Janueri (working name) critique

Lucas Leo CatalanoLucas Leo Catalano Posts: 43
edited October 2012 in Type Design Critiques
Hi all,

Second typeface I've posted (and started), hope you don't think I'm greedy. I've only superficially studied typography in a condensed graphic design master, hence the need for constant feedback.

This is Janueri (working name), a text face intended for printing at 12 to 8 points with darker colour, strong diagonal stress, and drawn to a 36 point en grid. ITC Mendoza, FF Avance, and Minion Pro are designs I kept as references. I'm aiming to make this my debut family, with four weights, three widths, and italic. No plans for other scripts aside from latin.

Looking to hear what you think, if a character is not right, spacing feels funny, anything really. I'm very open if you have a comment about the overall concept too.

Thanks for your time!

PDF: lucasleo.com/wp-content/uploads/janueri_test_1.005.pdf



  • I really like this. It's like a rugged Skolar. It looks great set in long text blocks.

    The only thing that struck me as odd (relatively speaking) was the q, and perhaps the s was a little top heavy?

    However I am an amateur, so please weight my feedback accordingly :)
  • Very interesting how the treatment of the baseline works out. Hinting can cause the bottom serifs to become "normal" at smaller sizes. I will be curious to see this at text sizes under different rasterizers....
  • Thanks for your replies,

    @RayStone , g'day to all back home in sunny WA. I see your point about the 'q' and 's', I haven't worked out a solution for the 's' yet but for the 'q' I took bits from the 'b' and made:


    Probably more to character this way, what do you think?

    @tphinney , I've done some hinting (not in the PDF) and I have to be honest, I'm still pretty amateurish with it, over my head. Thinking about it I may have to bite the bullet and let the base line flatten, maybe see if the asymetrical top side to the bottom serifs give enough of effect im looking for, then again there's vertical hinting too. I've had problems hinting the serifs in the 'v' too.

    Here's a PDF with the new 'q' and autohinting (font @ 2048 em):
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 946
    edited October 2012
    Those asymmetrical serifs feel backwards to me, and consequentially the letters feel more self-contained rather than fluent with their neighbors. (As Thomas notes, the detail either way gets lost at text sizes anyway, though.)
    To my eye the ascenders seem a bit tall relative to the descenders.
    Seen large, I had doubts about the pointiness and thickness of the shoulders and tops of bowls, but at text sizes that seems to work pretty well.
  • Lucas Leo CatalanoLucas Leo Catalano Posts: 43
    edited October 2012
    Thanks @Craig Eliason for the reply,

    I've looked at the ascenders and descenders, shortening the ascenders slightly. They were taller physically. Here is a pre-shorted 'd' and a flipped 'p', with a post-shorted 'd'. How does it look now?



    About the serifs, FF Avance and Calluna do stroke left and exit right with 'n' serifs unlike what I have drawn, which may have upset the flow yes. I'm am open to flipping it. Let me know what you think, here's a quick comparison. Working on a full PDF too, will be up soon.


  • On the shortened ascenders, looks pretty good, maybe you went a touch too far? It'll be easier to see on the pdf. Don't forget the /l/!

    Those flipped serifs make a huge difference in "flow," which I'd guess would be desirable for a text face.
  • Thanks again @Craig Eliason for the reply,

    here are the PDFs, before and after. Changes in the ascenders (second edit), the 's', and serif exit. Quite indecisive about the serifs, on the one had I do see there is significantly more flow exiting right, on the other I feel exiting left makes the white spaces relate more. Have a date with the printers tomorrow morning, will upload scans.

    Before: lucasleo.com/wp-content/uploads/flow_test_1.006.pdf
    After: lucasleo.com/wp-content/uploads/flow_test_1.007.pdf
  • Are the /l/s (els) taller on purpose?
  • Jack JenningsJack Jennings Posts: 152
    edited October 2012
    Lucas, I think that you need to decide how tied you are to calligraphic forms (which seems to me where the asymmetrical, left to right serifs are derived from). You won't be able to get your original forms from a pen without severely twisting your hand mid-stroke. I've seen a textura script that changes from 45 to 0 degrees, but I don't think that you'd find anything more extreme than that (someone please correct me with examples!).

