PGF-Trajanite

Hi guys, after few years without putting any project under public judgment, so here I decide to post this old one that I started to draw in 2013 and keep developing it from time to time until these days.

As a real fan of the Capital Roman model (as in typographic and calligraphic form) I focus my attention on the classical "Capitalis Monumentalis" proportion scheme.


Then I translate this handmade drawing into a digital vector version, in order to get a more accurate idea about the resulting letter shapes.


After this geometric mess, I tried to find every letterform out of it.




Then I get a rough first idea of how it looks the whole alphabet.


Then the current 2021 version is now quite different and less mathematically geometric to be a more optically balanced.



Then I simplify the scheme structure in order to start the lower case design process and decide a harmonic proportion for them.



I will post more images about the design progress in a while.

You can check closer details on the attached PDF below.

Comments

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    This is a nice project, and I like that you have recognised the moment at which to step away from the geometry and start working optically. A lot of people who start a design with a geometric scheme have trouble making that transition, clinging to the geometry too long instead of recognising that it is a foundation on which to build.

    In the latest, 2021 version, the C and G seem just a bit too wide relative to the other letters. I like the amount of presence they have, so wouldn’t make them too much narrower, but a bit would help balance better with D and O.

    This is still a very light weight design, which makes sense coming from the linear geometric foundation. Have you experimented with heavier weights yet? They are usually less forgiving, so it is a good idea to work out the heavier stroke versions before committing to structures in a lighter weight, especially in the lowercase.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,151
    That tiny beard on /G is at a scale matched by nothing else in the font, so I would scrap it. 

    In the latest, 2021 version, the C and G seem just a bit too wide relative to the other letters. I like the amount of presence they have, so wouldn’t make them too much narrower, but a bit would help balance better with D and O.
    Could closing the aperture a bit solve the mismatch without (or in addition to) narrowing the form?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    Could closing the aperture a bit solve the mismatch without (or in addition to) narrowing the form?

    It could, but I think that would be way less interesting. The opening of the aperture and the more ‘reaching’ arch is a nice feature introduced in the 2021 version: much more dynamic than the earlier, tighter form.
  • edited March 1

    In the latest, 2021 version, the C and G seem just a bit too wide relative to the other letters. I like the amount of presence they have, so wouldn’t make them too much narrower, but a bit would help balance better with D and O.
    Yes, I didn't see it until you tell me now, I changed now in this new update (version 2.8)

    This is still a very light weight design, which makes sense coming from the linear geometric foundation. Have you experimented with heavier weights yet? They are usually less forgiving, so it is a good idea to work out the heavier stroke versions before committing to structures in a lighter weight, especially in the lowercase.
    In fact, I'm handling 3 masters in order to have better control over the weights in between (to see details on first ideas please see the PDF attached below).




    That tiny beard on /G is at a scale matched by nothing else in the font, so I would scrap it.
    Yes, I could, I will try it and see if this will perform better, btw, it starts to make sense when interacting with further lowercase "t".

    Could closing the aperture a bit solve the mismatch without (or in addition to) narrowing the form?
    It was like that in the previous version, but I decided to follow a more classic calligraphic Roman ductus (constructive path for brush made "Capitalis Monumentalis").



  • Hmmm, the 2021 version is generally better than the geometric model, but I did prefer the slightly narrower top bowl in /B/ of the original.
    I would definitely lose the spur in /G/. I'm also always opposed to filled-in triangles in hairline typefaces, so I would use a crossed /t/ in the hairline that could transition into a triangular /t/ at heavier weights.
    The middle and heavy weights have widespread issues with consistency of stroke widths and contrast, especially in the smallcaps. Compare Regular /b.sc/ and /c.sc/, for example, or the horizontals in /f.sc/. I recommend sticking to a humanist contrast logic to preserve the calligraphic brush feeling of Trajan (esp. in /M/, /N/, etc.).
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,151
    Agree and proportions in small caps also need more attention. Small B has none of the narrowness of big B, thin smallcap D is too wide, thin smallcap F seems far wider than smallcap E, etc.
  • I agree with the idea to back to the classic proportion for "B", I took the lower "G" spur off and add a subtle little kind of serif on its horizontal bar, which could be considered a valid reference from the original brush model.
    I also retouch the contrast on "M" and "N" in order to better follow the roman model.
    More drastic changes on "b, d, e" small caps and slight touch on "c, f" and same contrast treatment on "m, n"

    Now I started to put an eye on first lowercase ideas, and keep working on update this updated version and proper build of the rest of the glyphs such as diacritics, numbers, mathematical operatos and, symbols.

    I leave you below here the PDF for a better-detailed view.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    Stepping out the junction of the k seems to move the lowercase in a different direction than the caps.
  • edited March 9
    Stepping out the junction of the k seems to move the lowercase in a different direction than the caps.

    What do you mean by "different direction"? in a stylistic way?


