Sensato Serif (Update 4)

1996type's picture

Hello everybody,

Sensato SANS can be seen here:
and here (black):

The aim of Sensato SERIF is to be very legible at small sizes and still interesting on larger sizes. It has influences from Garamond, Calluna and Centro Serif, resulting in a fun mix between old comfort and modern crispness. I'm quite pleased with how it works in text. So much, that I have adjusted the colour of the Sans to fit with this, instead of the other way around. ALL feedback is much appreciated. It's only lowercase for now. I hope to include Caps soon. Enjoy!

Cheers, Jasper de Waard

update 3: The whole design has been adjusted towards a more modern, clean look. More like Calluna or Centro Serif now. I think it's much better now, hope you agree.

Sensato-serif15.pdf36.55 KB
SebastianK's picture

I like!

A couple of observations:

- the upper left diamond serif on letters like n and m is thinner than the stem. Is that on purpose?
- the thick strokes of v, w and y get really thin really fast. I see the idea, but it's a bit too strong for me.
- you increased the x-height -- a lot. This makes the face less formal, and allows for tighter lines, but right now I just feel that the ascenders are weak. Not more legible, just weak. Not too sure how to fix this one.
- in the PDF, the letters stand relatively wide apart. I guess you haven't really done spacing yet (can't blame ya!), but maybe this influences my first impression too.
- you castrated terminals everywhere, but haven't really turned them into anything yet. Everyone feels familiar with Garamond-ish fonts, and most people's eyes will stumble over those amputated pieces. If you're not a fan of the drops and tails, at least turn them into something more ... solid? Whatever you do, the stumps right now don't really work with the diamond serifs.

This looks really friendly to me, and I really think this has potential! Keep us posted!

1996type's picture

-Yes. that's on purpose, but it does look 'wrong' to me now, so I'll align them more closely.
-You could well be right about that. I'll try a new version of v w y
-Maybe that's because the diamonds are too small?
-Yes. I used the inDesign 'optical' function and manually increased the spacing, because I like the feel of it. I might have exagerated it a bit however.
-Castrated? I just took them from Sensato Sans, where nobody so far has had a problem with it. I still think they look fine. In other words: To me they don't look as if they don't belong there.

Thanks a lot for your feedback. I'll upload an update as soon as possible, but I'm also working on the Sans, so it might take longer than a week. Cheers!

Igor Freiberger's picture

No doubt you have a good startpoint here. I see you did adopt these features:

– ascenders and descenders much shorter than AG;
– x-height scaled-up;
– rounded terminals replaced by a smaller triangular shape;
– straight serifs;
– ink traps; and
– rounded corners.

Your goal is to make the font more modern and as confortable as its reference. The question is: which elements would convert these adjectives into an articulate design?

From the characteristics present, straight serifs help to give a more modern feel reducing the calligraphic influence. Ink traps help confort with sharper prints. Both work in the direction you aim.

Rounded corners are very nice, but will not cause big effect at text sizes. No influence on your goal, although a relevant feature for display sizes.

Your ascenders and descenders are quite short, especially after the x-height was increased. Here you have a problem regarding the confort issue. Reading experience would be more confortable and fluid with ascenders and descenders taller –not necessarily as much as AG, but surely bigger than this Sensato version.

You may search Typophile for in-depth discussion about excessively high x-heights and book fonts. I remember Hrant has some very good analysis on this. I was initially skeptical about short ascenders and descenders to be a bad choice for book fonts, but became convinced after extensive tests with my own font project.

Still about asc/desc, Sebastian said they seem weak. I agree and think this is because they are short and doesn't have proeminent terminals/serifs/diamonds. You can observe most contemporary fonts with short asc/desc use to have strong serifs and terminals (v.g. Swift, Fedra, Greta or Centro). A strong finish compensates the small height of the stems.

Hence, my main suggestion is you to evaluate the basic proportion between x-height and asc/desc. To change this in a further stage would cause a huge amount of work.

About terminals, I second Sebastian's opinion. You reduced their size and changed their shape. I think the problem is not with the shape, which appears in various glyphs in a consistent way. But they are lacking expression, what I believe can be solved with a bigger size. Note that a positive critique about this –or any other feature– relative to Sensato Sans may not be equally valid for the serif companion.

I also agree the stem variations in |v|w|y| are abrupt. Top detail of q is very small. Stress points of o are thicker than other stress points (as |b|d|p|q| curves). There are small vector bumps in g (upper bowl, conection at bottom), d (top curve), f (rounded right corner in bar), p (bottom curve) and v (internal serifs).

Hope some of this would be useful. Keep the good work!

1996type's picture

Thanks a lot Freiberger. I'll have a closer look at what you said as soon as I have the time for it.

Birdseeding's picture

(I'm not a type designer at all and I'm not sure my comments are productive, but I'm trying to get insight into the subject and it's useful to try to understand the details.)

