Tantular - humanist sans for latin & various Indonesian scripts

Aditya BayuAditya Bayu Posts: 5
edited May 2015 in Type Design Critiques
Hi TypeDrawers, this is my first post and one of my first font so let me give a little background.

I'm a self-taught typeface designer from Indonesia. My works are previously focused on fonts for traditional Indonesian scripts, and it's only recently that I've started to make latin typefaces. Hence, I seek opinions on my recent sans font.

Tantular is a humanist sans-serif that sought to create a harmonious style for aesthetically very diverse scripts: Latin, Balinese, Batak, Bugis, and Kawi. My goal to create a legible body text type for all of these scripts, and in doing this, different treatment is given to each script, keeping in line with their distinct features and text formats. As of now, I'm quite content with the current shapes, but I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

I've already include a lot of characters, but I'm still trying to make a proof that includes them all. Here's the one that includes most of the latin characters tantular proof2.pdf. Non-latin characters and text can be viewed here https://www.behance.net/gallery/25835209/Multi-script-font-Tantular.

Thank you


  • Wes AdamsWes Adams Posts: 59
    edited May 2015
    Hi Aditya, this is some impressive work, especially given the scope of the project.

    I see a handful of technical details that are common weaknesses especially in sans serif designs. Good sans serifs are not monolinear though they tend to create that impression. I know of two ways to describe the situation.

    First the technical description. As in serif type, sans strokes taper where they join. You might consider this a typographic invention, made to reduce the prominence of those areas. Thick joins can be especially problematic when displayed on coarse screens and suboptimal printing conditions. A, B, K, M, N, W, V, X, Y, Z, m, n, r, v, u, x, k, w, y, z all have thick joins. Your b, d, p, q are headed in the right direction.

    The technical description is not without its limitations so thankfully there is also a historical way of looking at the problem. Contemporary roman type evolved from two handwritten alphabets. The majuscule (which came first) was originally written with a broad edge brush and the minuscule was written with a broad edge pen. To create a harmonious character set, early type founders needed to reconcile the structural variations between brush written letters and pen written letters. They also needed to make some changes so that they could streamline their manufacturing. The roman alphabet we use today was the result and even san serif types, particularly humanist ones, share that origin.

    Hopefully that is a handy reference point if your native typographic system is not based on writing with broad edge tool. I believe Philippine writing is traditionally stylographic and that would make it very different from latin humanist writing, mainly for the fact that it naturally produces monoline characters and thus no directional stroke variation.

    Some might argue that latin sans serif types are also monoline inspired. This is a fair point. After all, stylographic tools have been globally dominant for the last 300 years. However, because of latin writing's long broad edge phase, the clarity of the minuscule is really dependent on broad edge contrast and latin sans serifs can only be so monolinear before becoming hard to read. Good sans serifs need to strike a balance and are, like all latin typography, a compromise. 

    Hope that helps.
  • attarattar Posts: 209
    edited May 2015
    The a looks like it has way more top overshoot than other round letters, this shouldn’t be the case.
    The x looks like it’s larger and heavier on the top, this shouldn’t be the case.
    The O is weird: it looks like you first made the C with a slightly constrasted stroke and kept only the left stroke contrasted for the O. I think O and Q could be slightly less wide as well.
    It seems d lacks some bottom overshoot.
    The cedilla has too much contrast compared to the main letters.
    The e has too tiny counter compared to other letters.
    The z is too pointy, you’re not making a Futura. Same for Z. Same for 4.
    The ampersand is too bumpy. It needs to be smoother.
    You should try to hone your stroke joints. In particular, they really need to be thinner for some letters like h, m, n, u as Wes pointed out.
    The q leans a bit too much towards the top-left.
    I like the shape of the a, it’s refreshing. Your arabic numerals still feel sketchy, you should rework them. Slight curvature smoothings may also be needed on letters. Try to print what you have done, then redraw it on tracing paper and correct on the computer.
    Your numerals seem really tall as well, you have tall capital letters and numerals don’t have to be as tall as caps. I’d make them smaller and that would probably allow you to not stretch your strokes vertically.
    P could use more spacing on the right side it seems. You’ll fix it with kerning later, but unless you really don’t care about caps-to-caps spacing you should give it some more space.

    If you can do some latin calligraphy as well I think it would help you experience the flow of letters. Even though your type is not very constrasted you wouldn’t make things like these heavy stroke joints if you practised it I think.
  • Thank you for the inputs!

    I guessI was too focused in the latin/non-latin balance. Initially letters have larger contrast and thinner joins, but latin texts became far lighter than the non-latin script like Balinese, per se. So I went back and forth with it and when I settled with this, I did not refined the joins because I feel that it would impacted the weight.

    But excuses aside, yes; I really need to work on the joins. I'll work on other points too.

    For starters, I changed a, d, e, h, k, m, n, r, v, w, x, y, z. Are these changes to subtle? While "harmony" between scripts is a point I'd really like to sell, I feel like I'm limiting myself too much when I compare between scripts.

    @ Wes
    Uniquely, and frustratingly, each Indonesian native writing has very different writing tools & style. Batak has a lot of joins but stylographically written like the Philippines, so thick, untapered joins are common. Bugis uses broad pen like miniscule latin. Bali is actually incised with a knive in horizontal striated paper, so it has horizontal-heavy tapering (especially prominent in printed Balinese) but all letters virtually have no joins. Currently, compromising all of these with latin is still a work in progress I guess. But I've only known now that majuscule and minuscule was also different once, thank you for sharing!

    @ Adrien 
    Thank you for liking the a, I'll work on the others. Overall, most characters need further refinement it seems.

    again, thank you~
  • Wes AdamsWes Adams Posts: 59
    @Aditya Bayu 
    Those joins look much better. Nicely done.

    I'm very curious about the different scripts you mention. Information on them is rather scarce on the english internet. I wonder if you have any resources or videos of them online.

    In my experience, its helpful to at least see the letters being written. There is an American calligrapher, John Stevens, who has uploaded a few videos of himself writing the Roman uppercase. Here is a link: 
  • Unfortunately, traditional Indonesian scripts are indeed very hard to find on the Internet. I have several links to handwritten manuscripts online, but I could not find an actual video of the letters being made. Thanks for the video though!

    Here is the latest specimen, with Balinese sample text and glyphs
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