Cyrillic extension cost

Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 313
edited October 2 in Type Business
Hello experts,

I have a client interested in a cyrillic extension to one of my retail fonts. I have long been wanting to get into Cyrillic, and now I could also get paid, which is great of course, but I don't have a clue what to charge. Any ballpark estimates would be greatly appreciated.

Some details:
- six masters, three of which italic
- a 5 year exclusive license (for cyrillic only)
- just basic cyrillic, nothing obscure
- I like the job for more than the money, so I won't charge too much, and I definitely don't want to factor in the extra time needed to learn the ins and outs of cyrillic.
- no hinting

All the best,

Jasper
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Comments

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,117
    Serif or sans? Comment more on the design?
  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 193
    Congrats, @Jasper de Waard!
  • It's a sans, but not as simple as most sans serifs.
  • add in for a Cyrillic consultant that you will most definitely need.
    Especially considering that "not as simple".
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 216
    edited October 2
    .
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 75
    edited October 3
    Just some things to keep in mind as you research this. If you're not familiar with Cyrillic, researching these kinds of things will take time (which might mean charging more).
    There are many Cyrillic characters that are sometimes used, rarely used, were once used, are obsolete, or are used here but not there. It can be difficult to know what to include and what to leave out.
    There are some localized variants of the same glyphs. For example, some glyphs used in the Balkan countries differ from those used elsewhere, even though they represent the same character. ( https://bit.ly/2IzE3DX )
    Also, the italic (or cursive) glyphs sometimes bear little to no resemblance to their upright counterparts. So simply slanting the glyphs and leaving it at that will get you into trouble.
    As already mentioned, a Cyrillic consultant could be invaluable since there are so many gotchas to stumble across. Of course, if you find a native Russian speaker, he or she will likely give you a very different take on things than a Serb.
  • simply slanting the glyphs and leaving it at that will get you into trouble.
    As already mentioned, a Cyrillic consultant could be invaluable since there are so many gotchas to stumble across. Of course, if you find a native Russian speaker, he or she will likely give you a very different take on things than a Serb.
    Do Cyrillic users reject oblique fonts?
    if you find a native Russian speaker, he or she will likely give you a very different take on things than a Serb.
    I've noticed that you will also get very different takes if you ask Cyrillic type designers versus Cyrillic-using graphic designers... The former are much more conservative.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,294
    I didn’t find a Cyrillic consultant necessary, although I did attend a brilliant Cyrillic seminar in New York, organized by the TDC, involving Maxim Zhukov. 

    I relied primarily on a number of reference sources, most notably the books:

    Language. Culture. Type. Ed. John Berry
    Paratype Originals Digital Typefaces. 2004 | 2005. Ed. Yakupov and Yefimov.
    …and various studies of Cyrillic art and design—Constructivist posters, of course.

    The Paratype web site character map tables were also very helpful.

    And discussions at the online forum Typophile. 

    The main principle I followed was to look at native Cyrillic types in the same genre as my design, and determine the shape of the norm for a particular character within that genre. Then, basing my glyph on that shape (with suitable adjustments to harmonize with the rest of my glyphs), I would avoid making glaring errors that would annoy native Cyrillic typographers.

    Even so, a design is a design, irrespective of precedents and users, and one should stick to the principle themes that structure one’s invention, and one’s own taste.

    For instance, does one give straight or curved legs to ж and к? 
    Unless one’s design is a slavish revival, there is no right or wrong when just those letters are considered, the important thing is to draw the legs so that those characters work well with the rest of the font.

    This is merely the same principle that Latin designers use, for instance in deciding whether /a and /g should be one or two storey.

  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 75
    edited October 3
    Nick, I wasn't suggesting that it was necessary to consult with a Cyrillic expert. I was just suggesting that it could save a bunch of time and be very helpful in avoiding problems.
    One pitfall in relying on existing typefaces for guidance in Cyrillic is that so many of those typefaces have been designed by westerners who have relied on other westerners' work for guidance. In other words, irregularities get perpetuated in a blind-leading-the-blind situation.
    Take Greek for example. Many Greek glyphs in many fonts are really just Romanized interpretations of what the Greek glyphs might look like from a modern Latinized perspective. This has become so common that it's barely noticeable any longer — even to someone from Greece.
    Similarly, we can all disagree a bit on how to define western italics, but whatever definition we use, it likely won't quite jive with Cyrillic. Instead, Cyrillic italics stem more directly from their handwritten cursive equivalents — a few of which do not resemble their blocky, difficult to write, uprights — similar, I suppose, to the difference between our italic lowercase s and our cursive script version of that same s.
    Guy from Moscow says, "What's this curvy thing on this one Russian letter?" I respond, Well, it matches the curvy thing on this similarly shaped letter." To which the Russian guy says, "Well, it's OK on that other letter, but it looks weird on this one." I respond with, "What's the difference?" He says, "I don't know. It just looks wrong."
    It's sometimes useful to get this kind of feedback from a native.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,294
    One pitfall in relying on existing typefaces for guidance in Cyrillic is that so many of those typefaces have been designed by westerners who have relied on other westerners' work for guidance.

    That is why I recommended the Paratype specimen as a source for native Cyrillic design.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about “it just looks wrong” if your typeface is original (not a revival or genre exercise). I may be Latin-centric, but I always think of those faces such as the wonderful and popular Souvenir with its “wrong” /g, and apply the same criteria to Cyrillic.

    Is there any reason Cyrillic and Greek should be more conventional than Latin?