    If you don't care about that, though, and if it's not too distracting in print, than you might just be facing a stylistic choice.
  • Thanks for your replies,

    @Craig Eliason, fixed the 'l', was not meant to be taller on purpose, just a fussy glyph component sorry. Here is a screen grab along with alternative baseline serifs I am hoping may not be as jarring exiting left (maybe more marketable too):


    @Jack Jennings, I've tried replicating the left exiting serif with a nib pen and you are right, it does require a twist of the hand especially for the bulge at the bottom. I'm thinking that flicking the nib left to it's side on the exit might work, not needing to twist the pen, leading to a flat baseline, hence the third treatment above (also a good excuse to buy a parallel pen). Then again you are right talking about being tied to calligraphy or not, will think about it more.

    I promised scans but being temporarily short of a scanner I hope photographs will suffice for now. I've shown these prints to some friends and family members, asking them what they think just to hear what a non type designer would say and the uniform response was "what's the difference?"…

    Photos: lucasleo.com/wp-content/uploads/photo_print_serifs_1.007.jpg
  • I might be quite wrong, but I like the straight bases better.
  • I also prefer the straight bases.
  • You might try just a little bit of incline and/or a little bit of cupping, so that the overall effect remains straight but the contour continues the liveliness of the rest of the letter.
  • I'm afraid I disagree with the straight-base advocates; I think the face loses a lot of distinctiveness and integrity when you do that. Janueri (great name!) has the makings of a really distinctive and original face, and those are rare. I'd vote for a slight upward incline, slightly cupped.

    I'd make sure, though, that the thin ends of the serif don't get too thin and fragile; I think this is an issue here.

    I also think you've probably overdone the notched light traps at the bottoms of letters like a, d, & u, and at the tops of those like m, n, and p. Particlarly onscreen, I think they tend to break up the forms of your glyphs.

    I think your overshoots are often a bit overdone, especially since you have such a pronounced axis, and since letters like b, o, and n are so heavy and black at the tops and bottoms.

    One last thought, which may just be a matter of personal taste: I'd try to make the drawing of these fairly eccentric forms fairly tight and consistent. I don't mean you should make Janueri look more 'normal'; I mean you should honor your ususual forms by drawing them strictly. Right now this looks a bit like a wobbly, distressed, "historical" typeface (e.g. H&FJ's Fell), one that's meant to replicate the effect of worn metal type and ink squeeze. I don't think that's what you've got in mind. František Štorm does a great job of drawing unusual forms strictly enough that his intention is always clear. Janueri puts me in mind of his work.
  • Thanks for your replies,
    Sorry for the media-less response, am on the road for a few days, but I really appreciate and take in the feedback.

    @Jan and @Andre, I think the solution to the flow problem involves some flattening out of the serif, I'd be interested to hear what you think of the next revision. I'll have some livelier but very subtle solutions suggested in text. I also suspect a closer to straight solution will sell better.

    @Craig, perhaps I have not been using the right jargon, with Incline do you mean the tilt/angle of the serif or tilting/italicizing of the stem? If you meant the serif I see how that could be a solution and will in the next PDF make a few variations with some cupping and incline, almost an in-between the first revisions and the last with the straight base.

    @Max, thanks for your compliments, very motivating. There is a January already published and will need to see what I can and can't do later down the line, fingers crossed to keep the name. Again I'm not sure I'm using the right jargon, do you mean serifs pointing north-east when you say Slight Upward Incline? About the notched traps I see what you mean about them breaking up the glyph and will reduce them for the next PDF. Overshoot and consistency problems too. I think these problems came up because I tried too hard to stick to a very loose grid, which was helpfully at the start. Will work with a denser grid from now on. With the thin serifs, I'm drawing a solution thickening and shortening the the thin side of the serifs.

    Promised myself to finish the next updates by Wednesday.
  • If you meant the serif I see how that could be a solution and will in the next PDF make a few variations with some cupping and incline, almost an in-between the first revisions and the last with the straight base.
    Yes, that's what I meant.
  • […] do you mean serifs pointing north-east when you say Slight Upward Incline?
  • Posting the latest revision having;
    - dropped the loose grid
    - tightened the consistency and overshoot,
    - reduced and tweaked all notches, traps, and tapering, (more?)
    - reworked the majuscules (though they could use more work),
    - and made three solutions for the serifs.

    Here is a PDF (no cupping, tilted):

    No cupping but tilted:

    Cupped and tilted:

    Flat, exiting right:

    I feel the tighter consistency pushed it all towards the better. Could I be more consistent?
    Am also leaning on the more neutral solution for the serifs, without cupping but tilted. Would it seem like I'm fence sitting?

