a lot to do with how the curved/tapered end of the cut off stroke relates to the straight piece it is approaching. I personally love the ones that give a 3D effect, and miss it in the rest.

Hope that helps!

1996type's picture

I think I share your opinion on this. Expletus started from a single x, in which the curved end follows the straight piece it's aproaching. The still is to me, the best representative of expletus' style, but I don't think the other glyphs have a different style. A good designer might argue, that every gkyph should have exactly the same style, but I think this is simply not possible, due to legebility issues and construction. Although I still believe in the concept of expletus, your comment is not useless. I have already approached the notches in a more individual way than when I started expletus, but I should probably do this even more. When I'm back home, I'll have a closer look at how the curved ends relate to the stroke they're approaching. Thanks for your help.

1996type's picture

Here's an update with improved stem widths in both Caps and lowercase and overall thicker caps. Also the overshoot in the caps is increased and the shape of FEGPR is improved. I hope this is another step towards a good typeface. Do you think it's time to start on the bold?

1996type's picture

Here's my first draft for the bold. It definitely needs a lot more work, so any feedback is very welcome.

brianskywalker's picture

The bold looks good. Need to work on that S, the line in the mid line should probably be thicker.

1996type's picture

I'm glad you like it. I've already made quite a lot small changes, so I'll upload another update soon.

1996type's picture

I updated the bold and it also includes caps now. I uploaded it in a pdf, so I suggest you have a look at it. Hope you like it!

1996type's picture

Here's the final Character Set for Expletus Sans Basic - regular
http://typophile.com/node/76721#comment-442377

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