  • For those of you who have collaborated with “native” type designers on Cyrillic (or other scripts somewhat related to Latin), how was your process and what approach to compensation did you have? I'm curious at what stage and in what way the collaborator was involved in the design, and I expect this to be a wide range depending on the project, but nonetheless would be curious about actual concrete examples.
  • A bunch of valuable comments by certain people helped me shape my understanding of what is actually going on behind the visible surface of Greek glyphs. And, equally important: a) study of the script’s history (essential!); b) dive into streets and backyards for lettering, gets you the right smell of things.
    At the end I always decide on my own about all the details in a font.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,005
    Alexei Vanyashin has specialized in these kinds of collaborations, the first one I commissioned from him for Google Fonts was Lobster Cyrillic, and he's worked for many foundries on such things over the years since. I highly recommend his services and suggest you contact him for a quote.
  • Any ballpark estimates would be greatly appreciated.
    As much as you can get away with.

     I like the job for more than the money, so I won't charge too much

    Your fees shouldn't be determined by the amount of joy a project will bring. Your time is finite, it's the one thing you can never make more of. Times may get hard later in life and this additional income may help.

    To determine what you can charge, factor in the following:
    - How big is the company?
    - What's their revenue?
    - Add at least 30% because you'll end up doing admin

    Another approach is to consider what lifestyle you want. How much does this lifestyle cost and how long will the work take? if there's no recurring work afterwards, I'd add an additional percentage because you're not guaranteed a full time income.

    Please don't shoot yourself in the foot and charge a pittance. It hurts everyone in the end. By going high from the beginning, there's room to negotiate the price down. It's almost impossible to do the reverse.
  • I will say you want a Cyrillic expert.  We learned something interesting when we did an expansion of Omnes to four new scripts (two of which will be available through Adobe soon).  You're not exactly matching the look of the font but the feel.  That is, much of what makes a font desirable is the mood it conveys (there are other technical things of course).  Therefore, you might make an Omnes Cyrillic that doesn't even look that much like the same thing to an English speaker but it is doing the same thing culturally.  Only a fluent language expert can tell you if you've gotten that right.
  • Depending on who the client is they may be able work in that role.  Sometimes there's a commissioning designer who really understands fonts and can do it.  But in an ideal world someone is on the team who has the fluency to tell you if you're getting it right.  We all have to cut corners sometimes.

    To the point about pricing based on the value of your time:  There is a way to thread this needle that lets you get the exciting jobs while still conveying to the client that your time has high value.  GIve them the price it "should" be and then also give them a discount. List both on the invoice.  There's no shame in saying a particular project is so exciting to you that you'll do it for next to nothing.  If anything, it shows that you're doing well enough to be able to afford to care about things other than money.
  • but... when you give a deep discount remember that you're doing them a favor.  That means you don't have to "give away the store".  It can be non exclusive so that what they do pay helps you to get close to a retail release.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,294
    You raise an interesting point Joyce, that as well as not making an obvious mistake of character shape, the question of general tone is also important in cross-language-script extensions.

    So perhaps Jasper could offer his services in advising on Latin type design, in exchange for advice from a native Cyrillic type designer.
  • @Dave Crossland now I know who to blame for being surrounded by Lobster. It's practically the only free Cyrillic typeface with a friendly and casual mood, so I see it every day on every third advertisement. "New summer menu!" Lobster. "Shellac coating: three nails for the price of two!" Lobster again. "The best vacation for the best price!" Lobster!

    Google should really commission another Cyrillic font so Moscow doesn't resemble a 19th century Maine prison menu. :)

    Going back to the topic, I would price the extension between 50% and 100% of the original work. On one hand, you've already done the overall design of the typeface, on the other hand, you have to draw about as many characters as you already have and probably pay a consultant.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,005
    lol! Yeah, lobster is popular... I would love to see more companies commissioning designers to extend libre fonts to more scripts, like Latin to Latin Cyrillic and Greek...
  • lol! Yeah, lobster is popular... I would love to see more companies commissioning designers to extend libre fonts to more scripts, like Latin to Latin Cyrillic and Greek...
    Companies like Google?  :grimace:
  • Just for the sake of clarity, I never suggested deep discounts. I just think that the skills I learn while doing cyrillic type design are my own education, and thus should not be paid for by a potential client. I want to charge as much as I would if I already had significant cyrillic experience. Charging for all the extra work involved with learning a new script would also make me a rediculously expensive cyrillic designer.
  • Also, apologies for my rudeness. Thanks everyone for some very insightful remarks! I'll let you know when I know more :)
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,005
    lol! Yeah, lobster is popular... I would love to see more companies commissioning designers to extend libre fonts to more scripts, like Latin to Latin Cyrillic and Greek...
    Companies like Google?  :grimace:
    Google already commissions a lot of libre font development. I would like to see more companies who use libre fonts (especially those in regions using scripts other than latin) do so
  • I know money is tight at Google, but shouldn't they be commissioning, at a minimum, Greek and Cyrillic versions of any and all typefaces on Google Fonts?
  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 313
    edited October 8
    Why are folks suddenly bashing Google? They commission and have commissioned loads. Greek and cyrillic for their entire library seems pretty unrealistic to me.

    I think that if they did extend their entire library to cyrillic and greek, we'd start complaining about how Google is pushing all the competition out...
  • For the record, I'm not bashing Google. I'm just currently trying to get a type family with extensive Cyrillic and Greek into GF, so it's in my interest to support the idea. :grimace:
    Yeah, extending «any and all» fonts on GF is pretty unrealistic.
  • Why is "any and all" unrealistic for a company that has, in practical terms, unlimited resources? Google could hire hundreds, nay, thousands of employees and put them to work on type without causing the slightest dent in its profitability.

    I'm being slightly hyperbolic, but I can't be the only one to think that Google's approach to type is almost hilariously slapdash. Last year they proudly blogged about updating a dozen popular families, without mentioning the hundreds of substandard entries in their catalog that need much more than a few added weights.
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