Ornamental Initials


I have been drawing ornaments for years and decided to make a font similar to my previous project Floralis, but this time based on a personal face and not an existing font (and more mature I hope, with a better similarity between the letters). I drew the solids in FontForge and the ornaments by hand, then scanned and traced. I uploaded some solids to WhatTheFont and as far as I can gather, there is no previous exact match (could be, there is always this possibility).

I plan on expanding the Basic Latin to a full set, so I post this here to get the Basic right before moving on. Have not yet decided on the lowercase, probably will be small caps based on the solids, maybe not.



  • BTW, this is intended for commercial use, so be brutally honest. I was told such fonts depend heavily on fashion, so I may not release it right away.
  • edited July 2016
    I feel the ornaments follow the lettershapes too strictly. Looking at the Floralis font, I see a freedom in the merging of lettershape and floral ornament. Even though Floralis uses Bodoni as a base, there are plenty of places where the the ornament breaks free from the bounds adding a certain liveliness. This adds charm and personality to a typeface (or set of initials) which hopefully helps it's commercial aspect.

    I think an important decision is: Will this be a set of initials or a display typeface? Both require (and allow) totally different design solutions (in the first for instance, readability and uniformity is of lesser importance). Seeing you are planning for a full Basic Latin set, I think you are going for the second?

    On some places ornaments are added outside the 'mould' (the C and Z for instance) but on other letters the serifs are sharply cut, which results in small 'fill-in' blocks that feel out of place. Perhaps be a good idea to let more serifs flow beyond the 'edge' of the letter (as for instance, done at the top of the 'K') to break the mould. This could also be done on the vertical 'sharp-cut' areas.

    Some of the letterforms also don't go that well being ornamented, for instance the Q looks cluttered (I think it would be better to start the tail from the bottom). and the beak of the S is too small and black. Of course the base letters needs quite a bit of finishing, but I'll focus on the main concept.

    I like the idea of being able to use the different versions together, but I think the initials could use some more personality without becoming a shape filled (or traced) with patterns. Otherwise you are in danger of not standing out from other ornamental fonts.
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 144
    edited July 2016
    Aside from fixing a few letterforms, I think you should have this inverted, it works better on a darker bg and use that as promotional material so people see how effective it is. On a white bg though it looks like a pattern fill basically rather than individual elements making up the shape.
  • Beautiful ornaments.

    Firstly, define if you want serifs or not. As Arthur pointed, this initial iteration mix that. I would keep the criteria of B, D, P, I, and  J: no real serifs, just small stroke increments at endings (like in Optima).

    For a font with complete alphabet, I think it would be better to keep ornaments limited to "usual" forms. After you get the whole set and make tests, you can experiment with more free forms and see how (and if) they fit. The contrary way would make much harder to achieve consistency.

    Specific notes:
    1. U, V, and W are inverted (think/thick stems).
    2. S could have a heavier bottom curve. And both its endings could be more rounded.
    3. Q tail is very dark inside the O.
    4. T top bar is very wide.
    5. A bar would be nicer without inclination and lighter ornaments.
    6. You are not using overshoot to round letters. This is needed to produce correct optical results.
  • Thank you all, immensely helpful. :smiley:
  • edited December 2016
    125.png 122.6K
  • edited December 2016
    I think to go the non-lazy path and expand the Latin set, haven't figured out yet how to add the diacritics, perhaps a black semi-circle over and under the square...


  • If your expansion embraces just main languages of Western Europe, an idea is to scale down H-size and compose with accents and cedilla within the square. To a wider audience, you will need space above, below, at left, and at right. Not sure how do that. :-(

    There is a small leaf in I and J (at about 1/3 of the height) not present in K or L.
  • That Ą is great.
  • *tips hat*
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 152
    edited January 28
    I am currently removing the floating particles as suggested. It will be a display face, each glyph in it's own black cell. Diacritics will occupy a non-semicircular space, so we can avoid associations with gravestones. :)

  • Personally, I like the December 16 images. I like the domed tops. They remind me of windows. I can see a book with those as drop caps.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,279
    The latest version is wonderful!
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 152
    edited January 29
    Thank you, but not yet. A friend pointed out the inner proportions are off. E.g. The left stem of the A is too thin, the right too thick, same goes for foot of K, lobes of B are too even... needs more work! That's what I need to hear, because going in the wrong direction from the start will make everything askew. ;)
    Not only that, but the color is different. A is more white than it should be, when I look at it now...
  • Very nice work, pretty much even texture, nicely resembled serifs and eye pleasant flow of organic shapes.

    Here are a few points that might be useful:

    -Lower half of left inner diagonal of M maybe looks a bit "blocky" compared to the rest.
    -Left diagonal of Y looks a bit thin to me (on V looks good i.e)
    -Tail of Q looks too thick, with really blunted ending. I expected more elegant form looking other letters/endings.
    -P looks a bit whiter than O to me (like it has narrower gaps or less of them)

  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 152
    edited July 2
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,547
    These have improved dramatically over the years. Good work! A few changes:
    • The heavy diagonals of K, R, X, Y, and Z are too light. Optically they should match the vertical strokes.
    • S is top heavy; make the lower terminal the big one.
    • L, E and Z’s bottom horizontal terminals are too light and plain. It makes E and Z top-heavy.

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 714
    Upright and diagonal thin strokes need work: A and K aren’t bad but M N U need more weight in the serifs and V and W are too thick in the middle. 
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 152
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