Norse Sans, Geometric & Grotesque

Sebastian GrazSebastian Graz Posts: 6
edited September 2017 in Type Design Critiques
I'm a UI/UX designer by trade. This will be my first serious typeface I've worked on.

The brief of Norse Sans is to be a comfortable read on displays, both body sized text and larger titles. Because of this I wanted the font to be neutral and sans quirks. That is also why I decided to keep the finials straight à la Helvetica. It's geometric nature gives each letter a nice extended width look, which I like. The wide side bearings helps the font to be breathable without the need to adjust the tracking.

My schizophrenic typeface borrows inspiration from fonts like; GT-Haptik, Futura, A2 Regular and Styrene.

My eyes have grown very tired of this font. And I'm super keen on hearing what you guys have to say about it!

Thank you!


  • be a comfortable read on displays, both body sized text and larger titles...
    I think this is a face that has trendy and quirky traits, and in so far as trendy is comfortable to the eye, it could be said to be comfortable to read. Aside from that, this claim easily rolls off the fingers, but I wonder how you justify it? Or, if in partial alternative, that isn't the actual aim of the typeface, but it should like a positive thing to say about the design?
    The letter spacing is very tight, the proportions in both directions seem to play with juxtaposition rather than harmony, and neither grotesques nor geometrics are inherently known to have legibility as their strong suit. When the tight spacing seems somewhat appropriate for the heavier weight, it seems over-emphasised in the lights, thus changing the character of the type too much from geometric to grotesque as it moves towards the lighter weights.
    Personally, I like the lowered horizontal emphasis in the caps, but the lowercase seems very undecided. In the heavier weight: Looking at terminals of l, t, a, j, f, y, r - it seems every letter tries to impress by itself with a new invention. The "less geometric" shapes in the lowercase, like in a, s, g seem uncomfortable, the s and S in particular having a bit of a backward slant. Optical weight compensation for u, c, x could be refined. The even stroke width in the round shapes could also need more horizontal weight to truly make them look even, to my eye they now have too much weight at the top and bottom. In the caps, many characters also have too much weight in the horizontal - too much, that is, if they are supposed to look even, instead of having a quirky base- and capline emphasis. Look at H or T or Z: The horizontals look heavier than the verticals. The numbers are part idiosyncratic, part too average geometric. The 3 looks squished on the bottom, 5 too wide, the 2 slants away to the right.

    Getting bored with a typeface design is good. It makes you return to the project with fresh eyes :)
  • Johannes’ suggestions mostly seem pretty solid.

    In general, the rounds in the lowercase are quite circular, but that gets lost in the caps, where the rounds are more condensed. Actually, the caps in general seem a bit condensed compared to the lowercase.

    The numeral 3 and the lowercase el both seem like they come from some other typefaces, and feel out of place here.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited September 2017
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  • Sebastian GrazSebastian Graz Posts: 6
    edited September 2017
    Very good! I really appreciate the feedback. @Johannes Neumeier I agree that there was a lack of design consistency across the /l/t/a/j/f/y/r. I fixed it by aligning the terminals to share the same look (does it look a bit too mech now?). I also reduced the horizontal stem widths on almost all characters to fix the visual weight problems. 

    @Thomas Phinney Thanks for your input as well! I will play around with the caps to make them less narrow (if I understood your feedback correctly).
    The number 3 has been a pain to get right. I'll post an update when I finish it up

    @James Montalbano I had a second look at the /a/e/g/s and I made some minor adjustments. Especially the /s spine got a well needed angle increase and it looks much better now. Thanks!

    Here is a picture of some of the updated letters:


    Whole Alfie

  • Why isn't the cutoff on the top of the G horizontal
    the /m is too wide maybe ?

    make U narrower (compare white space to O)
    lowercase x looks topheavy
    the t/ bottom left curve is weird, don't make it like the /l, make it a smooth curve also the same for the bottom of the /y
    /B move crossbar up, or make top bowl stick out to the right more
    make the tail of the /g more similar to curves in the /c and /e, make the curve go into the stem more fluidly .
    crotch of /r could be deeper

    if you're making a trendier modern font make the /z a tiny bit narrower
  • First things first. Proportions. The descenders are as long as the ascenders, which is anti-text.
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  • Is it just me, or do a low-waisted E and F normally go with a high-waisted B, P and R?
  • Is it just me, or do a low-waisted E and F normally go with a high-waisted B, P and R?
    I'd expect P and R to be low-waisted, but yes, the B should be high-waisted.
  • I'd try going low on A/E/H/P/Y, high on B/F/K/R/X. Not sure about the G. And possibly make the inside of M and maybe W short.
  • First things first. Proportions. The descenders are as long as the ascenders, which is anti-text.
    Hi Hrant, thanks for your input. I did it so I can reuse the /b/d with /p/q. But that might be a typographical taboo. 

