The Usual: New member, Critique/Advice request

Fixedsys's picture

Introduction first is the polite thing I think: I'm Darien. I've been reading stuff on Typophile for a long time, but this is my first post. I made my first fonts when I was 11 (1994?) and I've sporadically made more every few years since then. Most were abjectly terrible; I can't say I ever even attempted to create something of professional quality. The only one anyone ever cared for was Fixedsys Excelsior, which was not so much a font as an obsessive compulsive disorder (as seen here).

In April of this year I began work on what I'd call my first serious font. I mean, I'd like it to be, anyway. I've spent a ton of time on it so far and haven't even completed the lowercase. I just tweak and tweak and tweak. I'm pretty nervous about adding more until I'm more comfortable with what I have so far. There are plenty of letters I still don't feel are nearly correct (/s/ kills me).

I'm including some images; I'd really love to hear some feedback. ESPECIALLY if you can point out things that will come back and bite me if I don't address them now. The spacing is pretty rudimentary, and I've just kerned as I've gone along; I expect to wipe all the kerning and metrics at a later point and do it more systematically. You'll see in the bottom row of the first image that I added a single-storey /g/ (in the IPA range at present) -- I couldn't decide for a while but I think the double-storey is more suitable. I guess I consider the /b/ a key letter, one that I use to figure out if other things are balanced.

Note that the few capitals that appear in the examples are more or less stand-ins. I don't know if the real ones will actually look like that at all; I just use them to test.

While I'm rather proud of what I've done so far I remain worried that this is might be too ambitious for my skills. I think it's pretty original (uh oh ... please don't link me to a similar-but-better font!) and it would mean a great deal to me if I could make it a 'real' font. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Edit: I seem to be having some kind of problem uploading images to the forum. I'll upload them elsewhere and add links here shortly.

Fixedsys's picture

Well, I guess this works:

eliason's picture

Compare the /a/ and, say, the /n/. With its listing stem and lumpy curves, the /a/ looks much quirkier, more handwritten, more imperfect. The amount of "quirkiness" needs to be settled on, and made consistent across the alphabet.

Your letterspacing is way too tight overall. In part this could be a style choice, but it leads to problems, like in "ebullience" or "blips" where the words seem to collapse where the /l/s and /i/s are.

(Is that a Scofflaw you're drinking?)

Fixedsys's picture

Thanks Eliason! I think I tend to waver about how idiosyncratic I want this typeface to be, and I'm sure that's evident in the forms I’ve chosen. The ‘a’ was the first letter I drew (though it’s been adjusted a lot since then) and was the inspiration for the font, at least initially; maybe my idea of it has departed from that. I suppose I've opted to subdue the weirder parts in the hopes that the quirkiness (as you put it) wouldn’t be too cartoonish. Although it may not be apparent, some inspiration for this has come from various uncial scripts, and maybe the /n/ /m/ and /h/ would benefit from having the inward-curving legs of that style.

You’re definitely right about the spacing. It’s not a stylistic choice -- I would like it to be much looser, to complement the width of the characters. I tend to adjust spacing only when I’m testing stuff in fontlab (at large sizes) so I should probably go ahead and fix that now so that I can more properly see what smaller text will look like.

(It’s a Monkey Gland.)

butterick's picture

I expect to wipe all the kerning and metrics at a later point and do it more systematically

As a font gets smaller, poor spacing becomes more apparent and poor drawing becomes less apparent. So if you intend your font to be usable at small sizes, you should allocate your effort accordingly.

butterick's picture

(PS. Not implying that either your drawing or spacing is poor, just warning that the "draw now — space later" approach can cause problems)

Stinger's picture

I agree with what eliason wrote: the /a/ seems to stand out a bit from the rest. But it does have something special that could be used to change some of the other letters.

Since you mentioned it, I checked out your /s/ as well. What might be the case - and im not sure as im definitely no pro - is that it's too closed up. If you open it up a bit more and use the same leaning angle of the stem that is so interesting in the /a/, it might become more fitting. What I mean is that the /s/ is still quite upright, but the /a/ is seems to lean over to the left. The /s/ could do that too - actually a lot of letters could use that in some form or other (say the final legs of /m/ and /n/ and /h/ etc).

Also, but this might be because im looking at the /a/ at such a large size, I get the feeling it's stem is a bit wonky. Looks like the bottom part of the places where the bowl connects to the stem should be moved slightly towards the left. This might be an optical thing though...?

Here's what I mean:

Hope this helps!

JamesT's picture

Maybe lower the bowl on the /a/ slightly?

Bendy's picture

There's something unusual about this one — yes I do find it original — and I think you have the skill to see the difficult spots already, so keep at it, it's going to be good. It looks nicely balanced at smaller sizes, which is a good sign.

I'd agree about the spacing, but I'd be cautious about changing everything to fit with the /a/ — I'm certain a sloped /a/ can harmonise with upright /n/s and the rest. I'm considering something similar myself. I like the diagram above, with the straighteneed stem however.

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