Wide, all-caps geometric sans with Deco influences

Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 215
edited August 2012 in Type Design Critiques
Hi gang,

I'd love to get your feedback on this typeface. While I've been wrangling bezier curves and setting/licensing/ogling type for a couple of decades as an art director, this is my first attempt at type design.

The spacing hasn't been addressed yet -- I wanted to make sure the glyphs were solid before tackling that task.



  • Trying to link an image from Flickr without a distorted preview...
  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 215
    edited August 2012
    That's better. Clicking on the image below will take you to a much larger version.

  • And here's a link to a PDF for those who might care to inspect the shapes more closely.

  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 969
    edited August 2012
    Hey Marc! First things I noticed:

    - K arm and leg too heavy
    - R leg too heavy
    - S is leaning back
    - T feels too narrow
    - try a different Q
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,317
    Yes, legs/tails of /K/R/Q/ aren't fitting in. Shape of bottom of /J/ also seems like an outlier. Don't assume /S/'s spine has to reach horizontal--that's producing the leaning effect. The contrast concept sort of breaks down with /V/W/Y/--are there other ways of constructing those letters that might work better?
  • I agree with most of Stewf's and Craig's comments, though I personally like a narrow T; it minimizes awkward combinations. I wouldn't make this one too much wider.

    I also quite like your Q, though the tail seems too close to the body of the letter. It's making dark spots at both ends.

    Your O, Q, and U are quite geometric—which I think makes them interesting—but they don't seem to fit with your C, G, J, and S, which are curvier. I think you need to pick a direction for your curves and stick to it. (If you move away from the ruler-and-compass look, you might want to look at H&FJ's new Idlewild, if you haven't already, to make sure you're not drawing that face over again.)

    Your horizontal strokes seem a little heavy. It looks like you've already thinned them somewhat to make them match the verticals optically, but I think you need to go a little further. The crossbar of the J really stands out for me. And when a letter has lots of horizontal strokes, like B or E, you should probably make the middle cross-stroke even thinner.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,980
    edited August 2012
    Crossbar height: there is a reason to have a lower crossbar on F, P and R, but it should be centered on B, E, and S, which you’ve done—unless you are making a rigorous feature of a high or low waist. See Microgramma.

    I like those curly legs.

    Sure, some line thicknesses need adjusting, but this is not a major issue.

    The W could be wider. I generally try to match its width to M.

    Why is O (and Q) flat-topped? C and G aren’t.
  • Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It's deeply appreciated.

    As more than one of you has pointed out, I need to "pick a direction for [my] curves and stick with it." I'm inclined to go in the curvier direction of the C/G/S, because I think it's more sympathetic to the curved legs of the K/R and funky tail of the Q -- features that'll help this avoid becoming an Idlewild clone.* (Thanks, Max & Nick. Glad to see the funky shapes have at least a couple of fans.)

    (*Imagine my delight at having that beautiful face appear a few months after starting the sketches for this project. :)

    Craig: Would you mind elaborating on the "contrast breakdown" you're seeing in the VWY? (I think of contrast as the province of the thicks 'n' thins of a trad serif face.) Is it related to the width of the W, as Nick's comment might suggest?

  • I think I addressed everyone's feedback, with the exception of any thinning of the horizontals and Craig's comment on V/W/Y.

    -- Regularized the approach to curves, so O/Q/U now are better related to C/G
    -- Thinned the legs of the R/K
    -- Widened the W
    -- Tweaked the B, gave the E a centered waist
    -- Reworked the curve of the J. I think it's a better fit with the rest of the characters.
    -- Rotated the S slightly* and extended the lower left terminal.

    *Is this cheating if I move my points to extrema and make the relevant handles vertical/horizontal before final export?


    And the PDF...
  • Huge improvement. Amazing what a few small tweaks can do.

    I think the Y stem is too short. Nothing that extreme anywhere else.
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  • Much stronger and more appealing. Nice work! The new O shape is great. But I think the B, D, J, P, and R, and U curves could use some more massaging to make them more harmonious with the superellipse-ish O and C. And I think the 'vertical' curves on B, C, D, G, O, P, Q, R, and S need to be a hair thicker at the equator. Right now it looks like the thickest part of the curved stroke of D is equal in thickness to the vertical stem; the middle of the curve should be thicker than the straight stroke to look balanced.

