Sensato Italics (Swash Caps)

1996type's picture

Hey everybody,

I desperately needed a break from Sensato E, so I decided to start on the italics of Sensato A. I guess it's not perfect yet, but I made this in just a few hours, so perhaps Sensato will actually get finished some day ;-P As always all feedback is much appreciated.

Cheers!
Jasper

Swash Caps :-)

sesch's picture

It looks gorgeous!!

sesch's picture

Maybe the shape of /s/ needs some work.

Trevor Baum's picture

I agree that the curvature on the 's' could be smoothed a little, and the baseline looks quite uneven across the word 'selecting.'

1996type's picture

Thanks both. Yes the s needs work, and your definitely right about the overshoots Trevor! I'm glad you like it.

btw: What do you think about that z? I'm quite fond of it, but maybe it's too much. As Erik Spiekermann once said: "The best typefaces are the ones you don't notice."

1996type's picture

Update!

Nick Cooke's picture

Looking good jasper. To my eyes it looks a little wide; I see it's taking up the same amount of space as the Roman, maybe you could try condensing it to 95%? but keep the same slant angle.

I don't know why, but it has the feel of something from the 1940's or 50's which I can't quite put my finger on, but is good IMO.

eliason's picture

I don't know why, but it has the feel of something from the 1940's or 50's which I can't quite put my finger on

Maybe there's a little Lydian to it?

1996type's picture

Thanks guys. I'll make a comparison to see if it needs to be more condensed.

I used Stuart Pro, by the great, yet heavily underestimated Matthieu Cortat, as my main reference and I never heard of Lydian before.

Trevor Baum's picture

Good work, Jasper! I wouldn't condense the letterforms, but definitely reduce the spacing a little, so it doesn't look so widely tracked. A couple of observations:

- The 'o' is the slightest bit too dark
- The bottom half of the 's' could still use a little smoothing
- Look at the word 'Books' - the baseline issues are still there, especially with words that contain capital letters

Keep it up!

1996type's picture

Hi Trevor!

I will probaby do both, slightly more condensed and tighter spacing.

- Right about the o
- s looks fine to me
- That's because the caps are outdated and will be completely redesigned as soon as the caps in Sensato E are done.

1996type's picture

update! italics condensed (98%) and spacing tightened (-10).

Gary Lonergan's picture

I'm astonished at the speed it looks very very good. Have you tried tapering on the f descender only because there's such a mass of form there

1996type's picture

Thanks Gary! I haven't tried tapering the f, and I probably won't. I like it the way it is now. Well spotted though ;-D

1996type's picture

Any thoughts one this one?
http://typophile.com/node/81948

Gary Lonergan's picture

Well you go for it then, and more power to you. Have you ever looked at Georg Trump's non kerning f

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Looks very good.

Mind the optical height of c, e, o, s. They often tend to look too small.

1996type's picture

Thanks Andreas! c e o s looks fine to me, but I'll pay some extra attention to it.

Cheers!

Nick Job's picture

Yes, Jasper! Wondered what these would look like and they haven't disappointed.

I'll feedback at length soon. Quite a few trouble-spots but overall lots of promise.

N

1996type's picture

Hahaha. Been waiting for your lengthy comments Nick!

The trouble spots I notice right now (after watching 'Lewis' and 'Wire in the blood', which switched on hyperfocus or the illusion of hyperfocus in my head) are: v w y s f o and many overshoots, but I'm sure there's more.

Cheers!

Gary Lonergan's picture

Hi Jasper

sorry to go on about your /f/ but is it actually wider at the bottom or is it my screen?

hrant's picture

There is little reason for an Italic "f" to
descend, and some good reasons it shouldn't.

The bottom of the bowl of the "p" is malformed.

The "r" is weak.

The "s" and especially the "z" need more contrast.

hhp

Gary Lonergan's picture

No apologies but that italic "f" is an eye catcher. There is a long slow curve on the left leading to a slight flaring at the terminal. This is echoing the slight flaring of the other stems – which makes sense– but it's spotting in text setting. The "a" is also too wide. Why do you chamfer the corner of "s"and "c" to reduce dazzle but not "r". I haven't commented on your roman which is really nice but the upper counter of "g" has a stress which seems out of keeping with the rest. Now I'd better get back to Amárach and put my money where my mouth is.

