type critic: "Wollner" a neo-grotesk (neo grotesque) sans-serif inspired by Alexandre Wollner

DiegoSouzaDiegoSouza Posts: 38
edited September 2023 in Type Design Critiques
Hello, this discussion is a direct son of the "hinting and font rendering". I've decided to split because recently more and more poeple giving feedback were being confused by the title but at the end of the day the discussion has been changed for a redrawn and readjustment of the whole typeface.

this being said, i'm kinda anxious so... i couldn't wait to finish karen cheng's book and make a in depth review so i'm going on the go,, i read and readjust. Right now i'm on the Upper-case section of the book. 

mixing together my previous knowledge and the one that karen gave me a was able to perform more adjustments and try to fix the bearing of the glyhps i already re-done it three times and i can see that some árts of the spacing are bad. 

So i ask for help with these new issues and doubts:

1° i'm using karen's recomendation for leading of using n as a reference and distribuiting between 50-50% or 49-51% of the interior space on the n in both sides but in my case things didin't gone right the space is just extremely loose in my opinion.

2° Capitals stroke thickness, observing other typefaces i've noted that capitals stroke and in general thicker between 6 to 12% thicker when compared to the lower-case but in my opinion my capitals are just too thick, and right now i don't know if it's pure bias or a true observastion. 

3° overall quality of the drawings, i made some adjustments for color, stroke consistency and overall neutrality but tbh i feel so insicure to say that i rached anything meaningful.

thank you in advance!


This one is my project, i've reduced the bearing compared to the one taught by karen but i can see it as extremely loose still, and please note the difference between upper and lower case.

This is a sample of Neue Montreal by PangramPangram, i'm using it as a refernce for texture and color, also studying proportions and tricks but i have no intention to copy any of the forms.

and tbh, making this post, i posted the same image of my project two tines thinking that the second one was neue montral and i tought that the capitals were great and the texture was better but then i realised that was mine... i don't even know what to say!


  • DiegoSouzaDiegoSouza Posts: 38
    edited September 2023
    two important corrections at the first problem i mentioned leading but it's bearing and at the third paragraph the term "árts" is just a typo.

  • Neue Montreal has "the spirit of a display font". That may be a reason why its spacing is very tight. What is the intended use of your typeface? If it is not a display font, I would stick near Karen's suggestion. Furthermore, an image containing something like "nnonoo" may help better to check the basic spacing for you and others.
    And yes, I think your capitals are a bit too heavy in comparison to the lowercase.
  • @Linus Romer 

    my target is a display typeface with a few weights and slanted romans that in the future i can expand. 

  • In contradiction to your first post, Karen Cheng suggests as a first step:

    Set the left and right sidebearings of the /n. The right sidebearing will be slightly thinner than the left, since the arched corner is lighter than the vertical stem. The left sidebearing is 25 - 50% of the /n counter.

    Since you want to design a display font you probably want the left side bearing of the /n to bei nearer to 25%. Then follow the next steps suggested by Karen Cheng. To find the optimal value you should variate this process and compare "nnonoo".
    It is not necessary, but I personally prefer if the side bearings of a symmetric /o are equal (but this can be done by a general shift of the lowercase at the end of the spacing process).
  • hi diego - can you speak more to the way in which it is inspired by alexandre wollner? that would be helpful for assessing its success
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    Note that Scangraphic’s display versions are differently kerned than the text versions.
    Europa, for instance, is their “Helvetica”.
    I don’t know whether the sidebearings are differently conceived, other than being more tightly “tracked”.

    I’ve designed several serif typefaces in which the metrics and kerning are quite different for text and display, but have never done that for a sans serif.
  • hi diego - can you speak more to the way in which it is inspired by alexandre wollner? that would be helpful for assessing its success
    wollner was a proeminent brazilian graphic designer, and despite not bringing modernism to brazil as a moviment he is considered the father of it as a concrete manifestation since he already had contact with it in earlier education and had some passion for concrete art, between the 50's he was one the few students in IAC that helped Max Bill organazing his presentation of this new style of design "swiss style" and ended up being caught with some luck by Bill's eyes, years after he earned a scolarship at ULM and had contact with several influetial designers, with the most remarkables being Max Bill and OTL Aicher, after he came back to Brazil he founded the first superior school of industrial design that was closed some years after but recently reopened. 

