# It's not a perfect ellipse, why?

Posts: 238
edited January 2016
I'm pretty sure this has been done before but never understood why. I was just studying Hoefler engraved text and noticed the O wasn't a perfect ellipse as marked in the image below. The overlay on top in yellow is the ellipse and the bottom in brown is from hoefler text. Is there a reason why they do this? If you look at the gif  as seen here, assuming its to make up for width optically and even if I pulled the side anchors it looks off in the corners. Not to mention the anchors on the side are not center aligned for the O in hoefler's version, its like it's been pushed up a little. The green stroke aligns with the anchors from the brown text and the orange stroke aligns with the anchors on the yellow ellipse. Maybe I've over analyzing this but I'm kinda curious why its off centered and it's not an ellipse.

Thanks.
Edited image cause the first one was the wrong image.

Thanks
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• Posts: 1,458
Even aside from optical correction to overcome some idiosyncrasies of human perception, who is to say that a compass drawn circle is the best curve for a glyph to live in harmony with all of the others? We attempt to draw the best curve for the visual situation without regard for strict geometry.  While geometry may have its usefulness, it is rarely optimal for the drawing of letterforms.
• Posts: 1,458
I have just come across this article. It seems to hint at a "greater meaning" regarding time and space and how we perceive it. https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/news/2016/01/28/bringing-time-space-together-for-universal-symmetry/
• Posts: 238
edited January 2016
@Chris Lozos  @John Hudson  Cheers thanks. I was aware of the optical corrections people make for crossbars, etc, didn't realise it applied to rounded letters. So, if I had to redraw this, would you start with an ellipse and only after  everything is drawn out does one make optical corrections like off centering the anchors and stretching the handles like on the top  etc to make it visually pleasing? Essentially it's eyeballed when you make these corrections?
• Posts: 3,086
I don't know what the method was for creating that particular letter, but it isn't unusual to start with a basic ellipse (not necessarily a circle) and then edit the nodes and handles to get it to look how one wants, looking at it alongside other letters, gradually refining.
• Posts: 1,458
Following what John said, when you look at it next to other glyphs again and again as you work, don't fear making a change in the curve no matter how long you have worked on it.
• Posts: 143
edited October 2021
... edit the nodes and handles to get it to look how one wants, looking at it alongside other letters, gradually refining.
Temporarily mirroring is used to prove the curves and angles but does it work for any letter shape? For symmetrical — sure, but some asymmetrical characters that good adjusted become looks not so good when mirrored horizontally.
• Posts: 1,458
Designing type is not a geometry perfect task. Practice your drawing skills more and learn to "see".  The eye is the final arbiter.