Marsa Serif — type design critique

Hello everyone!
My name is Cécile (czl) Lebleu. I'm studying solo to be a type designer. I'm new here, although I've been a reader for quite a while.
I would like to get your critique and opinions on one of my first two typefaces — the other is a text sans, which is still in construction, and will include Cyrillic and Greek. But that's another story. Coming soon :)
Marsa is a display serif face, with Caps and Small Caps. Mostly a design exercise, trying out shapes and mixing styles. I was inspired by Roman inscriptionals, and sleek, tall shapes from the past century.
It supports basic Latin, with lots of accented characters, a capital Eszett, Thorn, Eth, etc. Please take a look at the attached PDF.
It will be available for free once it's ready.
Thank you in advance for any feedback. I know, "it's already been done", but I think it has a nice personality :)


  • Ofir ShavitOfir Shavit Posts: 306
    edited June 1
    Very nice work, with personality and delicacy.

    Few things I notices...
    R' is too dark
    A' seems too short
    O' (and round sides) and S' are spaced to much.

    Something bothers me with the vertical contrast. The thin strokes in U' N' X' etc' are thinner than the horizontal strokes, so you basically have 3 stroke weights (Thick vertical, thin vertical/diagonal, and horizontal) somehow distributed unevenly resulting in disharmony and causing some letters to pop up and some fade.

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,413
    The letter widths and ductus disagree with each other. You've mashed up the incunablula and modern eras with Times and an S right out of a Renaissance rationalist mathematical construction diagram. I don't see any concept, purpose, or unity.

    But don't let any of that discourage you. It's a good first effort that taught you a great deal. Don't finish it now. Think of it as a sophomore year project. Go on to other things, learn more, and come back to this In a few years if you still like it.
  • Chris DrabschChris Drabsch Posts: 73
    One of the things that helped me start seeing the subtleties in letterforms, was to take two similar looking designs and overlay their glyphs to see what differences were hidden to the eye. Even just overlaying two /O shapes can reveal so much about their forms, and help educate you about the similarities (and differences) amongst the various classifications.

    Something I noticed in your design is that there's similarities in places that could benefit from differences. Eg. the terminals of /C and /S are too similar, to the point they distract when you read the text. Take a look at how other serif fonts handle these letterforms differently, and see if you can apply those learnings in your work. "Nocturne" below, is a nice example of how serifs are handled differently on each form:

    Good start though.
  • Czl LebleuCzl Lebleu Posts: 2
    Thank you all so much for your feedback! I'm still thinking whether or not I should keep going with Marsa — for now, though, it's resting. And thank you for pointing out what I need to work on. Invaluable advice!
  • Chris DrabschChris Drabsch Posts: 73
    Resting is never a bad thing! You're welcome.
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