Swash Capital I and O


I'm working on swash caps for a serif book face. All is going great, I think, but I'm having difficulty coming up with swash variants for the I and the O. I know that they are often simply omitted, but I'm curious whether anyone knows a typeface with a successful execution of either.


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,828
    Take a look at Poetica, which is mostly derived from the Cataneo manuscript. It illustrates several options for making a swash I, mostly involving a hook at the top left.

    The commonest swash form of O is probably the taller, descending form, which makes sense if that's also your treatment for the swash C. There are also forms with internal decoration (again, see Poetica).

    I remain quite partial to the Superman curlicue swash O that I made for Gabriola:

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,521
    I can’t say how successful, but I have made two attempts at providing swash variants of all the Latin letters. Pratt Pro Fine Bold Italic (above) and Oneleigh Regular Italic.

  • @John Hudson Thanks! Poetica does a great job of showing the options one has with swash capitals.

    @Nick Shinn Some nice swashes you've got there. I used similar structures for I and O in Proza Display, but the I looks too much like a J IMO, and the O just feels a bit forced. No criticism of your work of course, but I'm looking for something, well, different.

    I'm starting to think that either I invent something new, or the I and O are going to stay sober.
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 187
    edited March 2019
    /O is super easy, plenty of solutions for it but I've always hated /I because there's not much you can do before it starts to get illegible. The common solution has always been to take something from cursive or pointed pen calligraphy like the one in Nick's bold version. Since you asked I'm going to treat this as a lettering exercise for myself and in the process maybe something may come out of it that might be useful to you. But first, can we see some of the other letters with swashes? 
  • So far I've got:

  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 453
    edited March 2019

    How about the top one?
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 187
    edited March 2019
    That first version on top is similar to something I was sketching up actually to take advantage of the looped terminal. Link to [Sketch]

    Edit: Last attempt for the night. [Sketch2] [Sketch3]
  • … the I looks too much like a J…
    remember that the J is actually a swash I (by origin). So a more or less obvious kinship between the two in a swash set is not per se a bad thing.

  • @Andreas Stötzner Thanks, that's interesting to know. Nevertheless, this kind of knowledge is probably not common for most people, so I'd rather avoid confusion if I can.

    The bottom option makes the bottom tail very small and narrow, in an attempt to minimize similarities with J, but I still read it as a J first, I second. Also, I like the top version because I've never seen this structure before. Is it too weird, though?

  • That top one threatens to read as an L. And the bottom may be J first, T second, I third!
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 904
    That top one threatens to read as an L.

    Or possibly Z in certain contexts.

  • Maybe I should make it a multifunctional swashcap? ;)

  • How about the top one?
    I am quite fond of your original (second option). Perhaps the swash could be somewhere between the current size and the size of the swash on the H.
  • @Matthew Smith Yes I'll probably end up with something like that. It just feels a bit too easy to me. Stick a curl on and presto!
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 187
    edited March 2019
    I had to overlay it on your sample just to get an idea if it even works. Here's a super rough idea that came to me while I was at work and had to quickly sketch it as soon as I got home. The idea was to borrow swash endings from K and L, also borrowing the swash from F for the top of /I but shorter that way it doesn't get too wide. the outline I did there was just random bunch of nodes thrown in together to get the basic shape.
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