Coolangatta

I think this is my rite-of-passage grotesque sans. I started it on a holiday; I discovered that in one of Australia's iconic surf locations, the design aesthetic had moved away from rough graffiti-like lettering I expected and towards a more precise, squarish regular monoline. So I tried drawing one; the expected use would be for display, ideally at large sizes.

I started with a squirclar /o, offset a bunch of open paths, and went from there. Because it's basically an offset monoline (I have made the bold a bit more contrasty), I felt a bit comfortable trying a range of weights. More in the attached PDFs. Numbers are sucking but I'm not sure why, but I think I'm more or less happy with everything else.



Any comments gratefully received - thanks!
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Comments

  • Although I like the look of them, the long descenders aren't that suitable for a display face. Perhaps offer them as alternates?
  • Chris DrabschChris Drabsch Posts: 73
    edited September 2016
    You're off to a good start, and being an Australian I like the name alot! It does have that beachy feel to it.

    The only awkwardness I'm feeling is to do with the height of the double stories in the /g/ and the /y/, the descenders currently look too long and gangly. I would try to pull them up so these letterforms are more compact - a bit like the /g/ in the slab serif at the bottom of this image:



    I would also try to bring a bit of individual character to each letterform more. I see you've started off with the squircle which is a nice shape in itself, but it does look very  dominant throughout the text. But I'm sure in time you'll find the voice within the design and start bringing in more idiosyncrasies / personality traits to each letter.



  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 966
    edited September 2016
    Could /m/w be a bit narrower? And the /u, to a lesser degree?

    Also, it looks like the counters of /a/e are less balanced in the Bold than in the Regular, especially the /e. Try moving the crossbar up a bit.

    I agree that the descenders are too deep.
  • The descenders are too deep, as other are saying. I honk you will need to bring in some stroke modulation. The mono-linearity in the /a and the /n, for instance, leaves you with letterforms looking much too awkward. The terminals on /a, /c, /g, and /t, for instance, are all different. There seems to be no system present. 
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    edited September 2016
    OK, getting the point about the descenders! I will try adding more contrast and changing the /a/e.

    I thought I had a system to the terminals, and I thought maybe I was being too rigid! Maybe it's not an appropriate idea, but there was an idea to the construction:


    So in my mind the only one that doesn't fit is /a, because it looked weird when I applied it.
  • That theoretical justification doesn't come through, because for example on your /c/, I don't interpret those terminals as aligning with vectors coming from the letter's center--I just see them as cut perpendicular to the stroke direction when it ends. Thus it seems like a mismatch for the vertical end of /t/'s bottom which isn't similarly perpendicular. 
  • Rotate the 'c' by 180 degree and you have a starting point for the descender of the 'g'.
  • Nice one Georg :)

    I'm also reminded of how typefaces like Eurostile treat the descender of /g/, it's almost a quarter the height of the bowl:


  • Thanks all for comments so far - latest efforts:


  • Straight descenders need to be reined in too! (And ascenders)
  • Thierry BlancpainThierry Blancpain Posts: 159
    edited September 2016
    I don’t see a clear concept as to where you want to go with the typeface overall yet. Definitely needs a lot more work clarifying your goals.

    Why is the o such more narrow than a, e, s? The curve quality looks pretty bad in a lot of places, too: the middle section of the /s seems to not even try to cleanly merge into the curves below and above, the bottom left curve of /t is weirdly shaped, etc.

    You overall don’t seem to have decided what kind of curves you want your typeface to have. I for example don’t see much of a connection between the bottom of the g and the /o design that the top uses. Same goes for the /a, too. And I would never start with so many characters /weights before you have even a few uppercase letter to clarify the overall structure of the typeface. Try to clarify your design intentions in one weight, with both upper- and lowercase characters, and only once you’re clear on that, expand to more characters and weights.

    Sorry if this seems harsh, but I think as of yet this is not anywhere near a design that should be released. Keep working!
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 966
    edited September 2016
    Rhythm has improved a bit, though I think there's still room for further improvement. For instance, aren't /a and /e rather wide? I also feel the different letters don't quite agree on how rounded or square the typeface wants to be.

    Up close, your curves are often very wobbly; they will need more work.

  • The 'a' is too wide overall. 

    The 'g' and 'y' descenders seem shorter, but the ascenders and 'p' descenders are still very long. 

