Fineliner Mono - A tribute to lovable limits



PREFACE

I've toyed around a few years with Fontographer and FLS now, because I want to make a font. 

But due to the steep learning curve, complexity of the craft and the lack of a clear plan of what to design, it resulted in a bunch of unfinished prototypes.

After giving my ambitions a reality check, I figured I have to lower my expectations and aim for a design I could actually carry out. 

Inspired by not-so-perfect-fonts I see all day, I decided to reduce the complexity of my design. 

It worked. I actually am developing a font. I've been working on it for over a year now, and it's time to ask for feedback.


I'm realy, realy curious what you people thinks of it, and I have lot of questions too. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,
Lau – professional type user, apprentice type designer

QUESTIONS

1) Your opinion: whatever you want to say. 

2) Design: the strict design rules (monospaced + monolined + semi condensed) boxed me in. I can't find a way to create good looking glyphs like ® or ligatures like æ. And a ˚ is impossible. Any idea's? Or just omit them, like the OCRA?

3) Spacing: I really like the font with the current spacing. But what's the point of designing a semi-condensed font if I give it such generous spacing? Your opinion is greatly appreciated in this area.

4) Font weight: I'm not sure about the current stroke width. Maybe to thin? At the other hand this width gives the best allround result on both high res and low res screens and printers. On top of that, it let me create a light and medium version with a 33% stroke width difference. What route do you advice? One 'perfect' regular (whatever that may be), or more weights?

5) Obliques: I consider to make optical corrected obliques. But how much of use are those? I personal almost never use them, especially with monospaced fonts...

6) Hinting: I've not yet studied al aspects of hinting, so for the time being I've used FLS Autohinting. I wonder how much I can improve hinting by tweaking the values/settings etc. Is it worth the effort in my case?

7) Name: "Fineline Mono" is pretty descriptive on a practical level, the name gives you an idea about what you can expect. However it's not accurate, because the font is not inspired on fineliners. An alternate approach is to try to grasp the heart and soul of the font. You can think of "Techniker" (German for engineer), or even "Quirk" or "Handicap". Any suggestions?

8) Usage: the Fineliner Mono is not really designed for a specific usage. Looking at it from a 'marketing' perspective I wonder what possible usage scenario's are viable. I have found 3: 

#1 as path font for industrial usage/plotters
#2 as compact monospaced font 
#3 some niche design cases in wich the Fineliner Mono has the right look-n-feel

Any other scenarios crossing your mind?

Comments

  • 1) Tittles look too far to the right. /r/ is the least successful letter. 
    3) Spacing looks good to me. 
    7) “Fineliner” sounds like a pen to me so I think it’s a poor match for this design. 
  • Ofir ShavitOfir Shavit Posts: 334
    I'm not sure whether it is part of the restrictive rules you have adopted, but I think that the lack of many optical corrections (such as: horizontal and diagonal lines seems thicker, round-straight joints are too dark, V'v' are "levitating", rounds are too stiff and upper parts of S'B'a'8' etc' seems too big) is reducing the quality of the font.

    About the spacing, It adds to the awkwardness, but I don't like it much when it gets too tight (with the M'm') or too wide (s't'f'). When two straight sides are too close (MN, dn) a lot of tension is created. The N'n'u' are also too wide in comparison to the O'o' , you could achieve better spacing rhythm by narrowing them and offsetting from the center of the glyph when needed (basically enlarge the side-bearings of straight sides, like n' P' etc').

    The g' descender seems too closed to me, I would consider spacing a bit the descender and the bawl of it, not by lowering the descender but by raising the bottom of the bowl a bit more.

    I strongly recommend you to practice the type design basics and improve your skills with Fontark* , it will save you tons of time and you could focus almost entirely on the stylistic and design issues. For instance, you can tweak the weight of the entire glyphs set in one slider "swipe" and test as much as needed, never use "copy-paste"/"cut-glue"(simultaneously tweak similar parts in any glyph)  and much more.

    * I'm part of the team that created Fontark. I also demonstrate, guide and support it 7 days a week. For free :)




  • Thanks for the feedback, I will use it to make an improved version.

    1) Tittles look too far to the right. /r/ is the least successful letter.  

    Tittles: I look a lot to other (monospaced) fonts, and I thought I do it pretty much the same way others do. But you've got a point there, so I should optically correct them individually? See the picture below.

    The "r", funny you mention it. It's an uncorrected cut-off "n" (as you ofcourse noticed). People who don't know anything about typography point to the "r" because they like it. Maybe because the glyph stands out?

    I'm not sure whether it is part of the restrictive rules you have adopted, but I think that the lack of many optical corrections (such as: horizontal and diagonal lines seems thicker, round-straight joints are too dark, V'v' are "levitating", rounds are too stiff and upper parts of S'B'a'8' etc' seems too big) is reducing the quality of the font.
    Yes, it's my crazy rules. I've done some corrections, but very minimal. I think I've sticked to much to the inspirational fonts. However, due to the monoline concept, some corrections I cannot make... but I will look into the "S", "B" and "8". And mybe I can solve the joint-issues of the "v", "V", "w" and "W" by adding a short horizontal stroke between the joints like this: \_/ 

    I've noticed this solution on some path fonts.

    The N'n'u' are also too wide in comparison to the O'o' , you could achieve better spacing rhythm by narrowing them and offsetting from the center of the glyph when needed (basically enlarge the side-bearings of straight sides, like n' P' etc').
    Interesting point, I've made an version width narrowed "u", "n" and "h" but discarded it. Some of the fonts I use for inspiration have the same approach. It's especially seen in the case the "o" has straight vertical sides. See the picture below. From left to right: the DIN 1451 Engschrift (the 'original') then the SNV Becker and finally the DIN Next. The first two ar old fonts, the latter relatively new. Are the old fonts poorly designed, or is it just a choice? Can you shed any light on it?



    PS
    Thanks for the introduction to Fontark, ik looks really interesting and promising. And I will definitely look at the tutorials at the bottom.


  • Ofir ShavitOfir Shavit Posts: 334
    edited November 7
    The joints of the V'v' is less of a problem, the thing is since the joint is "pointy" (on the bottom part) it needs an overshoot (to lower it a bit under the base line) to look leveled with the rest of the letters (Same to the A' top). "Trimming" the joint by adding a horizontal stroke will fix the need of the overshoot, but will change the look and feel of the typeface and will probably demand the same treatment to the other pointy joints like in N'M' etc'.

    About the width of the n'u'... it is hard to say from your example. the weight is heavier ,there's a very condensed example there, and I don't see the rest of the characters. In any case this is not a "rule", it just jumped out to me when looking at your font, even though the o' has straight sides. Maybe it is the mathematical radius that reduces a lot the area inside the o' (usually in type the rounds are slightly inflated) making it seems very small near the n' with the large internal area with the same width, it is the white space that matter.

    The tutorials are covering exactly these issues while demonstrating how it is done with Fontark. Even just practising it with any design is a great exercise that will teach you a lot. 
  • Thanks, I will try and test your suggestions in the next iteration. 

    BTW Fontark looks great, but I'm now learning FLS and a lot of basics, so I think I don't switch in the near feature. To many hours invested already, in Fontographer too... can't keep changing workflows. But that's another discussion – I think if I want to make another font, Fontark is an interesting option, so I'll keep it in mind. 
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