Mezalia - modern bastard

Hello,

This is my first post here, so I guess I should introduce myself. I am a graphic designer from Poland. I work mostly in the field of brand identity but I have always (I mean during my short career) been interested in typography. At some point I have decided that type design was the the thing. I have started learning calligraphy to better understand the origins of type, simultaneously working on some type design projects. So here I am, asking for some critique, and saying hello to you all.  :)

Recently I have been working on a project I call Mezalia. It was inspired by my calligraphic endeavors, precisely by my attempts at writing medieval bastard scripts (Bastard Secretary hand especially), hence the name. I was really captivated by the beauty and simultaneous legibility of the hand, and I started wondering if there was anything in that calligraphic style, that could be transferred into modern times so that it could retain it's character without offending contemporary sensibilities. What you are looking at are effects of that investigation. 

The basic question I tried to answer here was something like: If renaissance typeface designers chose Bastard Secretary instead of lettera antiqua for their main typeface, and people around the world followed this, how would a typeface based on that style look like after some centuries of development? One thing I tried to retain was the feeling that the glyphs were drawn with a broad nibbed pen. This led to quite unusual stroke widths in some places. I have also intended this typeface to be used as a text font, so the legibility needed to be quite high. To achieve this I had to shorten the descenders and elongate the ascenders. I didn't want to design a calligraphic typeface per se so I made the serifs more akin to the antiqua, but I tried to retain the feeling of them being drawn with the same stroke as the stems. Compromises were made. I had to discard some of the more flamboyant forms for the sake of legibility. But I think the "bastard character" remains.

I attach samples of three weights: Regular, Hairline and Black. 

Overall I am pretty happy with the result. I would love to hear what you guys think about this. I welcome all comments although if you intend to bash my project, please be gentle. I am not sure how much reality I can handle. ;) I am especially looking forward to some of the more technical comments.

Thanks,
Piotr




Comments

  • I like it. My only complaint is that the /z in combination to rounds appears too tall, and it is just a little too wide in all the weights. The /i and /l in the bold come across as too light to me. It won't take much to fix that though.
  • Last stroke of /M/m/n/ could dip below the baseline a bit so it doesn't look like it is riding high. 
    The rounded bowls of /B/P/R/ don't seem to me to fit the style of the design, and similarly /S/s/ may be too smooth. 
    /b/d/p/q/ are too wide.
    Serifs at top left of /E/F/ should be more substantial. 
    I think the nearly monoline light weight loses a lot of what makes the design appealing. 
  • Thank you for your comments. Let me address them.

    I like it. My only complaint is that the /z in combination to rounds appears too tall, and it is just a little too wide in all the weights.
    I will gladly make /z narrower, but as for it being to tall, I am not really sure. Can anyone also comment on this? 

     The /i and /l in the bold come across as too light to me. It won't take much to fix that though.
    I will have to think about it. If i change /i and /l, I will have to change all vertical strokes too and I am reluctant to do that.

    Last stroke of /M/m/n/ could dip below the baseline a bit so it doesn't look like it is riding high. 
    Good point. Especially for the heavy weight. I will definitely try this.
    The rounded bowls of /B/P/R/ don't seem to me to fit the style of the design, and similarly /S/s/ may be too smooth. 
    As for the /S, /s being too smooth, you are probably right. I have tried many variants of /s especially and none of them seemed to work. 

    As for the bowls /B/P/R I am not sure I agree. There seem to be many variants of these letters in bastard scripts, some of them more rounded, some sharper. 

    /b/d/p/q/ are too wide.
    Good point. Making the bowls narrower made quite a difference.

    Serifs at top left of /E/F/ should be more substantial. 
    You mean longer or thicker? In most cases I am familiar with, those serifs are just as long as the bottom ones. 

    I think the nearly monoline light weight loses a lot of what makes the design appealing. 
    Well... doesn't that happen to most typefaces at lower weights? :)

    I don't think I agree here (obviously, as otherwise I would not have made it ;)). My reasoning for lowering contrast in the light weight was that this is basically what happens when you draw letters with broad nibbed pens of smaller widths. 

    But let's suppose that I agree with you on this. Would you rather make contrast bigger, or dispense with the light weight altogether?

    I have already made some changes based on your comments and they seem to work out pretty well. I will post the effect tomorrow.
  • Re: /i and /l; I only looked at the combination in the font name yesterday. After looking at the PDF I agree they're OK. In the font name they're surrounded by the /a which comes across as being slightly darker.

    Re: the /z; it is only an appearance of being too tall due to the slopes of the tops and bottoms of the surrounding characters. Perhaps a bit more concave on the top and bottom of the /z would help -- but maybe only 1 unit. Or maybe nothing at all; there again I was looking only at the font name.
  • Re: the /z; it is only an appearance of being too tall due to the slopes of the tops and bottoms of the surrounding characters. Perhaps a bit more concave on the top and bottom of the /z would help -- but maybe only 1 unit. Or maybe nothing at all; there again I was looking only at the font name.

    I've made /z a little narrower. As for the height, I'll keep thinking about it. ;-)


    Here are some changes I've made based on your comments. I think the outcome is positive, especially with the /b /d /p /q. I have also made parallel changes to /a /c /e and slightly reduced ascenders' height.



  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 88
    edited October 13
    You might consider adjusting the weights of the verticals and the dexter diagonals to match more. I see they are calligraphy-inspired, but after all, you already made a lot of adjustments that are impractical or difficult to achieve with a broad nib. That said, looking at the text samples, I don't find the broader diagonals heavily imbalanced, but some of the capitals (/M, for instance) do stand out more than the others.

    The new /S is definitely too short. The top and bottom angular joins need more overshoot.

    Similarly, there's something about the /P, and to a lesser extent, /B and /R, that makes them look meek and muffled among other caps. I'd consider doing something crazy to their top onstrokes, maybe adding in some slope? And maybe some advance width to /B, some weight to /P.

    Otherwise, looking great! The texture is really nice. The figures have a lot of character. The stress structure of the diagonal in /7 might be something to reconsider, though.
  • You might consider adjusting the weights of the verticals and the dexter diagonals to match more. I see they are calligraphy-inspired, but after all, you already made a lot of adjustments that are impractical or difficult to achieve with a broad nib. That said, looking at the text samples, I don't find the broader diagonals heavily imbalanced, but some of the capitals (/M, for instance) do stand out more than the others.
    Well... the imbalances between diagonals and verticals are kind of what constitutes the character of the typeface, so I don't think it would be a good idea to remove that. ;-) I think I could do some optical corrections to glyphs that seem to heavy. 

    The new /S is definitely too short. The top and bottom angular joins need more overshoot.
    Seems so. Corrected. :)

    Similarly, there's something about the /P, and to a lesser extent, /B and /R, that makes them look meek and muffled among other caps. I'd consider doing something crazy to their top onstrokes, maybe adding in some slope? And maybe some advance width to /B, some weight to /P.
    Well... since you are not the only one complaining about it I will assume there is something to it. ;)

     I have tried a few variants. These two seemed more or less ok. Not sure if this is crazy though... 



    Otherwise, looking great! The texture is really nice. The figures have a lot of character. The stress structure of the diagonal in /7 might be something to reconsider, though.
    Thank you! 
    I'll think about the 7. It's a delicate situation though, because my girlfriend liked it. :D


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