Uneven/unbalanced serifs?

Here's a potentially dumb question: In some typefaces, left and right serifs are uneven, and not only where that would serve better contrast, such as K and R, but also I. My untutored eye can't find a system there. Is it even designed like that, or is it just the way the ink flowed, and the serifs should be balanced? Are there any rules I should follow? Take the example below, for instance. The I seems to have stronger serifs on the left, with a shallower curve into the stem. H seems to be the other way round? I'm so confused :(



Comments

  • I recall reading something about longer serifs on the right side directing the eye? Honestly, sounds like an unprovable theory by some type nerd somewhere.

    The fact that there is no recurring logic between the I and H makes me fairly confident that the inconsistency stems from either an imperfectly cut punch, imperfect pressure when printed, or ink bleed.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,698
    I think these are just quirks of the printing process. Especially if this is an old metal type specimen.
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 79
    Deliberate or not, the differences in this specimen are so subtle that they would not be noticed by the typesetter, who would not give a moment's thought to whether the I has a right and wrong way up.
  • My interpretation: I am more on James’s side. Some of this might be due to the printing process. I doubt that the typeface had imperfectly-cut punches.

    By the time this was made, Schelter & Giesecke was a giant foundry, using many of the technological aides in type making that were available. They used pantographs (to some extent I can’t define) in punchcutting, and they also had an internal drawing office (although I don’t know if the draughtsmen and draughtswomen [there was at least one woman on the team]) worked on every new typeface or not. If there are asymmetrical serifs in this typeface, then I would suspect that they are there by design, not by accident.
  • This kind of asymetry (some serifs onger to the right) is more visible in early venetian romans, due to their dynamics which is closer to the formal scripts of these times. Even Nicolas Jenson use it on some of his lower case characters.

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