Macro, Micro, Typo: With type design it is always about the details. Even if the layman does not see them, the type designer himself loves to improve details — except technology is putting a spoke in his wheel …
After showcasing the process of “Franziska Text” at TypoTalk by OnType, right here there also is a small close-up of the pitfalls of analogue type optimization.
Whether detailed digitization template or raw specification of an idea: an analogous sketch for the typeface helps to check shapes fast and to develop unusual ideas, so that calligraphic bauble, first concept and also pointed sketches will lead to digitally formulated letters at last.
These vectors of course are discreetly optimized digitally on every possible side, until peu à peu the final glyphs are originating. Everything to point out later elegantly — with the comparison of first sketch to final font — to the costly development.
Many of this optimization take small but steady steps: An o with a purely static axis can look unnatural and lifeless (01) but becomes dynamic while remaining statically by rotating the outside form, instead of the counter (02). This detail may barely see somebody, never mind read actively, but if reflected (03) the detail — perceptible till then only — becomes evident.
At regular intervals the optimization steps are printed out to prove the functionality of the curves. Indeed, a laser printer with supposed to have 1200 dpi rasterize the letters in different point sizes differently well, it changes curves in stairs and leaves space for interpretation of shapes — what is still a rather lucky coincidence with the fingernail in the “white right pointing index” (U 261E).
How to decide whether that the optical overhang of o is good in comparison to x, if both characters are outputted differently in a small text than in headlines. The pragmatist simply prints the text to 20 points, takes twice the reading distance and then evaluates the body text (hot tip from Albert-Jan Pool).
But you can also expose a printing plate and dunk into the world of magnifiers …
… then there is nothing more beautiful than a vigorous printed proof sheet. If one adds different papers, the specimen text can be judged in the fine offset’s grid and under different technical circumstances of materials as well.
Simple coated paper, printed with offset makes clear: The typeface can become more edged, because the terminal device paper is rounding the letters inherently.
The offset in combination with soft paper, also gives to the letters a soft (swollen) appearance and a discreetly heavier weight.
The laser printer makes the glyphs almost one weight lighter and rounds the double cut ball terminal in the a again.
A quick screen-shot of the monochrome rendering of an old Windows machine shows that still a lot of work is wainting: the hinting …