Fresh eyes for kerning

rubenDmarkes's picture

It isn't actually kerning, I suppose; it's not a typeface. It's just four glyphs I'm doing for a logo. What do you think about the spacing?

Also, while we're at it, what do you think about the whole thing? It's for an association of scientific – though not only from the sciences – researchers with a scholarship (not sure how I'd translate that). The client seems to like it.

Is it just me or is the A just a tiny little bit thinner than the rest?

I was going for something forward looking but a bit restrained and elegant, on the type. Something futuristic but with its feet on the ground.

Need a better look at it?

rubenDmarkes's picture

Maybe looking at it at a smaller size and with a white background will help:

Yeah, that symbol gets a moiré effect… I'll try to look into that later.

Birdseeding's picture

Narrow the /IC/ space up a notch, and it'll be fine. The /A/ does look thinner, have a look at the right leg which I think is the culprit there.

The symbol seems disconnected-but-not-disconnected enough from the lettering: There's a danger someone will read it as a badly kerned /OABIC/. But in any case its strict geoetry clashes with the more calligraphic wordmark. Does that lettering style read sufficiently futuristic, I wonder?

rubenDmarkes's picture

Yeah, I guess it shows; the symbol and the lettering were developed separately, initially. I'm still working on that too.

I showed everything I had to the client and she said she liked both these elements; we agreed on combining them. Actually, she seemed to really like these letters and added “I never thought I could like letters!”, which was pretty nice and made me quite happy.

I also thought about the symbol being mistaken for a letter; I might develop some solution to that as well. But really, my main concern with this right now, at this stage, was the spacing of the letters.

Quite perceptive, Birdseeding; thanks for your valuable input!

hrant's picture

First: the letters are too thin.


rubenDmarkes's picture

Hey, Hrant. [How is your name pronounced?]

They're too thin for what? For a logo in general? For being paired with that symbol?

I usually have a tendency to draw letters too thick and/or with too much contrast, so in this case I thought I had to fight that, since I wanted something with an elegant and somewhat/somehow cultivated look to it (we are talking about people with advanced studies) but still forward looking and not too contrastive (so it worked at smaller sizes). Since I'm aware that I always tend to draw bold letters… I thought I had to stop being afraid that it would be too thin.

I tried looking at this at small sizes and I thought it worked.

hrant's picture

I think the letters are too light in terms of presence in a logo.
(Caveat: I only make type, not graphic design in general.)

BTW: sort of like "front" but with an "h".


rubenDmarkes's picture

Ok, thanks for your input! And for helping me correctly read your name in my mind.

Anyone else…? Help with kerning?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

You should consider drawing different versions for different sizes in usage, eg relatively thinner lines for a larger size (signage) and ergo thicker lines for smaller applications (business card). In smaller versions you might want to lessen the amount of vertical lines in the round shape.

JoergGustafs's picture

I admit I read it as OABIC at first.
I think it’s the grey colour being very close to the blue in its brightness.
Did you try a darker grey? IMO, it would contrast the blue better.
I’d maybe also increase the gap between the circle and ABIC.
And I second that it is a bit thin, in this rather light blue it risks to vanish in smaller sizes. But as Bert said, different optical sizes could solve that, if you want to keep it ‘light’.

rubenDmarkes's picture

Thanks, Bert and Joerg. :)
I had thought about all that and was planning on considering all that later. Different, so called optical versions might be a good idea. Everything is still subject to changes, here. It's just an advanced sketch.

But what about the spacing between letters? Am I doing it right (or close enough)? That was my main concern, right now, and the main reason why I turned to Typophile… I'm still a bit insecure as to how well I kern.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

OK, re kerning: you need to balance the inner white space of a glyph with the white space between two glyphs, and this for all of the glyphs (elements) of — in your case — a logo.

An /I/ has no inner space. In this case /A/ and /B/ and /C/ have comparable inner spaces. This allows us to balance /B/ and /C/ with /I/ first (easier!).

Our first conclusion is that BI needs more space (wider kerning). Start with adding half the width of /I/ (cover the rest of your design). Adjust until looking balanced. Looking at it in a mirror and/or upside down helps with evaluating what you are doing.

Now do the same with IC, with /B/ being visible. The space between /I/ and /C/ will be almost like it is currently, I think.

Then you add /A/ to the equation, and lastly the ball shape.

Using this inner space vs intra-space equalisation process will demonstrate that lighter cuts (eg Thin, etc) need more kerning than bold cuts (those have relatively small inner space).

When you want tighter kerning all over the flow of the logo will change, where the sides of the glyphs kind of start to tear at their neighbours. That may be an effect you are aiming for, making it a design decision as any decision that is contrary to harmony.

BTW: I may sound pedantic, telling you how to to it, rather than what, but that’s what teaching is all about… : )

rubenDmarkes's picture

No, that's fine! Quite helpful!

I've had my hand at designing typefaces – just “for kicks” – and I am aware that seeing things mirrored and upside down helps a lot; if anything it helps us register the shapes more than letters, which is quite positive for the task. Hadn't thought of doing that here, though; will do.

I'm also aware of the notion of balancing inner and outer white spaces; actually doing it, though, is a whole other thing. Mainly because my – admittedly tiny – experience with that is that I end up with text a bit too spaced out, which seems fine for text at (quite) small sizes, but not so at so called “regular” text sizes and certainly not above that. When I look around I don't really notice that this notion is always and thoroughly applied in all typefaces; and I feel it might get a bit overstated/overestimated around here, at times.

The way I did it was I kind of eyeballed it keeping in mind that this would be something of a display kern and not a small text kern and also keeping in mind that we are talking about thin glyphs. I still am a bit afraid to trust my eyes, but I've been having these moments where I think my eyes were spot on and I should trust them more often. :P

Will further work on this, then.

Thank you kindly.

rubenDmarkes's picture

So this is much better, then. [Before and after]

There were other minor alterations all around. The symbol is further away, it's just a bit larger, the overshoot of the round characters is a bit smaller, etc..

It is more even; I guess I get carried away with those deeper notions about the practice of designing letters instead of just doing it and following the fundamentals and the eye… like the overshoots and the fact that display type has to be tighter.

Doing 1 – Overthinking 0
Nice work, Doing… but this war isn't over. Overthinking will win once it follows logic!

Thanks, Bert. :) It's a work in progress, but the spacing – or how to do it – is done with. :P

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Very nice. Maybe drop the ball shape a bit to compensate for the rounded of tops of the lettering…?

Luma Vine's picture

I would go quite a bit larger with the symbol. It is still too close in scale to the text to avoid confusion if it is an O. Maybe try to match the thickness of the vertical lines in the mark with the strokes of the text. You could also go with a heavier or lighter outline to the circle to avoid the similarity to the text weight. Good job, I really like the custom type!

p.s. FYI there is a Logos / Corporate ID Design section in critique that might attract more comments from people specifically working with type in this context.

rubenDmarkes's picture

Hey, Luma Vine!

Thank you! That makes me quite happy, that you like the custom type! You know, me being a “noobie” and all. And I'll try and remember that section in future occasions. :)

I'm still working on this, but I've made some changes since I last showed it to you, and those do include separating the symbol away from the type just enough so it doesn't look like and O and matching the thickness of the circle in the symbol to the type a bit better.

Oh, and I see what you mean, Bert; I'll remember that now, as I finalize the job. :)

BTW, there was a bit of an urgency in getting this out there, since the association had a protest picnic scheduled, so I had to at least roll the new image out in some way; you can take a look at it here. I think I might definitely drop the ball just a smidge. And yeah, I'll make further changes to the website.

Thank you all!

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