Portfolio Mono (working title)

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Two specific issues I'd like to draw your attention to:

1. I'm not in love with the vertical serif in /c/s/z. Do they bother you too? Do you think this kind of design could work with no serifs at all in these letters? Perhaps you've got another idea?

2. The four serifs in /x and one serif in k/ have one side a bit thinner (so it won't look so crowded). Does that make the serifs look out of balance, as if they're not exactly leveled? Does it make them look higher/lower than their counterparts in other letters?



  • 1. The serif stand out mostly because they are more tame than the more dynamic vertical serifs. The a tail, the g ear, the q spur, they all are a lot more vivid than some other serifs, especially the flat bottoms in f, i, l and r, and the vertical serifs you mentioned.

    2. The diagonals are so very rigid compared to how very dynamic and full of tension the round and bowled characters are. Also some vertical parts, like the a tail, or the loop of g, show more expression in their vertical movement, whereas the diagonal glyph seem to be just straight lines.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    Hi Johannes, thanks for you comments!

    From where I stand, your two points are actually the same one.
    The design is kind of a hybrid between two archetypes:
    On one hand, we're dealing with a thin monospaced slab-serif with little contrast.
    On the other hand, there are clear traces of traditional complex forms and echoes of calligraphy.

    The tension is fundamental to the concept, and is further emphasized by certain details (such as the ones you're pointing out). Do you have an issue with the concept, or just with the specifics of how it's been implemented here? (I hope this question makes sense to you as much as it does to me.)

    For example, do you think the /q spur or the /g loop put us in a certain territory which is hostile to more geometric details such as flat bottoms or straight diagonals and rules them out?

    I will admit, though, that I was hesitating about the /g ear. I asked myself if I didn't take it too far, disrupting the delicate balance I was trying to maintain. I even tested a more constrained version. Your feedback tells me I might have made the wrong call. I'll definitely revisit this detail.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    I've settled on this /g for now (made some other very subtle changes as well, especially in some curved letters that seemed too dark or too light, you probably won't even notice).

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,396
    Don't those tittles and punctuation jump out to you as way too dark?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    Agree with Craig. As a start, try scaling them by 70%, which will reduce their area by half.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    Actually, they started out much smaller. And then I started testing the font at small sizes (please look at the PDF, maybe even print it, if you can), and realized this kind of design begs for very dark tittles and punctuation.

    It adds character, in my opinion, but it's more than just an artistic choice: reducing them to half their current size would make them look timid and weak at small sizes.

    One thing I've learned from working on this project is there's a reason why typefaces such as Courier (monospace, slab serif, thin) tend to have dark punctuation.

    Here's my font vs Courier New:

    Relative to the color of the letters (which is darker in my font), is my punctuation that much darker? Maybe just a little, but not that much.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    Well, I was making my case and forgot to thank for your input. So thanks! I will play with that. Half the area is too much of a reduction, I'm pretty sure, but maybe 80-90% of the area would make it look more comfortable without setting a different tone.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    You are certainly right about Courier New. I imagine it has to do with being monospaced and thin, yet needing the punctuation marks to somehow take up the whole space of the glyph.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    Yeah, exactly.
  • Hi Johannes, thanks for you comments!

    The tension is fundamental to the concept, and is further emphasized by certain details (such as the ones you're pointing out). Do you have an issue with the concept, or just with the specifics of how it's been implemented here? (I hope this question makes sense to you as much as it does to me.)

    For example, do you think the /q spur or the /g loop put us in a certain territory which is hostile to more geometric details such as flat bottoms or straight diagonals and rules them out?
    I don't see it as tension, but as dissonance. To me kvxz just look different from aedn. Why are even the top in-serifs different? And why would bowled letters have this bounciness to them and diagonals are drawn mathematically straight lines? Look at 'xylo' vs. 'phone' — two different fonts to my eye.

    Personally I find the more vivid details make for a more interesting direction than the plain elements, but that is just a matter of where you want to take the design. I do think one rules the other out, though.

    Also I wonder if the solution of single out serifs could be applied somehow to xvw to balance their grey value with the dense serifs.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    I don't share this impression, xylophone doesn't look like two different fonts to me.

    The slightly calligraphic stress, the shape of most curved parts, some details (certain serifs, tittles, etc.) - they all give a hint of a slant and movement. Diagonal letters don't need to be pushed in this direction, since they already have slanted strokes and movement built in. At least that's how I feel.