1996type's picture

Thanks a lot guys!

@hrant:
- Why should an f not descend?
- the bowl in p is identical to those in b c d g q, so it's either your screen, or all of them are wrong.
- the r is perhaps a bit weak, yes, but I don't want to make it much wider.
- I'll try to fix the s
- I tried to give the z reversed contrast (Goudy style), but perhaps it's not fully reversed yet.

@Gary:
- Yes. the f needs tapering.
- a is already much more condensed (11 units) than the bowls in b d g p q and it looks balanced to me now.
- the terminal in r is of a different kind. This is much more clear in Sensato E.
- Now that you say so. The bowl of g needs a steeper stress.

Good luck with Amárach!

hrant's picture

> Why should an f not descend?

Mainly because it creates boumas divergent from the Roman's, causing
extra readability issues. What other character does that so blatantly?

And really, why should it?

Remember that -normally- an Italic needs to serve its Roman.

> the bowl in p is identical to those in b c d g q,
> so it's either your screen, or all of them are wrong.

I'm using an LCD screen. :-) It could be my vision... but it's 20/15,
so I'm not worried. :-) Most probably it's another instance of a curve
looking different depending on where it is. When I look at the same
part of those other glyphs, I don't see any unhappiness.

> the r is perhaps a bit weak, yes, but I don't want to make it much wider.

You could possibly get a bit creative with it.
Like maybe look at what Gill (and Kindersley) did.

hhp

Gary Lonergan's picture

I'm feeling guilty didn't go near Amárach to day But I have a good excuse I was working on another type design project and did a lot of weeding in the garden. Did you look at Bliss which has a nod towards Gill. If you do go for the descending italic "f" you'll be in good company as both Gill and Goudy used it. Mind you Goudy's sans....

hrant's picture

> you'll be in good company as both Gill and Goudy used it.

And the Romans didn't have lowercase...
Gill and Goudy are dead. We still have time.

hhp

Nick Job's picture

Jasper, I like this whole italic approach. I don't think it is too different from roman (upright) to lose the family likeness. But it's different enough to work well as an italic. The best test is not to put italic paragraph next to roman paragraph but to set a roman paragraph and intersperse it with some italic words and phrases to see if that works. Of course a paragraph set fully in italics has to work in its own right, but italics are mostly used to emphasise individual words and phrases to let's see some of those in your next pdf :)

You may want to consider lowering the x-height fractionally, although that is not the kind of advice I have ever taken myself for italics, so please ignore me if necessary.

/a/, /b/, /d/, /g/ etc. still too wide to my mind.

/c/, /e/ and /t/ I think you may have overcooked the upturn on the lower terminal, plus /c/ is notably narrower than /e/ in roman but italic /c/ and /e/ look the same width (although I understand that the italic /e/ may be closer in width to the italic /c/ compared with romans. On the /e/ the upturn seems inconsistent with the (pen) angle of the bowl. One of Sensato's great strengths is its openness. This /e/ tail is closing up the white space a little too much IMO, needs opening up a little.

/f/ Rightly or wrongly, the /f/ in Camphor doesn't go down as far as the descender line (it more closely echoes the height of the ascender in the /t/. Your /f/ descender looks very long and the longer it is the more it will interfere with Hrant's bouma problem, which may or may not be that important to you as you try to express yourself creatively. The angle of the cut-off at the bottom of the descender is certainly not helping with a perceived flaring. However, I think the angle is right but don't overcompensate the other way by over-tapering.

/i/ and /j/ If you put the tittles in mathematically the correct place (as per shearing the /i/ and /j/ they will look like they are drifiting eastwards (accents also will do this). Suggest nudging tittles left a little. (You may have done that already but maybe try a few more units.)

/k/, /v/, /w/, /x/, /y/ look like mathematical shears without further adjustments (compare with roman counterparts). Thin arms need bulking up and thick arms need thinning down a little (unless you want the italics to be deliberately higher contrast that romans).

/o/ and other curves are maybe too thick on the downstrokes at 1 and 7 o'clock. Bit too thin at 11 and 5 o'clock.

