An unnamed text face

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Here’s a little something I’m working on at the moment. It is indented for use in a magazine set at 9.5 pt size, something that influences the large x-height. Designing a good text face is hard work. I have not designed a serif before, so I guess some of you’ll spot a lot of beginners mistakes.

There’s a little bit of both calligraphic and typographic thinking here, I’ve tried to tone down the former from a previous iteration after some good advice, but it is important to me that the face retains it’s seriousness (an editorial voice) in the midst of the humanist proportions and soft details.
I love that the brushyness is implied with straight edges, and occasional “flairs” (A, N, t). I also think the continious stroke, instead of detached serif and bowl (or stroke), in letters like D, B, R, E, F. The more typographic stuff can be seen in the modularity of shapes, the Dwiggins-esque alignment of serif and contour in n- and p-shapes, how top serifs and crossbars in E/F align, the head of f with it’s crossbar etc.

So, my worries are:
A: this truly sucks
B: this is too icky-trendy

I am planning a display cut, but the nature of the n-shape might make a higher contrast hard to get right. Not sure how that’ll play out, but in any case I gotta get the text cut right first. There’s also some italic sketches, but it haven’t really found it’s voice yet. The spacing is rudimentary, to say the least.

I’m here to learn, so any advice you can bring to the table is welcome!

Full scanned page from laserprint. See comments below.

test.pdf13.14 KB
man16apr0008.pdf37.67 KB
cursive.pdf18.64 KB
Frode Bo Helland's picture

Let’s not discuss this here. I’m posting because I hoped you’d spot my amateur drawing errors -- this being my first serious venture into the world of serifs.

HVB's picture

While I'm not as tuned in to the delicate points noted by others here, I do find that when glancing at the overall color of your sample page, the cross-bar on the 'e' looks very weak in comparison with the rest of the typeface. The up-slope portion of the 'a' is similarly light, but because it's quite short it looks fine.
- Herb

eliason's picture

Cursive most definitely means connected. Every definition includes wording similar to this: "Having the successive letters joined together: cursive writing; a cursive style of type."

No, I disagree. "Cursive" can refer to letters with "running" structure that do not join with each other.

eliason's picture

The cursive /f/ looks kind of floppy to me - any way to introduce a bit more tension in it?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

On second thought:

eliason's picture

Yes to that last one. It's maybe a hair too skinny at about the baseline level now, but it's much more interesting and fitting now.

HVB's picture

@Craig OK, Typographic jargon (like so many jargons) has taken a perfectly descriptive adjective [cursive] and bastardized it for its own use. This isn't the forum to get into some of the other terms and linguistic ambiguities that are associated with typographic jargon - such as the two antipodal meanings of 'gothic'.

- Herb

1996type's picture

R is brilliant. What appened to the upper counter of B?

Pay a little more attention to stroke modulation and contrast, I'd say. The top of the bowl of /p/ isn't working yet, for example (especially next to /q/). The stroke that goes into the stem is much thicker in q than it is in p. The thin strokes in /x/ are even thinner.

The top right stroke on the /x/ needs to move a little to the left for it to look like a continuous stroke in text.

/r/ perhaps a bit exagerated?

Bottom of stems in /n/ (left) and /q/ and /q/ look a bit helpless. Perhaps a slight angle would help.

The top counter of /k/ seems quite large.

Not sure about the figures...

Nice work!

hrant's picture

I like how sprightly this is!

BTW, I don't think "cursive" needs to be connected (at least not in type terminology). For one thing it nicely leaves room for a proper (non-chirographic) Italic.


Frode Bo Helland's picture

Thanks Hrant. I’m starting to think the italics need slightly different joins. The thin part gets too long, compared to the roman. There are other issues, obviously, but this is the main structural thing. In any case, I’m finishing up a magazine typeset in the face right now. (Very exciting.) I’ll post some pics if it turns out good.

1996type's picture

didn't turn out good?

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