Sensato Serif

1996type's picture

The serif counterpart of Sensato Sans.

Cheers! jasper

SensatoSans-Serif4.pdf37.3 KB
1996type's picture

Sorry for the wide pic. " Control-click/right click > view image " should do the trick.

eliason's picture

I get that you're trying to match the thinning in /n/ etc., but /r/'s arm looks weak.

To my eye, the tops of the stems of letters like /p/r/n/ look to high relative to the tops of the bowls/shoulders.

/q/'s spur looks indecisive.

/s/, /z/, and loop of /g/ are quite nice!

Santiago Orozco's picture

the bowl's joints are to thin, I think they should be as tick as the /v/ right stem at vertex

also try to compress more the /v/s on /w/

1996type's picture

Thanks guys. That's a quick response!

@craig: I agree on the r. I probably need to make it thicker where it meets the ball terminal. What you say about p r n is a difficult subject. Do you feel the same about Lexicon? The spur on q should maybe be bigger, otherwise I don't see the problem. I dislike the loop of the g in many typefaces, so it's good to know you like mine :-)

@santiago: I disagree with both. They shouldn't be anything, except for looking good and being legible, which they are. Have a look at Lexicon.

JamesT's picture

I like this as lot and I'm looking forward to the Upper case.

My only critique would be that the extreme thinning in the /b,d,p,q/ etc looks a little too thin next to the /t,s,c/ and /z/.

But then again, you are far more advanced than myself so feel free to ignore this.

I like the extreme contrast in this.

1996type's picture

Thank you James. The extreme thinning does look a little off at first. It did to me too. However, after a while (non-typedesigners are not bothered by it in the first place) I got used to it. In text, it creates something that untill now (hopefully) could only be achieved with Lexicon. I don't know how to explain it, and really you should see the NRC Handelsblad in real life to find out, but looks 'new', fresh and vivid.

Underneath is a picture for a quick comparison. As you might tell from the picture, I'm trying to catch that "newness" from Lexicon, while toning down the quirks, making it suitable for display usage too. I also included some Sensato traits, leaving my personal mark. Well, that's the idea.

1996type's picture

I put some pictures of Lexicon from the NRC Next on flickr. Enjoy!

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Regarding the name, are you aware of these other fonts?

Don Quijote
Quijote (bottom of the page)

blank's picture

Redesign x. It is an unintentional swastika that creates a distracting illusion of movement.

The ball terminal on y is too small.

f is too limp and too wide. It looks like a willow tree hanging out over a river, but the tiny baseline serif is not big enough to support the weight. This is entirely out of place with lively feeling in the rest of the letters.

Overall I like the feeling of this face. At first glance it seems like a typical Dutch book face. But the more I look the more I see something much more youthful and vibrant. Keep putting that energy into the font as you fill it out. Watch out for calligraphic curves that start getting soft, which is happening to the loop of the g and the descender of the y.

Bendy's picture

This is beautiful work Jasper. I love the thin joins, it looks to be a rationalised Lexicon with influences of things like Arnhem or even Mercury.

I agree about the x. I've tried this style and it seems very difficult to make it work.

/u/ may be slightly wide.

X-height isn't quite even. Look closely at the /v/ next to the /u/. I think this may answer the difficulty Craig raised about the arched letters with their spurs. If in doubt print a line of text and look at it end-on.

The ball terminals are great, but I think I'd make them crisper on the inside (they look slightly teardrop shaped).

Tail of /y/ is weak.

Perhaps, just perhaps, make the bowl of /g/ a fraction smaller.

1996type's picture

@Cristobal: Quijote is just a wrking name ;-P
@ Dunwich: Yes, I already decided to get rid of that one-serif-only-idea in /k v w x y/. The y as a whole is still a bit weak. It'll take more than just a larger ball terminal.
I'm not sure about the f. I think this happens in many fonts and is not necessarily a bad thing.

Watch out for calligraphic curves that start getting soft, which is happening to the loop of the g and the descender of the y. I don't really get what you mean, sorry.

@Ben: x, along with k v w y will be fixed :-)

/u/ looks fine to me, but I haven't made any high-quality prints yet.

I exagerated the overshoots a bit, and I like the liveliness it gives in text, but maybe I should tone it down a bit.

The ball terminals are crisp on the inside, not clearly visible though.

I really don't know what to do about that y. It's anoying me.

Yes, I thought the same thing about the g.

Thanks for the kind words guys!

1996type's picture

Here's an update:

Bert Vanderveen's picture

There is something not quite right about the execution of what appears to be a design principle: the asymmetric serifs. The left ones are curving, the right ones straight(ish). That principle is not upheld in for instance the /x/ and the /k/.

