Typefaces are an interesting part of design that I have enjoyed exploring. Type is a very important aspect of graphic design and knowing about typefaces can help a designer reach further heights than they usually might. For instance, being able to custom design a tailored typeface for a client logo, a one of a kind piece. A good example of a custom designed typeface being used as a logo is Coca-Cola.
The designing process of typefaces is a complicated yet exciting activity and the results are worth all the hard work. From deciding whether the typeface should be serif or sans serif, whether it should be uppercase or lowercase, fixed width or proportional – each aspect of typeface design is important and needs to be well thought out.
The Marslight typeface was an experimental project with the purpose of exploring subjects and techniques that are completely new to me.
I named the typeface that I designed Marslight, having based the design on the idea of planets in orbit around the sun and applied a ‘node’, on each letter (or glyph in type design jargon). Marslight was designed in Adobe Illustrator, thus making it an unusable typeface in terms of being able to install it in to your computer. However, the advantage of having designed it in Illustrator is that it can be played around with and changed as much as the designer would like for a particular purpose.
Although I did not design Marslight using a typeface design program (such as FontLab), I did have to follow the basic guidelines of typeface design such as careful attention to kerning (the space between each character of the typeface), being conscious of the message the typeface sends to the reader, deciding on the grouping and/or pairing of the Marslight typeface with other typefaces and finding a typeface that works when paired with Marslight which in this case was the Clear Sans typeface.
These guidelines vary depending on the design of the typeface but some rules are universal like creating each glyph based on a typeface grid to ensure that each character is the correct height and width to have a well-designed typeface. In order to achieve creating a well-designed typeface there are universal rules that should be followed, one of the most important being that each glyph is based on a typeface grid, ensuring that each character is the correct height and width – other guidelines vary and are dependent on the typeface being designed.
It is important to design the typeface glyph-by-glyph and apply the same attributes to each glyph that make up the nature of your typeface. Marslight was designed with the following attributes:
– It is proportional – meaning that each letter (or glyph in type design jargon) is not the same width: it is important to decide on the width of the glyphs in order to help you with the kerning of the typeface once in use.
– It is all capital letters: I decided to design the characters in capital letters because I would like it to be used for titles and headings and not body text, hence the pairing of the typeface with Clear Sans which would be used for longer texts.
– It comes in two weights, regular and bold: The weights of the typeface are also based upon it being used for headings and titles.
For example if Marslight was to be used for an article, the main heading of the article would be in Marslight Bold and the sub-headings would be in Marslight Regular while the body text would be in Clear Sans.
– It is a versatile typeface that is given freedom by the . In other words, that it was designed based on another SIL that I have reworked. Due to the SIL redesign, the typeface is in its final and functional form. It can be uploaded to the internet and made available for free download as well as being available for free download so that others may improve upon, modify and share the typeface.
Marslight was an exciting project to work on and it taught me more than I thought there was to know about typefaces. I learnt how difficult it is to design a usable typeface and how much work goes into designing one. The challenge was worth it though, Marslight came out better than expected and worked well when I tested it out by creating a corporate identity for a pseudo company named Marslight.
Written by Muzi Ndlovu