Creating a typeface:
My start point for creating the font for the front cover of the magazine was to begin looking into how to create a font. I found this article on the blog ‘I Love Typography’ about how to create a font using appropriate software. It recommends using a piece of software called FontLab Studio apparently it’s the industry standard. Links to article (there’s pt.1 & pt.2):
However the whole process is lengthy and complex, I didn’t feel it was strictly necessary to create a whole alphabet in order to create the type for the magazine so I decided not try and use a trial version of the FontLab studio to create a font.
So unable to think of a better option I thought I’d create the word ‘type’ from a hand drawing and then recreate it and improve it in Illustrator CS6. That bit settled I wanted to do some visual research and get ideas for the typeface.
Earlier on in the unit I researched the typefaces/typography associated with Neon Signs. During this research I came across a reoccurring typeface or group of typefaces. One of these was ‘Play Bill’, the others I had yet to name but had images of. Using these images I found similar fonts using a book called ‘The Field Guide to Typography: Typefaces In The Urban Landscape, by Peter Dawson’.
The Zebrawood and Rosewood typefaces released by Adobe in 1994 as part of a ‘Wood Type’s Collection’, are themselves a remaking or re imagining of typefaces by William Page from 1874. William Page was a key designer of wood type fonts for use in printing presses.
My idea was to refresh these typefaces again, making them perhaps simpler more refined but still keeping that central Slab Serif feel and a nod to ‘Western or Circus’ theme. I put together a mood board of other similar typefaces and magazine covers that I liked the layout of or colours of as my inspiration:
I set about working on the typeface in my sketchbook trying to use basic construction rules such as the ‘x’ height line and an ‘Ascender line’ and ‘Decender Line’. But then I kept everything as a CAP Height anyway so the ascender and descender were slightly unnecessary…
I was trying to create curved terminals with thick stems to the letters, to give that Slab Serif feel. I tried to simplify things by not adding any edges or features within the letters but letting the split terminals with the curves be the flourish. I’m still not convinced it looks like every letter is even/balanced in terms of weight, the Y was probably the trickiest letter to try and get balanced.
I then set about drawing all the letters together and lining them up (see photo below). I then did some rough thumbnails in my sketchbook of other elements for the cover design, such as background shapes or themes.
Working on the typeface in Illustrator:
I drew the basic shape in Illustrator and outlined it, I left the fill white to begin with before beginning to play around with colours and patterns. My initial idea was to create a grey and orange coloured font to give a hint to western theme (as in sand, being a dusty yellow/orange, grey as a sophisticated colour)?
I used the 3D fx tool to create a bold shape from the lettering, I struggled with the lighting of the text though and some elements had to be adjusted.
I tried to adjust some of the lighting and colours to improve upon the first version for the second version. These were more successful and the colours look balanced. But you can see that it has a hand drawn feel which you wouldn’t have with a real typeface, I felt I didn’t have the time to get the terminals to look perfectly the same in curve.
I moved on to trying to play with colour and texture, below you can see my experimentation in typeface 3.
Here it looks a lot bolder than in Illustrator but I like the contrast between the colours and that the colours add a different feel, they don’t remind you of ‘westerns’ and to me that’s to try and add a different feel to the typeface. It’s making the visual language take a different reference.
I tried to add a visual nod to neon signs to the font in version four by creating a simple bulb like repeating pattern as a fill. It wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped and I think that’s mainly due to the repeating shape being too large to fit within the area of the front of the letters. Again this is an element I would work on if given time to revisit the typeface.
For the fifth version of the typeface I put it in a context of a black background to help show the effect I was experimenting with. I was trying to create an overprinted/woodblock type feel with the colours bleeding into each other. I think it worked fairly well, although maybe the tone could be warmer.
As my last experimentation with the font I tried to create a neon like effect in the outline of the letters. I found a tutorial on using gradient settings to create a neon like effect and so used that to help me achieve what you see below.
It’s quite bold, and I think a little crude but does hold some resemblance to neon lighting. I’ll talk about how it might fit into a cover in my next post.