Would someone please help me with my slab serif?

JoannesMathieuJoannesMathieu Posts: 6
edited March 26 in Type Design Critiques
Hello typographers

I am a hobbyist dabbling into illustration and graphic design and I am trying now for the first time to design a typeface. I'm doing a slab serif roughly inspired by the Proteus Project. I started out with setting Saracen in a low res at small point size, then manually added and removed pixels, then went into illustrator and did some 3d-filters. With that as a basis I am now building my typeface, mostly looking at Acropolis for guidance.

However, I am not at all pleased with how it's looking now. Before I go on to make the rest of the letters (IF I even go on) I would very much appreciate some honest feedback, and some tips maybe on how to get this thing better looking. It doesn't have to become a world class font, I only want the average graphic designer not to see that I made it myself. Thanks in advance for anyone willing to spew some critique!

A technical question also: I am working in Illustrator for now (then copy pasting to fontlab 7), but if I want to change the overall ratios of my letters (let's say make all stems a bit thicker), that is a lot of work (especially since Illustrator won't snap properly and I have to zoom all the time). Is it worth learning fontlab for this? Or is it an equal amount of work in that program?

Also: I am working with an 8 degree angle. But if I copy the letters into Fontlab some angles are 8.1 some are 7.9, and some are even more off. Is this something you worry about? Or do I ignore it? (I guess I know the answer...)

Thank you and all best


  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 24
    The lowercase U is problematic.
  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 151
    Consider starting with an upright version, where inconsistencies will be easier to see and address. You can then add a slant and make further adjustments.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 991
    There's inconsistency in the blockiness. With letters like /b/e/o/ having some (relatively) finer details and diagonal chamfers, letters like /h/m/n/r/u/ seem unnecessarily rigid and rectilinear. 
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 533
    edited March 26
    Is it worth learning fontlab for this?

    It absolutely is, or any other font editor for that matter.

  • Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate it a lot.
    - I was planning to redraw the /u after I knew what I wanted the /v an /w to look like. But it is good to know that so many agree that it is a bad /u.
    - Inconsistent blockiness: thanks for pointing it out!
    - Starting with an upright version: good to know that this is easier to spot inconsistencies. I'm not sure yet if I will give it a try, because if I ever make an upright, I would like it to have slightly different letterforms (though I realize that what I have here is more of an oblique than a real italic...)
  • Nathan ZimetNathan Zimet Posts: 61
    edited March 27
    The italic angle changing by 0.1 degrees is fine, it won't be noticeable. You can make sure that lines that will be very close to each other in text have the same x/y lengths such as the left/right edge of /o, which should be the same in the bowls of /p /d /b /q Like in the letter combination "po"
    You might find this thread useful. https://typedrawers.com/discussion/2809/italics-angle-compensations. However, your font is much more geometric than handwritten.

    I agree the /u is not recognizable. The whitespace is filled in at the bottom in letters like /m and /k, so I don't think you should just flip that to the top in one letter. for the /v and /w, consider a serif at the bottom of the letter like in this sports font.
    (sorry for raw link my hyperlink keeps breaking)

    My opinion:
    In the "po" letter combination, the cut in bottom right corner of /p is does not optically go up as high as in the bottom left corner of /o or /e. This doesn't feel as much as an issue in "oq."
    The slow tapering at the tail end of /e doesn't match other letters. In the /j and /k you have a strong diagonal angle, use that for reference. You should also edit the /t to match as well. 

  • JoannesMathieuJoannesMathieu Posts: 6
    edited March 27
    Hello Nathan, thanks for taking the time to write that extensive analysis! It is definitely helpful. Especially about the cut in /p/o not being consistent. That will hopefully be an easy fix. The slow tapering in the /e will be more difficult, since if the angle gets too sharp, the letter starts looking 3d or calligraphic, which I want to avoid (and which is why I introduced the slow tapering in the first place). The bottom serif on /v and /w is a good idea, thank you.
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