Millennial Oldstyle: crit welcome

eliason's picture

Going to try my hand at a typeface suitable for extended text. Morris Fuller Benton is my mentor.


I'm looking to Century Oldstyle for general guidance on structure and proportion--it's a great model, in my opinion--but I'm drawing this from scratch and departing from the prototype freely in parts.
I envision eventually creating a broad palette of size-specific cuts and weights.

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MillenialOldstyle01.pdf73.47 KB
MillenialOldstyle03.pdf87.64 KB
MillennialOldstyle04.pdf95.52 KB
MillennialOldstyle06.pdf112.12 KB
MillennialOldstyle12.pdf115.77 KB
leadingtest.pdf44.36 KB
MillennialOldstyle18.pdf122.18 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-1.pdf115.74 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-2.pdf120.47 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-3.pdf104.3 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-4.pdf106.31 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-5.pdf101.75 KB
MillennialOldstyle20-6.pdf118.41 KB
MillennialOldstyle29.pdf225.07 KB
hrant's picture

Kerning? That doesn't make the letter bodies different.

To me white space is excessive only if it's associated
with a disjoin in the letters (weakening the bouma).
An "r" with a longer beak would "virtually join" the
following letter at the top, and the characteristic (read:
conducive to readability) white at the bottom would
be amplified.

hhp

eliason's picture

Yes, I think "ro" and the like are situations that kerning can address.
Here I've made the join lower and the right baseline serif longer:


Does my narrow /r/ just make the following letter look too wide? Maybe I should consider truncating the serifs/crossbars of those letters instead of (in addition to?) narrowing the /r/. Nina, we've been here before, huh? :-)

At text sizes, I do think the word-shape is better with the accommodation (top line)

hrant's picture

Kerning can certainly address things like "ro", but if you go
to the trouble of having a narrow "r" to accommodate a hard
top-left in the following letter, you might as well take the small
next step of taking advantage of a soft top-left.

> Does my narrow /r/ just make the following letter look too wide?

As you seem to be ending up concluding yourself,
that's a display-face worry, not a text-face one.

hhp

JamesT's picture

Regarding the narrow /r/, the /rf/ combination seems to stand out the most to me. It might be because the left side of the crossbar is significantly longer than the one on the /t/.

eliason's picture

Hmm, given the bracketed nature of the /t/ crossbar, my eye doesn't really need the two crossbars to relate in length (if that is what you are implying).

When I get to kerning I would probably move some of these letters back apart (rv, rw)--does that seem counterproductive? I guess I'll have to wait until then to accurately judge the effectiveness of the alternate in word-shape.

hrant's picture

Adding positive kerns to select pairs can make a lot of sense. In fact in
my view round-to-round pairs need a bit of that in pretty much any font.

On the other hand I don't understand why "rw" is a hair tighter than "rv".

hhp

eliason's picture

I just meant that I'm doing all this to get the letters closer together, but in the end I'll kern them apart.

On the other hand I don't understand why "rw" is a hair tighter than "rv".

Yeah, that doesn't make sense, does it. I spaced each within strings of nnnvnnoovooo etc., and I guess my eyes weren't consistent from letter to letter. I've fixed it now.

hrant's picture

Well, if you end up kerning fewer than half, you're OK. :-)

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

On the topic of small caps:

The subtlety is lost if the reader notices them, hence the further from cap height you go the less like capitals they will look. Now small caps are supposed to look like capitals, they just don’t have the function caps normally have: marking the beginning of a sentence.

Capitals should be heavier than minuscles for many reasons, but I consider the primary one the larger counters. An “O” needs to be heavier then an “o” just to look similar. Since small caps are often—and indeed should be—tracked wider than minuscles, there is a certain need for some extra weight here as well. The loose spacing makes them seem thinner than they are. Remember, white and black are intertwined in notan.

hrant's picture

I think there are layers of "noticing", and to me the
way smallcaps text works is by saying "I'm in caps"
(subtle, good noticing) without being so big that it
attracts an errant fixation (loud, bad noticing).

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Yes, but if they are too small the subtlety is lost: they suddenly stand out—the exact opposite of what they were supposed to do in the first place. At that point it’s just the designer showing off.

hrant's picture

I don't see how they could stand out by not
looking enough like caps. To me the problem
with too small is simply that they look too lc.

hhp

eliason's picture

Some subtle alterations: (2=after alteration)
/e/ - brought the bottom terminal rightward. I think that makes it less "self-contained" and gives it better direction towards the following letter.
/y/ - brought the bottom terminal rightward and raised the intersection.
/v/w/y/ - narrowed by bringing the top right terminal leftward, and also adjusted serif there to be wider and darker.

hrant's picture

This is late, but I just noticed, sorry: what are the vertical proportions?

hhp

eliason's picture

You mean in units?

hrant's picture

If you're inclined - but mostly I'm wondering
if the descenders are as long as the ascenders.

hhp

eliason's picture

They are about 97% as long.

hrant's picture

Hmmm, not a bit much? Especially with the large x-height,
which means it could be set with minimal/no leading.

hhp

eliason's picture

This shows (at 2) the descenders shortened just by 5 units (thus now about 95% the length of the ascenders). Any shorter gets kind of stubby. I do think that shortening of descender helps the ascenders not look stubby, and as you say it should facilitate tighter vertical spacing. I've attached a pdf to the top post showing how it looks at 10/12, 10/11, and 10/10.

hrant's picture

I think it's better now.

