italic ӕ in neogrotesque

andrej dienesandrej dienes Posts: 5
edited November 2021 in Type Design Critiques
I started working on italic for Cosan Although it's a helvetica-like font, I'd like to make italic as real as possible – that is rounded "e", elongated "f", single storey "a" and "g", etc. The problem is that the "ӕ" ligature would look exactly like "œ". I came up with such a solution, but it doesn't seem ideal, especially in a thin style looks strange. Do you have an idea? 


  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,145
    edited November 2021
    It might help to consider the question as one of definitions.

    “Neo-grotesque” describes either:
    • An historical genre of mid-century modern typefaces such as Helvetica and Folio
    • Any new type design in the broad grotesque style, that is clearly not quaint or a revival/renovation.

    Genotype or phenotype.

    So, if you are being authentic to the MCM genre, you need to have precedents, but if you are being innovative, the concerns are (1) legibility for specific language-users, and (2) harmony within your overall design.

    As there are almost no instances of languages in which æ and œ both appear or have semantic significance (this issue has been discussed before at Typedrawers), I would say don’t worry if your æ may be mistaken for œ.

    However, I would suggest that you first identify which languages contain æ in their alphabets and use it frequently (Danish?), and consider the work of type designers of those native languages as your benchmark.
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 182
    Your solution works, but if you don't like how it looks in thin weights, switching forms between weights is also valid. There are families that change the form of /g when they hit heavy.
    The approximately symmetrical "bow ribbon" form of æ is typical in "true italics" and does not need to directly reference the upright /a or the italic /a at all.
  • Thank you all for your comments. This is not a revival, so I can afford a slightly non-standard solution. And such a compromise has occurred to me – to make the upper part more like "e" and the lower part more like "a". The contrasted version shows it best. Although it is a bit weird, I think it is acceptable (it does not attract as much attention as the previous design). 

    • Futura's solution certainly works, but it doesn't make a logical sense.
    • Avantgarde's solution would completely kill the letter "e" in the contrasted version.

  • jeremy tribbyjeremy tribby Posts: 215
    edited November 2021

    • Futura's solution certainly works, but it doesn't make a logical sense.
    • Avantgarde's solution would completely kill the letter "e" in the contrasted version.

    I think the logic behind futura's solution is that it does work 😅
    the avant garde solution works at light weights where it's not too hard to fit that stem in. tougher at heavier weights

    I think your solution works fine. the lean of the two letters (/a and /e if separated out) feels slightly different maybe. it's subtle. I would think a bit about stroke order. your high contrast example above implies a construction like this (or maybe the first stroke doesnt branch so it's 4 strokes total)

    but to me that might make the /a a little heavy where I've marked it in red?

    just food for thought! nice work

  • Obligatory: Bram De Does' sketch for œ and æ in Lexicon.
    From this article, which delves into the subject of separating the two.

  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 182
    What you're doing to the e on that stem now is giving the impression of an R of some kind. Very weird to read. I honestly think it's not a good choice. At best, the disambiguation is weak in low contrast because we mostly read along the tops of words.
  • The stemmy /ae is one of the (many) things I dislike about Avant Garde, FWIW. I'd echo the votes above for the two-story solution.
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