Wooden Walls lettering

Hi everyone, 

I'm working on some lettering for a client, and would be much obliged to receive some critique. 

Quick introduction, as I'm new here: I'm Duncan, I live in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. I worked many (teenage) years as a printer's devil, now a letterpress printer and a graphic designer, but have no formal training, have never designed a typeface, and am pretty new to custom lettering. I'm working on training my eye by staring at specimens, watching tutorials, practicing and looking through forums (happy to have found this one!).

Some brief background on the name:
In 19th century St. John's, Newfoundland, wooden-hulled, steam-powered schooners filled the harbour, and were known as "wooden walls". To design the lettering for the client, I looked to roundhand, because the contrast, pen feel and wave-like flourishing seemed to embody the feeling of being at sea. 

Welcoming any and all feedback! In particular I've been unsure about the size of the /W, the terminals in the /W, the form of the /s, the form of the upstrokes, how the /n plays into the composition, and the weight placement in the flourishes, and basically everything else. 

Thank you.


  • Very nice. The only quibble I would have is the spacing. Compare /den (too tight) to /all (too loose), that's where some adjustment is needed in both cases, in my view.
  • Agree with James. That 's' could too easily be seen as a swash rather than a letter. I read Wooden Wall. 
  • Thanks everyone. I was wondering about a more traditional s with a swash extending from it, maybe I'll give that a go. I see the spacing issues now as well.
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  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,366
    Generally, you want to avoid thick crossing thick, as you have happening in the /d/ ascender.
    I also think there's a clash between the main parts of the letters which are very regularized and typographic, and the swashy bits which have an incongruous (and a bit ungraceful) looseness to them. Feels like a font with tacked-on swashes rather than a unified piece of calligraphy. The identical /W/s, /o/s, and /l/s read as inorganic.
  • Thanks James & Craig, I really appreciate the feedback and will keep those things in mind for round 2. 
  • I've done some more work on this – hopefully now it feels more cohesive and legible. Please let me know what you think. Also – connected /oo? Which /s works better?

  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 688
    edited August 2017
    I think that original 's' was a good start, only it looked too much contructed. The upstroke could be more slanted. Imagine how it looks in upright fonts — it usually is not "upright" as well, but already slanted — so I think it looks more genuine if the italic version is slanted more than the italic stems.
    It could also be slightly curved.

    By the way, I think the upstroke connecting the s strikes as too thin (compared to the thinnest in 'd', for instance).
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 236
    edited August 2017
    The first main diagonal stem on the W likely needs to curve more to the left at the baseline, you may have to adjust this optically and less to do with aligning it to the baseline. The way it is now makes it appear like the W is falling over to the right. "s" still looks weird like it doesn't belong there. Another thing is "n" looks a tad heavy, from what I can tell I'm guessing it has to do with the shoulder, might need some thinning out. I feel the swash from the W should prolly be more of a condensed oval like that of the "o" but a bit more spaced out, so it gives you the impression of the same angle, otherwise it kinda looks off?
  • Another draft here. @Adam Jagosz I'm not sure if it addresses your point about the upstroke of the s as I'm not sure I understand what you mean. 

    @AbiRasheed I'm also unsure of what you mean about the first diagonal stem on the W, but have attempted to make it feel less like it's tipping to the right. I've tried to incorporate your feedback on the /s and /n as well as the swash on the W.

    @Craig Eliason - while editing, I keep thinking about your comment about the clash between the regularized/typographic letters and the swashy ones, and the identical repeats. I tried introducing minute differences in the letters, but it looked like a mistake to me. Do you still find it to be problematic?

    Thanks everyone for your constructive commentary on this!

  • The /s is still a bit weird—I would perhaps try a big clockwise loop on the downstroke that crosses over itself before swooping below "Wall"?
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  • I like the last rendition. As for the s swoosh, I would certainly want it available at least in a stylistic set and/or as a character varient. I don't believe it should be the normal s.

    I'm a sucker for nice Latin script fonts. I would likely buy it if available. 
  • Try to be more consistent with weight of thins. Upstroke of s looks much lighter than analogous strokes in W, and I would definitely thin the top of the big round swash of the Ws.
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 688
    edited September 2017
    it looked too much contructed.
    That was meant to be "constructed", of course.
    The s is getting better! The upstroke seems inconsistent, though - wider at the base than at the top.
    And what I've been meaning to address is as follows:

    If you assess the slant of all letters, the 's' looks more upright (at least to my sight/liking).
    The bounding boxes I drew might be somewhat exagerrated, but I hope you get my point.
    One problem is that if you try to slant the 's' more, the gap between it and the 'l' will grow too wide... So maybe I've been wrong all along and the 's' is just as slanted as it should.
    On second thoughts, the connection between 'd' and 'e' bugs me. I'd make it smooth (by shifting the 'e' right). But then again, it would make the overall spacing less consistent, so I'd have to loosen it altogether. (Which, well, might make it possible to slant the 's' a tad more).
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 236
    edited September 2017
    Right off the bat I think it's a step up from your last version. However n has gotten way too thick for the stem. I notice you've thinned the shoulder out but I think the problems lies from where it begins, you might have to drop that down a notch so it doesn't look too heavy where the first stem meets the shoulder, right about now because it's a lil too high it takes away whatever is left of the negative space thus adding to the heaviness around that area. s looks so much better but I think it needs weight, may even need to be slanted a tad more. As for the swash from s, there's an easy solution to make it look less disjointed by simply having the mainstroke come down to form a loop that looks like a drop which continues down to make up the swash. I could prolly draw up a sketch at some point if you don't follow. W looks better but I still think it looks like it's tipping over and reason I think is because of that main diagonal stem which may need to curve more to the left to give the illusion of steadiness at the baseline. When I meant main stem, it's the first one from the left. The swash on the W is way better.  I don't know if there's anything else to address but those that I mentioned stood out the most with some issues.  On a different note, it helps if you zoom out in the browser or on your drawing app to check for issues with weight, etc, you'll notice how n looks thicker, or that s is thinner, among other things like spacing and so on. There's a multitude of ways to check for these things but the quickest is to simply zoom +/- to fix immediate issues. Spacing is tricky and boils down to the size of the letters and what not but like I said a simple zoom+/- will give you an idea of where to start.
  • One way, and perhaps the only way I would try to address what Adam said about the slant of the /s would be to make it shorter and a modest curve more to the right at the top to give it more of an optical slant. After doing so one might consider condensing the right bottom curve just a little, not much, and maybe none at all.
  • Thank you kindly to everyone who has offered insight and guidance on this. I've learned a lot just working on this handful of letters. 

    The client for this project has decided to abandon this route – they noticed an established competitor was using a classic roundhand (font) and felt it was too similar.

    Maybe I'll change it to Wooden Whales and keep going? Haha

    Thanks again.
  • @duncanmajor well dude that sucks. If there's a slight chance you can sway them by presenting a convincing argument to continue with the project then it may help to see the font first that they think looks similar to your lettering. If it's not too similar you could convince them and see how it goes, but if it's too similar you could always make a few changes to look different. This is a complete no brainer solution really to salvage whatever is left of the project. 
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