    Tip of t is a little bit too short. 

    Tittles are too small. 

    '9' is too stiff in the spine. 
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    And here is the progress eight months later. I think I am mostly happy with the thin; the semibold needs more spacing work. There is a bold but it's not ready to show people yet.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 130
    /a/ looks imbalanced and a little chubby to me. I'd try pulling the bottom-left quarter of the bowl down and the bottom-right quarter up. Also, it's probably too dark where the bowl merges into the vertical stroke, as if an ink-trap is missing.


  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 634
    Yes, thin those tangential joins to avoid dark spots. I also think the open counters of /n/h/u/y/ look wider than the closed counters of /o/p/d/b/q/g/. 
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 966
    edited May 1
    I think I am mostly happy with the thin
    There's plenty of opportunity for improvement yet in the thin.
    • Your stroke seems to be intended to look monolinear, but it doesn't. Check out the too-heavy top of /p's bowl or the too-light right stroke of /v. Sometimes the thickness of your stroke also fluctuates as it goes a round a bend.
    • I agree with Ori's and Craig's calls for thinned joins. It looks like you've experimented with that in /p, but it doesn't work well there. It's too abrupt; try extending the thinning over a larger distance (maybe even from the bowl's top and bottom extrema).
    • Your arches (as in /n) and connected bowls (as in /p) try hard to be symmetric, but in doing that they end up looking unbalanced. Try moving the apices of the arches and bowls away from the vertical stem to give the joins more air and the opposite sides more stability to compete with the vertical stem.
    • Your /a is still much too wide. In the heavier weights, the same goes for /s.
    • Curve quality is still a big problem. The /s seems to suffer from multiple fractions, for example.
    For illustration purposes, I took the liberty of redrawing your /a in Glyphs, smoothing out the curves, thinning the join, and shifting the bottom apex:

  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    Wow. Yes, that's quite a difference (and the effect I was going for). Thanks for your comments - let's see what another few months of polishing can do.
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    @Christian Thalmann: Does this /p work better? (Thinned joins, tidied top bowl thickness, moved arches away from vertical stem, and checked curves.)



    I just want to check I am understanding the critique and how to apply it. If so I'll go through and check all the glyphs.

    I learnt how to check smooth thickness transitions around corners. It's supposed to be basically monoline but I was advised to add a tiny bit of contrast so I've gone for 20 units horizontal stem, 22 units vertical stem.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 130
    1. The bowl doesn't look balanced to me. The right half looks more squarish then the left half, especially at the bottom (is it vertically symmetrical?). You've probably moved the arches away from the vertical stem too much, or didn't change the right half to match the new shape of the left half.

    2. I think you've started thinning the bowl too soon, which contributes to the impression of imbalance. I'd have it starting to thin only after the "corners".

    3. The segment where the vertical stem and the bowl coincide looks too wide, in my opinion. The interior of the bowl should probably eat a little into the vertical stem.
  • The new /p is certainly an improvement, but I agree with all of Ori's comments. I probably wouldn't carve into the vertical stem inside the bowl (at least not in the Ultrathin), but currently the stem is actually thicker there than outside the bowl. That certainly shouldn't happen.

    My suggestion of starting the thinning at the vertical extrema appears to have been a bad idea — sorry. It works well for round characters, but I guess superellipses have their own logic. :grimace:
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    edited June 26
    Here we go again. I've taken a good long look at curve quality and thinning, and along the way it seems to have grown an uppercase. (In retrospect I am not sure this was a great idea, because now it just looks like a generic grot, but I am enjoying using a monospaced version of this as my terminal font. Totally not what it's meant for, but fun.)


    How are we looking now?
  • Hey Simon, it's nice to see you revisiting this one :) 

    I think it's definitely progressing in the right direction but I wonder if a couple of the letterforms could do with some finessing - for instance the curved tail of the /g seems at odds with the curve of the bowl above it. Perhaps take a look at at Eurostile to see how this is resolved:



    Also there seems to be too many similar shapes across the board and I wonder if some subtle widening / narrowing of certain round forms could help. Nothing too dramatic of course, but just enough so that the eye isn't distracted by the big counters in the design.

    Again going back to Eurostile, you can see that the bowl of the /g is just a tad narrower than similar letterforms. There's also a bit of tapering where the bowl meets the stem, to take some of the weight out of these joins.



