The lowercase "e" and the "c"!

Matheus FragosoMatheus Fragoso Posts: 14
edited April 2014 in Technique and Theory
Hi! I'm new to this forum, so let me present myself. I am a graphic designer who lives in Rio and have always loved and admired calligraphy and typography. I try to study and read the most that I can, but sometimes (ok, every time), only the opinion of someone more experienced and with a very good eye to help someone who is beginning on the subject. I want to draw my first type family and as a beginner, I just want it to be usable and honest.

Ok, my first question may sound silly:
What are known "acceptable" ending terminal cuts, specially on the bottom of lowercase "e" and both endings of lowercase "c"? Is there a "wrong" kind of terminal angle of cut?


  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,101
    No. The important thing is consistency* of terminals with other letters, and how /c and /e fit with following letters.

    *I don’t mean that they should all be the same, only that the nature of consistency should be an important consideration of the typeface design.
  • Thank you, Nick! As soon as I get the courage, I'll post a picture of the "e" and "c" that I drew.
  • Matheus: Welcome! May I also suggest that you start with something simple and relatively limited in scope? Just begin with a few letters, such as n, o, a, c, e, f, g, v, and s?
  • Thanks, David! I actually started with an /n and an /a. Then I started drawing and adjusting as I went on. I showed this to a friend and type designer and he told me that my /e terminal cut looked strange. So I redrew the /e and the /c. I guess it looked really strange, but I don't want to give up, I want to go on and learn with this!
  • Indeed, my /o is looking very strange (outside outline not corresponding to inside outline, unbalanced and the /v is too dark in color. (Guess the /v diagonals must have a kind of "inktrap" so it doesn't get too dark.)
  • Hi Matheus! It's really hard to help if you don't show us some pictures of your design...
  • Ok, It's just because you guys are so good and I'm just beginning, but ok, I'll attach an image later!
  • Tried to post the images here, but It won't upload.
  • Ok, it took me long, but I'm posting some images of my first typeface. A long time has passed and I think I made some progress since this topic was created. I started to draw this in the end of march. Can you guys help me pointing out errors, kinks, bad curves, etc? Because it is a "squarish" typeface, I want to make it more "warm" and not to look too "sterile".

    Thank you so much!

  • Well, I think you have there several coherence "problems", it seems (to me) as if it's a mixture of several different typefaces that doesn't combine harmoniously.
    The most dominant (or first noticed) thing is the characteristic of the /q/u/b/h, which are dynamic and warm (maybe) and stand out, then you have the /s/e/c which are much more calmed down and neutral. The /r is nice for itself, yet it's shoulder thickness is widening too much and doesn't relate to anything else. The /g is not distinctive to any of the stylistic properties and it's loop's thickness is lighter than the rest of the characters. the /k is a bit narrow and it's sharp corner (and gap from the stem) doesn't "work" with the /w/v/y.
    /y is very neutral. /t/f/j seems from a different style.
    All finals should be examined. The /d/h/k/b ascender diagonal chop is nice, and may be a basis for something, yet all the other finals (/s/c/e/t/f/etc') are chopped vertically, it may look and work better chopped perpendicular to the stroke's direction.
    Consider how the typeface would look like if was "unified" to each of the different styles, than choose the one that appeals or suit you most and go in that direction.
  • Thank you, Ofir! I'll try to "chop" the other terminals perpendicularly and widen the k a bit. I like the /y as it it and I can't yet figure out what I could change in the loop of the /g in order to make it more "distinctive", but I can't really figure out what could it be. I agree that the shoulder of the /r is too wide. I really like the /b, /q and /p, and I think that the /d is somewhat "strange", but again, I can't tell what is "wrong" with it. I like the diagonal chopping of the ascenders, too! What else could be improved? Anybody else got suggestions, hints, clues? Of course I'll "correct" these things, but I really want it to be something that I'm proud of, something that can really be used, something honest, and above all, a typeface that I'm fond of.
  • Yes, you end the e and c in the same way. You decide how.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,358
    I think the w needs some work. Type lots of words with w in them. Without measuring, make notes of which strokes feel too thick. Does it feel knock-kneed or splayed out. Is it slanting? If you've created a w that's symmetrical and the strokes are a consistent width, then it's probably not finished. Also, I'd leave the ink traps until the very end... I find when I do them too soon, they throw me off track. Don't use ink traps as a weight loss solution... I've made that mistake many embarrassing times.

