Crooked man on a crooked path

For the past few months, I have been working many hours a day on the italic version of a sans I began 10 years ago. To compare, I revisited the upright version just now to find my eyes had gotten so accustomed to the italic slant, that the upright now looked back-slanted in a bizarre way.  This has happened to me several times before but it had always corrected itself quite quickly. I have always been the type of designer to trust my eyes more than grid lines or arithmetic so this presents a problem.  How do I know when I am seeing "normal" again?  Does this distorted slant-o-vision worsen with age? I would be curious to hear from both young and old of their experience with this phenomenon.

Comments

  • I've definitely seen this, but don't know whether age makes a difference in how long the effect lasts. But can't you just put off any design decisions on the roman until your H again looks upright?
  • I got used to this after a few years and can switch between the two without issue.
  • But James, you proved my point--check again in 40 years ;-)
  • until your H again looks upright?

    Craig, The diagonals are the problem, "W" looks way weird!
  • This happens for me with italics but also with different type styles. The effect might be greater with italics though with getting accustomed to constantly viewing slanted forms.

    But even working a long while on say a high contrast sans, then switching to a traditional grotesk, and everything that previously looked correct all of a sudden looks 'off'. It takes a little while to adjust, and I don't really know how long that is, you just have to ignore it and continue working until everything syncs back up and you're no longer distracted.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,150
    This is the same effect which makes me see the left side of A thinner, when both sides are the same thickness, and makes vertical stems appear thinner when they are the same thickness as horizontals—permanently.

    But isn’t that the way it should be?
  • Frank sums it up perfectly ;-)


  • The first time it took a few hours to wear off as I recall.
  • It is really a good thing that drawing italics takes so damn long. It keeps you away from the upright roman long enough to reflect "What the hell was I thinking?"
  • I don't make a lot of italic fonts, but when I do, I slant my head to 10° right. 
  • Wei HuangWei Huang Posts: 70
    @Chris Lozos did you recover?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 966
    @Wei Huang I did for a while, but now I am back working on the final revision [i hope] of the italics.  There are 12 weights so this is not a quick thing ;-)
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 699
    edited August 31
    As an aside, tipoGráfica magazine would set large text blocks in italic, and I remember once seeing subsequent upright text as backslanted! I posit that the brain "normalizes" things (vertical being more "normal" than leaning) and then could perceive something normal as not.
  • It can become permanent.

    When I designed 'Kelvinch' I made the Armenian upright in the Roman and Bold versions.  It wasn't until much later that I had some feedback from an Armenian user of the font.

    He said that Armenian characters are always drawn with a slight italic slant, about 3° or 4° and that Armenian characters drawn upright are seen by Armenians as being bent backwards and definately not drawn by an Armenian.  ALthough he did say that the examples given in the Unicode Standard in the Armenian code block were ridiculous and exaggerated.

    So be warned it can become permanent ! :o :D

  • He said that Armenian characters are always drawn with a slight italic slant, about 3° or 4° and that Armenian characters drawn upright are seen by Armenians as being bent backwards and definately not drawn by an Armenian.  ALthough he did say that the examples given in the Unicode Standard in the Armenian code block were ridiculous and exaggerated.
    Great that you've worked on Armenian! Any PDF that I could look at?

    That person* was being a bit too purist... Although I'm personally a fan of slightly slanted Armenian (both Nour and Vem are at ~3.58°) the problem with backslant only really kicks in when you combine an upright stance with the semi-serifs that are traditional in Armenian. Upright sans fonts are fully accepted by Armenians now. But yeah, the Unicode stuff is a bit too classical.

    * May I ask who it was?
  • He said that Armenian characters are always drawn with a slight italic slant, about 3° or 4° and that Armenian characters drawn upright are seen by Armenians as being bent backwards and definately not drawn by an Armenian.  ALthough he did say that the examples given in the Unicode Standard in the Armenian code block were ridiculous and exaggerated.
    Great that you've worked on Armenian! Any PDF that I could look at?

    That person* was being a bit too purist... Although I'm personally a fan of slightly slanted Armenian (both Nour and Vem are at ~3.58°) the problem with backslant only really kicks in when you combine an upright stance with the semi-serifs that are traditional in Armenian. Upright sans fonts are fully accepted by Armenians now. But yeah, the Unicode stuff is a bit too classical.

    * May I ask who it was?
    I don't know if I can give you his name because I have not asked his permission to share his identity, it is nobody on this forum, it is a user of the Kelvinch font who used the e-mail address in the documentation to contact me with a critique of my work.

    Mainly he was bemoaning his opinion that Armenian typography and culture was being eroded by the abundance of Armenian fonts designed by non Armenians who have no idea of the culture or tradition.

    I am also guilty, I did a little research but failed to identify the subtle italic in some of the fonts in the pictures, so I designed it upright.  I am not Armenian and know nothing of their culture or traditions and this is precisely what my contact was complaining about.

    Upright sans fonts are now accepted in Armenia because of the prevalence of Windows and the fonts supplied with it and because western designed fonts are overwhelming the traditional fonts and arabic or latin is taking over from traditional alphabets.  That and the fact that most people who use computers are lazy and just go with what demands the least effort on their part.

    The Kelvinch font has an Armenian block which is upright in the Roman and Bold versions (and that is what my contact from Armenia was complaining about).  The new font which I am working on has the Armenian block in the Roman and Bold versions slanted by 4° but that block is missing from the Italic and Bold Italic versions (deliberately).

    The new font is not ready yet, there is still a lot of work to do and I work slowly.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 699
    edited September 2
    Mainly he was bemoaning his opinion that Armenian typography and culture was being eroded by the abundance of Armenian fonts designed by non Armenians who have no idea of the culture or tradition.
    That's a classic... "ethnic" reaction. :-)  I've been susceptible to such cultural hermeticism myself, but have luckily outgrown it, realizing (partly thanks to John Hudson) that Latinization (making a non-Latin script look more like Latin) is in fact done more often by natives... This is probably due to a cultural inferiority complex, from a desire to be as (materially) prosperous as the West.

    Upright sans fonts are now accepted in Armenia because of the prevalence of Windows and the fonts supplied with it and because western designed fonts are overwhelming the traditional fonts and arabic or latin is taking over from traditional alphabets.  That and the fact that most people who use computers are lazy and just go with what demands the least effort on their part.
    It's no fault of Windows, and although the Armenian font on OSX is slanted, that doesn't save it from being worse than what's generally available. Upright fonts are now accepted because of Modernism (which I do think is a Western hang-up). But yes, people are lazy; type designers have to stay strong in face of that.

    The Kelvinch font has an Armenian block which is upright in the Roman and Bold versions (and that is what my contact from Armenia was complaining about).  The new font which I am working on has the Armenian block in the Roman and Bold versions slanted by 4° but that block is missing from the Italic and Bold Italic versions (deliberately).
    Depending on how you're handling serifs, a slant might be a good idea or not.

    BTW in making Kelvinch did you look at Maral?

  • BTW in making Kelvinch did you look at Maral?
    Err ... what's Maral ?

    I accept what you say about ethnic reactions but if I can please the traditionalists by giving the Armenian characters a bit of a slant then why not.

    If people like my font they will download it, if they don't then they will use something else.  I am in the fortunate position that I don't have to make a living out of designing fonts, it's just a hobby so I can please myself and include the features I want and the designs I want however idiosyncratic they seem to others.

    :)
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