Drawing by hand, at least when it is small, doesn't offer the crisp lines that digital design does, so it is more difficult to add subtle details like corners in curves and that stuff.
I think that this purely relies on the drawing skills of the type designer. The cover below is from a publication by Gerrit Noordzij on type designs by Dutch art-school students that dates from 1983. The size of the booklet is A4 and Gerrit used my letters 1:1 for the cover. These letters were made completely freehand, except for the straight lines.
And, of course, Gerrit Noordzij’s own type designs, which he applied on book jackets, were made by hand: he used brush and paint on polyester ﬁlm. I think these letters are pretty subtle and crisp.
I think the common element here is the importance of becoming skilled with the tool that you use. It's not so much the tool as the skill and experience of its user.
That would –correct me if I’m wrong– imply that every tool is ﬁne for whatever the job is, as long as the user is skilled. Actually I think that the job itself deﬁnes what the best tool is.
The thing that has that helped me the most with working with Bézier curves is to realize that it's not drawing. It's more like sculpting.
In some case drawing can be the more appropriate way to deﬁne the contours than sculpting, especially for making revivals. My experience is that it is pretty easy (and tempting) to copy letter parts in Bézier format but less easy to draw tiny and delicate differences.
In for instance DTL VandenKeere and DTL Fleischmann no serif is identical –on purpose. These details are easy to draw and to manually digitize. Hence, at DTL we normally draw revivals on paper, or at least we start that way.
Also I believe that being able to adjust one’s tools directly positively inﬂuences the quality and originality of the design.
For instance Elmo van Slingerland’s DTL Dorian is the result of digitizing letter forms made by a very skilled calligrapher who is extremely capable of drawing with pencil, pen, and brush.
In case of for example Hermann Zapf or Jan van Krimpen, I don’t think
that their type designs can be separated from their skills as
calligrapher and type drawer. Even if we take into consideration that the technology was different in the past.
As exponent of Albert Kapr’s school, Erhard Kaiser was thoroughly trained to design letters with pencil, pen, and brush. October 1996 the 7-years old Sebastian Kaiser made a special exercise book for his father’s 39th birthday. February 1996 Erhard Kaiser made his ﬁrst sketches for DTL Prokyon in this Arbeitsheft, and he proceeded in March 1997.
These sketches formed the basis for the initial drawings.
And, of course, the ﬁnal drawings were manually digitized using the IKARUS system.
In 1978 I became a student at the KABK and the only computer-related thing at the academy was a terminal connected to a mainframe at the Delft University of Technology. This terminal was exclusively used by a technical school housed in the same building. So, we did not have the option to work directly on a screen. Consequently Gerrit Noordzij taught us how to draw letters on paper and on drafting film.
At that time the only way to digitize analog artwork was manually using the IKARUS format in combination with a tablet plus lens cursor. However, an IKARUS system cost roughly DM 250,000 back then. In the mid-1980s the relatively very affordable (DM 7,500 inclusive Aristo tablet plus lens cursor) Ikarus M application became available and I started manually digitizing myself. And the latter is what I do at DTL still using DTL IkarusMaster (see also the most recent post on my Facebook page).
I like to draw on paper because it gives me more freedom than drawing on the screen. Also it is easier to preserve very subtle details when for instance making a revival. The production of DTL Fleischmann is a good example of this. Nowadays at DTL we often make an analog start and subsequently proceed on screen (although printers are used for judging the outcomes).