When is the better time to do spacing and kerning?

André SimardAndré Simard Posts: 75
edited August 2012 in Technique and Theory
So far, I've always done the kerning when the drawing and spacing are completely done. Of course I find this very painful routine. Do you think this is a good idea to do this step together with the design and spacing? Are there advantages or disadvantages of this?

Thanks

Comments

  • J_MontalbanoJ_Montalbano Posts: 594
    I think the more fonts you make the more the kerning becomes a predictable sequence of events. Certainly done after the heavy lifting of drawing and spacing are deeply underway, but I've always found that kerning give me insight into the drawing and spacing and sometimes, well after I think I should be done, I'll adjust the outline or the metrics while I think I should be only kerning. I suppose it is a trinity, but is it holy? I could not say.
  • ------ Posts: 904
    I always end up making changes in the kerning stage. But I have come up with the following steps to minimize that.
    • Take long breaks between designing and kerning. This lets me critique the work more objectively.
    • Print and check the kerning proofs before I start kerning. This turns up problems I would otherwise find after I start kerning.
    • Get everything done in one master and take copious notes. Turn those notes into a list of changes to make in every other master before kerning them.
  • Michael ClarkMichael Clark Posts: 116
    edited June 2012
    @ James
    but I've always found that kerning give me insight into the drawing and spacing and sometimes, well after I think I should be done, I'll adjust the outline or the metrics while I think I should be only kerning

    That, right there, is pure gold and so true.
  • ------ Posts: 904
    Kerning does give me insights that change other stuff. It’s just that I want as little of that as possible happening once I start jumping back and forth between drawing and kerning apps.
  • Take long breaks between designing and kerning. This lets me critique the work more objectively.
    Good suggestion, probably easier too wait, if you draw more than one typeface in same time.

    Those other tips you've done will be helpful. Thanks.
  • J_MontalbanoJ_Montalbano Posts: 594
    Get everything done in one master and take copious notes.
    I've never been a note taker or a list maker. I don't even mark up proofs. I just internalize what needs to be done and act on it.

    I've always suspected that all those images of marked up proofs are after-the-fact marketing materials.
  • ------ Posts: 904
    I think you just have a better memory than most people.
  • J_MontalbanoJ_Montalbano Posts: 594
    Perhaps. I went through college and grad school with a minimum of note taking. The only time I did any note taking was when I was writing my Master's thesis.

    When I'm in meetings, I never take notes, relying more on paying attention to what is being said. I almost always have a better retention than those present who took notes.

    I do find I am able to keep lots of metrics and kerning data in my head while I'm working.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with kerning. I usually leave it till the very end of the overall design project. Sometimes as I'm developing the glyphs and checking back-and-forth in certain word combinations I can't help but kern letters as I go along.

    But, in the end it's the icing on the cake, so to speak, and I roll up my sleeves and bang away. Very tedious. But, if done right, very rewarding. Brings all aspects of the overall design together.

    I usually start on the regular weight and copy the kerning data to the lightest weight and check if things need to be adjusted. Then, go on to the heaviest. If the kerning data works for the extremes as well I copy all the kerning data to all the other weights as well. Printout specimen sheets on all and review. Go back and make slight adjustments if I missed anything on screen.

    Only one drawback, if you discover that there seem to be too many kerning pairs you soon realize that perhaps you could have fit the control characters better, and this can cause a lot of cursing and rework, going back and forth... refitting everything all over again.

    So, I really take extra care, from the beginning, to get the spacing worked out properly throughout all the weights and style variations.

    In the end I'm exhausted. Anyone know of a really good auto script to tackle this part? I would love to automate this aspect of the overall design process. But, my feeling is that programming will never replace the human factor.

    Or better yet. Anyone really good at this and wants to do it full time. If the price-is-right I would gladly farm this work out.
  • I look at kerning as the 'exceptions' to the font spacing and really kill myself to get it spaced to the teeth . . . The only insight it gives me is if I find repetitive kerns for a particular side of a character, that means I need to reshape the form or re-space it. For me, kerning is always the very last task after spacing . . .
  • This post appears to be in the wrong forum category. Is it movable, James?
  • How is this not about Typeface Design: Technique and Theory?
  • ------ Posts: 904
    I moved it, guys.
  • Ok, James can you please remove my disagree flag from stewf's post?
  • In my short experience I notice kerning too early makes things more complicated as it doesn't force you to space well. In addition, if you change your letter forms or spacing itself, kerning can become inappropriate.

    In the newest family I’m working on

    1. I’ve designed the 1st master with UC,LC, SC, figures,symbols, some OT featured glyphs.

    2. spaced it as best as possible

    3. I’m designing now UC and LC only for all the other Masters

    4. I'll space these new masters

    5. when happy with the result, I’ll complete with SC, figures etc etc

    6. I’ll kern then!

    7. I’ll add some liga, dlig, swashes

    As James says, it's good to take breaks between letterforms design, spacing, kerning. Kerning lately lets you improve spacing step by step.
    Of course this roadmap assumes 1 or 2 years before releasing your font family :p
  • ------ Posts: 904
    Vanilla doesn’t allow admins to change flags. Sorry!
  • Ok, James can you please remove my disagree flag from stewf's post?
    Just disagree again, it will remove it.
  • Thanks, Jackson. Good to know.
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