BTW, the facilitation of tighter vertical spacing could
be seen as a byproduct of a great good: the proper vertical
distribution of information. Since ascenders play a much
greater role than descenders in the formation of boumas,
it makes sense to give them significantly more room. Yes,
this results in stubby descenders (and you certainly don't
want to go too far) but in my view that is in fact a fruitful
compromise. I myself determine the descender length such
that the "g" looks slightly cramped; if it's too happy then
you're paying a big price elsewhere.

hhp

eliason's picture

Thanks Hrant.
Maybe you like the extender proportions of Century Oldstyle, the point of departure for this design? Seems like it was made with the same rule of thumb you mention!

hrant's picture

Not just Century Oldstyle* in particular - I think the "old folks"
had a good, unmannered grasp of vertical proportions. Also, since
this is a revival of a classic work-horse I'd suggest that following
conventional wisdom makes extra sense.

* With ATF having a particular reason for making
their descenders extra short in certain sizes:
http://typophile.com/files/ATF_line_4221.gif

--

So, is this going to end up at FB? :-)

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW, if decreasing the descender length is causing the font to
shoot for a lower ideal point size than you'd like*, you might
instead use a lesser decrease and increase the ascenders a bit.

* Also mind the resultant necessary shift in color and spacing.

hhp

eliason's picture

Not just Century Oldstyle* in particular - I think the "old folks"
had a good, unmannered grasp of vertical proportions. Also, since
this is a revival of a classic work-horse I'd suggest that following
conventional wisdom makes extra sense.

Hmm, I'm inclined to think the "still older" folks got vertical proportions right, and the "old folks" circa the ATF heyday screwed things up because of the constraints of their setups (like the standardized baseline you cited) and their priority of density over grace in vertical spacing.

And furthermore, for a reinterpretation (not a revival), this seems like an opportune place to distinguish my design (from the already-existing digital versions of Century Oldstyle, e.g.), since it's a place where I see compromises in the original owing to limitations of metal type that no longer confine us.

All that said, I really enjoy this process of coming to understand the logic of historical designs (with your help--thank you) though my own design process. That's why I started designing type!

--

Here's another sample: all the descenders are shortened as above, and the ascenders in 2 are 7 units longer than in 1. I like it.

--

So, is this going to end up at FB? :-)

Do you think it belongs there?

hrant's picture

> the "still older" folks got vertical proportions right,
> and the "old folks" circa the ATF heyday screwed
> things up because of the constraints

You have a point, but to be fair the "still older" folks
had a lesser challenge, in terms of not tackling systems
of fonts; you could even say that handling constraints is
a higher level of Design.

Did ATF give up too much grace for the sake of economy
(of space and/or mechanics)? Or maybe they were giving
the much higher frequency of ascenders than descenders
due credit. It's an argument that can go either way I guess.

> for a reinterpretation (not a revival), this seems
> like an opportune place to distinguish my design

Good point.

--

I think #2 above seems quite well balanced, including in
terms of vertical proportions versus color and spacing,
although I might prefer to see it slightly darker.

--

> Do you think it belongs there?

FB is sort of the unofficial inheritor of the old American
foundries, the closest thing we have to an ATF phoenix.
Assuming they don't already have something too close
(or plans for something too close) it seems to make very
good sense. William would be the ideal advisor to you in
exploring such a possibility.

hhp

eliason's picture

although I might prefer to see it slightly darker

I've been thinking that for a while. My current plan is to get this weight where I want it, make a point-compatible, much darker font, and decide on weights to release in the interpolated spectrum between them. Perhaps this would wind up being a Regular and one step darker would be a Book weight.

eliason's picture

Revised structure of italic /X/ to one that better fits the style of the font. (2 shows revised)

riccard0's picture

Better. Perhaps it’s just the comparison with the former one, but it looks a bit narrow and/or closed.

1996type's picture

Better, but too narrow. I think you could make that swash at the left bottom of E and D more prominent. It works, but keeping it shy spoils the effort.

eliason's picture

Thanks, you are right and I think this wider version is better:


Thanks Jasper for pushing me on that loop, which I agree is neither here nor there right now. The image in this post shows a couple of attempts at changing it: the D has a slightly bigger loop, and the E has a change in direction instead. I'm not really happy with any of this yet. To make the feature big enough to be seen, it winds up being a tumor-like loop. In the /T/, the loop stands in for the crossbar+serif, but in /D/E/L/ it's essentially in the place of a mere serif. Perhaps I should abandon the idea for these letters (though that I suppose raises the question whether the /T/ is too much of an outlier).

riccard0's picture

I like the “change in direction”.