    One of his gratests works was a brand identity to a bank called "Itau" in pure helvetica, also he produced a printed brand guidelines that was never published or made publicaly available but probably set in helvetica ou univers (he was a "helvetica" guy) 

    So my inspiration comes from this story and the fact that Max Bill one of his teachers and a huge influence to him, also the man who helped him to bring ULM curriculum to Brazil got a homage typeface, Sequel Sans made by OGJ Type Design...

    so i'm just bringing together my passion for helvetica like typefaces, a little bit of imagination of "if he was alive what would he think about this" and a great commercial name (why not)!

    so i'm using his posters and things that he developed over time to get some shapes out of it, below a great example.

  • jeremy tribbyjeremy tribby Posts: 206
    edited September 2023
    I have a soft spot for the genre so I’m glad to learn about wollner, thanks for sharing that. I wonder if there is some aspect of “wollner-ness” that you might want introduce to the design both as tribute but also to help differentiate it from the other helvetica-like typefaces. maybe there is something about the way he treats helvetica, or something about his design philosophy, etc, that could make its way into your design. but it does have its own voice already - I see a subtle exaggeration of the vertical placement of the crossbar on /e and /G for example, maybe there is more in other letters

    regarding the spacing, it is probably too loose for your intended display use

    regarding the capital thickness, I agree with you, I think there is too much of a difference especially at a lighter weight. don’t worry about percentages too much, trust your eye

    some issues that stand out are the bottom of the /s, which makes it look like the letter is leaning, the bottom of the /t, which currently extends a bit much below the baseline, and the lower leg of /k which feels a bit too flared/might be at too much of an angle
  • DiegoSouzaDiegoSouza Posts: 38
    edited September 2023
    @jeremy tribby actually making some changes... 

    meanwhile you can check his "autobiography" 
    Design Visual 50 Anos | Amazon.com.br

    A book/documentary-inteview that his student André Stolarski done with him. 
    Alexandre Wollner e a Formação do Design Moderno | Amazon.com.br

    The documentary disponible in the book has been published on youtube
    Alexandre Wollner e a Formação do Design Moderno no Brasil - YouTube

    There's also this one, but i never read it, so i can't tell you what is about or even if it's worth buying
    Textos Recentes E Escritos Historicos | Amazon.com.br

    Unfortunately everything is in portuguese but the books you can try to translate and the documentary you can try to guess a little bit, english and portuguese have a different sequencing order of how to form sentences but giving certain context english ears can get context of what's being said 

    Translation in order:

    1° 50 years of visual design 
    2° Alexandre Wollner and the foundation of Brazil's modernist design 
    3° Recent texts and historical writings
  • As you're discerning the right difference in weights between cases, in addition to setting them together, it may be useful to compare blocks of lowercase text next to blocks of all-caps text to judge the overall color. 
  • thanks for all answers and here is an update !

    I pretty much spent my time fixing all upcase letters, adjusting numbers and redoing the bearings of some lowercase letters, i feel like i reached a neat point of color, clealy i have some spots of too much space that can be fixed with some adjustments of bearing/kerning. 

    Now i'm going to rework the whole side bearings of the uppercase letters again.

    Note: i've noticed that most faces that have modern style figures they are taller than the lowercase but not equal to the uppercase, mine is equal to the uppercase and that's a personal design choice, i understand some of the implications that it can cause but i'm open to hear more. 

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    edited October 2023
    This is MUCH improved!

    You need a lot more overshoot. Try doubling it and see if that is too much. This is especially apparent on the numerals, when I see them big.

    The bottom left of the “a” and top right of the “n” still seem a little pinched—the stroke is too thin compared to either side, when it should be the same or heavier weight than adjacent bits. Maybe the “m” just a tiny bit, too, but it is in much better shape than its sibling.
  • DiegoSouzaDiegoSouza Posts: 38
    edited October 2023
    not  an update, just fun! 

    that's an early drawing of it... and yes back then i didn't see where it was wrong 

  • You’ve come a long way!
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