The cooper black treatment...on a blackletter. Looking for your input.

Matthijs HerzbergMatthijs Herzberg Posts: 143
edited July 2020 in Type Design Critiques
Hello all,
I hope my somewhat frequent feedback requests aren't starting to annoy anybody. What can I say, this is a great community and I honestly have no other place to get such high quality CC.
I started this a while back and have been chipping at it slowly. It's a blackletter (nothing more specific than that, it draws from all sorts of styles) without a single sharp angle. Purpose is obviously display. I've looked a lot at how Cooper Oswald treated an oldstyle to end up with Cooper Black, trying to apply similar logic. I imagine this typeface as having been painted with a heavily loaded elliptical brush, with some nib rotation here and there.
The default caps are simplified and a bit Romanized, in order to be easily recognizable by a layman, and also in order to work in an all-caps setting (I know all-caps blackletter is frowned upon, but people love it anyway--might as well work with it). In addition to that I've made a set of funkier Fraktur-ish swash caps, for the blackletter connoisseur. These are, for now, less important and more of a secondary feature.
x-height is quite large, with very short ascenders and descenders, to get that 'tubby' feel of Cooper Black, and to allow tight leading.
Besides completing the character set, I want to try really pushing the weight and making an ultra black version of this, and also think a light version and a gothicized italic could be cool... but for now, I'd love to hear if anybody sees obvious flaws.

Thank you in advance!


  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,091
    When I saw the title, I was expecting it to be horrible. But no, you made it work, and work well!
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398
    I like it!
    /T seems light. My eye gets hung up on /h. Tittles feel flattened. Asterisk may be too geometric. Are /s and maybe /m too wide? And regular /A and /M look wide also. /G looks too /C-like. 
  • @Craig Eliason Cheers for this. Does your eye get hung up on/h because of the descending leg, or is it something else?
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,091
    Hmm. In order not to flatten the tittles on the i and j, you would have to reduce the x-height. Which, however, would not be a bad thing; blackletter is a traditional typeface, so it shouldn't really have the large x-height characteristic of more recent faces which were designed to squeeze lots of text onto very little paper.
    Comparing E to T shows that T has the correct stroke width; it just looks light because it's a simpler letter - is making it a trifle bolder an appropriate form of optical compensation?
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398
    @Craig Eliason Cheers for this. Does your eye get hung up on/h because of the descending leg, or is it something else?
    It's the leg, but not so much the fact that it descends as much as the "wiggliness" of it. 
  • WHOA. This is freakin' gnarly. I'm in love.

    Some initial thoughts:
    • Like Craig said, the first thing that stuck out to me was the geometric / sharp feeling asterisk. May be the case for the exclamation mark too but not as drastic. Wish I had suggestions as to how to improve but needs more "blob" ;)
    • The descender of the "h" is rad, but maybe better to have as an alternate. Totally up to you, though! I think the simple leg of the "n" may be a better approach for the default.
    • Would love to see a bit more space between the bowl of the "d" and the ascender. Since it's jutting inward, I think a bit more negative space in there could help with legibility.
    • Cap _S_ may be optically leaning left just a bit? 
    • I'd have to see them in context but I'm thinking your capital round characters may be a bit too light (O, C, G, Q)
    Really really love this, excited to see more!
  • nice idea! The two alternating sets of capitals is a smart concept.
    – revisit the descender terminals of q and p.
    – look at an ordinary fraktur h and you’ll see whats wrong with this one.
    – y is a bit too wild, it sort of stands out in text.
    – I’d rather go for a simple g here.
    – top part of frakt. J is insufficient.
    – frakt. Y is too wide and loud.
    – frakt. Z: descender is too outrageous for my taste.
  • Jani PaavolaJani Paavola Posts: 43
    edited July 2020
    This looks very nice!
    My favourite bits are /b /p /q
    My observations:
    /s a touch too wide?
    /h wiggly leg a bit too light?
    /E /F /T top bar slightly too light?
  • ivan louetteivan louette Posts: 327
    Nice design and Wonderfull texture !
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398
    – I’d rather go for a simple g here.
    Yes, the binocular /g here is well executed (no mean feat!), but given the blackletter structure of letters like /d, /k, /y, etc., a one-story /g is worth considering.
  • Wow, thanks everyone for your input! I’ll have to take a little time to review each point and make changes. Will post an update when ready.
  • This is charming!
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 182
    Plain /U is strangely symmetrical and square; I would fully round the bottom left.
    Plain /X seems kind of dark.
    I question the vertical you've used in Fraktur /I/M/N/U, because it comes off as arbitrarily wobbly like I'm seeing it through some kind of underwater filter.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,091
    The lowercase h may be inauthentic, but I'm not sure it can be improved upon. The only letter I have a real issue with is the capital Q from the second, fully Fraktur, capital alphabet. Surely a diagonal stroke to the tail like that can't be authentic.
  • Matthijs HerzbergMatthijs Herzberg Posts: 143
    edited July 2020
    Hi all,
    I've reviewed all feedback and have made a bunch of changes. Some are minor, others major.
    I think the single story /g (and its cousin in form, /y) are pretty cool. I think one of them should be default, the other available as an alternate. Just not sure which, though.
    /p and /q/ have less dense decenders with the diamond removed, which is good for texture but I'm not entirely sure if I prefer it. Opinions welcome.

