Baran typeface

Martin SilvertantMartin Silvertant Posts: 166
edited November 2014 in Type Design Critiques
I want to show my latest serif typeface. A lot of corrections still need to be done but that's one of the reasons why I'm posting this.

Comments

  • Martin SilvertantMartin Silvertant Posts: 166
    edited November 2014
    image
  • Nice! The top of A seems too flat/wide. The E and F look fairly classical. They miss the liveliness of the other letters. Try using something similar to the top serif of C. Or actually, I think the issue is with the middle bar. All round caps could do with a little more overshoot. Diagonal in Z feels too dark, but that one always tricky.

    Second 'a' for sure. Way more characterful. The top terminal in c could be darker. I would model the d more like the p (look at how the bottom of the bowl in p curves upward toward the stem). Lovely g! The k feels unsure. Choose to disconnect, or fully connect. Maybe r could be a little wider. Bottom of y extends quite far to the left, but I'm not sure that's a problem. You might want to make the 'ff' more tight, like a real liga. Thin part in p and d seems thinner than the thin on the top of e and c. Maybe m is a little too narrow. The top-right of q could be more prominent. Comma feels cramped, could be taller.

    As always, don't take any criticism too seriously. It's your typeface, your choice.

    Good luck!
  • The g in this font jumps right out and distracts me. Overall Baran has a very happy and semi-casual feel. But that g is a little too tight and stiff.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,109
    edited November 2014
    Nice accents. I would tuck the tail of the /y in a bit—presently it will sit badly after /g and protrude into the left gutter/margin when starting a line.
  • The /g kinda leans backwards, somehow... if /n and its ilk are cars cheerfully racing into the wind (long flat serifs like flags), /g has already lost the race but keeps losing ground. Maybe just a simple rotation of a couple of degrees would fix it. I love the /d and /y in particular, although Nick's right about how it needs to be tucked in a bit; contextual alternatives to the rescue? I also think the second /a is better. The top bar of /F protrudes a bit too far ahead of its crossbar. And perhaps shorten the serifs on the inner triangles of /x and such -- they seem just a little closed in, but that could easily just be me.

    Anyway, this face makes me think of early motorists, with gloves and goggles, with a definite charm, grace and wit. Those accents with the claw terminals just rock.
  • The top of A seems too flat/wide.
    This is what I had in an earlier stage:
    image

    Do you think it will work better? I think it shows that I'm not quite sure yet how classical or modern I want this typeface to be. I might have to rethink the apex of A.
    I would model the d more like the p (look at how the bottom of the bowl in p curves upward toward the stem).
    I wanted to keep some roundness, but perhaps introducing a few more angles here and there is a good idea.
    Diagonal in Z feels too dark, but that one always tricky.
    Definitely too dark.
    Overall Baran has a very happy and semi-casual feel. But that g is a little too tight and stiff.
    I agree. I will have to rethink the loop.
    …and protrude into the left gutter/margin when starting a line.
    I didn't think of that. Good advise.

    I like how the tail embraces the letter before it to compensate for the big gap and create a more even texture, but I agree I can probably tuck in the tail a bit. I think I will have to make a contextual alternate to go with /g either way.
    Maybe just a simple rotation of a couple of degrees would fix it.
    Is rotation good practice? Anyway, I realize the weight at the top right of the loop can probably shift down a bit. Would you recommend keeping the loop diagonal or more horizontal? In any case the loop needs reworking.
    And perhaps shorten the serifs on the inner triangles of /x and such -- they seem just a little closed in, but that could easily just be me.
    Possibly so. Just like with A I'm trying to keep the serifs of irregular letters on the inside. With x_y for example there's quite a big gap which I'm compensating for. I probably overdid it.

    Does anyone have suggestions for /r? I think he join is too dark but mostly the shoulder just looks too short, but then I feel with some letter combinations it needs to be. How do you usually handle such irregular letters like /r and L? I keep my Ls relatively condensed but sometimes I guess I'm overcompensating and I just need to embrace the irregularities in spacing and texture.

  • Love those jaunty, asymmetric serifs!

    Maybe a concave top to /A? That would match the coves in the serifs, after all. You could also try lowering the top left point, giving a more complex join. Plenty of options.

    /r is a really tricky letter; a lot of people just chop off a bit of /n, but that rarely looks right. The proper artists will have to chime in, but you have to approach /r as its own letter, not as a Procrustean /n. If nothing else, try joining at a lower height with a sharper angle.

    As for /L, you don't want to condense it too much, or it'll start looking like a mutated /I. Its leg (foot?) should be a bit shorter than /E's, but noticeably longer than /T's right arm -- does that make sense? If you line up /E, /L and /T vertically, aligning their common stems, /E will protrude the furthest to the right, /L a bit less, and /T the least. (Cripes, I doubt that was any clearer...)

    A certain amount of "irregularities in spacing and texture" are a good thing: they help differentiate letters. I once tried making the bowls and such of /h, /m, /n and /r absolutely identical -- reading anything (especially in Latin) was an annoying chore.
  • I would certainly use Baran. It reads very well. Some oddities give Barran its personality.
  • /r is a really tricky letter; a lot of people just chop off a bit of /n, but that rarely looks right.
    I never do that. I use the stem of /i and design the shoulder. In my opinion the shoulders of /r and /n don't have to match and probably shouldn't match. I don't like my typefaces to be too consistent and mechanical. You might also see the bowls in b/d/p/q are different.
    If nothing else, try joining at a lower height with a sharper angle.
    That's probably a good idea. I can extend the shoulder and lower the join to compensate for the space underneath.
    As for /L, you don't want to condense it too much, or it'll start looking like a mutated /I.
    I wasn't planning on condensing it further. The current /L is quite condensed. My point was that I always design my /Ls to be quite condensed.
    (Cripes, I doubt that was any clearer...)
    I understood you from the beginning ;)

    And thanks for the comment, Michiel. I'm getting back to Baran soon. Right now I'm swamped with school work.
  • Really like your work, Martin. There is always a particular organic feel in your typefaces which makes them distinctive. Is there a particular calligraphic background to what you are doing?

