Will this work for Cyrillic?

Hello everybody,

My name is Ebern and I have been working on my first solo type project for quite a while now. It is still a work in progress but I feel I’ve come to a point where I need some feedback.

‘Neutor’ (working title) is a font family that contains Latin and Greek but also a fairly extended Cyrillic character set. I have some experience with type design but I have very little experience with Cyrillic - though i’ve been studying hard :-) - so I would like to get some feedback from native Cyrillic type people on my design. 

[The same goes for Greek by the way, but I will post that in a separate thread.]

It is my aim to make a very functional but rather minimal typeface without sacrificing legibility, readability or personality. The result is monolinear, rounded, and somewhere in the middle between a Sans, a Slab and a Serif.

On the one hand I have tried to reduce every glyph shape to it’s minimum without being overly simplistic. On the other hand I’ve tried to give every glyph the shape that it needs to function well within context, in any situation, which means I have sometimes deviated from what is standard or traditionally accepted. 

In the Cyrillic character set I am putting curved shapes in some places where traditionally there are straight or angular shapes, simply to make the overall Cyrillic text image slightly less angular and somewhat softer on the eye in order to - that’s my theory - increase legibility and readability.

I am reasonably happy with the result so far but I am biased of course, so please Cyrillic type people, give me your opinion. Is this a valid design for general purpose Cyrillic use or are some elements too far from what Cyrillic readers are accustomed to?

Thank you for your feedback.

Ebern Klause





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Comments

  • > Is this a valid design for general purpose Cyrillic use or are some elements too far from what Cyrillic readers are accustomed to?

    Sorry for being blunt, but it's the latter. It might work very well for headers or even body text in a magazine for millenials (ugh, hate that word) like Knife or The Village, but not for general use. The weirdest shapes to me are д (one straight and one curved tooth), и/ы (that half-serif), ь (that half-serif makes it look like ъ), Ы with huge serifs.
  • Hi Samuil, thanks for your comments! I will look into the points you mention. You do not mention the ц,ш and щ. Does that mean you have less problems with those?
  • I did make straight variants at first but I found them a bit hard and thought I’d try something else. Then again, that’s simply how these characters are and maybe I should go back to those.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 205
    I'm not a native speaker of a Cyrillic script language, but my initial impression of this typeface was that it was an okay typeface - but not for general purpose use. To me, it looked like it was intended to look like lettering used in drafting. Which is fine, there are already display typefaces out there intended to have that appearance.
  • I find it rather charming!

    Not a native reader, but I would think the Дд Лл have too much overhang; their sloped left side should start out vertical or down-and-left, not down-and-right.
  • Ebern, цшщ looked unusual to me, of course, but they still have a pleasant shape and cannot be mistaken for anything else. They also matched your bow-legged дл. If you want this to be a body text typeface for general use, then the straight or the Bulgarian versions are probably better. But if you clean the shapes up too much, you might turn it into a yet another monoline sans-serif typeface.

    If you want further input beyond specific shapes, then please check жкзѕ. They look top-heavy to me.
  • @John Savard John With Neutor I am not pursuing a certain style or use. I just want to make a very minimal yet very functional typeface, not just for display or headlines but above all for running text, preferably on-screen. Most of the design decisions I make are based on function, not style.
  • @Christian Thalmann
    Interesting point. I felt and feel that Дд Лл are often too open at the bottom or too narrow at the top. I feel the shapes are quite balanced as they are now eventhough they may go against consensus a bit. On top of that: Cyrillic contains a lot of vertical straights and I felt the need to reduce that a little.
  • > just want to make a very minimal yet very functional typeface …

    there are no ‘minimal’ typefaces, but all typefaces are functional.

    > not just for display or headlines but above all for running text …

    that is a very high target. And you simutaneously try to ‘improve’ Cyrillic a little bit, harmonize Latin, Greek and Cyrillic and master the semi-serif hybrid genre the same time (which I have never seen mastered to satisfaction anywhere).
    Good luck.
  • @Samuil Simonov
    Thanks agian Samuil. I guess the non-standard shapes are best put in a stylistic set then. I will look at жкзѕ.
  • there are no ‘minimal’ typefaces, but all typefaces are functional.
    I don’t agree Andreas, twice, but I think that’s another discussion.
    And you simutaneously try to ‘improve’ Cyrillic a little bit, harmonize Latin, Greek and Cyrillic and master the semi-serif hybrid genre the same time (which I have never seen mastered to satisfaction anywhere).
    You make it sound arrogant and I certainly don’t mean it that way. Yes, I always try to improve things (isn’t that what designers do?) but I see Neutor as an honest exploration of things that interest me and as always the outcome is uncertain. At the same time I’m trying to make something useful and that’s the difficult bit.
  • By the way, something went wrong with the straight ц, ш and щ in my second example. They should look like the ones below:

  • @Andreas Stötzner Some typefaces are more minimal than others, some typefaces are more functional than others (and not just contextually), and although it's true that there's a barrier between text and display, it's also true that anything can be improved (especially a writing system).

    Good luck is a good thing to say. I mean, mean.
  • Are you attached to the name? It sounds like the verb «to neuter»...  and anyway, your typeface is far from neutral.

    If you want to mitigate the asymmetry in the trapezoidal letters, maybe leave the left stem diagonal and extend the roof to the left, like a long serif?
  • @Christian Thalmann 

    I havn’t decided on the final name yet. I have some good candidates but it will most certainly NOT be Neutor.

  • @Christian Thalmann 

    Thanks, nice suggestion, I will look into that. It’s not so much about symmetry but more about too many vertical straight lines.