    It's coming along nicely though overall. 




  • (In retrospect I am not sure this was a great idea, because now it just looks like a generic grot, but I am enjoying using a monospaced version of this as my terminal font. Totally not what it's meant for, but fun.)
    I think this is far away from looking like a generic grot. :grimace:

    Here we go again. I've taken a good long look at curve quality and thinning, and along the way it seems to have grown an uppercase.
    The stroke consistency and thinning in the Light look pretty good to me at first sight. I still think the top right quadrant of /a is too heavy, but it seems to be an exception. Moving to the heavier weights, though, the strokes become so monolinear as to look crude. You're going to need more thinning and optical compensation there.

    I would suggest working only on a single master until the skeleton is perfect and only then worry the weight spectrum, though. There is still a lot of work to do on the skeleton.

    First of all, I'm still having trouble getting a comfortable reading rhythm going due to imbalanced character widths. I'm surprised that Chris suggested some subtle widening and narrowing to avoid repeating elements — I would in fact propose some not-so-subtle adjustments to many glyphs to render them more visually harmonious with the rest. For instance, the /n and /u seem dramatically too wide to me, whereas the /y's narrower bowl conforms to the typeface's conventions much more readily. The /a remains a bit too wide as well. I would recommend choosing a reference glyph (maybe /o or /e) and harmonizing the other letters in strings like «ooooonooooonnnnnooooo». The capitals, on the other hand, strike me as surprisingly narrow compared to the exuberant stride of the lowercase.

    Curves: Still room for improvement. The apex of /n and related arches looks bunched up toward the stem to my eyes, whereas I would expect the opposite movement. This also goes for the bottom of /a in the Bold. The /B is very ungainly, and the /s is a train wreck (at least in the Light). The numerals /2/5 suffer from both bad curves and blobby stroke width.

    Shapes: I really like your Light /e, but it acquires an overbite in the Bold. The counters of /a/e need balancing in the Bold. Some of the punctuation is incredibly dainty and could use a factor of two of magnification, especially the weirdly hovering colon. The semicolon is vertically misaligned. The guillemets, on the other hand, could be relaxed a little, they're very aggressive right now. The /ð needs work (see link below).

    http://66.147.242.192/~operinan/2/2.11/2.1.4.eth.htm
  • I'm surprised that Chris suggested some subtle widening and narrowing to avoid repeating elements — I would in fact propose some not-so-subtle adjustments to many glyphs to render them more visually harmonious with the rest. For instance, the /n and /u seem dramatically too wide to me, whereas the /y's narrower bowl conforms to the typeface's conventions much more readily. The /a remains a bit too wide as well. I would recommend choosing a reference glyph (maybe /o or /e) and harmonizing the other letters in strings like «ooooonooooonnnnnooooo». The capitals, on the other hand, strike me as surprisingly narrow compared to the exuberant stride of the lowercase.

    @Christian Thalmann you definitely hit the nail on the head with that observation. Those letterforms you reference do need a lot more narrowing and widening. 


  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    Thanks Chris and Christian for the encouraging and detailed feedback! I do keep revisiting this one because my dream is to shepherd it to (eventual) release: it's a design I both really like and have a modicum of confidence in. Lots of things to do yet, I can see, so thanks for the pointers, and I will spend another few months with it and see where we go.
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    I almost don't need to ask, but: is the /s on the left less of a "train wreck"? I really liked the idea of having a line section in the crossbar, but it obviously wasn't working -  I actually wasn't really sure what was train wrecky about the one on the right until I redrew it without.


  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 966
    edited July 4
    The train wreck part was admittedly a bit hyperbolic. Yes, the straight segment and hard fractures around it were the main problem. The new /s looks much more promising to me.

    The stroke width has become a bit less consistent in the process though (generally a bit heavier, but the bottom left is thin). I also have the impression that the bottom is not sitting flat on the baseline, but is sloping slightly to the left. Perhaps compare to the bottom of /o?
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 264
    Another month, one more go:

  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 966
    edited August 1
    The PDF won't open on my machine.

    Judging from the low-res picture, I'd say the /n and /u are still too wide in the heavier weights, and the Bold especially would profit from some optical corrections. The /a and /e are very dense, for instance, and stem/bowl junctions tend to clump together.
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