Cairo

Trevor Baum's picture

I wanted to take a classical garalde, flatten the serifs, and open the apertures a bit to create a more contemporary, 'Egyptian' style text face, almost like if Galliard and Clarendon had a child. This is what I came up with:

Right now I have just a few glyphs, but before I keep going, I wanted to check with those whose opinions I value so highly: Typophiles. Do you think think it's worth pursuing?

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Cairo Specimen.pdf5.47 KB
riccard0's picture

I like the somewhat ”mechanical meets calligraphic” feel of 'a', but it doesn’t come through to the other letters (not even to the bottom right serif of 'a').
There aren’t many letters to compare, but right now 'C', 'a' and 'r' all seem to belong to different typefaces.

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks riccard0 — the 'mechanical meets calligraphic' was pretty much exactly what I was going for. How do you think I could apply that to the other letters?

riccard0's picture

Since the serifs you made for 'i' and 'r' are more didone than slab, you could look to that style for the mechanical part. As for the calligraphic one, I think you should look at how you want the transitions between thick and thin to be (for example, the bottom right part of 'a' is quite different from the rest in this regard).
Start experimenting with more letters, 'n', for a start.

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks very much, I totally see what you mean. I made a small update to the 'C' and 'a', and thickened the slabs on the 'r' and 'i.' What do you think of these changes? I'll keep going with more characters.

Trevor Baum's picture

I love that g and that a. I want to make them work together, but they're both a little on the angular/incised side.

Any critique on the changes to the original characters, and the new characters, 'n' 'h' and 'g'?

Thanks!

LexLuengas's picture

The /g/ needs a bit more smoothness on the curves of the loop and on the counter. Refine the transition of the arc of the /n/. For my taste, the spur of the a needs a breath. Separate it a bit from the stem, I'd say.

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks very much Lex - I totally agree with you, those specific area are the ones I kind of rushed over, and definitely need to go back and fix. I'll also build a few more letters tonight - hopefully the 'm' and the 'e' at least.

Overall, do you like the 'feel' and color of the letterforms? Is this an okay direction?

litera's picture

/h/n/ (and probably /m/p/b/ as well) seed to have top curve done in a similar way that's done on the /a/. They look like a usual transitional serif style ie. Times.

/g/ doesn't complement /a/ at all. It looks to much like Garamond Premier /g/ (if ot was changed at all).

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks, litera. How can I alter that 'g' to complement the other glyphs? I don't own Garamond Premier (I wish!), but that letterform was inspired by various other garaldes (namely Rongel, Stempel Garamond, Sabon and ITC Galliard).

litera's picture

@Trevor: Let me rewrite what I've written before:

/h/n/ (and probably /m/p/b/ as well) seem to have top curve done in a different way that's done on the /a/. They look like a usual transitional serif style ie. Times and they don't seem to belong in the Cairo face.

about the /g/:
/g/ should have more stroke contrast to complement /a/. And probably some other shape changes that would make its bowls less round would probably help as well.

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks litera, you're completely right about the curves on the 'h' and 'n.' I'll get you an update tonight.

Trevor Baum's picture

Update: Much improved 'C' 'a' and 'g', and added 'e', 'd', 'b', 'v' and 'w.' Any thoughts on the progress would be much appreciated!

Birdseeding's picture

Nice start! There are some special features here that bear developing.

That's an unusual set of serifs on the u, how does it read at small sizes? Also considering the right-leaning stem, which again is unusual.

The comparatively short x-height serifs and large, flat baseline serifs of glyphs like i and n gives them a very bottom-heavy appearance, is that the idea?

Does r actually have a heavier baseline serif than the rest of the glyphs, and in that case why?

The o looks rather light compared to many of the other glyphs with their thick serifs, have you considered a more clarendonesque one? Same, to a certain extent, with the v and w - compare to that big, chunky l in vowel.

Finally, I'd agree that the a in its current, rather calligraphic state doesn't really fit the rest of the typeface.

snow is nigh's picture

Isn't it a tradition to give "clone" typefaces geographical names?

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks so much for the comments Birdseeding - I've been playing with these glyphs in Illustrator at the moment, as they originated from a drawing a made and I like the bezier curves so much more than in FontLab. That said, it's very imperfect for creating a typeface and it's hard to create perfect consistency - I'm going to migrate these glyphs into FontLab soon, where it will be easy to ensure this.

The right-leaning stem of the 'u' and the heavier baseline serif of the 'r' are just mistakes :) I'll change them soon and get back to you!

It's been tough navigating the space between didone, garalade, and bracketed slab serif! This typeface is hopefully going to fill an interesting space in that spectrum, but I want it to be consistent. How can I change the 'a' to make it fit? I agree that it's calligraphic - I would love for the other letterforms to reflect that aesthetic without turning it into a true garalde - any advice?

Thanks again!

Trevor Baum's picture

Also, thanks Riccard - the name is just a placeholder for now, and I thought of Cairo because of it's roots in the "Egyptian" slab serif via Clarendon, but this can be easily changed at any time.

Snow is nigh, what'd you mean exactly by a "clone" typeface?

riccard0's picture

Isn't it a tradition to give "clone" typefaces geographical names?

