Didotesque font

Here's a new font I've just started working on:

• Running text sample
Sample

• Display

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• Text
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I’d appreciate your critique. I’m struggling with the numerals most of all.
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Comments

  • You don't mention what you're having problems with re: the numbers, but I have a problem with the 6 and 9. If they were mine, the terminals would match the 2, 3 and 5. The 8 may be a tiny bit off-balance to the left, but that may just be my perception. The top stroke of the 5 ends a bit high on the right, but that's your call. Other than those things, I think the numbers are fine.
  • I dig the design overall; it feels very Gudrun von Hess but without feeling like a copy. The serifs on C, G, and S seem descended from venetian type and those letters look a little out of place, more like Charlemagne than Didot. The scattered affectations are plainly forced; the oddball g, mismatched s terminals, that strange upper arm on k, the hooked tail of y. Pick a few of your affectations to develop into concepts and save the others for another font.
  • Like James P said. This is old school, in a good way. Elegant, but firmly drawn. Nice.

    But I feel a bit differently about what he calls affectations. I'd rather see you dial some of this stuff back than have you toss it out completely in favor of more generic forms. So: I agree the serifs on C, G, and S are too Charlemagne-y, but I'd moderate them instead of replacing them. Same with the tail of the y. (The arm of the k looks fine to me, as do the mismatched terminals on the s—Bembo gets away with this, and so do you.) The loop of the g really distracts me: too narrow, too dark, to far to the right. But I wouldn't turn it into a completely standard Didone g; I'd rather you just eased up on the eccentricity a tad. Try taking it halfway to normal.

    The only thing I'd just plain throw out are those beaked terminals on 6 & 9. They seem awkward and out of place to me. I'd follow George T's advice.

    Like Indra, I love the a. But I like the g, too, even if it's not there yet.

    The branches of h/m/n/u seem darker than those of b/d/p/q. I think b/d/p/q are more successful.

    Could you use larger type in your next text sample, with more generous line-spacing? The tiny type set in long, densely-packed lines makes it hard to judge color, proportions, & rhythm.
  • I would make a “larger” display version and a “smaller” text.
    It helps clarify how the vocabulary works.
    And you can always interpolate.

    This genre is so heavily populated, especially with such ordinary proportions, that unless you develop a feature (such as the disconnects in P and R) or provide a huge family, there is not much apparent utility for potential users.
    Take a look at Acta, and ask why someone would licence your face, and not that.
  • I'm a fan of the /a too. The terminal is what makes it for me, which is why I think it could be a good exercise to try to replicate your forms on paper with a round pointed brush.
    Not just to see how such a terminal could be made, but perhaps the study could also reveal enlightening ways to address parts that need revising and provide inspiration on how to reinterpret a Didot, considering they are traditionally drawn with a rigid pointed pen.
  • I agree with Nick S. that pushing the two cuts farther apart from each other would be useful.
    I get a Fenice vibe from this.
  • Take a look at Acta, and ask why someone would licence your face, and not that.
    I could see saying this if Lex were assaying Humanist Sans # 12,017, but I honestly can't understand why you'd say it about this face. This seems quite distinctive to me—a didone with a touch of calligraphic flair—and entirely different from Acta, which is a big-eyed newspaper family with a wobbly, Freight-esque line.

    But I also agree it would be useful to try making the text a little sturdier, and interpolating back if need be. (I think the Display's already quite display-ready, fwiw.)
  • Acta has super-fine details and weights from Light to Black. This doesn’t.
    Both have affected “ball” terminals, which is a bit of a trend now.
    This face isn’t interesting enough, and its marks of distinction, such as the disconnected /P and /R, and the asymmetric serifs on /s, and the serifs on /C, /G and /S are random and unrelated, and tentative in their variety and piecemeal application.
    This design needs to toughen up and make up its mind what it wants to be, with more focus and rigorous consistency (even if it remains a softly finished style).
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 751
    edited December 2012
    I'd rather see you dial some of this stuff back than have you toss it out completely in favor of more generic forms.
    I wasn’t suggesting generic forms so much as consistency. As Nick pointed out, the “marks of distinction…are random and unrelated.” Using fewer distinct traits, but consistently across the design, can make it useful and distinct.
  • Not to be a total downer, but personally I think the only thing worth saving in there is the lowercase a and a bit of the lowercase d (the bottom arc of the bowl is too close to the stem). I would throw out all of the rest and see if a handsome lowercase can be made by using the details in those two letters. Once you have a few well drawn lc glyphs the uppercase should be easy.
  • Wow, thanks everybody for your critique! I hadn’t expected such a plethoric feedback :)

    There is lots of work to do, but I hope to be able to keep you on track of the changes I’ll be making.

