Ba Xi - a CJK font

I am using the font YuGothR as a template for this experiment and I hope I am not too far off from something a native speaker would find acceptable. I though about creating the radicals first and using them as composites at a later stage - this is just the test.


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    It's awesome that you're making an attempt at a CJK typeface. However, I must warn you it's extremely difficult to pull off well, even for those who read the script natively. On the other hand, it could be a great learning experience that improves your type design skills as a whole.

    The proportions are weirdly off in most of your characters, and I'm wondering if this is where the lack of familiarity with the script is a drawback. Native readers of the script will have a sense of what makes the characters well-proportioned, but maybe this is not as obvious if you haven't grown up reading them.

    The size of your counters are quite small, giving your design a somewhat old-fashioned feel. That and the weird proportions remind me of the characters on Hong Kong's road signs that were handmade by prisoners (look up Prison Gothic).

    But if you want your design to conform closer to the traditional ideas of well-proportioned characters, pay attention to evenly distributing the white space. For example, the 悪 is noticeably blacker in the upper portion while there is a white river that divides it from the lower 心 radical. This radical needs to take up more of the space and get up closer to the upper portion to the point of touching it. You should also make the strokes a bit thinner particularly where you have many of them intersecting such as in the 亜 portion. Try to look at the characters from a distance and see which strokes look thicker, and adjust them to equalize the thickness optically (not mathematically).

    Similarly, in the 握 and the 渥, the latter 屋 needs to be wider to achieve a more equal distribution. Right now, the 屋 in 渥 looks narrower (even if it actually isn't) because there's such a huge gap with the radical.

    The 扱 looks really off because the middle of the 及 is bulging and throwing off the balance. In most designs, the lower right stroke should be the one that goes farthest to the right. There are certain contours that are favoured for these characters and their components (e.g. hexagons, triangles, isosceles trapezia), so try to build up a vocabulary of these and learn to recognize which shapes are appropriate for which characters.

    Look at existing designs and see how they tackle these issues. Simply throwing components together doesn't work. You have to adjust the components for a more harmonious fit and a more even distribution of the white space while preserving a balanced overall contour and evenness of texture. It's difficult, but it's great practice.
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    Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 762
    edited June 2023
    @Jongseong Park
    Thank you for this valuable insight and helpful attitude. :) The Prison Gothic really looks very similar to my font, but that won't discourage me from doing CJK and other "exotic" fonts, as my people call them. :) There is also a Tibetan one currently being done by me. Between the time of me posting the thread and you posting the comment, I advanced somewhat with the number of glyphs. I have attached the corresponding PDF to this post.
    I must admit that, for some strange reason, I had completely forgotten that the same rule that holds in Latin faces - that there should be balance between positive and negative spaces, this rule must also apply to hanzi. And not only between different glyphs in regards to one another, but also inside each one. Maybe it was the perceived lack of spacing and kerning in such huge fonts that blinded me for that. This would indeed make extremely difficult the creation of a whole font with good balance. I was more concerned with things like the logic of the brush and keeping right edges of horizontal strokes bent very slightly up. 
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    The reason I mentioned Prison Gothic is that it has that 'vernacular' look of irregularity, as the characters were hand-drawn by inmates in Hong Kong's prisons without the benefit of machine-cutting. But despite this lack of perfection and obvious idiosyncrasies, the characters themselves tend to be pretty well-proportioned. This unfortunately isn't the case for your design. I don't mean to dismiss your effort, but I think it is just extremely difficult for those who are not used to reading Chinese characters to get this sense of which proportions work well.

    Chinese characters traditionally don't deal with spacing and kerning between characters – it is the spacing of components within a character that is the most important. Calligraphers and indeed anyone who has a lot of practice in writing Chinese characters by hand have a good sense of this, and any design resulting from a recombination of elements that fails to make adjustments to achieve a good balance will just look wrong in the eyes of native readers. There's a reason designing a CJK typeface takes a massive amount of work.

    I would recommend looking at different styles of Chinese characters, not just the sans-serif designs you are referencing but also the serif Song/Ming/Minchō style, the Fang Song (imitation Song) style, the regular script, the clerical script, various contemporary display styles... This will familiarize you not just with the proportions, but with the design space that is available for Chinese characters. You can see how each design differs in the treatment of the counter space. Some designs have the strokes packed in more compactly, and others have the strokes filling the square.

    At this stage, I would recommend forgetting about adding as many glyphs as possible and focus on getting the design right for a core group of characters. Maybe select some characters that share a common component such as 央, 英, 映, and 瑛. Look at how different existing designs treat these characters. In your design, the shared component of 央 has different proportions in each of 英, 映, and 瑛, so it is hard to see them as part of a unified design. We want each repeating element – from elementary strokes to entire radicals – to be as uniform as possible.

    I'm not sure what your design process is, but it seems to be resulting in weird inconsistencies of stroke widths. If you do end up stretching components for instance, make sure to correct the stroke widths afterwards. Look at a text setting in smaller sizes so that it is easier to catch the unevenness of the stroke widths – this can be easy to miss if you only see the characters in large sizes.

    Many of the strokes are attractively flared, but this doesn't seem to very consistent. For instance, the 田 element looks like it's made of straight lines unless you zoom in. Try to replicate these design details in all the strokes, even if they are only really visible at large sizes.

    The hook in 洩 needs to be stronger and more abrupt instead of being a gentle curve. Right not it looks almost like the stroke in 乙 rather than the hook in 氏.

    The 亡 in
    虻 needs to have its first horizontal stroke protrude in the style you're going for.

    Try to establish a consistent logic of when the vertical strokes of 口, 日, 目 etc. should protrude at the bottom. I'm not sure why they're not protruding in 営 for instance.
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    Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 724
     I would recommend forgetting about adding as many glyphs as possible and focus on getting the design right for a core group of characters.

    Yes, yes, yes. No point forging ahead until the fundamentals are correct. It will just mean more to fix later.

    Also, pick up a brush. Learning how the ink moves and flows, how movement and pressure and angle creates different thicknesses and directions is key. As my teacher used to tell me, the most difficult character to draw is 一.
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