1996type's picture

I think what makes it a tumor-like loop is that it's pretty 'round', yet completely closed. Either go all the way and make it an actual loop, much bigger and with an opening, or compress it vertically and extend it horizontally. The latter would make it less dark but more apparant, I guess. The 'change in direction' lacks attitude IMO.

Th width of X is better now.

eliason's picture

Throwing some E's against the wall to see if anything sticks:


Thought that wavy bottom in 2nd and 4th lines would be too "pennish" but I think it might be working! Perhaps a tinge too heavy yet.
- -
On another topic: I'm reinstating the full serif at the bottom right of italic /A/.

LexLuengas's picture

Yes, 4th /E/ looks ok to me, even though it's not as rigid as the other caps. /T/ is funny, but it definitely doesn't work. How about using the bottom of the 4th /E/ as reference for the top of /T/? /N/ should have at least one straight stem IMO.

eliason's picture

How about using the bottom of the 4th /E/ as reference for the top of /T/?

Yes, as soon as I saw that /E/ bottom developing I turned my laptop upside down and tried to imagine it for the /T/.

Okay, here's where these revised italic caps stand:
/F/ has simpler arm to match /E/
/L/ has revised bottom
/A/ has two way serif on right
/T/ top now patterned after /E/ bottom
/E/'s bottom is thinned and the whole letter narrowed since last shown
/N/ has firmer, straighter thin strokes
/D/ has the loop as before

LexLuengas's picture

Improvements! /T/ looks good! It looked weird to have the stiffness of the serif at the left, in contrast to the looseness of the loop at the right. As for the /D/, it needs more overshoot (a bit, just 2 or 3pt) at the bottom, now that it's more curved.

daverowland's picture

I think a similar treatment as on bottom left of E and L would look better on D instead of the loop. The loop feels too small to be a loop and too bulbous to be a serif.

eliason's picture

Top: D with loop, lowered to appropriate overshoot
Middle: D with change in direction structure, thin at bottom
Bottom: D with change in direction structure, thick at bottom

daverowland's picture

Middle one for me. I think the stress in the bottom one is too calligraphic for this typeface.

eliason's picture

Meanwhile, minor breaththrough i think.
I was thinking italic Q and Z, though handsome, looked a little old fashioned, so I tried an update (first line below, right is revised).
But looking more closely at that Q tail reminded me that (in Noordzij's terms) the contrast pattern of this typeface is expansion rather than translation. And that made me realize that my recent attempts at adding contrast to horizontals (of E, L, T etc) was hewing more closely to translation than necessary. Keeping the contours parallel was giving them the "calligraphy pen" look that wasn't quite appropriate. So the bottom shows a free-er swelling of those horizontals.

eliason's picture

Middle one for me. I think the stress in the bottom one is too calligraphic for this typeface.

Yeah, that one gives a blackletter vibe! I may just revert to a plain serif here, which at this point I think I'd like better than any of these.

eliason's picture

More futzing with curves on the /T/, mostly to take some weight off the top part (top/left is before, bottom/right after).


I am thinking I will make more subdued/normal versions of these letters with horizontal strokes (/E/L/T/Z/) to be used in allcaps settings and as the smallcaps.

eliason's picture

Here's a go at the caps that will have simplified forms for all-caps settings, which are now used to create the small caps:

eliason's picture

Top line shows crash that happens with stock /g/ followed by stock/y/.
(a) shows existing /g.calt/y.calt/ (in "gymnasts")
(b) shows alternative /y.calt/ with the structure modified to fill in the big gap in the middle that comes from the tops and bottoms of /g/ and /y/ pushing off from one another.


I prefer the elegance of (a) but do you think the gap is a problem with that, and if so, is (b) a solution?

hrant's picture

What about using a Fleischmann "y"?

hhp

eliason's picture

You mean like this (c)?


Interesting idea!

hrant's picture

Yes, that's it (perhaps with more continuity of
"stroke" thickness going down into the descender).
It's a sadly under-used form. But hopefully it will
eventually enjoy the same resurgence as the Koch "g"... :-)

BTW, I know of one font that's used it: Chank's
"Venis", for which I once wrote a positive review,
and immediately got flack for that! Not sure why.

hhp

riccard0's picture

A more u-shape based italic u would be too much?

eliason's picture

A more u-shape based italic u would be too much?

That was actually the direction I went first (here at d), but I thought it was coming out kind of sloppy-looking.


e shows Fleischmann /y/ with thicker tail.

hrant's picture

Me, I like the 2nd and 5th ones.
(The 2nd with some thinning at the bottom.)

hhp

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