    /h has been straightened out a little, no more wiggly leg. I do prefer the historical descending leg, but made an alt with an /n-like leg as @Scott Biersack suggested.

    Caps have been given adjustments as suggested (letters with changed marked by red dot below). Round letters do leave a lot of whitespace, but I think I'm going to keep it that way. What I lose in texture, I gain in proportionality--such are caps.

    Also a sneak peek of ultra black, which is proving challenging but fun. Very unfinished!
    Look forward to hearing all your thoughts.

  • … one of them should be default, the other available as an alternate. Just not sure which, though.
    it is your job to make decisions. If you are unsure about a shape, don’t misuse the alternates to shield it … at one point you’ll know what’s right and then go for it.
    the h is much better now, also the g, y nad p, q of opt. 2. The desc. of y could bear some difference from that of g, maybe an opening?
    the s still looks ‘squeezed’ a bit …

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398
    edited July 2020
    Looking great. New descenders work well.
    Tittles in black look still more squooshed. In both, you might consider cheating the stem of /i and /j a little shorter to make more room for a taller dot.
    Do you plan to support languages with diacritics? Headspace for those will be something else to solve if so.
  • it is your job to make decisions. If you are unsure about a shape, don’t misuse the alternates to shield it … at one point you’ll know what’s right and then go for it.
    Of course! I'm making some proofs to see it all in context, and will mull it over a bit. Thanks for your help with the problem-glyphs.

    @Craig Eliason I forgot to mention it, but I unsquashed the tittles by making them rise above the ascender height a bit. I did the same thing in the black, but perhaps not by enough of a margin. Cheating like this would also work on diacritics, although I do like the idea of squashing the stems of /i and /j a little.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited July 2020
    I love it up close! And your recent changes are certainly for the better, especially on the /h/.
    But in the copy block about Sperrung, I'm getting a strange scintillating impression from the font that feels very different from the solidity of Cooper Black. Might have something to do with the extreme contrast of the fine lines here and there? Or the «wobble» in the outgoing leg of «n» and the like? Then again, this is probably not meant as a text font (and neither is Cooper Black), so you can probably safely ignore this issue.
    I do find myself wondering what the font would look like if the straighter leg design of the new /h/ were propagated into /n/ etc., though...
    Oh, and the ultrablack is just awesome.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 761
    I think Q needs a bigger tail.
  • @Christian Thalmann "Scintillating" was a new word to me, but I think its a great description. I think this is simply a result of the blackletter DNA: the broken shapes and calligraphic contrast just have that effect. I'd go as far as to say it is a feature, not a bug.

    @""Vasil Stanev" Agreed!
  • Something you could consider with this is make a stylistic set named "historical forms" or something to that effect to include your original "y", "descender h", etc. and another set named "modern forms" (or whatever you choose) that includes the newer Option 2 forms you drew for the "y", "g", "q", etc. 

    This way you could remain true to the Fraktur source material while still appealing to a broader market :)

    Overall, loving the new single story "g" and new "y" as well. Would love to continue seeing it with more context rather than single letterforms on their own. Helpful to see how it all interacts with other letterforms in words, paragraphs, etc.
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 118
    edited July 2020
    Somewhere in the past, a friend referred to Cooper Black as honest type, and I think that you've captured that aspect perfectly.—audacious but unpretentious, perhaps even a bit naïve. Jolly good fun and a pleasure to the eyes.
    Personally, I prefer the original /g/ and /y/ but I understand the rationale for the revised versions. Perhaps they could be included in a stylistic set.
  • I saw this on twitter a while ago just wanted to share it in case it's useful as reference.

    I really really love your alphabet as it is I'm just sharing the link.  
  • Rounded corners add charm to almost all the faces I have seen them applied to :)
  • @Scott Biersack Good suggestion! I’ll have to figure out how exactly to do it but I like the idea of a historical set, which could also include a long s and an r rotunda.
    @Nick Curtis Thank you! And I think I like the original g and y best, so the new ones will be the alternates probably.
    @Nathan Zimet Damn that’s cool. Thanks for sharing.

    I’ve been working on the ultra black (pretty labor intensive, especially the fraktur caps), and my computer has fatally crashed so progress on this project is temporarily halted. Thank heaven for cloud storage.
  • Matthijs HerzbergMatthijs Herzberg Posts: 143
    edited August 2020
    Hi all,
    I have a new computer and resumed progress. I think I'm calling it "Arsch"--appropriately inappropriate and a wink to my favorite blackletter-er.

    Showing it here along with the regular weight, with a little more context.
    One challenge, compared to the regular, was maintaining consistency in both stroke weight and texture. There had to be some compromises, obviously, most of all in the Fraktur caps.

    There's plenty of little kinks to smoothen out, spacing has been neglected and I haven't even started kerning yet.

    Anyway, thoughts and feedback welcome as always.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited August 2020
    Looks great overall! I can't say I like the complex /A/, though. You can probably afford to use a more traditional blackletter form since modern-day legibility is less of an issue in that cut.
    The complex /M/ in «Miniature» looks very wobbly to me next to the more solid lowercase letters. Maybe fatten the thin connections a bit?
    The single-storey /g/ and /y/ are definitely better than their counterparts. Maybe a single-storey /a/ would make a useful stylistic alternate.
  • Leck mich am Aasch?
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