  • Ebern KlauseEbern Klause Posts: 33
    edited January 11

    @Christian Thalmann 

    I think it’s nice that you say that ‘Neutor’ is far from neutral, because neutral is exactly what I’m trying to achieve. It leads me to believe there are two different perspectives here: style and function.

    I’ve always been a type lover with favourites like Bembo, Bodoni and Baskerville (in that order) with all their lush style. What I never understood though, was why a typeface needed all these intricate and beautiful details to be functional. My idea has always been that a ‘d’ can be a ‘d’ without serifs, without contrast or even without beauty. In other words, minimal in a functional sense, the function being to convey a ‘d’ to the reader.

    That’s why - even as a kid - I really loved Gill Sans and the rather unpretty typeface on German road signs called Deutsche Industrie Norm. Both seemed far more neutral to me than others, even though I thought that even those typefaces were still not minimal or neutral enough. Yes, they were minimal and neutral in a functional sense, but not in a stylistic sense. There were still too many details, there was still too much contrast, style and beauty.

    So when I say minimal or neutral I talk from a functional perspective. 

    It’s quite different from a stylistic perspective. Neutral from a stylistic perspective would be something that we are all used to and what we love: somewhere in the middle between Akzidenz Grotesk, Frutiger, Gill Sans and Futura for a sans, somewhere in the middle between Bodoni, Garamond and Century for a serif face and somewhere in the middle of Clarendon and Rockwell for a slab.

    Here’s the thing: what I like about type is not its style but its function, the function being a tool for reading, in which style has no role. I know that’s a pretty narrow definition of the function of type. The wider function of type is to convey information in visual sense, in which style plays a very big role. Yes, I love both, but in the case of ‘Neutor’ I chose the limitation of the narrow definition.

    So here is my predicament: I am a bit of a hardcore functionalist, but with a rather large soft spot for style and lushness.

  • It's irrelevant to your point, but DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung. :grimace:
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 205
    The typeface DIN was precisely the sort of thing of which Neutor reminded me. So I am glad that I gauged your intentions in this regard correctly.

    I tend, however, to agree with the conventional wisdom that serifs, stroke width variation, and so on, are highly relevant, and indeed almost essential, to the function of readability in body text.

    And yet, sans-serif typefaces can work in that role. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to study why, for example, Univers works much better than Helvetica in body copy - even though in display sizes, Helvetica is usually considered to be the more beautiful of the two.

    Then there are the "Egyptians" - monoline typefaces with serifs. Some of them are passable or better in body copy, though seldom used.

    One can draw a typeface that looks like DIN, and hope that people will use it for extended text. But one is likely to be disappointed. Perhaps what is more worth doing, if one's goal is to achieve minimalism, is trying to see what it is about typical text typefaces like Times Roman that is superfluous and can be discarded - and what is not.

    After all, the true goal of minimalism should be to discard everything that is not necessary... but to retain everything that is necessary. Otherwise, if the superfluous is not sorted out from the necessary... the new stripped-down typeface, missing some of the necessary items, will not be used, so no progress towards minimalism is made.
  • @John Savard
    Well said, point taken, thank you.
  • @Christian Thalmann
    Ouch, then I’ve been wrong about that all my life. Not just for the typeface but for everything else that has a DIN number. Lesson learned, thanks.
  • @Christian Thalmann
    Ouch, then I’ve been wrong about that all my life. Not just for the typeface but for everything else that has a DIN number. Lesson learned, thanks.
    Don't worry, it's an extremely common misconception!
  • … to see what it is about typical text typefaces like Times Roman that is superfluous and can be discarded …
    Good point. Can anyone show me please some bit of Times (or other typical text faces) that is superfluous.

    In my opinion the target of a highly functional text face and the formalistic desire for minimalism (whatever it is) can not be achieved at once. Serifs or not, that doesn’t matter.
  • Tangential question, but I wonder about it every time Cyrillic comes up -- does anyone know if there are plans for an English translation of "Book of Letters"?  
  • @Andreas Stötzner

    Many bits of Times (or other typical text faces) are superfluous. Too many serifs/balls, too much contrast. But you can’t simply take some of them out just like that and that’s probably the beauty of type: everything is connected.

    I have personally always really hated Times - even though I think it is well made - but that’s mainly because of its proportions, not because there is too much in it.
  • @John Savard @Andreas Stötzner
    In the process of making Neutor I have developed some personal theories about serifs and contrast and how they for instance relate to weight. I would like to share those thoughts but I may need a little more time - and maybe a separate thread - to write them down.
    Thanks for your feedback.
  • Ebern,
    I’m very sorry that I have to contradict you, but:

    1.
    Many bits of Times (or other typical text faces) are superfluous.
    This is complete nonsense.

    2. Too many serifs/balls, too much contrast.
    Is that a joke?

    3. But you can’t simply take some of them out…
    Why not? If they are superfluous?
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 205
    I have personally always really hated Times - even though I think it is well made - but that’s mainly because of its proportions, not because there is too much in it.
    I loved Times... back when I was reading books in Times that were set on a Linotype machine. The original British version on Monotype seemed a bit too dense or heavy, giving an impression of something stodgy and dull, but the Linotype version was fresh and modern.

    Digital versions of Times have tended to be bland, dull, and uninteresting.

    Thus, relatively subtle changes in this particular typeface have made a big difference in my emotional reaction to its use in typography.
  • I’m very sorry that I have to contradict you, but:
    Andreas, you obviously don’t agree with me - which is fine - but a disagreement needs arguments and you don’t give any.
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