/z/ heavier on stroke form top right to bottom left (stroke 2).

The problem with the dancing baseline would be lessened if you had more strokes/contours that actually ran along the baseline itself. At the moment it's just the /z/ which actually runs along the baseline. A number of fonts would have the first downstroke cut off horizontally along the baseline but allow the second (in an /n/) or third (in an /m/) to be cut off in that oblique fashion that you are seemingly employing on all downstrokes.

N

hrant's picture

Thorough stuff Nick!

> the longer it is the more it will interfere with Hrant's bouma
> problem, which may or may not be that important to you as you
> try to express yourself creatively.

For the record: I'm all for expressing creativity (although as most
will agree this must be tempered in relation to a given font's desired
place along the Display-Text axis, as I like to see things) but I just
worry that too many people make the "f" descend simply because
that's the way they've seen it done. Independent thought is what led
me to a non-descending form.

hhp

1996type's picture

You did it again Nick! Thank you so much! I'll work on an update as soon as I got the time.

Nick Job's picture

>>>I just worry that too many people make the "f" descend simply because that's the way they've seen it done.

You realise that the way it's done (otherwise how has Jasper seen it done like this?) has a massive impact on whether it's readable or not. Something that always descends (albeit in the italic) will be 'expected' to descend and therefore cause no problems in Boumaland.

I wouldn't for one moment accuse you of wanting to stifle creative expression. Nevertheless, you said 'some good reasons' (that is, for the /f/ not to descend); did you really mean 'one good reason' or do you have other reasons in mind?

Don't all serif italic /f/'s descend? If so, I think the bouma argument, in this case, while seeming robust at first sight, begins to melt away with a bit of analysis.

This font is beautiful (as I have said before) and warrants thorough feedback.

hrant's picture

> did you really mean 'one good reason'

Another good reason is that -except for languages that use the thorn- a descending "f" is the only glyph that's so tall; this makes it belong less in the alphabet. (And in previous discussions of this issue I think I had thought of a third reason, but I can't remember it now...)

> Don't all serif italic /f/'s descend?

Almost all. Not mine. And I've convinced a handful of people to break that bad habit.

> I think the bouma argument, in this case, while seeming robust
> at first sight, begins to melt away with a bit of analysis.

Not when you consider how much more Roman text we read compared to Italic.

hhp

Gary Lonergan's picture

I don't think the descending f is a bad habit. Martin Majoor uses in in all sans italics as does Jeremy Tankard in Bliss. Who both at time of writing are alive and well. My own preference is the Trump Mediaval style in which the descender drops straight down with a slight backwards curve.

georg's picture

The long f is an integral part of cursive latin script and it is not alone if you get by the anglocentristic view of latin script. There are other letters as well that have parts below baseline and above x-height at the same time: J, ſ, þ and often ß. Then there are letters with descenders with diacritics—many languages treat letters with diacritics as letters in there own right!

>Mainly because it creates boumas divergent from the Roman's, causing
>extra readability issues. What other character does that so blatantly?

> Not when you consider how much more Roman text we read compared to Italic.

Ok, we read more roman text than italic. But how did you learn to write the f? (Almost) every child that learns to write does so with an f with descender and ascender at the same time. The readability issue can’t be that bad. What’s more, the special form should rather enhance readability, as you’d not have difficulties to discern the f from almost any other letter…

Hrant, I like your theory a lot, that scripts do have their traditional style that shouldn’t be changed for looking more like an other script. What you argue here is the contrary from your theory. If this were about a slanted roman, i’d fully agree with you. But this is an italic which has its own rules and its own history. Of course it should match the roman, but not by giving up its italicness.

Nick Job's picture

I agree with Georg. If Sensato had an oblique italic, rather than a cursive italic, I'd be inclined to go without a descender but I think Sensato has a true (cursive) italic so I don't have a problem with a drop on the /f/.

Hrant, I very much like your typically tidy logic about the /f/ being the only letter whose bouma changes (with the potential exception of the eszett and perhaps long /s/) but it's not like we're not going to be ready for it in text, having seen long /f/'s since we started to learn to write as Georg states.

