Hello everyone, I’m Steve, and from a young age I have been a fan of science fiction, and a lover of cyberpunk style aesthetics, including futuristic typography, logos and the likes.
In recent times I have designed several words and geometric elements in futuristic styles through creative play, all just for fun. Now I’m getting the urge to take it further and possibly create a typeface.
I did complete a course in graphic design a few years ago so have a little knowledge on the fundamentals of design but when it comes to creating fonts, I’m a complete novice! Due to my current beginner status, I’m hoping to gain some advice and direction from anyone here with any knowledge in this particular area of font design.
Admittedly I feel some of my questions may come across as amateur, so please go easy on me! Apologies in advance.
Where to start with this style of font design?
Any course, video, article, foundry recommendations would be appreciated.
Being a Mac user, I have looked into Glyphs App. Thoughts on whether this would be an appropriate application to use to create this style of font?
I’m contemplating enrolling on a typography course but unsure as to whether this would be beneficial to me, as numerous fonts in this style are experimental and sometimes break the boundaries of legibility. Therefore, general font design rules may not still apply.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
The idea that a typeface can look “futuristic” gives it a decidedly retro appearance, mid-century modern.
For instance, the typeface featured in this forward-looking conference promotion is pretty much the opposite of futuristic. But it is contemporary.
The mouse-over/hover effect, made with a variable font, is the state-of-the-art typography, not so much the static appearance of the font.
As with all creative endeavors, knowing the rules so that you know how best to break them will bring you far better results than someone who simply breaks the rules by not knowing them. Futuristic fonts mostly rely on clean geometric styles, and the fundamentals of optical correction usually need to be applied more carefully and precisely in these styles than in others. That said, you may find you can learn the basics more easily with a little reading and practice than enrolling in a course.
When creating techno style typefaces, you’ll be using modularity to push against the boundaries of legibility. In doing so, you’ll inevitably encounter characters where your typeface’s rules push too hard against those restrictions and become illegible. Seek out those breaking points early in the process and deal with them. A common example is the V in a very square typeface. You may decide to make an exception to your typeface’s design rules to make those outlying characters legible. Maybe you’ll stick your rule and accept that character’s illegibility. Perhaps you’ll change the rule. When you change the rule, it will present opportunities. Let’s say you decide to allow short 45-degree angle notches to accommodate the V in an otherwise strict square typeface. You’ll find openings to use that rule on other characters—the V won’t look like an outlier anymore. Keeping an illegible outlier character is also a valid choice; a lot of classic techno typefaces have illegible outliers, but you should still deal with those first. A lot of techno typefaces, including a lot of my early ones, have outlier characters that are clearly the result of painting oneself into a corner rather than well-considered design decisions.
Even if your typeface is extremely modular (the same basic parts flipped and rotated), don’t neglect to consider that optical illusions still apply as they would for a more formal typeface. The width of a square U looks different from a square O etc. The tricky part is balancing those adjustments, so the result still looks robotic. Make a habit of making optical compensations and then backing them off a hair, so the result doesn’t look too humanist.