Catherine font critique

Hello everyone,

I have for a few years now off and on been working on this serif font named Catherine (named after my daughter, Lily Catherine) and I recently have had the ability to devote some more regular time to type design. I found this website while researching a different project (more on that in the future) and I am hoping to get some honest assessments of what you all think about this.

My goal is that it will be used in books and text in general, so print and digital. As the image below says, it will have five weight when it is done and italics for each weight.

What do you all think about the design? How can I make it better, what am I doing right so far? I have used Illustrator to create the basic forms and then imported all of the vectors into TypeTool 3.1.


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    George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 634
    edited May 2018
    Spacing is too tight for most text, especially so on the rounds. Acute and grave sit too high; /TM is too large; /® and /© are too light; /© would be more useful full-size. Maybe you aren't showing it, but I don't see a /?.

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    Hi George!

    I don't have a question mark yet. I have found it difficult to settle on a design. Thank you for the critique. I keep going back and forth on the spacing but hearing from someone else that it is too tight is good to you.

    As for the accents: are there rules somewhere that would be helpful for me to read to get a better handle on accents?
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    John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,977
    There are basic problems with relative proportions of letters, and contrasting treatments of curves in different letters that undermines overall stylistic harmony. So, for example, there is nothing in the curves of b c d e o p q s that justifies the decisions you have made for a and the lower bowl of g

    Here's a useful exercise for any budding typeface designer: take the letter shapes you've created, and manipulate them to fit the widths and spacing of one or more of the classic typefaces. This is a great way to understand relative proportion and spacing, and also a good insight into the ways in which these remain quite similar — with exceptions for some letters — despite differences in style, stroke modulation, weight, etc.
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    John, thank you. Honestly, the design at the start was more like "a" and "g" but over time I have kind of tamed it down and I am not particularly sure if that was a good or bad decision, but that is neither here nor there.
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    When I started my type-design efforts, I wanted to make a book face as well, but had to realize I was not ready. A book face has higher demands to evenness of color, style, rhythm than a display face, and leaves less room for creative freedom. The impression I get from your sample is «quirky», though, which doesn't fit the bill. I suggest starting with a display face first to gather some experience.
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    Hey Christian, I definitely agree with that idea. I have been working on display faces since I kind of stalled out on this one for a bit. Over on Instagram I have images of the fonts I have been doing (@marathonfonts). I found this site and decided this would be a good place to get ideas to get Catherine going again. My display faces will definitely be done first.
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    To test spacing, especially of a text typeface, use it with actual text. Pages full of different size, different line height, different column width, different alignment. To help you get a feel for what is "tight" and what is "lose" then print the same page with a few different classic text typefaces. Pay attention to word spacing, letter spacing and text color when comparing to yours. Then when you are trying to adjust your own, make different versions - if you have sidebearings linked to H O V o n v adjusting those will greatly affect the vast majority of your text and it's appearance; or you can try the same with just your layout programs text spacing. Again, print and compare a range, like -25, -15, 0, +15, +25 and see which one actually feels nicest to read. Pick the extremes of your range as "clearly too tight" and "clearly too lose" and then find the best inbetween. Over time your sense of what is outright too far on the extreme will become more granular and the process faster.

    I agree with others that a and g draw too much attention when compared with the rest of the glyphs. It is not wrong to explore odd or interesting shapes, but consistency is key. Rule of thumb is that characters follow a common construction logic in their group — rounds, verticals, diagonals — and you want to harmonize within and between those groups for even text appearance.

    Most important, keep at it ;)
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