Design and morphological operations with typography
Created by: Pablo Cosgaya, Marcela Romero – Review: Natalia Pano
Artículo en proceso de traducción
Typographic sign systems
As we have already seen, a typeface family is a set of alphabetic and non alphabetic signs which have structural and stylistic features in common, and which make them be perceived as members of a same system.
Analysis and adjustments
When we decide to design a typographic sign system, we can do so by beginning from a previously defined criterion or by «trial and error», i.e., experimenting without a previously defined plan, entering some parameters, analyzing the results and correcting whatever we find that needs to be adjusted as many times as we consider necessary, until we achieve the desired result. To make sure we are producing a typographic sign system, the proofs obtained after the first operations performed must be deeply and systematically analyzed. It is also convenient to perform comparative studies between families to find different forms to solve similar problems.
Guide for analysis
In order to perform a detailed analysis, we suggest bearing in mind the following aspects:
Family: To get informed about the context of the original design (in the case of typeface families that existed prior to digital systems) and the context of design of the analyzed version (in the case of families with several versions: Garamond —see examples on the right—, Bodoni, Caslon, Bookman).
Structure: To study the proportions of the sign’s components, especially the relation between width and height, capitals’ width, the relation between capitals’ height, lower case, ascenders and descenders, and placement of the center of the signs. Analyze the structural relations between capitals, lower case and between capitals and lower case. Study the type of curves, their anatomy, the presence of symmetry and the degrees of synthesis.
Stroke: If the stroke is gradual, review the kind of gradualness (light, regular, bold), modulation (or tilting angle of the pen), proportion between thin and thick strokes. If the stroke is uniform, check for the existence or non-existence of optic corrections (Avant Garde, Variex, Futura, Avenir).
Joints: Study the type of joints each sign presents. Their anatomy, the height where the joints take place and the existence or non existence of typographic color corrections.
Serif: If they are type families with terminals or serif, study the form of the serif in capital and lower case signs, kind of joint to the stem, typographic color of the serif, differences or similarities in serif according to structure. If they are sans serif families, check the kind of cuts, the directions of cuts (perpendicular to baseline, radial, parallel to the baseline, or other), and differences and similarities of cuts according to structure.
Specific signs: When in the presence of specific signs or original solutions, analyze their structure, their stroke and their terminals, and compare solutions to similar problems in other families.
Variables: If the case requires so, analyze the relations and differences with the variable used or, if there is an absence of variables, study the potential possibility for developing them.
Spacing: As we already know, the design of each sign is composed by the form and also by the counterform (internal and external spaces that surround the sign). When composing a word or a text with a system of signs, the resulting spacing is a part of the characteristics pertaining to that system. The space between letters results from the space to the right of a sign plus the space to the left of the next sign. Spaces that separate one word from the next one are signs which, though not printed, have an essential function in reading.
Adjustments: After analyzing the elements mentioned above, it is possible that specific aspects of the family beyond this analysis may come up, but which must also be included. It also happens that the same criteria applied to different signs do not always have the same result. Once the analysis is complete, we will make the necessary adjustments and some further verification until we consider that the result obtained coincides with the defined criterion.
Categorizations: After analyzing the elements mentioned above, it is possible that specific aspects of the family beyond this analysis may come up, but which must also be included. It also happens that the same criteria applied to different signs do not always have the same result. Once the analysis is complete, we will make the necessary adjustments and some further verification until we consider that the result obtained coincides with the defined criterion.
Reading at different levels: Without getting into a detailed analysis of the aspects related to reading, it would be useful to bear in mind the differences that exist between the reading of experimental typographic signs, distance reading (short and big texts) and reading of texts in long pieces (when it is necessary for typography to «disappear» to make room for the author’s narration).
This entry is also available in: Spanish
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