Astar - An elegant, readable sans-serif (looking for critiques)

Lorenzo Miglietta
edited July 2017 in Type Design Critiques
Hello TypeDrawers,

I'm Lorenzo Miglietta, 23-year-old Graphic designer, blogger and novice type designer. I am working on my first typeface: Astar.

Before starting designing these letter i'm going to show you, I spent months and months studying the old great type designers like Edward Johnston, Eric Gill and Jenson. 

Astar is partially inspired by the works of those guys.

The idea is to design an high-readable, functional and extremely elegant type family.

The starting point is this: the Astar Bold (I'm already working on the regular and bold italic - a true italic - versions).

Being a self-taught on type design, I would love to hear advice from these wonderful community.

Any feedback, any critique (even a fierce one) would be extremely appreciated.

Here some images:

Thank you much for your precious time,
Lorenzo :) 


  • scannerlicker
    Well, there's a lot to mention, here:

    1. Drop the math. It looks like you're going for rational solutions to your design, meaning, too stuck in a grid, reusing modules randomly. Forget geometry - and I mean it. Go for whatever pleases your eye the most. Think of it like clay: start crude and refine, refine, refine; don't look for the perfect solution before trying to shape the form.

    2. Modulation looks weird. Not that this is a bad thing per se, but here it looks somewhat lost, since angles keep changing violentely.

    3. Pay attention to your terminals and joints, they don't relate well across glyphs.

    4. Widths have a lot of funk, letters seem disproportional across the map. Again, it seems like you're trying to find a rational solution to a sensibility problem.

    5. Optical corrections seem a bit off. Compensation for curves, widths, weight and so on need care.

    I could go on, but it seems like you need a bit of tutoring on this; otherwise this can seem overwhelming. Drop me a hint, if you'd like to have a Skype call, on of these days, so we can go over this in detail. :)

    Keep pushing those curves!
  • Lorenzo Miglietta
    Thanks a lot for your reply. I would LOVE to have more hints from you! (I already know and follow your blog)

    I feel that in this project there's something good, something that I appreciate a lot and yet something (or even more than something) still doesn't work.

    That's why I would love to have a conversation with you and receive even the smallest advice from you!

    I'm going to write you a private message in order to arrange a more in depth conversation with you, thank you very much,
  • Johannes Neumeier
    The idea is to design an high-readable, functional and extremely elegant type family.
    When that is your idea, focus on that first, so naturally in a regular weight. The way the bold appears now, and not just because it is bold, it gives more of a display impression with quite expressive features. Also consider the spacing of your letters and words as having impact on how the type is suited to be used.

    The design is not consistent yet, and I think clearly some groups of letters share the same logic, but not all groups fit together. Especially how round and straight letters correlate shows this. You can test words that have a lot of letters of the same group, and then compare the feeling you get between different words with different groups' letters. For example in the caps I suspect each of the words FILE and DOGS and MANY will currently have a very distinctly different feel that does not correspond entirely with the other words; the same applies to the lowercase, especially with the letters with shoulders and round letters. And also to some extent the combination of lowercase and uppercase is missing unity, for example the vertical strokes' top endings in the lowercase are entirely different from anything in the caps. Most of the diagonal letters have visual balance problems and tend to tilt over to the side of the heavier stroke, try check them out upside-down or in between a pair of H's.

    Keep at it, the work beings once you have some shapes to pick from and refine ;)
  • Lorenzo Miglietta
    Hi @Johannes Neumeier, thank you very much for your advices. Very precious!

    I meditated a lot about the things that you said and I have to admit that you're absolutely alright.

    For example, I tried to separate the groups' letters:

    A slightly different feel, I do agree with you.

    So... what do you suggest me to do?

    Start all over again from scratch? Try to focus on some groups' letter and readapt the others? Start developing the regular version of the font?

  • LeMo aka PatternMan aka Frank E Blokland
    Hi Lorenzo,
    The idea is to design an high-readable, functional and extremely elegant type family.
    To be able to judge and measure the outcome against these criteria, I reckon that one requires a refined definition of what exactly readability*, functionality, and elegance comprises –in general and specifically in relation to your design.

    When it comes to the removal of serifs while keeping the contrast high, I think you should investigate first the function of serifs. Perhaps the info on serifs in Appendix 4 of OtOoPiMLT will help you a bit.
    I spent months and months […]
    Nowadays everything goes so fast that a month seems to be almost an endless time. But I don’t think that there is any serious profession that can be learned in months, especially not something highly delicate and complex as type design.

    * Tinker made a distinction between legibility and readability: ‘Beginning about 1940, “readability” came to be regarded as a more descriptive and meaningful word than “legibility,” and it was commonly adopted. However, with the advent of “readability formulas,” devised to measure the difficulty of reading material, an entirely different meaning developed for “readability.” To avoid confusion, it seems best to employ “legibility of print” to designate the effects of typographical factors on the ease and efficiency of perception in reading.’
    (Miles A. Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading [Minneapolis, 1966] p.115)
  • Nathan Zimet


    top of the /a can be more open
    try a slanted cutoff on the top of the stroke of the the /i and /j
    left stroke of the /u should go up higher (visually, it doesn't look as high up as the right leg)
    while the angle of contrast might mathematically be consistent, it's not visually consistent. Same with the level of contrast
    drop the intersection of the /y
    why don't the /g and /q have a spur in the top right
    can you create some sample texts in english so you can actually read them.