A newbie’s attempt at a serif typeface... Please be nice, but not too nice

Hey there, good people :blush:
I thought a while about first introducing myself in full length, but then I told myself that my short story doesn’t really justify that. About me: Philipp, turning 22 in a few days, studying Business Psychology in Hesse, Germany. Got into lettering around 2016, but quickly found myself turning to the computer for... probably for comfort. Now, having practiced with a few sans typefaces (grotesque and neogrotesque as well as spurless), I subjected myself to the challenge of a serif typeface. Little did I know, it’s actually hard - who woulda guessed, right?  :#
This serif typeface has the working title Catalina, although that name seems to be already taken. It is intended for... Well, because I’m just working on the regular-regular-regular cut, for text/body copy usage around 12-26 pt, probably. I drew inspiration from GT Sectra, Swift and FF Scala. The numerals were influenced by Mrs Eaves and Freight Text, though. The goal is to achieve a very modern (meaning 21st century), sharp and quite elegant look/feel. Current state is semi-kerned, there should not be too many issues with kerning, except for some all-caps combinations.
Regarding my workflow, you can probably tell that the process did not start on paper. I just started with some cool-looking c and s (bad idea, I know), which now of course look astonishingly different. Additionally, both my computer screen and FontLab 7 have a say in what the typeface looks like, much to the disliking of type professionals, I guess. 
Anyway, your critique is greatly appreciated. Any critique, of course. Thanks so much in advance.

PS: Proof text (attached PDF) is by the great Jonathan Hoefler, available here: https://www.typography.com/blog/text-for-proofing-fonts


Comments

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,012
    I dislike the diamond periods/tittles. That shape works better in typefaces with more humanist stress in my opinion. 
    /E and /L feel narrow to me. 
    Ear of /g may be too timid. 
  • Nathan ZimetNathan Zimet Posts: 64
    edited June 15
    I think you could try reading a large amount (like 10-15 full pages) of text size text in your font to make adjustments and make the letters work better together. I like copying pages from Wikipedia into text documents. And if you are able to, also print a few pages to see it in point size physically. 

    You could look to make the contrast in all the letters and numbers more consistent, as well as how pointy/blunt corners are. the serifs on the lowercase x are nice but you should also do that on the v w y as well. There's a lot of small details in the letters I would refine and balance, like that none of the serifs in the caps are large enough (compared to lowercase, for a text size font), especially those connected to thin strokes.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 618
    I will agree that the diamond tittles seem to be a mismatch with the highly contemporary design. However, I really only find the ones on the lowercase i and j problematic, not the ones in the punctuation, although I suppose consistency is needed.
    Otherwise, I see no real issues with a beautiful typeface!
    And, come to think of it, I'm not really sure it's a good idea to change the diamond tittles, even if they seem to be a mismatch.
    Instead of taking the unique serifs on the x, and trying to do the same for v, w, and y, I'd be more inclined to go with boring ordinary serifs for the x, because this could cause confusion with other characters if you were, later, to extend the font to a larger character set. Again, though, I think the face is better off keeping its charming unique features.
  • Hallo Philipp

    It's a solid starting point, I had a look at the pdf and leave some comments below. Hope it makes sense and that you find it useful :smile:

    Texture: lettershapes are leaning to a more compact / condensed text font. It would be good to test the typeface in smaller sizes too, because I had the feeling that the letterfitting might be a bit tight. The space character also feels slightly generous and that combined with the letterfitting does not give a sharp/even text texture yet. 

    I have more comments for lowercase letters, since it's easier to spot the issues while reading:

    General comment about the terminals: some terminals feel lighter than others, and overall all terminals might be a touch timid. Compare /a and /f so you may want to harmonise the terminals across the set.  

    /a: shoulder would benefit to have a touch more weight or tension. Also for /n and siblings.
    /b: feels a tad narrow compared to /p and a lot narrower than /o.
    /e: feels narrow compared to /a and rounds.
    /g: The ear looks weak / timid. Also, I'm unsure about the connection. It looks inspired by calligraphy and your design express a more constructed strutucture, it feels more 'transitional' than 'garalde' to me.
    /i: same as above, I'd use a round tittle to match the constructed structrure; I agree with Craig.
    /o: the 'o' stands out a lot in the text. it's ok to have contrast in proportions between /n and /o but I think it went too far... Also, if you want to create a 'very modern' font as you mentioned, perhaps you need to tone it down even further, as this contrast in proportions evokes traditional models.
    /P: check south-east section of the bowl, feels heavy.
    /Q: tail feels timid/weak.
    /r: terminal feels weak.
    /s: feels wide.
    /t: ascending stroke looks a bit too short and there is a tiny curve on the right side that looks a bit off. 
    /U: I'd make the stem on the right as a hairline.
    /X/x: not sure about removing the serifs. If you go for it, make the Uppercase slightly narrower as it is collecting a bit too much of white in the counters.
    /y: terminals feels weak and a bit too long to the left.
    /z: feels wide.
    figures: haven't seen them in context, but by comparison, the counters of /six and /nine are huge. also /zero.
    /ampersand: downstroke seems a bit 'affectated' because of the curve and your design is very straight-forward overall. Also, this stroke is tapering down in weight.
    /question: curve feels light compared to /exclam.
    /comma: tip of comma looks quite thin.


  • Thank you guys very much for all your input, I really appreciate it!

    Regarding the tittles/punctuation: I will definitely try out the simple round shape, but I would love to try a different approach as well... I am a huge fan of the quirky boxy shape on GT Sectra, for example.

    Regarding the upper left serif on /x: I deliberately made it correspond with the serifs on /r, /m, /n, /i, /j, so in body copy that does not look too weird in my opinion. The lower right serif corresponds with /k, and indirectly, with the lower right ones on /R and /K, so I am not sure about adding serifs here. Maybe that's an option for /X though, gonna explore that idea.

    I already changed the width of /E and /L, since that was a quick fix. Regarding all the other suggestions, those are gonna take a little while, since my studies are currently occupying too much of my time (for another 4 weeks). 

    Again, every suggestion was very helpful, and thanks again for taking your precious time to look at my typeface with a critical eye. Gonna post an update as soon as I work in all the changes. In the meantime, any other suggestions and ideas are of course welcome!
  • Can I ask what do you mean by «very modern (meaning 21st century)»? Huh?
  • Philipp SchumannPhilipp Schumann Posts: 15
    edited June 23
    Can I ask what do you mean by «very modern (meaning 21st century)»? Huh?
    That's a good question. Maybe contemporary would be a better adjective. The first typeface that comes to mind is (Neue) Swift, but Guardian Egyptian Text is another fitting example, in my opinion, and so is Charter BT, I feel.
    These typefaces all have serifs that are neither neoclassical/modern/hairline, nor old-style or transitional, because they're not smooth, but pretty angular and straight, almost sharp. To me, they seem kind of a hybrid of slab serifs and transitional, wedge serifs. They have a horizontal stress and rather open counters, and a high curve tension. 
    GT Sectra takes the straight lines even further and integrates them in its bowls, which I interpret as another step in the same direction. 
    If there is already a good description for those, I apologize, and please let me know  :#
    I hope my explanation clarified my rather weird wording in the first post.  :D
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