  • edited March 13
    Yes, I meant in a stylistic way: but that was based on looking at smaller size showings of the uppercase K, where the step wasn’t really obvious. I still find this a stylistic oddity in a typeface that derives from the proportions of classical Roman capitals. If the step is small enough just to function as a slight ink trap to get more white space into the intersection, that would be okay, but if it is really obvious, it becomes a design feature that doesn’t seem to fit with either the classical proportions or the geometric scheme.
    I'm compromising the regularity for the sake of distinction, that horizontal stroke on "K, k.sc, k" was a sort of ink trap, now I rid it off and back to the original brush-made model.
    Most of the lowercase letters are very stable, because of the geometric construction and vertical counter alignment, but the g has a strong dynamic push towards the lower right, which I think is because the hook does not extend far enough to the left.
    My intention with this specific feature was to increase the amount of space affecting the glyph with the idea to make it weightless (or more luminous, or subjectively more modern), in some way I'm following few details done in the geo-humanistic "PFG-Now" which are even more dramatic.
    I think the little spur on the bar of the G is unnecessary and a bit distracting. There’s nothing else like it in the other caps.
    Same story for the unnecessary spur or serif on "G" (shown on top) I just trying to find distinctive details, in this case, a very subtle one, this slant feature is also present on some finials like "E, F, T, L", I know I'm sacrificing the orthodox Sans Tradition, just because I would like to know the response of the users and designers, in the worse of the case I always could offer an alternative version to keep my crazy design decisions.
    I would make the heavy lowercase t just very slightly lighter, taking a couple of units off the vertical and the hook.
    Not sure if the change on"t" is noticeable now


    Have you tried a version of the light weight without the heavy dot on i and filled triangle on the t? I do find them distracting.
    Yes, I did, I see nothing too special, maybe I'm being too exaggerated yes, on next updates I will try a little less on these details, as a spoiler diacritics on light weights for this font, in general, are all heavier than the body glyphs (which also I can leave them as just a stylistic feature).
    I started to put my thoughts on lowercase groups, I have few doubts about the heavier weights details like the little white space that left between the bowl and stem on "b, a, d, p, q" group.






  • IMHO the /IJ/ looks unbalanced if the foot of /J/ doesn't extend all the way over to the /I/ side. The /ij/ is way too compressed; I don't think you're doing Dutch readers a favor with that.
    Good idea to allow the clumps in the Hairline to be switched off; if it were me, I'd put the clumps into an alternate and use the monolinear version as default.
    The snag on /G/ is currently very noticeable; maybe a subtle curve rather than a sudden kink would work better?
  • edited March 15
    IMHO the /IJ/ looks unbalanced if the foot of /J/ doesn't extend all the way over to the /I/ side. The /ij/ is way too compressed; I don't think you're doing Dutch readers a favor with that.

    Interesting matter this thing about ligatures are composed, some times they are totally square balanced and others don't, I research and see most of the Dutch typefaces are totally balanced, I'm not thinking doing favors to anybody with this, just follow what's I rather do on the rest of ligature shape compositions and in the case of "IJ" ligature, I tried to stay away from "U" shape, which always is a challenge to solve.


    In the case of the "LL" ligature, I feel the second version (the balanced one) has a too wide bottom base and call too much attention on itself, I agreed that is not the case of "IJ"

    Good idea to allow the clumps in the Hairline to be switched off; if it were me, I'd put the clumps into an alternate and use the monolinear version as default.
    Yeah, is not something that I like, but I understand some people would have more conservative preferences.
    The snag on /G/ is currently very noticeable; maybe a subtle curve rather than a sudden kink would work better?
    Not quite sure about putting a curved serif on "G", I see no much difference now, I will try and see what happens when interacts in a paragraph context.

  • Really nice project!

    The aperture on /e and /g on the thin weight (2.19) seems to open for me. The /e looks like it about to fall to the right.

    Also, the /S and /s doesn't look like it shares the same DNA to me. The /S have a narrower top, while the small caps and lowercase have about the same proportion top and bottom.

    The /k on regular weight looks a bit heavy on the joint. The bottom leg needs an optical correction I guess? Make it a bit tapered/flared.

    For /G I like the left one, the spur have same angle as the exit stroke on /L

    P.S I'm a beginner.
  • edited March 21
    P.S I'm a beginner.

    First of all, you have such an eye to see subtle details, that's a very good starting point for (as you said) a "beginner".

    The aperture on /e and /g on the thin weight (2.19) seems to open for me. The /e looks like it about to fall to the right.

    This time I back to check "e" and "g" but I can't do too much but just a little touches on them to at least improve its shape quality.
    Also, the /S and /s doesn't look like it shares the same DNA to me. The /S have a narrower top, while the small caps and lowercase have about the same proportion top and bottom.
    In the case of "S" and "s.sc" I changed it now, maybe is my fault to try to keep different criteria for its widths than the uppercase, I tend to make them more uniform instead to keep its humanist proportions, so I think I must recheck everything on small caps, in order to get a better DNA fits.
    Laurensius said:
    The /k on regular weight looks a bit heavy on the joint. The bottom leg needs an optical correction I guess? Make it a bit tapered/flared.
    For the "k" nothing to add just to thank you for catching such detail that I didn't.



    For /G I like the left one, the spur have same angle as the exit stroke on /L
    I totally agree with you on this.

    Now I started to check numbers and keep my thoughts on set this huge project as controlled as I can.


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