A collaborative typefaces developed with students

BenderskiBenderski Posts: 6
edited August 2021 in Type Design Critiques
Together with design students a font was developed as part of a type design class. As it was their first time playing with type, a monospaced and modular font was thought to be the most convenient approach.

Opinion are welcomed as we will like to hear and learn.

The font will be published at La Patria, an uruguayan graphic design archive and it will be free to download.


  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398
    Looks great!
    The structure of the V sticks out, but of course diagonal letters are going to be challenging in this style and I'm not sure I could come up with a better solution. 
    Some of the rounded corners look like they lose too much thickness in the turn—bottom left of /E as an example. 
    Consider enlarging the notch on the middle right side of /R to keep it from being too /A-ish, and the same on both sides of /X to keep it from being too /H-ish. 
    The short middle stems of /M and /W help keep those letters from getting too dark: I wonder if shortening the middle arms of /E and /G would also be a good option to increase counterspace. 
    There's a kind of abruptness to all paths where they switch from straights to curves. 
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 761
    edited August 2021
    A good effort and with room for improvement.

    When making modular fonts, I suggest to 1. look at classical examples, like Bauhaus, 2. break the mold and sacrifice strict modularity for the sake of visually pleasing letterforms that also would not strike the regular user as "odd". This means using some diagonals in A, V, W and so on. A non-typographer would perhaps have a hard time to read these letters in their present form, especially the V. You can use a halfway version in which the diagonals are connected by a stroke, like the contour of a water glass.

    On the micro level, you were I think not aware of the so-called bone effect that rules how ovals should flow into straight strokes. Please read on it and change the curvatures accordingly. 

    When making the horseshoe type of connections like in the S, Z and 7, there is something you must know - in the Z, when the middle horizontal stroke is connected to the other two with semicircles, a specific optical illusion emerges and makes the middle stroke look slightly turned, by 2-3 degress, in the clockwise direction. You should compensate this by physically turning the middle stroke, and only it, counterclockwise. Turn by how much? Let your eye be the judge. The last sentence applies to any design, typographic or not. The reverse rotation should, of course, be done in the S.

    While slavishly following the module, certain glyphs like 7 appear too complex, and the ones like X are not sure if they want to be an X or an H. For the same reason, there are overall issues with the color of the font and consequently with the spacing - certain letters like G appear too boxed up, others like J are gaping wide, the current A should be less wide, the G more wide, and this should apply to all letters until you get an even grayish image of the font specimen when you squint your eyes, with no black or white "islands". Do not be afraid to imperceptibly lessen the thickness of some inner strokes.

    Much more can be said. Do NOT get discouraged by so many corrections, but hurry to correct the font while you still have the enthusiasm. The worst thing you could do now is leave it gather dust half-done. Do it thus:

    Do more than one version of the glyphs that allow it. When doing this, I presume it would be better to stray in the direction of more boring, recorgnizable forms, and discard the experimental. This applies especially to the comma, which currently looks like a subscript exclamation mark.

    Print out a mirrored version of the specimen, all the objects flipped horizontally, and look at it from all cardinal directions of the sheet, marking mistakes with red. Redo, mark remaining mistakes with green. Do this as many times as needed until no red is needed no more. Then show us the result.
    Good luck!
  • Dear Craig and Vasil,

    Thank you for your comments, they are appreciated.

    It seems that including a diagonal will solve problems on the letters that should behave as such. When the font was started with students we decided to not use diagonals to avoid complexity. 

    As is a monospaced font, some inconsistencies appear. Again, this decision was made to make the students forget about proportion and focus on shape. 

    First, I will make the curve smooth and think of the glyphs that could be drawn better by listening you suggestions.
  • edited August 2021
    It looks good. It reminded me the typeface that Lance Wyman designed around 1968 for the Mexico City subway.

  • DrawcardDrawcard Posts: 51
    edited August 2021
    For a first go at type design this is pretty good. The fundamental concept and proportions are there. 

    Echoing @Vasil Stanev and @Craig Eliason 's comments, once you have got the basic latin character set locked down, you can then focus on optical corrections. These often make or break a design, and the small adjustments make all the difference.

    My go-to book for refreshing my brain about that stuff is Designing Type by Karen Cheng (it never leaves my desk). The second edition has just been released which you can pick up at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com.au/Designing-Type-Second-Karen-Cheng-dp-1786277484/dp/1786277484/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

    There are some other pointers online like: 



    Some specific things:

    There seems to be a very strong horizontal stroke rhythm, landing at exactly 50% height on many characters /A, /R, /Y, /2, /8 etc. and even /?. While this is mathematically correct, it's jarring to look at visually. Maybe try moving these crossbars & inflections up 5% or so. 

    The stem / shoulder notches on /N and /M may bleed if the font is viewed at a small size, so try emphasising the notch more (like an ink trap), don't be afraid to narrow the shoulder stroke a bit. Or, just remove the top terminals entirely.

    You may also want to consider a different shape for /O and /0 to differentiate those more. Maybe put a middle dot in the /0 to give it that sci-fi hacker touch?

    Keep us updated!
  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 185
    edited August 2021
    It’s definitely a nice type overall, but modular fonts are a way to pretend like learning type without actually learning type: there’s no need for no anatomy, optical compensations, proportions, understanding of type history. Sorry for being that critical, but I’d expect students to start with something more traditional if the goal is to learn type design.
  • Alex Visi said:
    ... but modular fonts are a way to pretend like learning type without actually learning type: there’s no need for no anatomy, optical compensations, proportions, understanding of type history. Sorry for being that critical, but I’d expect students to start with something more traditional if the goal is to learn type design.

    From my time working as a signage designer in an engineering department—And ending up with engineering students as assistants, I learned to patiently explain the need for optical compensations. "It doesn't need to be right. It needs to look right." This applies to everything, modular fonts. It see included. I think they're a great opportunity to teach and apply the principle.

    I also think it's better to start learning to make type with a fairly uncomplicated design. 

  • BenderskiBenderski Posts: 6
    edited August 2021
    @Russell McGorman McGorman Maybe for engineering students works better than for first year design students as they have a better comprehension of this kind of things.

    The intention of the exercise was for them to play with forms and make them understand what makes a V a V and a U a U, for example.
  • @Cristóbal Henestrosa Thank you so much for your words as well as for the reference. At the moment we are working on the union between the vertical and horizontal connections, then I will show the progress.
  • Craig already complained about the /X, which is too /H-ish, but I think that the problem is even more pronounced for /K. When I read the sample text in the attached PDF, I found it really difficult to distinguish /K and /H, in particular in the small sizes. I'd either make the notch of /K bigger or move the upper right part further to the left.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 761
    edited August 2021
    Benderski said:

    When the font was started with students we decided to not use diagonals to avoid complexity. 

    This actually creates more problems/complexity in some designs. But you know best what to do. Good luck! :)

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