As far as Sensato is concerned, the descending /f/ certainly works in this context, albeit there may be issues about how it finishes at the bottom, e.g. how far should it drop, how much (if at all) should it taper, should it go around the corner like the traditional cursive form? I certainly don't think this type of /f/ can be disqualified, and it led to one of my favourite characters in Camphor (/f_j/):

I doubt it'll get used much but there was a pleasing symmetry to it!

hrant's picture

> The long f is an integral part of cursive latin script

And scurvy is an integral part of vitamin C deficiency. There's enough wrong with cursive without an extra thorn (pardon the pun) in its side.

> it is not alone if you get by the anglocentristic view of latin script.

Granted. But:
1) Few languages use þ or ß - I wouldn't compromise all the languages that don't; ſ is archaic; and J, ſ and ß don't have to descend.
2) That was a secondary reason anyway.

> the descending /f/ certainly works in this context

In the literal sense of "work", I think the non-descending would work even better. And at what cost? Creative expression? Is that the real impetus for a descending "f"? If so, that's not so bad.

hhp

Nick Job's picture

>>>The long f is an integral part of cursive latin script

Right! I think that the descending /f/ is in common enough usage for your bouma theory to be at least weak in this particular case. What you appear to want is for every letter to fit exactly the same space - how dull.

At some stage, someone must have propagated a short /s/. Are you saying they were wrong or that it was bad design rationale to move away from the /longs/? (Forgive me if don't know my type history, btw.)

What about this theory: The descending /f/ may actually function better given time than an /f/ which sits on the baseline, based on the descender allowing for further differentiation. We'll never know if you get your way! This bouma readability theory has little flexibility; it does not and cannot allow for improvements to legibility on a macro-evolutionary basis. So when I design type, I'm therefore stuck in a hypothetical grid and I may not depart from the straight and narrow, ever! And you complain that everything looks the same... ;)

Incidentally, unless I have misunderstood, /thorn/ is not in the same bracket since the bouma remains largely unaffected by italicization (is that a word?) With /f/ and italic /f/, you're surely talking about a descender appearing in a place where there formerly wasn't one, right?

>>>There's enough wrong with cursive...

You're going to make Michael mad again.

You didn't comment on my /f_j/, does it upset you? Have I been very, very bad?

N

hrant's picture

I don't mind people breaking rules - I do it myself often! :-) But it's important to know the rules, especially the ones you might like to break. "Bouma theory" is centered on expectation; since Romans (with non-descending "f"s) provide the lion's share of boumas, that's the expectation we form. Does the mind switch "expectation sets" based on whether it's reading Roman or Italic? If so, how quickly? Not having reliable answers to these esoteric questions, why bother with a descending form? Creative expression? Awesome. Mimicking precedent? Lousy.

> At some stage, someone must have propagated a short /s/. Are you saying they
> were wrong or that it was bad design rationale to move away from the /longs/?

I'm a big fan of reforming even the most basic things in life, as long as there's a benefit; note my work in alphabet reform. The long "s" was a readability/legibility disaster, so it's a good thing we got rid of it (in text fonts). And this case is a mellower version of that actually.

> The descending /f/ may actually function better given time than an /f/ which
> sits on the baseline, based on the descender allowing for further differentiation.

We think alike! But guess what: if you're going there, make the Roman "f" descend too! Fedra anyone? Repeat: I'm all for breaking rules to improve things. But I'm totally against "I do it like this because these other guys did."

> /thorn/ is not in the same bracket

What I was saying is that the thorn spans the entire vertical span but because it's so rare it's not enough company for a full-span "f", so the latter remains too much of a stand-out in the alphabet - sort of like the [closed-bottom] binocular "g" we were discussing here:
http://typophile.com/node/81129

> my /f_j/

It's charming. It looks like an Armenian letter. But I wouldn't recommend it for long text, and I suspect neither would you. UNLESS it's part of a concerted effort to improve readability via heavy use of ligatures (something I touched upon during my 2004 Thessaloniki talk, "Designers of the World, Ligate!").

hhp

Gary Lonergan's picture

Isn't it all a question of what you are used to reading? As a child my Irish school books were set in uncial types with an accent called a bualta, which was a dot over a consonant instead of a "h" and which changed the pronunciation.


