Your most valuable Tips & Tricks in Type Design!

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  • In hindsight, I would have learned the most by starting, as @Georg Seifert suggests, with a simple design, and focusing on basics like proportions, curvature, (the absence of) visual contrast, optical corrections, etc. I can imagine that designing a revival would also be immensely educational. In fact I could probably still learn a lot from doing those things.

    At the same time, I can still remember my younger self, and I know that I wouldn't have been half as motivated if I was designing something simple, with the only purpose being to learn from it. I know now that a first font will most likely not be very useable, but the idea of making something new, something interesting, and something with a strong personal touch, is perhaps a necessary illusion to stay motivated. And at the end of the day I do believe that some learning routes might be shorter than others, and some lessons more important than others, but the one thing that is key is motivation.

    So my advice would be: design what is interesting to you, not what is interesting to your teachers. Listen to your teachers, try their suggestions seriously, but ultimately make your own decisions. Take your time, and make sure you're having fun along the way!

    With regards to 'making the perfect outline', here's my little tip. Use the RMX harmonizer (or similar tool) many times to see what a 'smooth' curve looks like. However, do this only after you have attempted to make the curve 'smooth' yourself. Over time, you will rarely need to use the harmonizer at all.
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 206
    edited April 2
    BMoricke said:
    .............................................
    The cliché ‘To break the rules, you first have to know them’, doesn't always work. Usually I work the other way around now.....................
    I feel like there's some truth to that "cliché". Based on my little experience and I'm no teacher unlike yourself but if you just randomly draw stuff up without knowing rules, you wouldn't understand why or how it should be other than using a typeface as a point of reference you saw some place. On top of that  you have to factor in time spent. Shortly put, had one studied the rules at the very beginning, then what took them 100 tries to get right could've been fixed in no more than 10. I've personally taken the freebird wahoo lettering approach while ignoring rules and it cost me a few yrs before I realised it was all wrong to begin with. I still continue to see this happen all the time on social media where people are super excited and start whipping stuff up by using typefaces as nothing more than a visual cue only to find them a year later with the same stuff that looks no better than when they started all because they skimped out on rules.  
  • BMorickeBMoricke Posts: 8
    edited April 2
    With regards to 'making the perfect outline', here's my little tip. Use the RMX harmonizer (or similar tool) many times to see what a 'smooth' curve looks like. However, do this only after you have attempted to make the curve 'smooth' yourself. Over time, you will rarely need to use the harmonizer at all.
    @Jasper de Waard Didn’t know these tools, checked them out and definitely will share them with my students!
    Teachers that I had at the academy said that using the 'fit curve' tool in Glyphs was cheating, so I wonder what they would think of these ones...
  • Interesting experiment! What did the students think of it?
  • BMorickeBMoricke Posts: 8
    @Jasper de Waard Most students liked the free approach, I think one or two sticked to doing the classical stuff. And that is exactly my problem... I think that if you want to take things further and give it meaning, you NEED TO KNOW things. By saying things like this, I sound like a very traditional teacher, which is a word at art academies that is forbidden ;-)
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,867
    edited April 2
    BMoricke said:
    Teachers that I had at the academy said that using the 'fit curve' tool in Glyphs was cheating
    Tell them making type based on obsolete physical tools is cheating readers...
    BMoricke said:
    group 1 with the formal training found it really hard to let go of the letter shapes they were practising before. Group 2 couldn't conform anymore to the more classic approach.
    Go group 2!

    Great experiment, nicely exposing the bane of formal education: imposing (willingly or not) the ideology of the teacher's precedent on influenceable minds. As a teacher myself I constantly remind my students to think for themselves, and doubt everything, including me. To me this is the difference between a mere trade school and true education, the latter being about the personal journey through a dark forest, with no certain destination.
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 206
    edited April 2
    @BMoricke Basically you're saying you want them to know conventional rules of type(knowledge if you wanna call it that) but also create unconventional type using their knowledge and skills(experience, yada yada)? Is that it? If so we're on the same page. 
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,867
    edited April 2
    @AbiRasheed The point is the one you do first is very likely to guide/impede them for life... Which is why self-taught type designers (who admittedly take ten times longer to become profitable, and are much more likely to quit) tend to be more innovative than people who start by attending a crash-course trade school.
  • LaurensiusLaurensius Posts: 22
    Wow, what a thread this is, superb. I've been reading every bit of them of enjoying it as a beginner in type design. I came from lettering background, just enjoy drawing letters on my free time. I also learn calligraphy. By the way, I'm a web developer by day.

    I don't attend a school on type, but learn the "rules" by reading articles, books, this forum, and staring at letters, specimen.

    Having learn these rules, I think I fall into the Group 1 mentioned. It's kinda hard for me to break the mold, and my works so far says so, kinda rigid I guess. I'm trying consciously to be more free, unconventional. So what I do now is just looking at different source of works and inspiration. Maybe I'm an odd puzzle piece.

    Keep the thread going!

  • BMorickeBMoricke Posts: 8
    @BMoricke Basically you're saying you want them to know conventional rules of type(knowledge if you wanna call it that) but also create unconventional type using their knowledge and skills(experience, yada yada)? Is that it? If so we're on the same page. 
    Exactly! This sound quite obvious, but in real life it's quite hard to apply this in modern art education...
  • BMorickeBMoricke Posts: 8

    @Laurensius Great to read that you find your own way in type! Yes, it is really difficult to create free work, probably harder than 'rigid' work. Still, I think you're on the right path when you say that you are 'staring' at letters. What is it that is so intriguing about type? Do I like this typeface or not? And why? What details tell you the character of the type? keep going!
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,867
    edited April 3
    So what I do now is just looking at different source of works and inspiration. Maybe I'm an odd puzzle piece.
    That's great... if you look outside of type :-) because otherwise you'll generally remain confined to refining precedent, infilling. There are exceptions, if you can uncover neglected things instead of popular ones... which is of course inherently harder. But my own best source of inspiration has been looking at the products of other cultures (especially via travel).
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,644
    Not about the perfect outline, but…

    When I was teaching type design (as part of a 3-year graphic design degree), one of the most interesting projects I came up with was to have the students design a unicase typeface. I initially thought it would help reduce the glyph-load, giving them more time to work on refining letter shapes and spacing, but I was amazed to see the results of the research they did, and all the different ways they came up with to configure the alphabet, majuscule and minuscule, with and without extenders, lining and ranging.
  • Nick CookeNick Cooke Posts: 94
    A beginner’s mistake is to kern as the design progresses. Concentrate on spacing optimally. Leave kerning as long as possible and always try to keep it to a minimum. If you find yourself kerning way to many pairs your spacing is wrong. Use groups for both spacing and kerning, it will save time and minimise the task. 
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