Italic Sans: why less slant on O's and similar characters?

wolfattack's picture

Hello everyone,

So I have been working the last year or two on a Grotesk sans-serif, and have recently started on my italics.

After referencing a few other grotesks, I've noticed that the slant angle is always about 2-3 degrees less on round characters like C, O, e, etc...

So for instance, say on a roman weight of a sans the characters like I, L, H, N, etc.. have a slant of 12 degrees, it seems like 9 times out of 10, characters like C and O are only at a 9 degree slant.

My question is, what is the reason for this, and is it a discretionary thing for the designer or something that is pretty well known as needing to be done in the type design world.

Thanks!
Josh

cerulean's picture

When you slant a circle, what you get is a perfect ellipse, but the visual impression of the shape's tilt mostly comes from the focal axis of that ellipse (the line that corresponds to the 45° diagonal of the circle), making it seem more severely slanted than rectilinear glyphs at the same slant. Also, perpendicular to that axis is what we see as the ellipse's width, which makes it look too condensed. You'll also notice that the left extreme is very low and the right extreme is very high.

A reduced slant may do the job, but ideally what you want to do is edit the shape, raising the left side and lowering the right side, to make a thing that is geometrically more complex but subjectively reads as a "leaning circle" as round as the original.

wolfattack's picture

Ah okay I see, I guess I've been doing most of my corrections to the skewed thick/thin contrast on the top and botton of the characters and less with the sides but that makes sense now.

Thanks for taking the time to explain and make that example image.

wolfattack's picture

Ah okay I see, I guess I've been doing most of my corrections to the skewed thick/thin contrast on the top and botton of the characters and less with the sides but that makes sense now.

Thanks for taking the time to explain and make that example image.

PabloImpallari's picture

Have a look at this, everything is well explained there
http://66.147.242.192/~operinan/2/2.3.4a/2.3.4.34.curves.htm

cerulean's picture

No trouble, I happened to have the image handy from when I needed to demonstrate it to someone else in the course of my work (to show that I would actually be doing something beyond "pushing the magic button" to make italics).

oldnick's picture

Kevin--

You're quite correct. Discretion is not only the better part of valor: it's also a vital part of the design process...

sgh's picture

cerulean and PabloImpallari, thanks for sharing your observations! I had not thought about how slanting a circle results in an ellipse that is even steeper inclined. I'm trying to work out some of the calculations behind the resulting slant, and had some questions:

When you do the correction, do you always split the desired slant equally between a slant and a rotation? For instance, Briem gives an example where a desired slant of 12.5 degrees is achieved through combining a slant of 6.25 degrees and a rotation of 6.25 degrees.

When combining the slant and the rotation, where are the origins of those transformations? Are they in the same place? At the bottom left of the shape, or in the center? Or do none of these things matter?

Thanks!
Stephen

wolfattack's picture

I haven't had too much luck with PabloImpallari's link... I'm dealing with a pretty straight forward sans at a 10 degree slant, and I can't seem to get the results the tutorial seems to be so pleased with. I even tried doing a bit of a quick test with another font to see if it matched up with the actual italic weight but no luck.

wolfattack's picture

The closest trick i've seen to find is by rotating half the desired italic amount (so 6 if you want a 12 degree italic), then slant by the same amount (6 again), fix extrema, and the do little bits of weight tweaking. Not sure if that is proper or not, haha, but it seems to slightly do the trick.

Italics can be hard for a newbie!

hrant's picture

Italics stink, for everybody. Except maybe poets.

hhp

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