    As for the e/c question: when you get into heavier weights or when you have a lower crossbar, sometimes a good solution is to open up e's mouth a bit wider. If you look at very bold fonts, you can see lots of e's with a "low lip".

    I think instead of only following rules, type more words and see how the letters get along with one another. You can create a rule system when you're designing but in the end it doesn't really matter. When you see the letters in words, you can see what works and what doesn't. And sometimes, by not having a consistent rule system, you end up designing something more interesting. For example, the kinks on the r,n,m... How does the r work with those? How about the f and the t? Maybe the f and t crossbars could harmonize with those kinks? Let the letters affect one another.
  • Thank you so much, Ray! Indeed, as this is my first attempt on designing a typeface, I tried to use the ink traps as a way of reducing the weight where those diagonals meet. The other thing, is I'm relying a lot on measuring stems and curves. Of course I look and try to make adjustments by eye, but I find that I end up relying on math and I guess type design is much more a matter of what we see than what we measure, is that right?

    When you talk about the "low lip", do you also mean that the "baseline overshoot" is gonna be even lower?

    I've been testing this a lot and typing as many different words as I can. What do you mean by kinks on the r,n,m...?

    Thank you so much for your feedback, Ray!

    P.S.: Is there a way I can post images here instead of uploading the pdf?
  • Michiel, thank you!
  • When I started of designing typefaces I was very intimidated by the letters themselves and by what other type designers were doing. Imagine I was afraid of the lower case 'g'! Now I trust my own judgement, so you can trust yours. There is a danger if we are guided by what other type designers have done or are doing that we forget to develop our own way of thinking and working. Having said that, at the moment I am working on a sans serif and I do compare my letters with the competition like Helvetica, Geneva or even Gill sans. I set the test phrase Hamburgefonts in a few typefaces including my own. That can be very useful.
  • I wonder if i'll be able to correct these kinks as they look very subtle to me.

    Funny you say that about drawing the lower case /g! I also had this same fear! The thing is, of course I want feedback, but being a beginner, sometimes it is difficult to see what to others is very "in your face" and to me still looks "subtle".

    On working with test phrases, I'm using "adhesiontext", "hamburgefontsiv" and "videospan". Of course I test various words, but mainly these.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,358
    edited December 2014
    By kinks, I mean the bends on the top-left part of the stem. I didn't suggest getting rid of those, but consider how other letters interact with them.

    Opening the e probably wouldn't require an adjustment of the overshoot. Think of the overshoot as relating to the size of the circle. Even if there's no actual circle, just imagine one there. If you have a J with a tight curve it probably needs less overshoot than a big, round O.

    Sometimes when I'm having trouble doing optical adjustment, I'll deliberately make it wrong, then tap arrow keys until it looks right. That way I'm not biased by what I know to be mathematically precise. For example, I have a V, and I've measured the stems so it's technically correct and symmetrical. I deliberately mess it up, then use the arrow keys to bump it back into place. I try not to look at the glyph window, I just look up at the preview window and see how the shape changes in context of words. I keep banging away on the arrow keys until it feels correct. I guarantee, if you do that, and you do a horizontal flip, you'll be surprised how asymmetrical it really is.

    When using test phrases, sometimes you need to make stuff up to see how a certain letter will react next to lots of letters at once. If I'm working on a g, I might go with Agogoagpgghgyfgtggle just to get the basic mechanics of it right. By mechanics I mean: will the g collide with a y or another g. Does the ear touch the t or f. That kind of practical mechanical stuff. After that's all worked out, I can use it in real words to fine tune it.
  • Thank you, Ray! I'll try later today to upload an image or a pdf with some adjustments and updates!
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