Learning by doing - 'Empereur' for pointers

Dwayne BleeDwayne Blee Posts: 2
edited March 2016 in Type Design Critiques
Hi all,
I'm quite new here as I've been getting more interested in type and the mix of creative and technical challenge it offers. I have a background in artworking but as for type design I'm a mere novice. Never-the-less I've given myself the challenge of designing a new typeface to accelerate my learning and understanding. If any of you have the time to take a look and offer pointers to develop further, I'd really appreciate it.

The inspiration was drawn from the hand-painted titles on the ornate framed paintings in the Palace of Versailles. The aim was to keep some of the charm of the workmanship, so many of the letters have only very minor changes to the original trace from my reference photos. I also had Didot in mind as a guide. It is intended as a display font - perhaps in magazine or retail applications if I had to imagine a use for it.

If you have the time, the PDF has more glyphs and the font in words/pangrams. Spacing is pretty rough at the moment, while I focus on the drawing.

Many thanks,


  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,237
    I feel like the lack of precision should be followed through. See how the top of the W is misaligned with the X and V? That's a visual cue that tells the reader that this is hand drawn. When you combine the quirky lettering style with elements of perfection, it spoils the effect. An antique, rustic cabinet with modern, stainless steel handles.

    The g seems wide, which might be fine if not for the perfectly matching widths on nhm,bdpq. To harmonize with the capitals, they lowercase widths need a touch of strangeness. Consider a more conventional bqt.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,367
    You need to have overshoot on your rounds and pointy extremities.

    Also: spacing.
  • Thanks for the useful feedback guys. On reflection I think going down the quirky route is probably not a good idea for the learning process - I think I'll get more out of sticking more closely to the 'rules'. If I want to pursue this with more experience in the future I could always add it to the family later.
    I've increased overshoots on this version and done some initial work on the spacing throughout.
    I've not redrawn the g, only because of time but I'll work on this next. Also conventional p,q,t - but might offer them as alternate glyphs - is that a sound plan?

    Thanks again

  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,237
    I'm sorry, I meant bqt, not pqt. The p is fine. As for the lowercase q, try to work out the spacing and then decide. If you can make the extra serif work next to the u, go for it.

    fgjty have shaping problems that you can't determine until you work out the spacing. You never know what a g should look like until you see it followed by a y... or another g. You don't know what a t should look like until you see it next to an f. Once you test with words, the ideal shapes will be obvious.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,299
    Because curved strokes are only at their thickest for a moment, while straight stems are thick all the way down, you have to adjust the curves (including letting their thickest point be mathematically thicker than the stems) to give them enough weight to balance. Doesn't the right side of O look wimpier than the left side of P, or the two halves of D too?
    Another key in balanced type design is getting to see the white as clearly as the black. Look at C next to D, or c next to d. Can you see how the C and c capture so much more white space? Consequentially the D and d look too narrow by comparison. Much of perfecting a typeface design is adjusting letter widths to obtain balance of blacks and whites. To keep yourself from going crazy, establish "control characters"--many including me use n and o for lowercase and H and O for uppercase. Make sure those pairs are balanced and well spaced, then you can surround all other letters with them and judge color and spacing. 
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,367
    EFLT seem to be from a different typeface than the other caps. Especially AKNUVWXY have equally thin bits sticking off into space that would get some kind of similar treatment, if it were consistent.

    In the lowercase, only z gets these flares.

    The inside contour of the bowls of bd are a bit lopsided, not as symmetical as I would expect. Meanwhile the inside contour of pq are uneven, cut rather than smooth, and feature angled stress instead of vertical stress.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,485
    Learning-by-doing isn't going to get you very far in type design. Learning-by-seeing is more important. Go and look at a lot of typefaces in the style that interests you, and really try to see the shapes and their relative proportions. Draw them — heck, trace them: anything that will help you understand how the different parts of the letters join to one another, how they are positioned relative to one another. But mostly proportions, and spacing.
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