    S is still leaning back to my eye. I think the bottom terminal needs to move left a bit to steady it.

    Agree with James M that the J's too wide.
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  • Thanks, everyone! I'll be back in a day or two with an update.
  • ...and I couldn't help jumping in and making some changes. Sleep be damned!

    -- Applied the superellipse treatment to B, D, P, R
    -- Narrowed the J
    -- Raised the stem of the Y
    -- Resurrected and refined an early S with curves more in keeping with the direction the type is evolving
    -- Moved the tail of the Q away from the body and made its entry more vertical to add a bit more air

    Max, I haven't had a chance to address your "width at the equator" comment. Figured I'd tackle that in concert with feedback on the new rounder shapes.


    PDF: https://www.dropbox.com/s/n0a2k7sf6ppefui/specimen_082812.pdf

    (While really I like where this is going, there's a certain crispness to some of of the earlier, more strictly geometric characters that I miss. I may revive some of them as alternates, or make a sister face that is all "ruler-n-compass.")
  • Looks much stronger, Marc. And I like the idea of a more geometric sister font; there was something nice about your original O.
  • Jan SchmoegerJan Schmoeger Posts: 280
    edited August 2012
    You could always put the "strictly geometric" shapes in the lower case slots (which are empty now)? Also, now that you centred the middle strokes of B and E, the G looks weird to me (should it be centered as well?). And the horizontals in H, K could go up a tad in the caps, and leave them low in the l/c??
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,317
    Marc, sorry, my "contrast concept" was an error--I realize now that the image in my browser was being horizontally squooshed. I mistakenly thought this was a reversed contrast face with thicker horizontals! (fwiw, except for the diagonal characters it actually looked promising!)
  • Figures! Or, more accurately, #*@*!*! figures! These proved to be pretty challenging. It's obvious I've doodled/sketched more letters than numbers in my life.

    I'm also feeling the presence of Idlewild hovering over my shoulder, and so saw the figures as an opportunity to inject a bit more personality into the face. I'll be interested and grateful to hear whether you think they're successful.



    PDF: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9x4qyy99qz9537d/specimen_090512.pdf
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  • Thanks, James! It's interesting how much exaggeration is required sometimes -- strictly by the metrics, the 8 is already the widest of the bunch.
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  • I was hoping I was the only one who was noticing that, James. :) I'm learning that no character is ever finished.
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  • I think this has gotten quite strong quite fast, Marc. It really has its own personality now; quite distinct from Idl*w*ld.

    But I don't think you're finished with the S yet. The middle part of the spine may be too horizontal; the curve doesn't seem fluid yet.

    I think the 1's too narrow.
    When the figure 9 goes down in size the space between the bowl and tail is closing up. A smaller bowl and more room between it and the tail (like the figure 6) may be in order.
    Maybe these two figures want more perpendicular junctures instead of the almost-curved junctures you have now? And the junctures of the 6 and 9 don't seem quite conssistent; the 'crossbar' of the 6 seems almost to curve into the vertical stroke, while the 9 is crisper. I think the crisper approach works better.
  • Thanks, Max. If that's true, it's due in large part to the feedback and insight that you, James and the other TypeDrawers have provided.

    And speaking of feedback, I'd love to have everyone's thoughts on the latest edition.

    -- Wider O/Q and 1
    -- Revised S, 3
    -- Redrawn 6/9 (much happier, I think)
    -- "Narrower" (re-proportioned, really) 4

    I has also got a notion to give the arms of the V, W and Y perpendicular endings, rather than shearing them off at the cap height. (I tried the same treatment with the top/bottom of the X and the bottom of the A. Disaster.) Distinctive, perhaps, but successful?

    (I still haven't optically balanced the strokes in the figures.)



    Here's the PDF:
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited September 2012
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Thanks, James. I tried the angled terminals on the X and the letter felt like it was floating, seemingly because the outside edge of the terminal was above the baseline (fig. A). I was matching the bottom points of the terminal to the same depth of the points of the V and N -- but maybe they need to extend further below the baseline (fig. B)?

  • You could also try a different angle for the terminals: something in between trimming the strokes parallel to the baseline and chopping them off at a 90° angle.
  • Max, do you think the new S is more successful? I feel like there's finally a bit of the spring/tension (that I hear discussed as an ideal for this character) in the shapes.
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