First, a little about me: I’m an undergraduate student at McGill University. I have been interested in type design for quite a while, but this is my first serious endeavor towards actually creating anything which would seriously be worth using, which I’m calling Regis (in reference to Romain du roi).
I was reading some books printed by the Cambridge University Press set in Monotype 178 “Barbou,” which drove me to search for a digital font which was reminiscent of this face. I found a few which similarly follow, like Barbou, in the footsteps of Pierre-Simon Fournier, but none which replicated the warm, soft impression I felt when reading these books (I would post a scan, but unfortunately the text is under copyright and I don’t wish to run afoul of any authorities). Furthermore, being an avid user of free and open-source software, I wanted to design a font which would be able to be used by anybody under a free license. (In terms of Fournier-inspired free fonts, Bitstream Charter and Adobe Source Serif Pro both exist, but their designs go in a very different direction from my intentions and I preferred beginning from scratch to making modifications.)
I’ll note that Stephen Coles’ specimen
of this face has a number of details which are not present in my face (such as the gap in the lowercase w). As the linked sample and the books I have are both set at 10 point, I find it likely that these variations are the product of the printing process. My desire is to replicate the feel of these books to some extent, not whatever Monotype happened to have been doing. In any case, I've also taken some liberties with my design.
So far, after a few weeks, I have a lowercase alphabet (minus a z), an uppercase M and a period/full stop. The kerning I have yet to seriously work on, so forgive me if it is off-kilter. This is my first design, so please let me know what you think, though please keep in mind that this is an extremely early draft. A few of the letters are wonkier than others at the moment. The line spacing is also a bit too cramped in this sample.
Thanks are due to Luc Devroye, who happens to be here at McGill, with whom I’ve discussed this design over the past few weeks and who has provided some input.
The source (FontForge format) is available on my GitHub