    Much appreciated!
  • I'd agree that no cupping but tilted looks most satisfactory of those options.
  • This is much stronger, Lucas. I think the overshoots are pretty good now on the lower case. Still not sure whether those light-trap notches are a hair too big, but I'd leave them alone for now; they're part of what makes this face distinctive, and I'd hate to over-revise them. Agree that tilted, no cupping is the way to go on your foot serifs. Tilted with cupping seems a little self-conscious to me; dead flat seems too, uh, flat.

    I agree that greater consistency has improved this. I don't know if it would be improved by even greater consistency. I wouldn't want to make this bland and safe. I think it'll be easier to judge this when the spacing and upper case are further along.

    The bottoms of b and p seem too dark to me. The e seems top-heavy. The stem of the t seems thin. The top/terminal of the a troubles me in a way I can't describe; it just seems a bit clumsy, blobby, while the lower half of the letter strikes me as handsome.

    Letterspacing seems a bit tight in spots, and not quite even yet, though it looks better to me than in previous specimens.

    I think you know you've got a lot of work to do on your upper case. Since you've grayed it out in the specimen, I won't comment yet.

    I think this is a genuinely exciting face. Even in text sizes, it's distinctive. I'd guess you have a longer road to travel than if you'd started yet another sensible, sturdy, open, well-crafted, KABK/Reading-style Dutch face. But that's all to the good. When you get this done, I think you'll have something memorable.
  • I'd move the tittles rightward a bit. They're also quite huge, but that doesn't seem like a problem to me.
    Do those thin meanline serifs on /w/v/y/ get too delicate?
    Have you considered other shapes for the top of /t/? It looks a little dull, relatively, to me.
  • It has a nice feel in the PDF, good stuff!
  • Thanks again for the replies, I'm really enjoying the steep learning curve which without your help would not have been as steep.

    Craig, I'm going fix the serifs on the tilted, no cupping option, working on the stretching/squeezing for the individual glyphs.
    About the tittles, I've reduced their size and shifted rightward, finding them better like you suggested.
    Looking closer at the thin mean line serifs on the v shaped glyphs they do look delicate, will work on them for the next revision.
    For the top of the 't' I considered connecting the cross stroke to the top but kept of getting too top heavy, but will make a few other tries to connect for the next revision. In the meantime I tilted the stem and gave it a slight curve, also to address the thinness Max pointed out.

    Max, your comments are very motivating, thanks.
    Hope to work on the spacing more soon to revise the consistency.
    I thinned the darks on the bottom of 'b' and 'p', as well as the top of 'e' and see how they had issues.
    The top of the 'a' has been troubling me since the start, something about the terminal needing to lead to a wide north-easterly stroke, which then makes a line that is nearly parallel to the middle stroke, forcing me to draw it actually parallel. I've made the corners sharper and shifted the terminal inward to make the terminal seem less blobby, better?
    With the capitals I have a good idea of what my components and stroke widths will be, just still unsure of the proportions, doing the research now.

    Jan, thanks, buzzing to not loose the momentum.

    Some screen grabs of the revised parts:

  • It looks like on the top and bottom contours of your tittle you have a curve that has only one handle (the other "retracted" into the node). If this is right you may want to change it: some renderers have had problems properly displaying such contours.
  • I thinned the darks on the bottom of 'b' and 'p', as well as the top of 'e'
    I'd go a little further, actually. The e's still top-heavy to me. Of course, it might be that the bottom of the e needs a little more heft.
    The top of the 'a' has been troubling me since the start, something about the terminal needing to lead to a wide north-easterly stroke, which then makes a line that is nearly parallel to the middle stroke, forcing me to draw it actually parallel.
    Nothing's forcing you to do anything. The only thing you have to do is make these letters look right. If the rules you've set up for yourself lead you to awkward forms, those rules have to be reconsidered or broken. And it's just not true that any two lines that are nearly parallel must be made precisely parallel.
    I've made the corners sharper and shifted the terminal inward to make the terminal seem less blobby, better?
    I do think you've improved the top of the a, but it still strikes me as too horizontal, too thick in the middle, and too blunt at the end; I feel like the 'beak' should be sharper. But all this is very, very personal, and your eye might lead you elsewhere.