    I completely agree that this font was born with too many different terminals. It is not the first time this happens. I’m getting to understand that the line between innovation and naivety is very thin. The more one is prepared to brake the rules, the more fragile the font concept becomes. However, for me it is essential to explore different paths of expression, and I’m thankful to have your opinion of what paths aren’t reasonable. So yes: for the sake of consistency, I will homogenize the terminals.

    Second: the beaked terminals of /6/ and /9/ are definitely coming off. Next thing will be to reduce the flamboyance of /g/. I'm not looking for a sober /g/, but I admit its starting to look reptilian.

    As far as my choice of style goes, I have no problem with being one among ten thousand. That said, I still see a chance of sticking out by being more calligraphic without losing subtlety. The idea of mixing the stiffness of a didone with a brushy finishing is definitely a challenge, but I think it can be done. (I don't really see much to be compared with Acta; also, the Light looks extrapolated to me. But this is not the place to talk about that).

    See you soon!
  • Actually, I quite like the quirky /g for the display cut. Reminds me of Samuel Welo and Carl Holmes
  • I didn’t mean a close similarity to Acta.
    But from the point of view of art directors with printed publications, I believe that they are looking for display types which have very fine details for use at large size on coated stock, and a large range of weights. Your “Display” cut is simply too clunky for such usage.

    I also don’t think that your idea of a soft “brushy” didone is particularly original—many type designers (esp. South American) are exploring this at the moment, e.g. Guadalupe and Reina.

    However, if you rein in your concept, which seems to be the direction you prefer, then you will be moving in the direction of a text face; that has its own market issues too—namely that serif faces are not very popular now, and text faces require huge OT fonts with all kinds of features and language support to be considered serious contenders.

    It ain’t easy being subtle.
  • The new figures
    image
    along with another text sample. I did small changes through most of the lowercase and curved uppercase. Specially I'd like to know what you think about the new /g and /s.

    Sorry it took so long.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 225
    edited February 2013
    I think /s/ looks good, if perhaps a hair narrow. I'm afraid I still don't like the /g/. Both ear and loop seem awkward to my eyes.
    Figures look good; six is quite nice, and has better balance than nine. I think the two is the weak link: the openness of the top counter with the closedness of the lower counter strikes me as ungainly.
    The cupping at the top of /t/ could be toned down a little. Leg of /k/ may be a touch too dark. /m/ may be a bit too wide.
    The foxtails on /f/r/j/g/2/3/9/ don't look as assured as the successful ones on /a/ and /6/.
  • Also, one problematic character I forgot to display in the sample is the ampersand. Not sure which one is better (or neither). (Here is it next to words)
    image
  • &: It bugs me that the serpentine stroke doesn't look continuous in the middle as it passes over the diagonal.
    You might also try out the shape of the arm of your /k/ on the corresponding part of the ampersand to give it a little more weight.
  • What Craig says.. and the top bowl is too large
  • Here's a quick sketch of a more conservative /g. Notice the cupping at the top of /t is now less concave.
    image
    image
    Is this going in the right direction?

    A second try at /2:
    image

    Agree with both of you about the ampersand. I'm retouching both versions and perhaps choose one as an alternate, instead of just throwing one to the bin...
  • Check the counter shape in the top bowl of the g. The curve appears flat between 12 and 3 o'clock. The right terminal of the r is too small/light
  • I have been retouching all foxtail terminals. A this point I get to ask myself whether all terminals should be equal in size. For instance, it feels right to me to draw darker terminals for /r and /a, but lighter ones for extender terminals. What is your opinion on that matter?
    image
    image
  • I'm still a big fan of this typeface, and still think it's got a character of its own.

    The new figures are much stronger. /5/ may be leaning backward/leftward slightly.

    I like the /g/ in the new pdf setting; doesn't seem too eccentric to me. The new /g/ strikes me as a little plain and stodgy in comparison. Maybe try something in between? The /s/ in the new pdf is lovely.

    Varying weights for the foxtail terminals sounds correct to me. But the ones on the /r/, /6/, and /2/ need beefing up.

    The foot serif of /u/ and /d/ are crowding against the junctures of the arch/bowl, making a dark spot in each case. I think you need to pare away some of the foot serif and let more air in there.
  • I think your intuition is right, but your /r/ is still too light :-)
    You should also extend the bottom right serif of /r/ like you've done with /f/.
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