How much time do you usually spend on font promo images (specimen)

Let's talk about font promo material (mainly digital for online selling, I saw the other thread about printed specmens). I know it really depends on the typeface and what features are intended to be shown.  But how much time do you usually dedicate to this phase, do you reuse some template images from previous specimens, do you try to standardize the specimen for each typeface.  

Do you have some special tricks. For example, websites that organize font bundles often ask for cover images that don't use simple solid color background (but some pattern or image preferably) because allegedly that increases sales.

Modern/juicy/fancy-designed type specimens played an important role in my interest in type design. So in some cases, I spent even two weeks or so carefully planning each image, to show the typeface in the context at various sizes, preferable usage, while trying to establish the "theme" or "tone" of the specimen. Sometimes I felt that I wasted my time, but on the other hand, it might draw the attention of some websites that offered different ways of partnership.
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Comments

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,375
    Designing the promo images is the fun part! I am a life-long graphic designer so it rarely takes more than a day for each.
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 113
    edited April 29
    @Chris Lozos A day per image or per specimen? How much images do you usually include 5-10, maybe more?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,375
    edited April 29
    Image or both

  • Designing the promo images is the fun part!
    Absolutely!



  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 660
    edited May 1
    This is tremendously important stuff in the mobile era, so the question is not so much of time but of quality. What you want to sell should be the things someone in your shoes would like to buy. So you have to be an excellent type designer and an excellent graphic designer. I have even hired illustrators for some of my stuff, fonts and otherwise.
    https://www.behance.net/gallery/84533831/TDR-font -- for example here I had some fun and felt like experimenting, I have far greater presentations. 
    The question amounts, in my opinion, to "how fast do you build a car". Does it run? Does it leak? Does it break down on certain roads?

    But, in general, less then half a day. Maybe 2-3 more hours to really polish it, this includes technical time like rendering and so on. We are past pretty pictures. What will give the edge now is animations. I wouldn't venture so far as to say "memes", but I'm certainly not excluding it.

    1. Also, as you may notice in newer projects in the portfolio, they are more image-heavy and have less text. I design for mobile first now, just as with websites.

    2. Some people on our side of the Iron curtain used art albums to cut some images out and frame them, stick them on their bed frames and so on. In modern terms, design so that people would want to download the picture as an avatar or a (smartphone) wallpaper, or you design some quote with your font, that some people would re-post on their facebook. And in the bottom right corner of the quote image, is a link to your font shop. Bam! Sales boost!

    3. Needless to say, always have good grammar.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,770
    edited May 1
    In answer to the OP question, I spent several months making over a dozen banner ads for Aptly, focusing on faux. It became an obsession, I don’t usually spend anywhere that long. But, similar to what Chris said, it was interesting getting back into the mode of my former career. I do re-use certain formats—for instance, the typical proportions of a book fit three into a standard 2:1 landscape format, so I’ve cannibalized this layout for several typefaces:

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    We try to do something different for every thing, not really a specimen but more a branding set of images.  These are time confusing because it's more marketing than I think the original question was getting at.  That said, when we had traditional specimens on our site almost no one looked at them.
  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 498
    @Nick Shinn What I really like about those book covers is that they are clearly 'faux'. They're not pretending to be something they're not, and yet they give a good impression of how the typeface might be used.
  • I do have some boilerplate elements for my specimens that I reuse, but by and large, every one is a fresh start. 

      
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 113
    edited May 5
    Thanks everyone for your answers, this sheds more light on this mysterious part of work :) I am intensely looking for options to optimize my type business workflow, and save time, hence the question.

    I try to make each "promo images set" (maybe that's a better word than specimen) aligned with the latest design trends. My idea was to get my font projects featured on Behance, and reach other designers (font users) that way. 

    Also, I realized that affiliates on stores like Creative Market use Pinterest very much to get their affiliate sales. So they just pin some great images from the promo set and include in their collections. 

    That's why I put so much effort into promo images. But I feel two weeks is way too much, because some fonts make few sales which frustrates me.

    My first "real" font family is still in progress, so this is the experience I have selling "small fonts", one weight, ultra display/color fonts etc.