    I like the g as it is now, personally.
  • That's really pleasant to hear. I have no clear calligraphic background. I do calligraphy sometimes, but I'm not good at it and it doesn't influence my designs in a direct way.

    I am fond of Dutch traditions, so I'm assuming some of that translates to my work. Gerrit Noordzij's theory of the stroke was my first book on typography as well. I don't follow his method directly, but I suppose subconsciously it still has some influence on my work. I think I also got inspired by Bram de Does' work, which made me realize type design isn't necessarily about achieving perfection. I feel when typefaces become too perfect and consistent it takes the life out of it. I'm very fond of certain peculiarities and inconsistencies. For example, in an early typeface by Bodoni he adds emphasis to the ascender of /f by increasing the teardrop terminal to make it more distinct from /t. I think if I were to present such a design here, people would tell me the terminal is too large, but it's rather charming in context. The goal should probably not be consistency but harmony. Letter shapes can deviate somewhat as long as they don't become obtrusive.

    I also have to admit though, the organic quality in my typefaces you're referring to might as well be the result of a lack of experience. I like to think that isn't the case, but I suspect it will take some years before I will become fluent with letter shapes to the extent that I can downplay or emphasize certain aspects of a typeface with ease without sacrificing functionality, texture or general aesthetics. Having said that, in the past I did try to achieve consistency as much as possible but I'm trying to let go of that. I have a tendency to think and design in a very rigid matter, and I find I often produce better results when I just let things go.
  • Martin, thank you for your post. Personally I have gotten quite good at the font development side of things over the past months and now I am looking forward to improve in the creation side of things, i.e. spawning letterforms "out of nothing". I was contemplating The Stroke already, think I'll buy it.
    Yes Baran did make me think a bit about De Does for its inner-oriented serifs (e.g. A, V).
    Having said that, in the past I did try to achieve consistency as much as possible but I'm trying to let go of that.
    Constructing only to deconstruct later – this is imo the point where you know you have acquired the design skill. The thing is that the latter deconstrusting is then the fruit of intent, and not semi-unconscious technical or knowledge limitations, so I do not find this evolution contradictory.

    Also, yeah, if you try to apply mathematical consistency too much you start to go nuts. And it will not make a difference – quite similarly I have made some computer-assisted music in the past and there also, sounds being too uniform or rythms being too regular will sound weird to the ear as if it's wrong – music softwares have humanization functionalities that add some unevenness to it and make the thing feel better. I think it is the same with type.

    You are right about the liveliness of typefaces being correlated to the small bit and pieces that aren't quite perfect or rational. I think that Dwiggins sans-serif designs are a canonical demonstration of this. Same if you look at DTL's revival workflow (e.g. [DTL Fleischmann](https://www.flickr.com/photos/exquisitefonts/sets/72157631620460598/) – btw, my mind was blown the first time I saw this set of pictures) they try hard to make a proper redrawing but also to capture the small idiosyncracies of the print face.
  • Martin SilvertantMartin Silvertant Posts: 166
    edited December 2014
    I was contemplating The Stroke already, think I'll buy it.
    I don't necessarily consider it to be a great book for type design in general. Gerrit Noordzij argues that chirography should be at the core of designing typefaces and many type designers feel that isn't necessarily the case. However, it does give a nice insight into the correlation between chirography and mechanical design and it's a great basis for typefaces that are firmly rooted in chirographic traditions. I haven't based any book typefaces directly on writing/calligraphy I did (though I do sometimes practice calligraphy as a sort of sketches to get new ideas), but I suppose it fuels me subconsciously.
    Constructing only to deconstruct later – this is imo the point where you know you have acquired the design skill.
    I realized this in regard to graphic design years ago. It's fine to deviate from rules as long as you do it consciously. This is also why I started researching the history of typefaces in the first place. Most graphic designers in my environment base their typeface choice on emotions and personal taste, which to me goes against the principles of graphic design. If you want to select typefaces you like, be an artist. Graphic designers should be able to disregard personal taste and choose what is best for the project. Also, being familiar with the timeline of styles of typefaces aids tremendously in making conscious decisions in selecting the right typeface for the job. It prevents unlucky choices which show my ignorance. I feel a lot of graphic designers around me show a lot of ignorance in their work when it comes to typography.
    Also, yeah, if you try to apply mathematical consistency too much you start to go nuts.
    I have an obsessive personality, so that's quite alright. I'm more concerned with taking the life out of a typeface because it's too perfect, like it was made by a machine rather than a human. In many cases this may be exactly what you need, but I'm mostly interesting in designing book typefaces and I feel they should be lively.
    quite similarly I have made some computer-assisted music in the past and there also, sounds being too uniform or rythms being too regular will sound weird to the ear as if it's wrong
    I also make music digitally so I know what you're talking about. Hi-hats and specific synth melodies for example tend to sound better with some irregularities.
    btw, my mind was blown the first time I saw this set of pictures
    Yeah, I saw those pictures a few months ago and saved each one of them to my computer. I have a very extended collection of pictures which are all obsessively categorized, so I always have enough material that can inspire.
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