Two things I'm wondering slightly about:

* Isn't the letter v placed a smidgen too low? Of course it goes below the baseline a little - as it should - but it's much more noticeable than with AG.

* Isn't the colour slightly too dark on the o and the c? I haven't printed the PDF but reading on screen those letters stand out.

1996type's picture

I'll have a look at the v later.
I think the colour of o and c is probably a rendering issue.

I uploaded update 1 with slightly taller ascenders and larger diamonds. It really looks better to me now. If you zoom in, you'll see what I did with the inner serifs in v w x y, for better legibilty on small sizes. Is it not disturbing at display sizes? I believe I fixed the issues sebastian and Freiberger pointed out to me, but let me know if you see anything that doesn't work for you. Hope you like it, enjoy! I didn't update the jpg picture btw, so you should download the pdf if you want to see the changes I made.

eliason's picture

Lowercase /s/ looks thicker at the bends that at the center of the spine, which you may not want.
By the way, there are some helpful threads on drawing /S/s/ here: 1 2 3

1996type's picture

@Birdseeding: I decreased the overshoot in v and w slightly. Hope it lookes better to you now.
@eliason: I changed the s and I must say, you were absolutely right. Looks much better now! Hope you agree.

The update also includes larger descenders (ascenders were already enlarged in update 1) and a number of other small changes. Enjoy!

eliason's picture

Yes, that /s/ is improved!

1996type's picture

Good =D

Birdseeding's picture

(And the v, it's looking really good generally now!)

Quincunx's picture

I haven't been on Typophile in quite a while, but it's nice to see a fellow Dutchman on the forums. :) And this looks like it'll be a nice typeface.

I think that the ascenders en descenders are still a bit too short, at least if you want to achieve a Garamond-kind of feel. Also, the 'c' seems a bit out of character, and perhaps a bit too narrow and heavy? That doesn't look like a rendering issue, because it persists when I zoom in and out in the PDF. The 's' feels a bit on the light side. Perhaps you could add a bit more weight to the tail of the 'y'?

(btw, just out of curiosity, is the 1996 an indication of your age?) :)

1996type's picture

Yep, I've only just turned 15. I don't think I want to achieve a Garamond feel (I've never been good at setting a goal and sticking to it). I want to achiev the same comfortable reading experience as garamond. I'm pleased with the ascenders and descenders now. Furthermore, I also have to take the Sans into account. It's ascenders/descenders would look rediculously long with Garamonds' proportions. The c is a bit of a personal thing. I always find 'normal' c a bit distracting as it creates a large gap in the word. I'll review the width/thickness again though. That s is a little light indeed, though I wouldn't know what to do about it (spine is already quite thick) and Garamonds s is also quite light. However, this will, just like the y, also be reviewed. One of the most important lessons I've learned so far is to never deny critique without having tried.

Bedankt Jelmar.

Quincunx's picture

About the 's', adding a tiny bit of weight all-round will probably solve it. It probably only needs a minuscule amount of extra weight anyway. As for the ascenders and descenders, I think they're ok as they are, I just thought they were too short compared to Garamond. If you've let go of the Garamond-feel, then they are fine as they are.

I think it's very cool that you're into type design at 15 years old. :D I imagine its not something your peers and friends can understand very well?

1996type's picture

It's hard to explain I spend my days staring at the alphabet instead of playing World of Warcraft ;D

1996type's picture

Update 3! Much better now!

Gidde's picture

It looks like your /x/ has a wonky serif on the bottom right, shouldn't it match the /k/?

Other than that, it's looking great!

1996type's picture

Uploaded update 4 with a couple small changes.

LexLuengas's picture

Congrats! I really like the feel of the /y/! The /k/ is neat. I also like the Calluna-like serifs.
Small, rapid observations:
- the bowl of the lowercase /a/ seems a bit loose. I like it's form, but perhaps lifting its stress point a little up (the thick-region) would help.
- The form of the /s/ is splendid, yet I think it is now too dark in comparison with the rest of the alphabet.
- Most important, I think, is to notice that the overall contrast of the characters is too high. Specially if you look at the /r/, /n/, etcetera, their high contrast is alike to other fonts ment specifically for display sizes, but yours is ment for setting text.
- I don't know if your /g/ shape is helpful in terms of legibility. It's loop stands out far to the right, making a "sharp" curve, which may look good, but will prevent you from kerning upright letters with serifs at the bottom (/l/, /h/, /n/,...) a bit tighter. For instance, look at the "gh". It's clear that there is a gap, but with the actual forms there aren't much things you could improve with just kerning...
- I also think the head serifs (/r/) are too heavy compared to the rest of the serifs. (Perhaps that impression vanishes solving my last observation).
- Finally, keep revising the flowing of the curves (ie. /a/) and think about consistency of terminals (/r/,/y/ || /a/,/c/,/f/)
Good work; keep retouching it!

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