Italicspart one and part two. The tutorial on the preceding ‘n’ branch also helps.
Like the ‘n’ branch, the ‘a’ branch is a family of italic letters which all derive from a certain root (‘a’). The ‘a’ branch sprouts off of the side of the ‘n’ branch, and the ‘u’ and the ‘a’ form the junction between the two. In this way, the ‘a’ branch can be thought of as the second stage of italic design, though the design process is quite similar to that of the previous branch.
The letter a
Unlike the roman ‘a’, the italic ‘a’ has only a single bowl and stem, much like a ‘d’ without its ascender.
Stem variations ( d q g )
From the ‘a’, the ‘d’ and ‘q’ can be made by extending their stems upward and downward, respectively. Owing to their increased size, the width of their bowls is sometimes increased slightly.
|The Minion Pro ‘g’ and its italic version|
Mirror letters ( b p )
For some designers, the mirrored bowl letters—‘b’ and ‘p’, should be treated independently from their reflected counterparts, ‘q’ and ‘d’. In this case they will be highly informed by the shoulder of the ‘n’, just as in the roman. However, in italics, you can also simply rotate the ‘q’ and ‘d’ to create these letters, with some minor corrections. At any rate, you may find the discrepancy between these two avenues of design to be quite small in the end result.
Just like the ‘g’, the ‘p’ also possesses an alternate form, also popular among very old style typefaces. Here, it is not treated as a true bowl letter, but rather as a vertical stem slashed by an arc (much like how ‘p’ is often handwritten). However this form is rather rare, and the normal “rotated ‘d’ form” is never wrong.
Round letters ( c e o )
Perhaps a major discrepancy between roman and italic design, is that in roman type, the letter ‘o’ is designed first, and from it comes the ‘c’, ‘e’, and other bowled letters like ‘b’. In italic design, it makes more sense to design the bowled letters first, and create the ‘c’ and ‘e’ from them. The ‘o’ is built last, from the letter ‘c’. This is because the italic ‘o’ is not really a circle, rather it is made up of other, more basic italic strokes that come together to simulate a circle. Thus, in roman type, the circle is the basis of all the rounded or bowled letters, while in italic type, it is the basic strokes that form the basis for all the other letters.
The ‘c’ and ‘e’ are some of the most difficult italic letters to design (aside from the ‘n’ of course). The basic form of the ‘c’ is taken from the bowl of the ‘a’, or course, but the ‘c’ is significantly rounder, and slightly more eccentric in its slant (the ‘c’ even had slant in the roman). Thought must also be given to the letter’s upper terminal.
The ‘o’, for its part, is simply two ‘c’s put together to enclose a roughly oval counter.