    When I was at TypeClinic workshop in Slovenia, the mentor told me: specimen should show where you have spent the time while designing the font. So in my latest promo sets, included "The Elements Of The Typeface Style" section. This puts design features/elements in focus, like ink traps, angled terminals, lightened joints etc. Most detailed is for my font Zoran, which has 23 style elements listed in this section

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/78400379/Zoran-Elegant-Sans-Serif-Font  
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    @Igor Petrovic You just explained, in a nutshell, why we don't release more than one or two fonts a year.  The argument for volume is that you never know where the treads might go but we find that it's more efficient to be very very careful about what release and then really put a lot of energy into getting the promotion right.  PS, two weeks would be a land speed record for us.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 660
    edited May 5
    Zoran
    I have a rather different philosophy on presentations, one similar to newspaper articles. Most people nowadays don't have the attention timespan to look at something for more than some seconds. The hook should grab them (you lack this, yours starts with almost an MS Word composition, to tell it the way a 14-year old would tell it), and the scroll should be some 5-6 images, just the bare bones of what the font does and how it is implemented in real world jobs, which might mean I have used my font for actual client work between finishing it and finishing the presentation. I use words like "multilingual" typed out in glyphs from the Extended latin set, no need to go into "writing 'War and Peace'", as the saying goes. Plus that the US remains,AFAIK, the biggest market for fonts, so extended Latin might not actually give the edge certain people think it does. This is debatable and moot for me, I just sometimes sell a Basic and an Extended version, no use making people buy the Extended set if they don't need it (this includes MyFont set regulations)

    Also, I looked at your presentation on a smartphone, and half of it is too tiny to see. Big images, big text, bare bones. It's that simple and it takes less time. TikTok will rule the land very soon, it would be a pain to have to go back and rework all our stuff. Better make it future-proof right away.

    I haven't migrated to the Adobe Behance Portfolio website option, but if it is mobile-friendly and can resize my stuff, I will use only it from now on. This bugs me on the mobile webversion of Behance, I can't zoom into images when I'm not on the app - as most clients wouldn't be.
  • Many, many months for each typeface family
  • But I’ve never really liked the faux stuff, even in old specimen books. There is something wonderful about the traditional form of specimen, with its declensions of bizarre words coalescing into concrete poetry—eulogized in Alastair Johnston’s Alphabets to Order. Like many type designers, I have a large collection of foundry specimen books, ancient and modern, which occupy me in many happy hours of perusal, and, as I also seem to spend a lot of time making specimens, I sometimes wonder if my career isn’t is in type specimens, rather than font making.
    I totally agree. I love to see actual use, even if it’s difficult to have them before the typeface is offered for licensing. But that‘s why I am planning some beta testing offer.
    As for the picture compositions for commercial promotion, I prefer them sober and showing actual features (like in proper specimens), rather than in fake uses. I dislike fake uses.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    It doesn't matter what font people like.  What matters is that customers mostly don't care about proper specimens and they want to see use cases even if they are fictitious.  
  • It doesn't matter what font people like.  What matters is that customers mostly don't care about proper specimens and they want to see use cases even if they are fictitious.  
    It goes the other way around as well: I decide whatever I consider more relevant or important, of course taking into account the customers expectations, but not to the degree of having them dictate a specific logic versus another.
    I always disliked fake uses, but again, even fake uses can be conceived in different ways.
  • https://www.behance.net/gallery/84533831/TDR-font -- for example here I had some fun and felt like experimenting, I have far greater presentations. 
    The question amounts, in my opinion, to "how fast do you build a car". Does it run? Does it leak? Does it break down on certain roads?
    To me, this approach has full sense in cases like this: it turns out into a proper illustration (animation, object) and is not a specimen, but a complementary picture where the typeface, and this goes for display typefaces, is used and illustrated effectively.
    But again, I see the two things (technical specimens and promotional illustrations, but even a third category as narrative and detailed specimens) as integrating each other. The illustrations can be useful for promotion, a well-designed specimen is needed to show functionality and features in the more effective way.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    edited May 8
    I like to think of them as imagined use cases rather than "fake uses".  The best way to judge type is to set it.  We're showing how we anticipate the fonts being used.  I think the biggest resistance to these images from the font foundry is a perception that we might know how to use the fonts better than outsiders and that therefore our images can't be trusted as representative.  That's why we go out of our way to make images that aren't perfect.  We do things like make packaging where there's too much copy, really crowded and busy looking, to show that our fonts can take abuse and still look good.  This seems to appeal to people.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,770
    edited May 8
    A key factor in making the images faux (and difficult to create) is that they only have the one typeface in them, whereas in RL there is usually a contrast of type styles. Especially difficult for display faces.
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 113
    edited May 9
    Great takeaways from this thread, especially that diferent points of view are presented. 

