Since graduating (certificate receiving?) from Type@Cooper I’ve been working on my original design, Marais. All of the skills and understanding gained while making and learning in those semesters couldn’t be fully expressed in the work without revision. I’ve found the evolution of the Ultra weight very satisfying, and yet I still see ample room for improvement. When Paul Shaw posted about the program on Imprint I was excited and yet a bit embarrassed because I saw the old version of the face as an inaccurate representation of what I learned, just what I had made.
So I’m presenting the work in progress as it stands at the moment, highlighting improvements in the three areas most important to a cohesive typeface: Drawing, Spacing, and Kerning.
Marais Ultra is addictive to work on with its satisfying combination of soft and sharp, but I find managing that weight is also like a puzzle. Getting the counters to feel consistent enough while maintaining good width relationships gave me ample room to improve the face. The ‘c’ and ‘t’ are good examples of the need to reduce gaping counters. It helped to tighten the serifs, too, some just a few units but most a good 15 or so. The ‘a’ and ‘e’ just needed a good amount of cheating, making the strokes feel balanced if not mathematically equal in thickness.
After, and sometimes during, the redrawing process I reconsidered spacing for the Ultra, applying some of the moderation between clearance and picketing professor Jesse Ragan had pointed us towards. Shorter serifs helped here, and created a strong fit between most characters. In the second diagram you can see my thoroughly unscientific evaluation of counterspaces and spacing.
The Ultra weight started to fit so well together that spacing was no longer enough to make it work. It was time for kerning. I am not yet entirely comfortable with the process, and I’m still trying to get a feeling for what is ‘good’ when it comes to a result.
After all of this, I still have more to draw, more to space and kern, and then I will embark on some amount of hinting. That will put me at roughly 1/12th completion, given I want to develop Book through Ultra weights with matching italics. Whew. Onward!
Posted January 10th, 2012