My first typeface (a student project), would like some advice

It's not a matter of extreme importance, but since this is my first experience in type design, I would like to get some advice regarding letterforms and their mutual cohesiveness, just to have in mind for possible future projects. Also, would love some advice regarding the Greek script, since I liked the idea of doing it, but I have no clue if it's any good. I've attached a pdf so you can zoom in. There is an initial, sans-serif variety, and the ''serified'' one (I basically just glued the serifs to most letters, changing very little). I'm not sure if Greek even uses the serifs so I did not add them to it.

*No kerning has been made yet, so I used Illustrator's optical kerning.


  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,366
    Think about getting the counterspaces (spaces interior to the letters) to be closer to equal. Right now the shouldered letters look far narrower than the letters with bowls. For ex. compare the "p" width to the "h" and "n" in "Sphinx."
  • What did you do to get a pdf with four pages to be 26 MB? That should be below 50 kB.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,356
    Maybe turn off "Preserve Illustrator editing capabilities" when you export it to bring the file size down. It can makes a huge difference. This week,  turned a 70MB PDF into a 600K PDF just by unchecking that box.
  • Regarding pdf size, I'm not sure why the file is so massive. Maybe that's just my observation, but when I export a pdf from InDesign, file size is much smaller than for an Illustrator pdf.
  • I'm also somewhat annoyed by cyrillic К,к and Ж,ж. I've made them look kinda bloated and I'm not sure how to streamline them while keeping the characteristic cyrillic form.
  • Chris DChris D Posts: 76
    edited June 2015
    Illustrator loves cranking out bloated PDF's so I open mine up in Acrobat afterwards and run the PDF optimizer tools on them, that slashes some of my files down from 20+ MB to 1MB or less most of the time :)

    Regarding your type design, I really like the overall rhythm and contrast. I wonder if also doing a display version for headlines might be an option too, maybe with a bit more character to certain glyphs or something. Maybe having a full family set can work too, say with bolder or lighter variants. 

    I know absolutely no Greek, so I will refrain from commenting on those :)
  • Well, there were no plans for a Greek alphabet or the serif version, but once I started making those (just as a tryout), It turned out to be quite interesting and I went through with them.
    Another dilemma I have is using single-story or two-story glyphs for g and a.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,637
    Keep the simpler g and the more complex a.

  • Jakov JakovljevicJakov Jakovljevic Posts: 24
    edited June 2015
    That sounds like a good idea, James. It sounds like a daunting task but I understand what you meant. I guess good, legible typefaces usually make a good compromise between a distinct character and evenness, which sounds like a really tricky thing to achieve, especially when you're just introducing yourself to everything at once.
  • Jakov JakovljevicJakov Jakovljevic Posts: 24
    edited August 2015
    Hello guys. After two months of occasional tweaking and grinding at this, I've made some changes to the design, for better and worse, and then after making a black master, I did even more tweaking. I am enthusiastic about type design and incorporating parts of my experience with it into my work as a future graphic designer. Here is a quick pdf sampler showing the most important changes. I'm aware that this is not my wheelhouse and the results might displease real type designers but I enjoy learning new and interesting things so please be critical :blush: Also, please zoom in since the glyphs look sh*tty in small sizes(the least of my problems :)) Thank you for for feedback.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,366
    Is there some dissonance between the shapes of the head serifs at the meanline and those of the ascenders?
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,896
    edited August 2015
    I like the overall impression. It seems to have lost all its Optima flavor and subtly reinforced its Meta flavor.

    I agree with Craig on the serifs; in particular, the /n-style onstrokes in the bold feel like they draw a lot of attention to themselves. Maybe make their left side more vertical?

    /J can't seem to decide whether it wants to dip below the baseline or not. Do or do not, there is no try!

    /G feels a bit unbalanced to me.  I think its top could reach a bit more to the right and taper a bit less, and the chin could be a bit lowered to give it more grounding. I feel it tries too hard to look like /C, whereas it should have its own dedicated shape.

    Lowercase spacing increases toward the end of the alphabet, will need some tightening up.

    Is /S a bit heavy? Is /Z a bit unbalanced (and is its diagonal lighter than its horizontals)? Is /U a bit narrow? Is the nose of /e just a bit too pointy?