This changed in the early 60s when we were hit with the double whammy of no bualta and no more uncial type. I remember how difficult it was initially to read the Irish set in roman (probably Times new roman) with no dots except for i. It looked unwieldy. Today I can hardly read a text set in uncial (or half uncial I'm nor sure which is which) There was also that old s which looks like an r which I never had a problem with.

My point is you read most easily what you are accustomed to reading. Changes in the basic letter forms have always occurred slowly until relatively recently. Cursive sans were fairly rare until Syntax came along. Now it's almost a mortal sin to design a sloped roman. The descending italic f catches my eye because I'm not used to it. But with the new open type technology the type setter/designer will probably have a choice between a descending or non descending and the market as always will decide.

hrant's picture

> Now it's almost a mortal sin to design a sloped roman.

Which BTW is a damn shame, and something [else] I'm
trying to change (like via my recent TypeCon-LA talk).

hhp

Gary Lonergan's picture

The current trend for cursive sans will probably pass. One of my favourite italics is Trump Mediavel which is not far of a true sloped roman. That sounds like a contradiction but it has just enough cursive characters to (imo) work both independently and as a companion to the roman. And its not to narrow. I use Swift a lot and am always surprised by how much text shrinks when the roman is changed to italic. My long winded way of saying it's too narrow. I'm trying to draw an italic at the moment so I could do worse than look at Trump Mediavel.

1996type's picture

Interesting discussion!

We don't read that much text set in italic, but that should not change the way we look at designing italics. It only means that every mistake will be of less harm as opposed to a mistake in the Roman. But it's still a mistake.

I went for cursive. Not because "some other guy did it", but because I have seen that slanted italics (oblique) don't differ enough from the romans, or have to be slanted so much that it becomes ugly. (http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/adobe/univers/ I understand the choice, but I don't really like those italics.) Sensato has it's roots in serif typefaces, which makes the choice for a slanted italic more logical. Slanted serifs must be really ugly! My plan is that (someday, in the end of times) I will also design Sensato Serif, so it would be nice if the two italics match somewhat.

I simply don't like a the look of a non-descending italic f. It looks to much 'oblique' compared to the other letters. The reason why thi current f doesn't read nicely, is because it wasn't executed properly.

I like the idea of an f that descends, but doesn't reach the descender line. I tried it quickly and choose for the one that went all the way, but I'll give it another shot.

In the end, I'll make my decision based on what I see. I think this is something you shouldn't think about to much. Trust your eyes!

I will not include an alternate f in my typefaces. I think this is a choice I have to make, since most graphic designers don't have the needed skills to make that choice.

Just so you know. This is an interesting discussion but don't make it go on for ever, s'il vous plaît.

Cheers!
Jasper de Waard

@Gary: What is the typeface you used for the word 'Angelina' in the Bazaar magazine. I saw it on your website and it's beautiful, but I can't name it. You got some great designs on your website, but I think the 'Type' section needs to be updated ;-)

hrant's picture

Makes sense.

> which makes the choice for a slanted italic more logical.

Do you mean you had considered a so-called "upright Italic"? Those don't work. They shouldn't be called "Italic" ("Cursive Roman" is better) because they fail at that primary task.

> Slanted serifs must be really ugly!

I mostly agree. This is where semi-serifs kick in.

hhp

1996type's picture

oops. 'slanted italic' should be 'cursive'. Sorry for the confusion.

Gary Lonergan's picture

Angelina is set in Requiem Fine. Thanks for the feedback. The type section needs updating hopefully with a published font (fingers crossed)

1996type's picture

Update! The eye of /e/ needs to be bigger and I'm sure there's more to improve on!

Cheers!

1996type's picture

Check out the Swash Caps above. Black Italic Swash Caps will follow soon!

eliason's picture

That gap at the top of the stem works well for /B/D/R/P/, but when the swash line is short I think it falls apart /H/I/J/L/K/T/U/V/W/.

/C/ is really lovely! And /Q/O/Z/ are all quite nice too.

1996type's picture

Thanks Craig! Do you find it anoying/disturbing if it falls apart a little bit, or is it ok like this?

eliason's picture

I'd change it.

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