How to de­sign your own type­face

ERIK SPIEKERMANN’S TEAM OF DE­SIGN­ERS WHO HELPED ADOBE DIS­COVER THE HID­DEN TY­POG­RA­PHY TREA­SURES OF BAUHAUS SHARE THEIR AD­VICE

Computer Arts - - Experimental Type -

1. DO YOUR RE­SEARCH

“My big­gest chal­lenge was where to start,” says Luca Pel­le­grini, who com­pleted the Xanti Modern type by Xanti Schaw­in­sky. “I did a lot of re­search to un­der­stand as much as pos­si­ble about the time of ori­gin, the de­signer and how the de­signer might have thought and felt at the time. My work­flow be­gan with re­search on the life of Xanti Schaw­in­sky to help me un­der­stand his point of view and style. I started sketch­ing by hand, which helped me to un­der­stand the sys­tem and the grid be­hind the let­ters.”

2. FIND EX­AM­PLES

Cé­line Hurka looked into the the Al­fred-Caps type­face of Bauhuas de­signer Al­fred Arndt, to cre­ate Al­farn. “I looked for ex­am­ples from the Bauhaus and De Stijl era, which helped me learn more about the con­struc­tion of spe­cific let­ters,” she ex­plains.

3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO EX­PER­I­MENT

“When re­con­struct­ing the Al­fred Arndt font, I dig­i­tally traced back all the let­ters to glyphs,” con­tin­ues Hurka. “From there I ex­per­i­mented with cut­ting up the shapes to help me see how I could cre­ate more char­ac­ters.”

4. MAKE USE OF THE DIG­I­TAL TOOLS AVAIL­ABLE TO YOU

“I mainly worked dig­i­tally, as it’s eas­ier to ex­per­i­ment with geo­met­ric con­struc­tions to cre­ate var­i­ous widths and al­ter­na­tive let­ters. I only did rough sketches on pa­per,” she adds.

5. RE­SPECT FORM

Type de­signer Hide­taka Ya­masaki worked with Bauhaus artist Carl Marx’s Carl-Rounded type. “For the weight vari­a­tion, I de­cided to cre­ate two weights: Reg­u­lar and Bold. Marx’s sketch con­tains both thin and thick let­ters, which Top Erik Spik­er­mann and five stu­dents breathed new life into a se­ries of for­got­ten Bauhaus type sketches. seem to be drawn with two or three dif­fer­ent nibs. So, for the Reg­u­lar weight I kept the stroke thick­ness of the thin let­ters on his sketch, and for the Bold weight I made the thick let­ters much fat­ter. This is to clearly dif­fer­en­ti­ate the weight in dig­i­tal form, which helps to make a dis­tinc­tive hi­er­ar­chy in the ty­pog­ra­phy.”

6. BE DIF­FER­ENT

“In the orig­i­nal sketch,” says Ya­masaki, “the pro­por­tion of the thick let­ters is nar­rower than that of the thin let­ters. This is un­usual even for 2018, but I kept this char­ac­ter­is­tic in my re­vival be­cause it’s in­ter­est­ing. Carl Marx was ahead of his time.”

7. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX

“Cre­at­ing ty­pog­ra­phy takes much more time than most peo­ple re­alise,” re­flects Pel­le­grini. “My great­est chal­lenge was to com­plete the char­ac­ter set of the type and adapt it to the cur­rent re­quire­ments of ty­pog­ra­phy. Since the orig­i­nal draw­ing of the Xanti Schaw­in­sky al­pha­bet from 1932 only showed let­ters, I had to de­sign the match­ing glyphs. This was both ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and highly fas­ci­nat­ing at the same time.”

8. DE­SIGN IS REL­A­TIVE BUT TY­POG­RA­PHY MUST BE LEG­I­BLE

“Af­ter I scanned the phys­i­cal printed font into a dig­i­tal for­mat,” he adds, “I made a few mi­nor cor­rec­tions to make the glyphs more con­sis­tent and rel­e­vant to con­tem­po­rary use – im­por­tant for a work­ing doc­u­ment font.“

9. EM­BRACE BOTH ANA­LOGUE AND DIG­I­TAL

“Dig­i­tal opens up many new pos­si­bil­i­ties,” says type de­signer Flavia Zim­bardi, who cre­ated Joschmi, based on the work of mas­ter de­signer Joost Sch­midt. “We now have ‘vari­able fonts’ that pro­vide a flex­i­ble de­sign space, and more con­trol along axes and in­stances. Some might see digi­ti­sa­tion – whereby a phys­i­cal font is trans­ferred to dig­i­tal for­mat – as a chal­lenge. But to me, it’s re­ally about a new be­gin­ning and new per­spec­tive on some­thing that has come be­fore and al­ready ex­ists.”

10. OPEN YOUR MIND TO DIF­FER­ENT IDEAS

“Through­out the re­con­struc­tion process of the Al­fred Arndt, my men­tors Erik van Blok­land, Peter Ver­heul and Paul van der Laan ques­tioned some of my de­ci­sions and gave me some re­ally great ad­vice that I thank them for now,” says Hurka. “When you’re so en­grossed in your work it can be dif­fi­cult to see how others see things, and that’s why the de­vel­op­ment stage is the most dif­fi­cult. You need to let go a lit­tle of what you have cre­ated in or­der to grow the de­sign.”

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