Recent Transgressions

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

so... no feedback?

HVB's picture

If you'd say what it is and what you're expecting, then maybe. Are you looking for comments on the content of the text?

.00's picture


Bendy's picture

Ha, I was going to link to the same Tumblr. You have to say what your intentions are before people can assess its validity.

dberlow's picture

Isn't that text the ad copy for Everclear? If not, that was the first use I thought of.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Lol, the text is from Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.

This is part of the conversation with the client that this sprung from:

Client - "Something like ancient Cyrillic, but not based on illegible symbols. The Runes of the Goths meets the Alphabet of the Kabbala. In fact did you know that the David Star can be deconstructed to form every letter in Ancient Hebrew? I've been going down this road for a while with my typeface and saw Prometheus this last weekend and it seems others are doing the same."

Me - "I just, I dont see those kind of letters form could ever be made to look modern. They are so much a medieval connotation to them. I can't stop seeing pictures of whole rooms lit by candle light, and darkness, and dracula."

Client - "Yes you are correct, absolutely right... I don't want that look at all but needs its foundation in the principles I speak of. Approach as if Anuthin Wongsunkakon were designing the logo that appeared on the Ark of the Covenant."

Me - "Hmmm, I'll do some sketching."

I ended up basing a lot of the glyphs on ancient Sumerian, though no attempt was made to keep the same meaning.

Here's my source material:

You can see I've traced over it in red.

A lot of these glyphs ended up not being used.

Here the font is in very early development:

This font is far from done, but I've sent it off to the client to ask if they find the letterforms acceptable, and would like to get some opinions of it here as well.

My main concern is that it is still far to radical, and perhaps, well, embarrassing to the client, even though this was what I thought they were asking for. I suppose what I'm really asking here is how to give this font more legitimacy.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

so, no feedback? Tell me you hate it and its awful at least.

eliason's picture

I hate it and it's awful.
And it should be in the critique section.

HVB's picture

And yes, we all recognize the text. But in this case, out of chaos was created more chaos.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

... And it should be in the critique section.

If I move it there, will you give it a serious critique?

eliason's picture

I probably won't but somebody else might.

charles ellertson's picture

OK, I seriously hate it.

HVB's picture

OK - Serious critique - from an amateur.

Since you didn't mention what your client wants to use it for, I'll guess that it's intended as a display font for headings or titles or posters. But even then, it should satisfy some basic text criteria for readability.

It doesn't satisfy your client's stated objective: The individual glyphs convey neither a modern look nor an 'ancient cyrillicl (whatever THAT is)' feel. It is not a font, but a collection of arbitrary symbols with no unifying concept or shape. There is no typographical or visual consistency. Some letters are triangular, some have random curves, and some are perfectly round. The variations, along with unexpected descenders (like the m and n) cause a disturbing and distracting optical unevenness to lines of type. The strange tails on the f, y, and g look like an attempt to make it look like handwriting. The unbalanced 'a' makes my eye want to complete it. The 'u' looks like someone trying to 'walk like egyptian'. The serif on the small eye, along with the hollow tittle, makes it look like an afterthought.

I also find the overall color disturbing - the balance of black and white, the size of the glyphs, the closeness of the lines, the letterspacing, all contribute.

I didn't start out intending to be cruel, but I'm afraid I have been. I just stated what I see. Hopefully, others will see the typeface's more redeeming qualities.

- Herb

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Not at all. Thank you for your critique.

riccard0's picture

How is that the thread ended in "Type ID Board › Solved IDs › Sans Serif"?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

"I hate this font. It is so stupid and overgrown. It is too proto-English. Though the widths are nice. **** you for making it, Ryan. Asshole..."

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Couple of thoughts (and forgive please my 'Latin American english') :

It is an experimental font and I won't comment on the letters structures. This sort of radical design try to break with conventions and if this is one of the aims, we should not criticize things like poor legibility, etc.

What I find problematic are the drawings. I would classify this font as what once (I think) G. Noordzijd described as 'spaghetti letters' pointing to the almost zero apparent contrast. But as such the font fails in being consistent with its own morphologic rules. Also the strokes lack fluency and beauty.

You can break typographic rules, but if you just ignore them, the results are always doomed. One important rule is that typography is a idealized, conceptualized, abstracted form of writing.
I order to build an interesting design you must understand the behaviour of the tools that defined our letter forms (or at least to have enough knowledge of type history to be able to create new, interesting alphabets).