The other thing that bothers me is the application of the flare-like broadening of certain elements that unhinge the balance of certain glyphs. Eg in your larger sample it shows in the /ij/ combination. I assume both glyphs share most of their form, but the /i/ appears to lean back to the right in comparison to the /j/. I think that the stress introduced by that broadening needs to be compensated in the lower part of /i/ by (maybe) extending the serif a bit, or putting some stress in the area where the stem approaches the serif.

That said — I kinda like the overall design.

1996type's picture

Bert. The asymmetrical serifs are indeed a design principle. It's not persued in letters like v w x etc, because of the sharper corner there. I tried it and making it smooth just doesn't work. I might get rid of the asymmetrical serifs, though the difference between letter like v w x and n m l doesn't bother me at all.

I suppose by "flare-like broadening" you mean the bend to the right at the top of i and j. This is seen in many fonts and is actually to compensate for the serif at the top left. What do you mean with "lean back to the right"?

I'm glad you like it :-)

Offtopic: I was told there's an article in the Publish magazine, which briefly discusses something about a mistake in the typography of De Volkskrant. IIRC you mentioned that you once wrote a letter to De Volkskrant about that and they published it, so I thought you might be interested.


1996type's picture

This is a /v/ with asymmetrical serifs. It just doesn't look good to me.

1996type's picture

And, it's got a name!

daverowland's picture

I think the ball terminals could all be a little bigger, or maybe less round?! On a for instance, maybe the left hand side of it looks like a ball terminal but the right hand side is a vertical cut:

I just think it would fit the rest of the font a bit better, having some of that asymetricality (if that's a word) in the terminals as well as the serifs.

1996type's picture

Thank you Dave. I've send the first text samples to the printer so I should be able to see if the ball terminals have the right size and/if structure. As you might have seen already I did 'cut' the ball terminals on the inside. Just not to the extend you did. I'm not a big fan of the -in my eyes- somewhat english style terminal, but it does show that I should probably make my 'cut' more apparant.

Gary Lonergan's picture


1996type's picture

Updated :-) What do you think? I'm starting to realize that Lexicon might be placed a bit to prominently in the back of my mind. Is it too similar?

hrant's picture

Here's what you should copy from Lexicon: proper vertical proportions. :-/


Bendy's picture

Tail of /y/ still needs more presence, I think.

Are /v/, /w/ and /y/ intentionally narrow?

Lovely work, keep on going!

Hrant, do you mean you don't like these vertical proportions?

hrant's picture

I've told Jasper before that his extenders are too long, but he doesn't agree. They're equal to the descenders. Ruse is one of the very few text fonts that does this - it's its biggest flaw, and I believe a result of dogma.


1996type's picture

open or closed?

tourdeforce's picture

For some reason, /y/ seems little closed, tight.

The serifs that goes too much inside of letter, they maybe make overall look and feel narrowed.

Just one impression... which doesn't have to be negative.

1996type's picture

y and alikes are narrown indeed. I just came to like it, dunno why. What about the pict above?

daverowland's picture

I prefer closed

Bendy's picture

I'd say closed, as your thin strokes are quite thin already. Open bowls I think work better when there's a thicker stroke to interrupt.

1996type's picture

@ tourdeforce: I'm sorry but I just don't get you. What is a triangular feel of stems? Perhaps you have been looking at an old sample. The sample at the very top is the latest version.
@Bendy: What about this? Thickened the strokes. I'm just trying to add some character to this baby, so if you have any other good ideas to bring it alive, please do share!

Bendy's picture

That's a more difficult choice. I marginally prefer the closed bowls: the overall delicate build of the forms seems to mean they fall apart slightly with the interruptions. I'm not against interrupted strokes — indeed I have them in a typeface I'm working on now — but as far as character goes, I think there's plenty of charm here without having to introduce new quirks, if that's the only reason you're thinking about them. It's rather a small difference at the end of the day, so it should just depend on which version you fancy.

1996type's picture

Went with closed caps. Made /e/ and /a/ a bit more lively. Would Regarde be a better name? I think it looks more elegant... or regards, or regard.

hrant's picture

Too similar to "Renard".


Bert Vanderveen's picture

There are some problems with balance: the axises are off. Consider /g/ — you have critiqued others with the remark that it leans back etc., well so does yours in relation to /e/. And /a/ has a similar disbalance, probably because the bowl has a belly that’s pulling the ear down.

The way you cut the lower part of /d/'s stem is interesting, but this is an isolated ‘message’ because you treat the same area of /a/ in different, more traditional way.

I’d like to suggest that you should define some basic characteristics and try to stick to them when constructing the font. These basic characteristics may seem to confine your creativity, but actually they will help you design a harmonious set of glyphs (where i use that word in its meaning of being of one family). And in case you re-define one of your principles, it is far easier to implement.

