Ten years have passed, time for a new typeface.

alex scholing's picture

Hi everybody,

Below are a few samples of the font family that I am working on right now: Klarendal Sans, named after the neighbourhood in which I live.

Klarendal Sans is based on a typeface that I finished about a decade ago - FF Roice - which in turn was based on a typeface I made almost a decade before that, FF Engine.

You could say that I am addicted to rounded monoline typefaces and Klarendal Sans is no exception. I love the barebone clarity of having no contrast and it allows me to focus entirely on the baseform of characters - the skeleton - which seems to fascinate me to no end.

When I first made Engine I faced some challenges.

First, I wanted to make a textface without the hallmark feature of all typefaces and especially textfaces: contrast. Contrast allows for the balancing of the whites and blacks of a character wherever needed, to produce a nice and even fabric of text on a page. So contrast is good. But still, I wanted no contrast, not even low contrast like let’s say Futura. I wanted nothing, zero, nada.

Second, I was a type lover but definitely no type designer.

Third, I like unconventional stuff, which in general doesn’t go well with reading, which as some of you may know, is based on rather a lot of convention ;-)

Long story short, I did it, but it was clearly the quirky work of a hard working novice (though it actually reads quite well). So then I decided to make Roice, which was still quirky but much better proportioned.

And now here’s Klarendal Sans, well almost. It’s like Roice, but without the quirks, and sans the serif-like bulges. Proportioning is also a bit different and ascenders and descenders are very short. And finally, the light and black weight are farther apart in weight but closer together in size.

With Klarendal Sans again being a monoline I still have to deal with the fact that black/white balancing has to come from the baseform and not from contrast, which becomes more and more problematic as weight increases, and I have to admit it: it still can’t be done without cheating. Where necessary I reduced the weight of entire glyphs or increased the size of the counters, or both, while trying to maintain the monoline feel.

I’m still fiddling with weightcorrections and spacing, but so far I find the result quite okay. I wonder what all you type afficionados think of it, being what it is, a still fairly unconventional solution to a still very conventional task: reading.

Thanks, Alex

KlarendalSans.pdf85.48 KB
Stephen Coles's picture

Alex, I'm a fan of Engine and Roice. They aren't exactly versatile typefaces, but once in a while there is a need for a simple, informal thing that doesn't have any direct connotations and they fit perfectly. This happened a couple of years ago when Marian Bantjes asked me for that very thing. She was designing a spread for “I Wonder” and I recommended FF Roice. “Perfect”, she said.

Naturally there is value in a Roice with fewer quirks, as long as you don't get too typographic/straight-laced with it. I think you're on the right path. I think the Black is problematic. Maybe stop one weight short of that one.

alex scholing's picture

Thanks Stephen, it’s nice to hear kind words about Roice and Engine. And thanks for the recommendation to Marian, great stuff.

The black is indeed a bit problematic, at least for text use, but I think I will keep it anyway but just for display use. Maybe I should call it Display in stead of Black.

I’m still trying to make up my mind about whether or not I like the sometimes notable weight differences in the black version. On the one hand i wished they wern’t there but on the other I like them for the simple reason that they are functional and idiosyncratic.


eliason's picture

These do work well small.

The letters you appear to have lightened for overall balance are in some cases lightened too much I think (the /a/ and particularly the /g/). Maybe widen the upper bowl of /g/?

The tittles seem awfully high relative to the ascender height. I'm not sure that tiny stroke shape is better than the circle I expected to find.

I don't quite get the intended structure of the /e/--I feel like it straightens out and gets curvier as it goes around without clear logic.

The /t/ needs a higher stroke above the crossbar in the Black, I think.

FWIW the name Klarendal makes me half expect some relationship to Clarendon fonts...

JamesT's picture

I like it but I'd be concerned about different letter pairings.
For example, the word "Black" in the regular weight creates an issue where the /l/ and the /a/ look too light next to the /c/ and the /k/; same with the /n/ next to the /x/ (although, in the word "heading", the /n/ looks fine". Also, the crossbar of the /t/ when infront of the /a/ looks too light.

Maybe including a single story /g/ as an alternate would help too.

Either way, please take my critiques lightly as I could just as easily be completely wrong and you are clearly much better at this than myself.

alex scholing's picture

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

The general problem with the lightening of the glyphs is that there is not one treatment that will work for both small and large sizes. If some glyphs look too light at large size they may still be too heavy at small size. I should therefore probably make a choice and go for large and not try too hard to make the black work at small size.

@eliason: As to the baseform of the glyphs: there is no logic in them other than my own liking, and my likings are not very logical at all. Traditionally there are lots of varieties of each character but they all belong to certain style classes and these classes are generally not supposed to be mixed up. So very often it’s like: if the a looks like this then the e has to look that and the g like that. Or if you use that p you shouldn’t use that f. As devious as I am, I sometimes like to challenge these systems and go by curiosity rather than rule ;-)

I agree that the black t needs a slightly larger top and I will look into the high tittles too, although until now I thought they gave a nice lively feel. The single storey a and g are present already! Just not in these samples. Attached another one.

Stephen Coles's picture

The 'e' stands out as being too light here. Diagonals and horizontals also appear heavier than curves. I guess that's the drawback of the strict monolinear construction, but it's a bit of a distraction.

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