    I had tried less boxy serifs, trimming the tips in /v and /w diagonally, slightly curved diagonals... I felt they were all too much.

    Some examples:

    Does any of these directions look promising to you?
  • To my eye both the angled cut in the serifs and the angled vertex look more pleasing in regard to the rest of the font, but maybe this is simply a matter of taste. Not everything needs to make sense :)
  • Now with capitals (also reduced the x-height a tiny bit, replaced /k with a more cursive version, and made very subtle changes to some other lowercase letters).

    /J has two versions at the moment, I'll probably go with the top one:

  • Jan PietkiewiczJan Pietkiewicz Posts: 17
    edited August 2018
    The /a strikes me as more cute and playful than the rest of lowercase letters due to the shape of its bowl. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly does draw my attention to itself in your text specimens. Looking at the word "mean" makes me wonder whether its bowl shouldn't be made a bit larger to match the eye on /e.

    For what it's worth, I have a general strong preference for /J descending below the baseline.
  • Good point, thanks.
  • I agree that monospaced fonts used for coding benefit from more prominent punctuation marks since these characters play more than the supporting roles they do in normal text. No coder wants to accidentally confuse a period with a comma due to it not being easily seen or differentiated.

    However, I still think these glyphs in your font are too heavy. In my opinion, one of the many quirks of Courier is its awkwardly heavy punctuation marks, and yours are heavier still.

    I agree with Thomas, they would form a more harmonious relationship to the other glyphs if they were thinned up a bit. Their weight, I think, can be heavier than the strokes in the alpha-numeric glyphs, but not so much that they look out of place and jump out at the reader as being unnatural. Then again, you apparently see it differently.
  • Thanks for your comment, Cory. I've actually already thinned them down a tiny bit. Maybe I'll continue to do so as I progress; I'll have to see how I feel about them as I draw more glyphs and can test my font in a more natural setting. But I'll admit I do like that quirkiness of Courier (and some other monospaced fonts).
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,396
    I think /p/ and /q/ descenders are a little too short. Would a /Q/ tail that heads more downward than rightward make even-looking spacing easier?
  • Thanks, Craig, I'll play with that.
  • Ori Ben-DorOri Ben-Dor Posts: 383
    edited August 2018

    What do you think of this kind of figures, between lining and old-style?
  • I'd like to see some numbers that include ascenders (usually 6 and 8) mixed in. But the hybrid numbers seem fine to me, so far.

    The overshoot seems a bit excessive right now, maybe dial it back by 1/4 or 1/3?
  • I'll post a sample with 6 and 8 once I draw them, hopefully soon. My plan is to have them ascend just a little, the way 3 and 7 descend just a little.

    You mean the overshoot in 0 and 2 or in general? I haven't printed the figures yet, but when I printed sample texts at 10-12 pt, the overshoot in general didn't strike me as excessive.
  • In general, but more so on the more strongly arched letters (hmnu). Although the apparent excess is reduced when I view the images at full resolution.

  • On second thought (or more precisely second look), 8 and 9 were probably too wide.

    Is this better?

  • I would equalize six and nine, and I'd say somewhere in between the current two should do. Also, your two looks a bit too masculine to me, like it's from a sports watch. The bottom left, where it goes up before turning right, could be a lot smaller.

    Overall great work btw!
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 751
    edited August 2018
    Either make them more pronounced like actual lowercase numerals, or make them stiff and completely equal like a row of soldiers, as uppercase ones. This wishy washy fence sitting is off-putting, IMPO. (Sorry to disagree with above comments). It's a "dull" coding typeface - it needs a bit of flair so nobody falls asleep.

    + that you run into all kinds of visual balance problems.
  • @Jasper de Waard

    Thanks for your encouragement! Yeah, I wasn't sure about this /2 too, I left it marked red... When /6 and /9 are simple rotations of each other, it looks like this:

    Doesn't /9 look bigger to you?

    @Vasil Stanev

    Ideally I'd offer lowercase-size old-style figures and uppercase-size lining figures as alternatives, but neither satisfies me as default, which is why I've come up with this hybrid approach. I know it's not perfect, but nothing seems to be.

    Are you sure it's dull? And I was thinking to myself programmers would probably think it has too much character... Typical coding typefaces are more geometric and have less going on.

    What visual balance problems? Please elaborate.
  • "Doesn't /9 look bigger to you?" 

    Nope, haha. At some point it always becomes difficult to trust your eyes, because your eyes have gotten so used to certain patterns that a deviation from that looks odd. At least that's what I think 🙃
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