Friday, October 3, 2014

Glyph design: letters with bowls, part one ( D P )

The ‘D’ and ‘P’ are perhaps the most difficult letters of the uppercase alphabet to nail. They require you to blend straight letter forms, like the arms of the ‘E’,  into a round bowl, like the one on the ‘C’.

The ‘D’ can be made by taking the left side of the ‘E’, and attaching it to the bowl of a ‘C’, rotated 180 degrees (never reflected horizontally!).

It can be extremely difficult to make the curve of the ‘D’ look smooth. The line–curve transition is simply something b├ęzier curves don’t handle well. It’s also worth noting that the stress of the ‘D’ is slightly more vertical than on the ‘C’, since the letter has vertical symmetry.
The stem of the ‘P’ is taken from the stem of the ‘F’. Like the ‘F’, the ‘P’ is “unbalanced”, so it has an uneven foot serif. The  letter’s bowl is more difficult to make; the ‘D’ can offer some guidance though. In the Roman tradition, the bowl is disjointed from the stem at the middle, which I’ve done in Floribunda’s ‘P’ (a few other typefaces like Le Monde Journal do this too).
The bowl of the ‘P’ often extends down past the median of the ‘H’, occupying significantly more than 50% of the capital height instead of just under 50%.