    Is it just me, or do a low-waisted E and F normally go with a high-waisted B, P and R?
    I'd really like to keep the low waist on the /R and /P because it's a defining element for the face. As for the /B I think I'll keep in the middle like @Nathan Zimet mentioned in an earlier comment. 

    James Montalbano said:
    Overall the lowercase looks heavier than the Uppercase. Not a good thing. Perhaps you should just put this away and start on something new. I cannot see how this design will mature into something new or useful.
    I didn't expect to submit this to MyFonts or anything, it's a mere exercise for me. But it's nonetheless a exercise I wanted to take as far as I could. Starting over definitely on my to-do list. At the very least I will release it for free and use it on my portfolio if I deem it nice enough when it's finished. 

    I've learned a lot just by reading the responses here! Good learning experience.

  • Sebastian GrazSebastian Graz Posts: 6
    edited September 2017
    Heres an updated set from the feedback. What you are seeing is one master (boldest) and two instances of it. I've omitted to show the lightest master because I've spent little time refining it. 

    Notable changes include:
    • /g with the new 90° terminals.
    • All CAPS have been fattened to align with the lowercases better visually.
    • decreased visual weight on the lowercases 
    • /X and /x reworked to be less top-heavy
    • /B waist is centered again. 
    • /is reworked
    • /O/C/Q/G and /e/c/now have a more consistent roundness. 
    • /E/F/G/H all share the same waist position. 
    • /P /R Share same waist but they are positioned much lower than the rest. 

    Personally I find the instances to work really well. I've included the fonts on my own portfolio and it really looks looks decent on most screens. Non-retina screens included (thank you OTF hinting o:)  ) 
  • Sebastian Graz said:

    But that might be a typographical taboo. 
    I wouldn't call it a taboo; in fact some famous designers (like Gerrit Noordzij, and as a result students of the school based on his ideas) have made descenders exactly equal to ascenders. But doing so remains a violation of how real text uses the vertical space.
  • I don't get the hard turns of j and t, especially given your f. Two story a, W, and m are way too wide. 4 would be better balanced if its left stroke leaned in. 
  • > My eyes have grown very tired of this font.

    When I experience that with one of my own drafts then I know that it isn’t worth any more trouble and I leave it aside, at least for a longer while.

    Trust the wisdom of your belly, its the better brain.
  • I don't get the hard turns of j and t, especially given your f. Two story a, W, and m are way too wide. 4 would be better balanced if its left stroke leaned in. 
    Yes I agree, it's inconsistent. Fixed them in my next iteration.

    Notable changes:
    1. New ascender height (now taller than descender) helps to bring out more font information. 
    2. Reworked /a/e/s/g/f/k
    3. Increased /c/e/o width to bring back the extended look and feel
    4. Reworked numerals 
    5. General rework of most glyphs 
    6. New /&ampersand glyph

    Here is a set of bold master after the updates

    I still hate my /y, because it doesnt align with /f/l/t etc very well. And I have some design problems in general with the font because it looks like mishmash of everything, it lacks direction. But I guess that's bound to happen when I'm new to the game, and still learning lots. 

  • One thing that strikes me from looking at your latest sample is the inconsistency in the width of the numerals.
    /5 is way too wide. /7 is too wide too. /2 and 3/, on the other hand, are too narrow.
    But that's just the numerals relatively to each other. Given that your letters are pretty wide (or at least some of them, such as the dominant /a), perhaps you should use the width of /7 as your reference point and adjust all other numerals to match /7.
  • The lowercase has the makings of an au courant quirky grotesque. I like the /a. (The /m is still way too wide, though.) The style inconsistencies are more pronounced in the uppercase, where your Arial /G, art deco-ish /R/S and Univers /Q are at odds. 
  • Good work, keep at it! One thing you could have a look at are round bends. It is most perceptible in the lowercase u where the sharp inner curve and the more lax outer curve create a visually thinner width in the bend overall. The same happens in the bowled capitals like P and R, which, additionally, still seem to be visually thicker in the horizontals.
  • when you wish it being a quirky face then leave it as it is and don’t touch anything anymore. It’ll be alright.
  • Reviving the thread and typeface one last time. I went back to my typefaces root design principles.
    - To normalize the extended-width. Meaning the typeface looks like an extended version but it's actually the 'regular' width.
    - Went back to a grotesque design, reintroducing the double story /a. 
    - Killed of the hard turns, in favour of a more rounded look. (/y/j/t/f/l)
    - Round punctuation, instead of square.
    - Added more pronounced inktraps to give the charset more life.
    - In general I think all the letters have been redesigned since last time I posted.

    At this point it feels like I've designed 10 typefaces just to get to this design. Tiring, but educational. I will probably make minor adjustments depending on the feedback I get here, but the design principle will probably not change. Then I might as well start on something entirely new. 

    German always manages to make any font look nice, some screenshots from a webpage using Norse:

    Thanks again all who added their 2 cents, sometimes more. I found this forum massively useful for someone who doesn't know anything about type design. Happy days.
  • Very nice :) Congrats!
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