  • Craig, are you talking about the serifs in the serif version from the first post? I'm not going to concern myself with the serif/slab/greek/italic/etc. versions anytime soon. There is a steep learning curve just to get the sans to look decent so I'm choosing my battles, so to speak. Christian, /S is a bit heavy, and I've only noticed that while typing the sampler in Illustrator. Spacing is off, while making the multi-master I somehow messed it up:smile: 
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,366
    Sorry for not being clear. No I was talking about the sans in the August 26 posting. I should have said terminals rather than serifs.
  • No problem Craig. Here's a more comprehensive sampler. I tried ttfautohint so I don't have to convert my pdf to outlines dozens of times to make it look presentable :smile: (ignore the spacing for now:blush:)
  • Evie S.Evie S. Posts: 74
    I loved the subtle Optima flavor — it would distinguish this font from the massive wave of sans-serif and give some elegance. (I would totally use it instead of Optima.)
    /C and /G seem to want to fall over to the right. The double-story /g is too top-heavy and the bold master seems incompatible with the Gill Sans-esque ear as opposed to the distinguished ear on the regular. The uppercase /W is slightly narrow.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,896
    edited August 2015
    Yes, the current two-storey /g feels out of place. Incidentally, I like the look of the one-storey /g and /a (even though the latter's symmetry grates against my pen-logic expectations when viewed up close, much like the onstroke of /n etc). There are not that many sanses who use the single-storey /a as a default, but it could work well here. Your two-storey /a is good too, though.

    Oh, just noticed there's something odd about the /k. I think it's that the upper arm seems to depart from the horizontal stroke later than the lower arm, when I would expect the opposite. It also appears top-heavy in the light weight.
  • Jakov JakovljevicJakov Jakovljevic Posts: 24
    edited August 2015
    Very helpfull, Christian and Evan, thanks :) Is the cyrillic alright? I wanted it to be as close to latin as possible regarding glyph width, so it doesn't use up too much space. Bold uppercase cyrillic looks a little narrow but I'm not sure.
    Also, not entirely related to my work, but  I was always curious how type designers choose to work on cyrillic К/к. Lots of typefaces have glyphs which look more calligraphic/curly/quaint than their latin counterparts while other typefaces just use the latin K and scale it down. Is it related to cyrillic calligraphic tradition?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,457
    I just had a wonderful Cyrillic workshop with Alexandra Korolkova of ParaType.  Perhaps she might still have copies of her "Cyrillic Cheat Sheet" booklet?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,457
    No, that is not it but also looks helpful.
  • Though the images from that livejournal post were used in the cover design of Alexandra's booklet.
  • Very interesting, though I wish they'd show good design side-by-side with all the pitfall examples.
  • Jakov JakovljevicJakov Jakovljevic Posts: 24
    edited August 2015
    I made some small changes, now cyrillic uppercase characters such as П and Ц share the same width as H. Bold cyrillic К, к and Ж, ж are wider and more open. Two/story g is now more consistent between masters and the alternative б in the regular master is simplified. Also added a variant of lowercase L and made the uppercase G more a bit more sturdy. Tried to polish up Ђ аnd ђ. Faults and kinks are still popping up everywhere:)
  • I wish I knew enough about Cyrillics to offer more of a criticism, but this is really a nice clean design. There are some spacing issues with the forms of four, but aren't there always? /l is distinct from /I -- always a good idea. The top curve of bold /B falls off quite abruptly. One-story /g looks a bit odd somehow in both, but I'm pretty sure it's just that I'm agonizing over the same basic shape in my current sans, so take that with a small Siberian salt mine. ;)

    The major issue I have is the widths of лљ and нњ and similar, err, similar characters -- the wider glyphs look inordinately wider than their narrower counterparts (my internal dialog calls them ±b); is that lack of compensation normal in Cyrillics? I'm thinking of Latin /OE vs. its components as a counterexample.

    Anyway, I think my favorite glyphs are the /ampersand and especially the /germandbls -- there's a really appealing blend of fluidity and geometry. You'll probably get a nice range of weights between the two masters, too.

  • Evie S.Evie S. Posts: 74
    /W is still slightly narrow (compared to /w.)
    You need to remove overlaps on export, if it's possible.
    /2 gets light at the joint in the bold master.
    Open the aperture of /s in both masters slightly.
    I agree with Michael about the /B, I have noticed it also occurs in the derivatives (/P/R)
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,896
    edited August 2015
    The /ß looks a bit too narrow, the capital version even more so. The angles in the capital also strike me as aggressive and whimsical. I find the letter only looks natural if it's cut significantly wider than, say, a /B. I particularly like designs in which the horizontal motion on the right side is rather minimal, which is called the «Zehlendorf» design here:

    Might the /H also be a bit on the narrow side? And is there something a bit «droopy» about the loops of /B, /P, /Þ, etc.? Maybe their right-hand apex could be nudged upwards a bit?
  • The Cyrillic letter Ka

    And Be/б appear to tilt backward.
  • Jakov JakovljevicJakov Jakovljevic Posts: 24
    edited August 2015
    Alexander, thank you very much for helping :) There are many inconsistencies, for sure. Michael, Evan, and Christian, I'll see what can be done, thank you as well.  :)
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