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  • Show me your failures!

    Last night I watched Nina Stössinger's TypoBerlin 2012 talk "The Importance of Being Ernestine". The best part for me as a new designer was when she talked about her early efforts in type design and "the ugliest ampersand in the history of the world":



    It was supremely encouraging to be reminded that we all start in pretty much the same place but it is possible, with patience and determination, to get from there to excellence.

    So, I've got to ask - does anyone else feel brave enough to show us their embarrassing failures? In my day job I'm convinced we learn better by looking at things that didn't work and asking why not, rather than looking at things that did work and asking why; I'm sure the same is true here.
  • Re: Show me your failures!

    Indeed there's no better teacher than being wrong in public.

    My first fonts were on 8×8 bitmaps, which means they couldn't be very good or very bad. But my first outline font had plenty of leeway to be decidedly bad:

    Predictably, it was a revival of the most classical Armenian typeface, but since I didn't have a scanner I eyeballed it. I was so proud of that insignificant and contrived difference in finish in the descenders, while being blind to how bad my largest curves were...
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    They may look interesting isolated on white in a specimen, but one thing that just seems impractical to me about using these, even just for display work, is that if exact color values are baked into the font, that seems like too fixed of a variable to use in graphic design, where there usually already is a context and palette determined by (or reacting to) other elements. What I’d find more interesting (does this exist?) is a color font format that would have the colors assigned via variables — so the person who uses the font would just get more variables to set, and instead of coloring text, say, red, they could color it red, blue, and orange, and then the font would know which of those colors goes where, painting-by-numbers like. Sort of like now with layers, but in one package (and maybe extended a bit, with support for things like gradients or transparency). Is this a thing?
  • Re: Show me your failures!

    Here are a couple of my early attempts at type design (way before I could do it on my own computer).

    The first is from 1976, when I was in college. An assignment in Lettering II, drawn in ink on a full-sized sheet of illustration board (letters about 3" tall). This assignment was when I first became interested in doing type design. I guess this wasn't a failure exactly (I got an A), but I think it has a lot of problems as a type design.



    The second is from 1978. This was my one and only submission to ITC (understandably rejected). The letters were drawn 4" tall with marker, photographed and made into rub-down type for the sample setting shown here. I didn't consider it to be a finished design, but a raw idea that I assumed the folks a ITC would guide me in finishing. I had no idea how little I knew about type design when I undertook this, but by the end I was starting to get a clue.




  • Re: Technical Trivial Facts (.ttf)


    After the very first resistor retired, it was converted by Ms. Germaine G. Finckleweather Jr. into a swell cafeteria.
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    Black maximizes contrast (especially on the not-very-white paper used by the scribes) and was probably easiest to manufacture. Also, switching colors very much was a pain-in-the-neck for the scribes. In contrast, on today's screens: contrast is arguably too high; all colors are free; and switching is far easier.

    I suspect red was used not because it's second-best in contrast to white, but because it's a great contrast to black. Also, it's cheap to manufacture (which is why barns are red).

    BTW according to @John Hudson red was (is?) "formally" used in Ethiopia for emphasis in text.
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    I think that Bob would have loved Mark’s color fonts to make his point in color.

  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    You are aware that up to 8% of Caucasian males and 1% of Caucasian females have some degree of red-green color blindness? It is one of the most widely-known and common X-linked inherited illnesses. "X-linked" as in located on the X chromosome - males has one and female two, so female can be carrier without being affected.

    So one always have to be careful about relying on color to convey information - for example, if you use green-on-red for emphasis, it might have the opposite effect: a substantial part of the general population simply see it as redacted.

    I am also of the opinion that legibility comes first - ornamental to the extent of sacrificing legibility isn't.
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    Are you saying we need multi-coloured fonts? Or just coloured fonts. Because I can turn any font into a coloured font. A multicoloured font will not be the next italic.
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    Hmm, interesting. My initial reaction was, "I don't think in black and white, I think in positive and negative space," and believed the premise was flawed. And obviously, using color as hierarchy is not a new idea, nor do fonts inherently limit users from using color. 

    But it's not too hard to imagine more than two dimensions to glyphs (yes, to an expert this is simply a fancy way of saying layers, and they will still register two-dimensionally). Despite the declarative tone, as a purely conceptual piece, it's an exercise that yields some intriguing results. I doubt we'll be changing how we read anytime soon, but a little typographic exploration can be an amusing diversion.