I knew of (and was referring to) a different tradition:
http://folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=World_Class_Cit...

snow is nigh's picture

Bergamo for example for Bembo (although it was crafted by Griffo from Bologna). Picked this information up somewhere in the forum here.

Trevor Baum's picture

Ah, okay. So you were making a point about geographically named typefaces, not mine in particular. Got it! :)

snow is nigh's picture

I can't give a guarantee that this is a custom. Can somebody verify this?

Trevor Baum's picture

Another update thanks to Birdseeding's great feedback:

- Reduced and normalized all the serifs across all glyphs
- Created a new 'a' that fits the rest of the letterforms better
- Took away the extra serif on the 'u'
- Lengthened the ear on the 'g' a touch

Any more critiques before I keep going?

1996type's picture

I quite like the high contrast in letters like m and n, where the bowl meets the stem. It gives a slight human touch to it and make it more unique. However, you should also incorporate this in the rest of the font, or get rid of it.

The terminal in /a/ could be moved to the left slightly. It looks a bit forced now. Also the tail looks a bit sharp in comparison to the t.

Redesign the r with the n as a starting point. It looks quirky where it meats the stem.

The o is too light. Make the curves on the inside more round (less square), and the curves on the outside more full (more square).

The g's ear is still too short and it looks as if you stole the g from a different typeface. It has that special kind of ink traps typical for geralde typefaces, but it doesn't fit in with the other letters you designed.

Something about the t doesn't quite work. The top looks too much like a cross I think. Try to give it a human touch.

Raise the dot on i slightly. It looks a bit cramped now.

Most importantly, the serifs on the top of stems in n m d b etc, should show a link to how they would look in a garalde typeface. Make them slightly wider where they meet the stem, or something like that. Just try out as many different versions as you can think of.

Keep going! It's a charming concept. In my opinion much more so than the sans serif you're working on.

Cheers!
Jasper

Trevor Baum's picture

Hey, thanks Jasper! I agree completely with your comments. The 'g' wasn't taken from another typeface, but I agree that it looks too "garalde." I tweaked some of the serifs on the top of the stems, making them a bit chunkier, and also more human. I also widened the 'a' and rebuilt the 'r' from your suggestion, and I'm quite happy with it!

I attached a pdf specimen for closer inspection.

Gary Lonergan's picture

You could always call it Mubarak as he's getting away from Egypt as well. I like it but agree that a needs a bit more machine in it – How about a flat terminal like Apollo or Palatino

Trevor Baum's picture

Haha, great suggestion Gary! So you're telling me it needs more machine, and Jasper is telling me it needs to look more human. Who do I trust? ;)

I agree that the strength is finding that intersection between the machined and the calligraphic - that was the original idea. But how do I best achieve that? Which serifs and terminals should be perfect, and which should be imperfect?

Gary Lonergan's picture

yes we do love our comments no I was just looking at the /a/ and it has that curving baseline terminal so typical of old face types. But if you look at Palatino /a/ it has that firm baseline serif. Something like this maybe

1996type's picture

Use the top serif in /r/ for the tail of a. That should do the trick.

Gary Lonergan's picture

what he said

Trevor Baum's picture

I'll try that, thanks! What about the terminals of the c, y, s, and j (which I haven't created yet)? How should those relate?

Also, what do you think of the new 'g'? I tried to make the bowl flatter, with less stroke contrast, like the 'g's of Clarendon/Sentinel. Do you think it works with the rest of the characters, and without the quirky peacock-style ear?

LexLuengas's picture

Now that some aspects of the typeface have been settled, consistency may speak for itself. Right now teardrop terminals seem more appropriate, but you should take in account that the forms are not as many as to avoid elasticity in the design process. Even after you have picked out a feature for your forms, force yourself to reconsider it after some time, my advice. Drawing letterforms on a paper sheet (in opposition to working "ex tempore" on the screen) is also very helpful to come up with new ideas.

From my point of view, the clarendonian 'g' doesn't echo the aspects of the other letterforms. Try to fix it; the thin of the bowl extends to much, for instance. Also the link of the loop should be thicker to flow nicely into the horizontal.

Other observations:
- Check the thin of your 'o'. Right now it looks like a lining zero (so recycle it (: ). It is therefore too wide and round to work as an 'o'.
- The upper serif of the 'i' needs a bit of lengthening.

What happened to your original 'a'? I think it had an interesting vitality. Your revised one is also good, nevertheless. Keep up!

Gary Lonergan's picture

When I altered your photoshop image I agree that the resulting a is a little too mechanical in comparison with your original.
I'm looking at your original and I see a nice font except for e and g . The e has that venetian style cross bar which doesn't look good or suit the font. It looks like the e is tilted. And I agree with Lex that the loop of the g is too wide, and o is very monoline. Need to see a few more caps. ;-) Keep going

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks guys! I've worked on this a bit this weekend, and will have an update with an improved 'g,' 'e,' and 'o' tonight :)

Lex, I loved my original 'a'! It didn't quite work, though, unfortunately - maybe I can recycle it into another, more classical garalde typeface.

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