Sunday, September 28, 2014

Glyph design: V-derived letters ( X W Y A )

Just as three letters can be made from the ‘O’, two from the ‘I’, and four from the ‘H’ and ‘Z’, three letters—‘W’, ‘Y’, and ‘A’—can be made from the ‘V’. The capital ‘X’ will also be included since it has many things in common with the ‘V’.

The ‘X’ is constructed just like the ‘V’—take a lowercase ‘x’ and extend its arms and diagonals to the capital line and the baseline. The strokes should intersect at the height of the ‘H’s median. The letterform is very slightly narrower than a proportionally scaled lowercase ‘x’ though. When we embolden the ‘X’, the extra weight on the diagonal goes on the inside, reducing its slope slightly. On the arms, it goes on the outside, increasing the skew between the two arms slightly (else the arms look misaligned).
The ‘W’ is constructed just like its lowercase counterpart—Start with two ‘V’s, overlap them, reduce (or even remove) the middle serif, and compress the letterform slightly.

The ‘Y’ is a ‘V’ compressed vertically and attached to the lower half of an ‘I’, just below the height of the ‘H’s median. The letter’s fork (the ‘V’-shaped part) receives some horizontal compression to compensate, but the slope is still more horizontal than in the ‘V’, so you may need to adjust the bracketing on its upper serifs.
When handling weight, ‘Y’ looks best when the inner edge of its diagonal (left stroke) is collinear with the corner point between its stem and arm (right stroke).
The ‘A’ is almost exactly a letter ‘V’ rotated 180 degrees, plus a crossbar. The crossbar is the same width as the one on the ‘H’, but located much lower, even lower than the crossbar on the ‘e’. The crossbar increases the letter’s stroke density slightly, pushing its hairline (inverted arm) and diagonal apart a few font units. The outer serifs are sometimes shortened very slightly, for no reason other than that flared serifs are less tolerable on the baseline than on the mean line or capital line.