I would like to paraphrase a great Dutch designer by stating that a designer first of all analyses a problem and then defines its solution.

eliason's picture

Re: breaks, keep in mind there's lots of precedent for an open /P/ and closed /R/B/, in case that suits your fancy.

Catharsis's picture

I like the open caps, but then I know little about the rigors of book-face design...

1996type's picture

A text face is not necessarily a book face. In this case, it isn't.

1996type's picture

@Bert: I believe e and g are fixed now. /a/ was a little wide on the top, but not mutch. This is also fixed.
/a/ is treated differently from /d/ because it has a tail. the 'cut' stem of /d/ is not isolated at all. It shows in all stems with bowls attached to them.

"I’d like to suggest that you should define some basic characteristics and try to stick to them when constructing the font." I have, and feel like I put everything together quite harmonious. Which parts are different from the 'basic characteristics' in your view? The complete (updated) characterset is on the top of this thread.

cheers! jasper

1996type's picture

Ok. After some harsh but much appreciated comments from Kentlew and Dunwich Type at, I decided that this design has become to similar to Lexicon. Underneath are two options to move away from Lexicon. The top is a an adaptation of the latest version of Richard, being widened, softened and altered of shape, moving in a more classic (garamond, etc.) direction. The bottom is an older version of Richard, which has a lot more originality and has a more slab-like feel to it. I'm not sure as to what direction I'll take (perhaps both), but I just wanted to share this with you. Cheers! jasper

hrant's picture

To me it doesn't make sense to try to avoid too close an association by futzing with details. I know it's hard to overcome the influence of something you admire. Try this: take a break, to clear you mind; think about what you have to say; make it.

Type design is hard. :-)


JamesT's picture

If you end up choosing one of these two directions, I hope you choose the first as the second reminds me of my typeface (but maybe that's just me).

hrant's picture

BTW, there's one entirely safe* way to end up with something potentially "too similar" to Lexicon: go to the source - find what inspired Lexicon and draw direct inspiration from that.

* I'm talking ethically, not legally...


1996type's picture

@James: I'm sorry but that's just you.
@hrant: I think I found a better way.

So... here's the solution. This whole Richard thing started out as Sensato Serif, but moved away from Sensato quite quickly. Hranr's comment about going back to the source, made me remember that (yes, I forgot). So, Richard will, from now on, be Sensato Serif. They don't match currently, but it shouldn't be too much work to make them match a little more (I don't want them to match perfectly). What do guys think? Only problem is, typophile won't let me upload picts currently, so the pic is here:

JamesT's picture

Haha, that's good. I think I've been staring at it for too long.

I think your new solution makes the most sense and will be the most rewarding.

hrant's picture

Glad to be of service.

BTW, image insertion test:

I don't know why I thought gaudy colors would make for a tougher test...


daverowland's picture

I think the top bowl of the g could do with moving a few points to the right.

LexLuengas's picture

- Bottom of /u/ needs retouching. The problem dwells in the placement of the nodes, not in the relationship of opposing curves, which is fine :-)
- The terminal in /a/ is softer than the terminal in /c/, and in /f/ it's brushily pointed. Each of the terminals has also a different weight.
- /x/, /y/, /g/, /o/ and the slope of the upper serifs are too similar to Lexicon's. No problem with that, I'm just pointing it out. It's your decision.

1996type's picture

Just a little update. I went in a bookface direction. what do you think?

hrant's picture

Although it remains not very original*, to me it no longer seems to be too close to much else, and it's nice to have such a serif-sans pair. The one tweak I'd made first is to give both the serif and sans /g a taller bottom (by reducing the waist).

* Really, what proportion of usable fonts are? Some well-known designers never produce anything really original their entire careers.


LexLuengas's picture

Good improvements overall.

The serif-'a' needs a hand on the upper terminal. The terminals of 'c', 'r' and 'f' are well accomplished, but in 'a' the terminal doesn't return inwards (sorry for the pleonasm), but it stays in the same angle and gradually tends upwards. The consequence is a hanging terminal. I also see you've aligned it with the bowl from the left side†. Often, the terminal doesn't hang as far to the left as the bowl††. As for the terminal of 'y', it looks unsteady†††.

The serif lengths are not consistent. Particularly, the upper serif of x-height letters could be longer (see /qu/ pair).

Nice 'd'/'q'.

† And why did you change your mind? They weren't aligned before!
†† The uttermost example could be Diotima. If you take a look at the opposite extreme, I don't know any 'a' that hangs more than Caslon's.
††† Can you post a PDF or a bigger image of the character set next time? I wanted to look closer at the upper right of 'z' :-)



For me, the term 'usable' embraces almost all existant fonts, but I think you're referring specifically to text-font usability.

Some well-known designers never produce anything really original their entire careers.

I'm curious about which designers do you mean by that, but naturally, it's something you wouldn't be posting in this forum :-)

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