Elemaints - A Serif Family with Optical Sizes

A long time ago (2010) I have started a new typeface written in METAFONT (see http://www.typophile.com/node/73827). I interrupted the work because I had to investigate further in METAFONT and parametric type design (e.g. https//www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb37-3/tb117romer.pdf or https://tug.org/TUGboat/tb35-1/tb109romer.pdf or http://typedrawers.com/discussion/2342/funtauna-rectangular-slab-serif).
But I have never abandoned the original project and have always been working from time to time for this typeface. Taking the updated METAFONT sources, I have produced some master fonts. At the moment, work is concentrated on 2 of them: The display face and the tiny face.

I have refined both faces in Fontforge and have interpolated the optical axis Tiny-Caption-Regular-Subhead-Display:


The intended use of the typeface (which I call Elemaints) is the use in scientific texts. The glyph forms are mainly based on french renaissance antiquas like Sabon or Albertina. The x-height is equal to the x-height of Times New Roman. The proportions are very similar to Minion. Therefore, the look of Elemaints may resemble Minion, altough every single glyph was constructed freshly. One intended difference to other french renaissance antiquas may be the serifs, which always end rectangular:

Elemaints is not meant to be a revolution but a free antiqua with optical sizes for scientific texts.

Any suggestions (except kerning, which is not done yet) are welcome (glyph shapes, proportions, rhythm, details, spacing, ...).


  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,055
    Your “tiny” size currently seems to me to be optimized for regular text, like maybe 10 pt in print. I would not call that tiny, and more importantly, you might use/need quite a lot more optical adjustment if you wanted to go down to 6-7 pt, or handle super-/sub-scripts, or the like.
  • Looks promising so far.

    I'm getting the impression that the spacing is still a bit uneven, especially in the «Heavy boxes» Display text. Perhaps a touch too tight for small text in general?

    As for letter shapes, the /a strikes me as a bit pinched/pointy on top, and I'm not too fond of /a terminals that curve into the counter space, but that may just be me.
  • Linus RomerLinus Romer Posts: 40
    @Thomas Phinney Upon your suggestion I have made the lower optical sizes more extreme. The following picture shows the old and the new version in comparison with Computer Modern and AMS Euler:

    Do the new optical sizes go in the right direction?
    What optical adjustment need to be improved? Width? Darkness? Contrast? Serifs? Joints? Ink Traps?
  • Linus RomerLinus Romer Posts: 40
    @Christian Thalmann I have changed the shape of the a (terminal is now a tear drop, the top is less pointy):

    I have increased spacing for the Display face (whitout any manual adjustments yet):
    (upper image = old, lower image = new)

    Would you give it even more space between the glyphs?
    I did not understand the expression «Heavy boxes», did you mean counters?
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 730
    I think it was the smaller optical sizes, not the Display cut, that needed more breathing room. 
    "Heavy boxes" referred to the text settings in the examples you posted. 
  • Linus RomerLinus Romer Posts: 40
    @Craig Eliason @Christian Thalmann Stupid me, now I understand the "Heavy boxes perform..." :)
    I will have a look on it again...
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,103
    edited March 29
    I much prefer the new terminal on /a. The top of /a still looks rather pointy to me, but on further thought, it might be a symptom of the glyph's rather narrow width in general, especially compared to /e. Maybe try out a slightly wider version to see how it feels?

    (Garamond gets away with a super-narrow /a design, but it is helped by the extra space opened by the rather generous outstroke.)

    As for the spacing, I was actually referring to the «Heavy boxes» sample text in the Display cut, especially the /e/a combination:
    But maybe the problem just lies in my judging a Display cut at text sizes.  :grimace:
  • Linus RomerLinus Romer Posts: 40
    @Christian Thalmann I have completely renewed the spacing of the display face. I have also made a wider variant of the a, but than I went back to the narrower variant and made again a bit less pointy:

    What do you think about the spacing? What about the narrow/wide a?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,055
    The spacing seems too loose overall for a display face. It is spaced more like a text face, now.

    The "ea" combo seems tighter than most everything else. The "new" spacing of "ea" is a decent match for the "old" spacing of the rest of the font. But because you make the "ea" combination the centerpiece of much of your spacing demos, it is hard to judge overall spacing.

  • Linus RomerLinus Romer Posts: 40
    Okay, I have again renewed the spacing of the display face and changed the shape of the "a":

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