    I do feel like I'm seeing a lot of tiny and slightly arbitrary corners on these glyphs. For instance, on the top of the t. To me these just add up to visual noise, and in any case the eye blends them into curves at any but the hugest sizes. If you were looking to do a face made entirely of straight lines and corners, like Emigre's Journal, that would be one thing, but you've also got a lot of soft curves here, too. While some places, like those notched light traps, seem to need sharp corners, a lot these extra-seeming little corners make me uneasy. Would you consider smoothing some of them into curves, and just generally trying to simplify these shapes a bit?

  • Thanks again for the replies and apologies for my slow response, I've made a few large revisions. I'm also going to take it as a sign I should let the next revision simmer on my side for longer to address the points made, and to not hog the forum updates too much.

    Craig, I've fixed the contours with handles retracted into nodes. It's things like this that make me worry if I should take a few lessons more in type.

    Max, I thickened the bottom of the 'e' and played around with it's lean.
    Had a bit of anarchy in the last revision, rules and concept slightly changed, just to add to the process, nothing I can't undo if I should. Cleaning up the nodes and corner, trying to simplify everything I replaced curves with diagonals.
    With the 'a' I shorted and shrunk the terminal as a quick fix, will make a few alts with the next revision. I'm tempted to just not have a terminal and maybe draw the top flat like Mendoza.
    I am also liking the reference typefaces you include in your comments.

    Here are the two versions I made with diagonals instead of curves, leaning toward the diagonals tilting right, which I made a PDF of ('m'i'n'u'h'a'j'e'o'g'c' having been the glyphs I've had the time to edit).
    PDF: http://lucasleo.com/wp-content/uploads/janueri_test_1.011.pdf


  • I want to think about this some more, Lucas, but I'm afraid I don't like the last round of changes. The serifs look very sharp to me now, especially in the middle "minimum" row of your illusration, and don't seem to fit with the full curves of the arches. The new serifs also look weaker. The eye of the a looks awkward to me now. The crossbar of the e is a bit light now, and I miss the curve and taper of the previous crossbar. The new almost-round tittles in the top row of your illustration are too close to circles; they look like circles with flat patches. The bottom row's tittles ("hajenlogic") look better. Maybe it would be a good idea to set this aside a week or so and come back to it with a fresh eye, if you don't mind the advice. Could it be that you're over-revising and losing touch with some of what made the original drawings strong and appealing?
  • Thanks for your reply Max. I think you're right, I'll take it as my que to set the typeface aside for a week or two and work on something different. I got zealous with the revisions.
  • Hi all,

    what was meant to be a few weeks turned into a few months.
    Dug back to this thread to show you the latest revision hoping you would have some pointers on what to look at next.

    The latest drawings for Janueri are quite far from it's original. I tried to set aside as many ideas as I could from the original concept and try to keep what I felt Janueri was most about. I was trying too much for one typeface, probably enough for three. The strong diagonal stress went into another project (pdf here) and the jagged base line to another (will link soon). Janueri to me was mostly about it's notched tapers and diagonals, it's round arcs and bowls, and contrasty contrast where it's thicks drop fast into short thins, it's notched tapers and diagonals.

    Let me know what you think.
    Thanks for your time.

    - Janueri PDF

  • Hi, Lucas. I haven't commented before because I haven't been sure what to say. I'm afraid this new revise eliminates the quality and personality that intrigued me so much in the first iteration.

    But if this is what strikes you as essential, you should probably go with it. And this new design is very handsome and has a lot of strengths of its own, even if it's also more conventional. It certainly seems more broadly usable than the original.

    Right now it's hard for me to assess fully this without caps. And the diagonal cuts seem a little extreme; they're breaking up the glyphs. Perhaps you could try making these a bit less deep, so that the glyphs don't look like nice sturdy forms with one or two fragile, chopped-out places apiece. That is, you could try to make the thinnest points a bit thicker. Another approach might be to bow the straight segments outward so that they become flat arcs. That way they might enliven the forms without disrupting their harmony.

    I suspect the slight forward lean and the waisted strokes will only work on paper, I think; this doesn't seem like a screen-oriented typeface. But in text sizes they largely go away, so maybe you've got the best of both worlds. And who says every new face has to be phone-friendly?

    /a/ seems a smidgen too heavy on top. I think the bottom stroke of /e/ needs to extend a little further to the right. /s/ is risky but striking, and I think it works. The eye of /g/ seems too circular & monoline, but I like the ear.
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