Sans Project

ericgio's picture

Hello all,

I'm working on my first attempt at a complete typeface. It may be ambitious on the first time out, but I figure it's the best way to learn.

I'm trying to develop a text face that incorporates the readability attributes of a serif but retains the spirit of a "traditional" sans. I want to stay away from the elegance of Optima, and lean more towards a true sans, while still pushing the stroke contrast and such. I guess it's a gray area I will have to explore, hopefully with your help.

Here are my initial lc pencil drawings. There are obviously still a lot of problems with the axis in some of the letters. I want a vertical axis. Also, please note that none of the strokes are meant to be flared.

roman sans

Here are my thoughts as I develop it: The e, k, l and j feel like what I'm going for. Some of the other letters feel too "pretty".

Also, after I get the basic shapes and proportions right, I'd like to add a little more character to some of the forms. The h, m, n and u feel lifeless, for example.

I'd love comments as well as perhaps some guidance in the technical aspects of developing this typeface, like translating it accurately to vector art and then into Fontographer. But one step at a time...

Thanks

eric

j's picture

Eric,
looks promising, but there are several problems. The middle bar of 'e' is going the wrong direction. For the shape of 'b' look at your 'q' which is much better. 'v' is too narrow. 'x' has no stand on the left side, the base is too narrow. 'k' is too wide at the bottom and too narrow on top. Diagonal of 'z' is too heavy. 'c' and 's' need improvement at their beginnings and ends. 'l' is too Meta-like and doesn

ericgio's picture

Thanks for the comments Jurgen. A few questions:

Why do you say the bar of the e is wrong? What about the q is more correct than the b? I chose not to include a spur on purpose for the b to contrast more with the d.

eric

degregorio2's picture

why the "a" is sad?
why is not happy, like the "d"?

j's picture

Eric,
The thicker end of the e's horizontal bar needs to be on the right side: try to write an e with a tool like a broad-nipped pen and you will see.
The b doesn

sim's picture

J

ericgio's picture

here are a few refined characters:



the b and e seem too light and the v and k seem too heavy. In fact looking at the other characters (not shown) all the round letters are on the light side, while all the diagonals are a bit heavy. I'll adjust on the next pass.

As Jurgen noted, it's feeling a bit Meta-esque, which I'd like to avoid somewhat (although I like Meta). Maybe it's the slanted entry strokes on the stems.

I think the unity is improved. Opinions?

eric

hrant's picture

I see a bunch of existing fonts in this, but nonetheless I think it can turn out individual enough to stand out and "click" for a bunch of users - go at it!

Your hand sketches were looking a bit too Optima, but this digital rendering is encouraging. In terms of even color, there's no way we can tell from a screen image - gotta see a PDF. The "b" is a bit wide. The terminal of the "j" is unconvincing. As for the "e", I would be cautious, but not so rejectionist: it could in fact turn out to be what makes the font most attractive to a large chunch of users.

hhp

ericgio's picture

hrant,

thanks for the feedback. Could you elaborate a bit on your comments about the j and e? If I'm understanding what you mean about the e, I think it has the most personality in the group. I'd like to retain that as much as possible.

also, this may be premature, but I'd love to get your feedback down the line with regards to readability. I'm trying to use this to learn and explore why certain forms are more readable. I'd like this font to be as utilitarian as possible.

eric

hrant's picture

The "j": it just looks like the descender is being "interrupted", somehow. The "e": it's certainly an unconventional form; this doesn't mean it can't work, but it does mean its merit hasn't been "proven" via extended mainstream usage. So you have to try it out in actual printed text, show it to people (the right people), take a break from it and come back later (like a month at least) to see if you still think it works, etc.

Readability: you really have to make some "internal" decisions first, like how to balance readability versus style (since neither can ever be total); and how you'd like this font to be used (large text in a magazine, small type on labels, or what). There really is no generic solution that can make a design good for everything (although you could say some uses are much more common than others, and it might make sense to target that mainstream primarily).

One big factor in readability though is variance (which it seems you've already noted). It's hard to glean your stance on that from the digital glyphs, but your hand sketches are encouraging - you're putting some nice "spin" among letters that tend to be too close. I think the "a" could have a smaller bowl, the "t" slightly more presence, the "w" a shorter middle peak, the "y" a stronger tail, and the "f" a stronger beak. I think the descenders could be slightly shorter (or the ascenders longer, depending on the font's intended usage), and the "g" is a bit too classical (although it's highly readable).

hhp

ericgio's picture

Well it took awhile but here's a first round of Uc, lc and numerals:


application/pdfAlphabet
sans.pdf (8.2 k)



A lot of problems, I know. I'd like to get some impressions and feedback so I can keep working on it. I'm looking more for design feedback at this point, rather than technical, but of course all comments are welcome.

Personally, I feel like I designed myself into a corner... And now it feels like Optima, which I didn't want it to feel like. There are several letters I really like, so maybe I need to apply the spirit of those to the ones I like less.

I set out to design a sans with higher contrast in the strokes, but after looking at the results, I'm not thrilled. I'm discovering the low contrast of most sans serifs is what gives them that sans serif "feel". The higher contrast makes the letters more elegant, and I wanted something more robust and contemporary.

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