    Specimen/promo set is the bridge between type design and marketing (via graphic design) and I feel it is legitimate to establish (and play on) the "emotion" of the promo set, as any other marketing material do. It's not the quality of the typeface, but it might be beneficial for the user in terms of inspiration. 

    It might be misused as a deceptive tool, trying to sell a low quality font by shiny graphics, but here we expect the decent font qyality by default. 

    @Vasil Stanev Thanks for your carefull look and comments. It made me to ask Creative Market what percentage of customers browse and buy fonts via smartphones (because I don't see that info in "Font purchasing habits" survey that was published on Medium). I still wait for their reply.
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 230
    edited May 9
    I think most type designers hire a graphic designer to do the promo/marketing graphic. That way you as a typedesigner can focus on what you know best and not worry about it. Or atleast that's what I'd do even though I do general graphic design work there might be areas where I need additional help to just spruce things up. Kinda split things up for each scenario and then consolidate them using your final say. Animations help a lot these days as far as I can tell, although a bit misleading but it really gets a kick outta people if its animated. I've noticed some graphic designers are convinced to buy it merely by looking at the animations. grillitype had animations for GT america and it was very convincing for a lot of professional graphic designers. Personally I like to view type as a static image but plenty of people are convinced by animations these days. 
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 113
    @AbiRasheed Oh yes, I forgot about the animation. I am frustrated by that trend, because I don't do animation and I would rather avoid it on top of all other things I am trying to learn/do myself. But have to admit it looks attractive if applied wisely.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 660
    edited May 10
    I honestly had forgotten that some type designers aren't graphic ones :) For me the two things are inseperable. The business is such that fonts are more of a side income for me, my main one is regular print stuff and web assets, there are much more jobs in these fields. My type skill is more used by clients in the sense of "person that knows how to pair fonts".
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 168
    As a graphic designer myself, I don't mind creating a promo image or two since they attract the designers' attention who buy the fonts. But the multiple images required by the distributors amounts to a time-consuming, coordinated marketing campaign complete with stock photo purchases, which I do sort of mind. It's difficult enough coming up with one good promo image, let alone five or six that work together as a series.

  • Specimen/promo set is the bridge between type design and marketing (via graphic design) and I feel it is legitimate to establish (and play on) the "emotion" of the promo set, as any other marketing material do. It's not the quality of the typeface, but it might be beneficial for the user in terms of inspiration. 

    It might be misused as a deceptive tool, trying to sell a low quality font by shiny graphics, but here we expect the decent font qyality by default.
    And that’s the point, I believe. It’s not to be expected, or taken for granted.
    I was extremely surprised as, after many years using typefaces mostly for commercial packaging design, when I tried a few typefaces to do personal eBooks, that very few of the typefaces I tried/tested were qualitatively adequate for immersive textsetting.
    Even in terms of character set alone, there is a lot of inconsistency.
    As it has been said, it seem a great number of new type designers spend a lot of time in adding each and every possible diacritic/accented letter, but often spacing and kerning are either poor, or insufficient, or not adequate for the intended use.
    This convinces me more and more that the "one size fits it all" logic we are still bearing since the early days of Postscript in fact brings poor quality, unless a person is skilled enough to space and select the correct weights for achieving good results in the various optical sizes.

    Promotion, at this point, becomes problematic. I agree with Joyce that type must be shown in use, but there is a big number of ways in which this can be done, and we are ultimately responsible of the "white noise" or empoverishment we bring when instead of showing the typeface's actual strength we just use "special effects" to show an ideal setting for its usage. That’s what I would call "fake uses", not trying to generalize.
  • Color schemes were created with the help of color harmony algorithms to avoid contemporary trends. To make things more complicated, I had to generate them in Fonts.com's very-wide, low resolution format as well.
    Hi Ray, may I ask how you did it? Did you use an application? An online resource?
    You made me curious!
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