Song

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Song ver 1.1

typerror's picture

Why did you not post this on the other thread where you had already shown the other sample?

I am confused!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Because I felt it was merely competent. :D

This is slightly optically adjusted. Ver 1.1.

riccard0's picture

I find the ascenders too short.
You can make them taller than capitals.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I should say the brief for this would be 'to have an extremely tall x height.' To basically have the lowercase appear as big as possible, without ever becoming a true unical. In order to do this, I limited ascender height to cap height. Also, the descenders have been shortened a little.

The lowercase f and t were the most difficult in this respect.

But none of that matters if you don't like it the first millisecond you see it, so..

riccard0's picture

none of that matter if you don't like it the first millisecond you see it

So, why put it up for critique? ;-)
Anyway, making |h| more distinguishable from |n| will not lower the x-height. Also, making ascender ascend over capitals will make lowercase look even bigger overall.
|h| could be a bit wider too.

HVB's picture

Ryan - Unical is an aviation company. Unocal is a California-based petroleum company with Union 76 gas stations. Uncial - pronounced Un'-see-al or occasionally un'-shel, is a typographic style :) Someone else mentioned that in the other thread,

Birdseeding's picture

On top of that, he surely means unicase? :)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Something to start you off:

Capitals are often slightly heavier than minuscles, both to help its function as “sentence markers” but also because they are bigger and have more white inside them. The latter makes the black seem thinner than it really is.

Ascenders often benefit from being slightly taller than capitals. IMO, yours would. Now they look smaller.

/h/ join (and similar shapes) look too heavy. I would thin the joins.
/e/ crossbar: too heavy. Next to h it looks like it has too little overshot on the baseline.
/q/ the top curve looks out of place
/q, u, i/ there is something wrong with the heights here. q appears smaller than u. I take it the /i/ is lowered to make room for the tittle, but IMHO this doesn’t work as intended. Its tittle is also too small.
/c/ the straight-to-curve connection looks uncomfortable, and it also appears to get heavier towards the terminals. Internal white vs. black not in harmony,
/k/ the weight of the diagonals are off. The top one needs to be lighter, the bottom heavier (at least towards the baseline). One of the hardest letters to get right.
/b/ internal white not in harmony with other shapes. Needs thinning of joints.
/r/ too wide. I would start with thinning the joints of /n/, and flipping its “notch” (where the curve meets stem) 45 degrees to serve as the basis for a steeper shape.
/o/ looks heavy in the “corners” (NW, NE, SE, SW). Intended? If so, this should reflect in the other shapes as well.
/f/ the lowering off the crossbar may work, but your overhang is sloppy like spaghetti, making the whole thing look weak
/w/ is too heavy, especially in the joins
/x/ very unbalanced. The top looks amputated. Needs cross compensation with the diagonals
/s/ give the internal white the same attention as the black. As of now, they are not in harmony.

In general, I think many of the shapes look like they come from different designs. You need to work on harmonizing the curves. They shouldn’t be exactly the same, but look like they are made with the same tool, at the same angle and the same writing speed.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Unical is an aviation company. Unocal is a California-based petroleum company with Union 76 gas stations. Uncial - pronounced Un'-see-al or occasionallyh un'-shel, is a typographic style :) Someone else mentioned that in the other thread

Well that's embarassing! Thanks for the correction, and thanks to whoever else tried to correct me before.

Frode Frank, thanks for the great review, I will have to start digging into this.

The r was originally thinner, or at least the arm didn't stretch out as far. After seeing it in some words however I felt widening it made it echo the b d g p and q better. Perhaps the lowercase r is not supposed to echo these letters however? I don't actually know if they are or not, it just felt like it should here.

I extended the width of the f as well. It's strange but true that if it extended up to normal ascender height it would look too wide as is, but in it's current shortened state, it just seemed to need to be wider. I would guess this has something to do with the 'mass' or black around that area of space in neighboring letters. That is, if it extended up to normal ascender height, there's not much other ink in other letters up that high, especially as the cross stroke makes it a lot darker than say, the h. So because there is not much to compete with it, it can be thinner while looking wider. In its present shortended state however, the top of the f is competing with a lot of other information, so I had to make it wider. Thats my theory anyway, I could be wrong.

