Saturday, August 23, 2014

Planning your typeface

     It goes without saying that before you even start a typeface, you should already know what kind of typeface you’re going to be making. That doesn't mean you should wake up and go “I’m going to make a humanist sans serif today!”, but if you want to expand a hand lettering job you did, or satisfy a certain look/feel, some good questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is it a display (headline) or text (paragraph) typeface?
  • What do you see it being used for?
  • Does it have serifs?
  • How didone (stroke contrast and angle) will it be?
  • What era or culture should it evoke?
  • Will it look squarish or round?
  • What existing typefaces will it be based on?

      You don’t have to have answers for all of these questions, and this list is definitely not all inclusive, but it’s a good starting point for designing a new typeface.

     The font that I’m going to be making is going to be a text serif typeface. It should be one that you can set a textbook in, but it should also look good at larger sizes so you could for example, blow up a phonetic transcription on the screen in a presentation. Didone typefaces are not good for reading, so its stroke contrast and angle will probably fall between that of an old style and transitional. The typeface will be somewhat rounded, if anything because there are way too many flat superelliptical open source typefaces. The curves and shoulders will be flattened, but not along the horizontal or vertical axes. My all-time favorite serif fonts are Minion and Proforma so the new typeface will probably be modelled on them. Garamond is also “the old style serif typeface”, so it will be very informative on some basic serif type design conventions.