Friday, August 29, 2014

Test run: All together now!

Once you have the ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘i’, ‘b’, ‘n’, ‘v’, and ‘e’, it’s a good idea to put all your glyphs together and see how the typeface works, like this:

You should best be doing this every time you draw a new glyph, actually—like I've been doing behind the scenes. But if you've put it off until now, it's a good idea to iron out all the inconsistencies at this point, before the ‘b’ parents the ‘d’, ‘p’, and ‘q’, and you have maybe four letters to fix instead of one. While the curves should not be exactly the same, the curves of the ‘a’, ‘n’, ‘b’, and ‘f’ should evoke the same shape; the bowls of the ‘o’, ‘e’, and ‘b’ should have similar hardnesses; and all the glyphs should have roughly the same hairline thicknesses, and appear to be the same weight.

Now is also a good time to enact sweeping changes to your font, like weight or serif shape. For example, I noticed that my typeface was looking a bit too heavy for a book weight. It would be nice for a medium weight, but I prefer to work with lighter weights, so I made the typeface lighter. I also made the head serifs slightly thinner and less angled.

You should also pay attention to the over and undershoots—as it turns out, the undershoot on the ‘v’ was a bit too much, and the ‘f’ was a little shorter than the ‘b’. So having all the letters next to each other helps you find and correct problems like that.

It’s also a good idea to scale the glyphs up and down to see how the typeface performs at display and more importantly, text sizes. Here’s my typeface scaled down to three text sizes, with their baselines and side bearings aligned to pixels to provide natural hinting:

In my case, it’s encouraging since it indicates that my typeface is already legible down to a baseline–meanline height of just 7 pixels.