The b d p & q... Not sure exactly why you think the top curve looks off. I have seen other p's and q's with a smooth top and no element there. Am I doing it wrong? Perhaps I should flip the b d p and q vertically and use the shape with the element protruding out as the p and the q, and use the smoothed over shapes for the b and d? Also, I made the width of the d a little bit wider than the others. I did this because basically I thought I was supposed to. Isn't the lowercase d supposed to be the widest of these forms? Maybe they're not.

I totally see what you mean about the baseline part of the f. Yes it is a lot farther off than I had noticed.

I think I will leave the i and j as they are. I feel they look a bit too short, yes, but if I want cap height to match ascender height (which I realize is not standard of course, but it's what I want to do with this face) I'm not sure if I could balance it out any better, perhaps you know a way? I tried the lowercase j with no tittle, just extended it up to cap/ascender height. That didn't really look quite right either, and it still left the problem of the i.

Oh, and Ricardo, you are right, the h is definitely to thin.

Thanks to both of you again for the help!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

New update Ver. 1.2

Not sure if this is really an improvement or not.

?

Everything's starting to look a bit 'stroke thinner,' losing the monoline feel I wanted it to have. It looks more professional, it also looks blander. And it also seems to be looking a bit to much like Hobo for my tastes.

opinions?

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

I would be concerned that a bold would be Almost impossible with this x ht. As you correctly observed, the f is hard to do in this regular weight and your i is already suffering.

typerror's picture

@HVB

Uncial is not a typographic style. It IS a calligraphic style that precedes type by hundreds of years!

Get it right if you are going to correct someone else.

hrant's picture

Michael, what is a typographic style?

hhp

HVB's picture

@Michael - Yes, I misspoke.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

First of all: post a PDF, with black text on white background. It’s impossible to judge tiny bitmaps.

Perhaps the lowercase r is not supposed to echo these letters however?
“Echoing” a shape does not mean “looking exactly like” it. You need some similarity, but you also need to reduce the whitespace on the right side of /r/. That is why I suggested a “flip”.

The b d p & q... Not sure exactly why you think the top curve looks off. I have seen other p's and q's with a smooth top and no element there. Am I doing it wrong?
It is not wrong to do so, I just think you are doing it badly. Another thing: If you want a spurless /p/, how come the /n/ has a spur? You should treat the same/similar shapes consequently.

I don’t have enough time to comment as much and as quickly as I’d like to, even though I’ve learned a lot from similar threads in the past. Sorry. It’s certainly true that critique can kill your original idea, but at this stage I think your concept is the biggest problem: it is not well considered. Look at similar designs! How do they make similar shapes work together? How do they treat the white? What tricks are they using to fix optical problems like for example black spots?

The other big issue is that you’re only (mostly) looking at the black parts. You need look at the white as well! Balance the white inside and between letters, and also the relationship between white parts in letters like /a/, /e/, /s/, /g/ ++. Take a look at the /s/ for example: the top and bottom white are totally different shapes.

I’ll be back with better comments when I have more time.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Working some more on it...

Made a decision about the elements on the b d g n m p & q. Went with a simple classical style with about a 45 degree indentation. Lowercase still not quite there. Uppercase looking ok. Numbers haven't really even touched yet. Punctuation has been worked on the least. I'm thinking of going with oversized punctuation, but not as big as the current comma, lol, and hopefully a bit better shapen as well.

I have posted a png and a pdf.

http://maelhorn.com/xtra/Song%201.3%20Spec.pdf

hrant's picture

OK, since this thing is serious about voice training...

But first, Intent:
- Is this mostly a learning experience, or a desire to produce a font others would want?
- Do you want this to look polished or fauve?

BTW:
Uncial is not a calligraphic style, nor a typographic style*. It's an idea, involving forms that are hybrids between UC and lc. Just because they came about before type was invented means virtually nothing. What I find actually much more interesting about uncial is that it could serve as a starting point for replacing the caps we currently use, which are arguably too far removed from the lc in spirit.

* I'm not even sure that means anything. If I were forced to name a font in that category I could only think of Legato.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

"- Do you want this to look polished or fauve?"

