Sharp Slab (working title)

Sye RobertsonSye Robertson Posts: 226
edited June 2012 in Type Design Critiques
Hi, I'm new to drawing letters, and this reflects that, but I'm hoping that some of you will be able to help me learn the art and craft of type design. Any feedback/help welcome.



  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,524
    That’s a good start.
    Before you do any more work on this weight, I would move on to Extra Bold.
    The reason is, family themes/vocabulary have to be consistent.
    If you can make them work in Extra Bold, you’ve cracked it.
    Ultra doesn’t have to play by the same rules, though.
    At the other end of the scale, hairline is easy—just draw a path and apply a stroke (the overshoots do generally require some special thought, but not apparently in this face).
  • Thanks Nick. I will trial an Extra Bold, and see how I go.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,688
    The X heigh feels short for a slab. If you jump to extra bold, you’ll probably need to lift up the x-height in both weights to at least 72%.
  • Yeah, I was wondering that too. Although I think I;m gonna leave the lowercase for a bit and try to get the upper working better.
  • Is this the same typeface I've seen in your instagram (or twitter or somewhere....) pictures? If it is, I'd suggest looking into some hinting basics such as setting stem widths and alignment zones as the image really doesn't do justice to your work.
  • Yes it is. I believe Glyphs Mini applies an auto hint when it exports the font file. Also, click on the above image to see the very large original (over 6000px from memory).
  • When the image is blown up to original size, I see the tapering strokes and angles - I had no idea that was going on in the reduced image. That suggests to me that if you consider that an important feature (and therein lies the potential for originality I think), it needs to be more exaggerated. Assuming this isn't a type only for use at ginormous sizes.
  • Looking at it full sized, I see a lot more character. I think you should get rid of all the straight lines. The character created in the slightly bowed and curved strokes is killed in the straight lines (such as the terminals on the /S/T, the to of the counter in the /A, the leg of the /R, etc... ).
  • @Craig - I see what you're saying. I agree that the details are lost in small sizes, but feel that to exaggerate them would turn it into too much a novelty face. I like the subtle details that only become apparent at large sizes. But I do see your point and will test.

    @JamesTodd - I will look into it.

    Thanks guys :-)
  • An update image
  • Generally this is really nice. I am usually just bored by this general style of typeface, but you've managed to breathe some life into it. Nice going.

    That being said, I think that the PRK and maybe S are not really working yet.
  • Thanks Thomas. I've had some people say the proportions are off, do you have any thoughts on that? What kind of typeface could I use as a reference? I was thinking Aachen was similar in some ways, but am not sure.
  • Regarding the PR, should I copy the B forms?
  • I think what this needs is even more roughness and inconsistency. Right now it still has an industrial/constructed feel. But I think that if you exaggerate the tapers and place them individually you could get a really nice manually carved feel similar to Neuland. Your G is already leaning that way.

    I agree with Thomas the K, P, and R need work. I don’t think they need to match B, but P and R’s bowls need to be a lot taller and K needs to be much wider.
  • Thanks James, notes noted.
  • Looking at Neuland and then Monotype Othello, I think I like Othello, especially the Shadow version. Thanks for point me this direction. I guess I didn't intend on this being a 'wacky' typeface, so have been hesitant to push it in the rougher/inconsistent direction.
  • Rough doesn't mean wacky, Sye. Neuland is hardly wacky, for instance. And check out Vojtěch Preissig.
  • Thanks for that link - that's a really interesting typeface.
  • I have just come across Proforma, I like the use of straight lines (although clearly I am avoiding curves in mine).

    Part of my initial sketches which led to trying to make this design was the 'inversion' of the serif, where the end of the serif is wider than where it meets the stem. Sorry if I'm using the wrong terms.

    The serif combined with a flared stem has been the driving force, although I see I have lost my way with diagonals quite a bit, but I'm fairly happy with the N diagonal.

    Right now, my brain is having a hard time figuring out how to inject some of the roughness, without losing the rigidity that i feel is the only thing holding this design together. I have just discovered whilst trying to set a 'rougher' version, that I am not the best with inconsistency, at least not this this design.

    I agree that a rougher version could work really well, and make the design worthwhile, but I equally feel that the machined nature has it's strengths.
  • Why are the O. Q and S rectangular when you imply curves in the C, D, G with angled segments?
  • It sounds like you just don't see this as a rough-hewn, irregular type, Sye. So I think you shouldn't go that way, at least not to begin with. Instead of adding roughness, why not try exaggerating the angularity, but consistently? Right now there are a bunch of lines that are almost vertical or almost horizontal; I think they can read as mistakes, especially onscreen. I'd try drawing a version where these angles are more emphatic, and where, for instance, the corners of at the extrema of O are much sharper, and the waisting of the stems of I, T, H, L (and so on) is more pronounced. You could deliberately go overboard and then interpolate back toward a tamer version until you find the degree of angularity that feels right.
  • Ok, still a long way to go, but here is an attempt to bring some more life to it.
  • Sye RobertsonSye Robertson Posts: 226
    edited January 2013
    And the work continues. Clearly I am having problems with the S.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,688
    edited January 2013
    Much better! It has a great American 1960s monster movie feel. I think the intersection of the diagonals in M could be narrowed and the spine of S could be a little heavier.
  • This is so much more interesting than what you started with.
    /M/ feels like it's pulling apart in the middle a bit.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,524
    edited January 2013
    These letters all have similar widths, except for M (and possibly W).
    Mix harmony with diversity, as the great Oz once said—so either keep them all the same, or introduce more variety so that M and W are not sore thumbs, widthwise.
    That should resolve any issue with M, and perhaps Q, which seems a bit apologetic, relatively speaking.

    What James and Craig said—now you're cooking!
  • This is starting to seem really interesting. Nice refinements (though that might be the wrong word to use with this design).

    I'm thinking U, O and Q are doing something different than the rest, in terms of the inner contours not matching the outer ones. Either you need to do that in *more* letters, or not do it in those letters. I would suggest the latter option. It's an interesting idea, but not working as well as what you are doing elsewhere.
  • Re: your problem with the S. If it were my S, I would increase the angle on the left of the mid-stroke, in the process making the top a little smaller. I think it is a bit top heavy right now.
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