Cantarell redesign

Nikolaus WaxweilerNikolaus Waxweiler Posts: 31
edited July 2017 in Type Design Critiques
Hello everyone,
I recently started redrawing Cantarell ( and GNOME's version, also in Glyphs because I was fed up with FontForge and the very mediocre quality of the typeface (and the later Cambay) in general.

I'd like to get some feedback on the base latin glyphs and numerals. The thin and black versions are drawn, regular is interpolated. The fonts approximately encompass the Google Fonts Plus glyph set.

The repository is at (might not be up to date, as of the time of this writing). The 2017-07-27 version of the source file and the generated .otfs is attached.

The motivation behind this typeface is to be the UI font of the GNOME project, (type 1) hinting is therefore a priority. I took inspiration from Source Sans Pro and you'll probably see the similarities (letter forms and e.g. the thin-black master approach). Cantarell is a bit wider, though. I managed to iron out the personality of the original design, for better or worse. The main ingredient for the redesign was Ctrl+Alt+1. The vertical metrics should be compatible with Noto Sans UI, as I'd like that to be the fallback font for GNOME.

You can have a closer look at the typeface in its' supposed natural habitat by dragging the fonts onto and

I'm thinking about raising the x-height, especially because of small on-screen text sizes that keep turning up on the web.


  • Heh, the feedback so far mirrors your opinion. And to be honest, the similarities to SSP bothered me subconsciously (a fine typeface, no disrespect!). Guess I went down the wrong road, back to the drawing board :)

    Oh, but: I chose the five-pointed asterisk because the six-pointed one tended to turn into a black blob at bolder weights. And you mean slenderized as opposed to rectangular? That was actually one of the changes that Pooja Saxena made for Cambay, which Dave Crossland said was a newer design of Cantarell that I should base my work on.
  • To clarify, I think its good to start from the Spiro sources I last touched but closely study the diff between that and cambay
  • For a face that is intended for UIs, please ensure that the default numerals are tabular.
  • I'll probably handle that later, as I also want to replace the version on Google Fonts, which is intended for longer texts. Maybe a "Cantarell UI" variant or some such.
  • Dave Crossland hooked me up with Jacques Le Bailly a.k.a. Baron von Fonthausen and he helped me tremendously in getting somewhere with Cantarell.

    I went back to Dave's original design and first reworked the regular, then created the thin and extra bold masters from that. No kerning as of yet.

    Check out the attached OTFs or the PDFs :)
  • Once you have started a redesign, consider including local forms for Bulgarian, Serbian, and Macedonian scripts. This is a small effort that will satisfy about 20 million people.
  • Noted. I currently only have Latin in there, I want to get more coverage of Google Fonts gylph sets first.
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