If I were you, I would first experiment with a rounded and thick tip: a speedball nib, for example. Then I would look close to the curves and endings trying to assimilate the generative rules behind the ductus and features.

Analyzing good typefaces with a similar kind of contrast is also a necessary step to understand optical corrections. They are unavoidable in fonts which attempt to follow geometric principles.

Good luck.


hrant's picture

This is bad in a way that almost all fonts are, just way too explicitly to be even remotely acceptable: it is based on strokes.

The real journey starts when you welcome notan into your home.


Ryan Maelhorn's picture


HVB's picture

You could look it up.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Nōtan (濃淡?) is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery.

The practical result of this is like having a high variance in stroke width?

hrant's picture

No. In the end it translates to the abandonment of the "painting" of the black (no matter the tool used and/or "paraphrased") which causes the white to be a byproduct. Design the border between black and white, not the black body. It's hard.


dberlow's picture

"In the end it translates to the abandonment of the "painting" of the black (no matter the tool used and/or "paraphrased") which causes the white to be a byproduct. Design the border between black and white, not the black body. It's hard."

now that it's 2012, to have the tools that obliterate this issue,
it still exists?
Ain't the "white" in type a 'byproduct' to the reader?

Bendy's picture

>Ain't the "white" in type a 'byproduct' to the reader?

Surprisingly to me, I think perhaps yes. Eye tracking studies seem to show that the important parts of letters for recognition are the black bits. For example that readers differentiate a 'c' from an 'o' by focussing on the black areas (the right side of the 'o' and the terminals of the 'c') rather than paying any attention to the white gap between the terminals of a 'c'. At least that's what Karin von Ompteda's research seemed to suggest at Typo London last October, as the hotspots were only on the strokes, not the whites. When I asked her about that, she wasn't in the least surprised that readers' eyes don't see the white spaces, though I was.

hrant's picture

David, illusions can be strong. So strong that some people spend good money studying at a place where they all pretend it's still the beating heart of letters. But they worship at a cemetery.

And there's a difference between looking and reading (with no empirical study that I've noted coming remotely close to gauging the latter). Just like readers prefer gawking at display fonts, and they don't realize (they don't need to) that they're hard to read (for long enough). Again, chocolate cake versus broccoli, and we're the parents.


Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Hrant, do you think your cryptic and obscure references are of any help to someone learning type design? Were these concepts of any help to you? In the last 10 years your designs have not improved that much.

hrant's picture

I don't think I was that cryptic; you for one clearly understood me. And I'm always willing to elaborate.

You know what's not helpful for someone learning type design? Brainwashing them into a method that quickly produces highly polished, ooh-aah, predictable, dead-end results. That's not what education is about, and I hope Ryan does not fall into such a trap, because that might cripple him for life.

Were these concepts of any help to you? In the last 10 years your designs have not improved that much.

Even though I think Vem (Ernestine's Armenian) is something to be at least mildly proud of, it's certainly true that I'm too ponderous. On the other hand it takes time to fully wrap one's head around something that virtually nobody has really done yet, and I don't want to simply imitate Bloemsma's genius; I actually had an epiphany of sorts in April, but it will take time to implement. Also, on the way home from Yerevan-Istanbul-Reading I finally figured out how an ideal "Italic" for Armenian could be built (not painted, mind you) and it might also serve to breathe new life into Latin Italics, which to me have historically been, and remain, a joke. That won't take nearly as long to implement - I've been drawing pretty intently for the past 3 weeks.

Most of all though everybody's different, and to me continuously refining an established model (nevermind that it's a lousy one) would be a waste of my life.


dudefellow's picture

I made this [see image DKserpharJPG] today with the criteria (with keywords Goth Runes, Kabbalah, Hebrew, Ark of the Covenant, Cyrillic in mind) described above by Ryan Maelhorn 22 Jun 2012 — 2:20pm, but it probably does not belong in the sans serif section. I was also guessing by the references to Prometheus and Anuthin Wongsunkakon that a futuristic or technological outer-space suggestion was desired. I made other designs on paper that have greater emphasis on the runic aspect, because it is not clear which predominant influence is sought. (I am not sure picture upload in Typophile is working at the moment, as it is not showing in the preview.)

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