I want it to look better.

hrant's picture

Here's the thing - many of your curves are very wobbly, some of your lines are not straight*, and some of your "strokes" are uneven. Compare to Verdana:

* Which is particularly puzzling.

Now, if you like that look (which I call "fauve") that could work, for a certain kind of font user. But most people (and seemingly you) prefer the polished look. So you have a lot of work to do, and probably a "mental shift" to perform before you can reach that point.

That said, I am seeing some potential in your broader ideas for this, and find myself disagreeing with some people here whom I usually agree with. Mostly this is because I'd like to see this font be a bit idiosyncratic, which to me is the only way it can easily get some attention.* For example I'd leverage your gargantuan x-height - make the descenders shorter! And I think making the caps x-height might make this thing become special. And maybe make everything super tight.

* Your other option is to go deep with fanciness like multiple weights, OT features, etc. but that seems like a stretch at this point.

An alternative angle BTW is to try to make this fit a very narrow niche: truly tiny type. I'm talking on the order of 3 point. It could become useful/famous that way, since that's like the bottom of the Mariana Trench: very few things live there. Just know that things get very weird down there - like throw "x-height" out the porthole.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I think this advice, from your other thread is good:
What I would suggest is to delete most of the glyphs you have and refine a core set of 'key shape' glyphs to a very high standard of 'fit and finish.' The lowercase "adhesion" is used at the University of Reading, and I suggest you do your own analysis of 'key shapes' that are particular to your design.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

"I'd leverage your gargantuan x-height - make the descenders shorter! And I think making the caps x-height might make this thing become special. And maybe make everything super tight."

The thing is that if the caps are reduced to x height, then effectively x height doesn't exist anymore. Then the face would be a unicase, or uncial, depending on your point of view, with very short ascenders and descenders. It wouldn't have an x height anymore, and so the x-height would not be gargantuan any more because it wouldn't exist. Also, I would have to get rid of my uppercase J, which I'm surprised hasn't elicited a single comment yet.

Thank you very much for taking the time to guide me on this. I really appreciate it!

hrant's picture

Well, the x-height would survive because you'd still have stuff going above and below it.

It would not be unicase since it would have two cases. However C/O/S/V/W/X/Z would admittedly become confusable. Make the caps noticeably wider than the lc and just donworribowdit. :-)

And it would not be uncial because each UC and lc would still follow the conventional structures.

Hey, here's a chance to finally use your "unical": it could mean a font where the caps are x-height. :->

Let me be clear, I'm talking about a "novelty" font here. But in terms of sales÷effort you can't beat that.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Think I'm gonna put this in a drawer for a while and try to forget what it looks like. This I find is the only to see your work objectively. Hopefully as close as possible to seeing it as you would as though it was the first time seeing it and not knowing you had anything to do with it. What I mean is as if you were coming across a new font you had never seen before. With that kind of fresh aunthentistic eye.

In the meantime any criticism is gladly accepted.

http://maelhorn.com/xtra/Song%202.0%20Spec.pdf

hrant's picture

Not a bad plan. Try one month.

hhp

typerror's picture

"Uncial is not a calligraphic style, nor a typographic style*. It's an idea, involving forms that are hybrids between UC and lc. Just because they came about before type was invented means virtually nothing. What I find actually much more interesting about uncial is that it could serve as a starting point for replacing the caps we currently use, which are arguably too far removed from the lc in spirit.

* I'm not even sure that means anything. If I were forced to name a font in that category I could only think of Legato."

Uncial, and subsequently half Uncial (two distinct, and time separated, "innovations"), are indeed calligraphic styles. Not an idea... a pen form!!!!!! Only later did type emulate Uncial forms.

Legato is not even close to an Uncial form. It would probably fit more into the round hand forms that came much later. What little calligraphic lessons you took armed you with nothing more than ignorance and arrogance.

hrant's picture

Legato is not even close to an Uncial form.

?!
If I ever say that, please shoot me. You really have no idea what I've been saying; you're way too preoccupied with your permanent, self-induced, illiterate rage.

hhp

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

No it isn't

typerror's picture

"way too preoccupied with your permanent, self-induced, illiterate rage."

I spelled everything correctly, phrased everything judicially and did not call you names. Hmmmmm... No rage here. Apology pre-accepted.

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