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workshops, Helsinki Lahti 10 2002, 03

basic info
time, place, basic info
themes, the groups
daily impression

the workshop-themes
01 layered type
02 screentype
03 bible type
04 shop lettering

05 carplate type
06 the fatter the better
07 the publication
order publication

bible type  basic info : presentation half way : final presentation
Latest news: nothing's gonna stop them now - click here to see more

The idea was to compare existing typefaces used in Bibles with each other and then define the ideal 'bible font'. What are the most important features for small size characters? How to save space, but still keep the text legible? Within these restrictions, we were meant to create a 'bible typeface' of our own.

First we took a look at existing typefaces used in small size publications (newspapers, phone books, manuals). The idea was to browse through some typefaces and try to find out common features that make a font legible. We also printed Bauer Bodoni in small sizes and put it through some hard core photocopying (magnifying, reducing and vice versa).

We found out that many of the most space saving and readable typefaces have relatively low contrast, big x-height and they are somewhat condensed. Each of us chose one distinct approach to modify Bauer Bodoni. Heikki made the spacing as tight as possible. Hanna tried to make the font as small as possible, which was close to Susana's attempt to lower the contrast within the typeface. Kirsi wanted to know how short the ascenders and descenders could be.

All of us made many versions of lowercase b and n, to find out the defining forms. Bas made a fusion out of our proposals and we all continued from this new starting point. We decided to make the serifs according to Heikki's sketch, where the serifs were angular and quite simple. By Friday we had almost all the lower case characters ready.

The next week was used to unify the new font (width, curves, height). We also made several test layouts with different point sizes, leadings and column widths. Three languages were used: Finnish, English and Spanish.

Final solution
All the forms in any letter carry a long history behind them and that affects reading, even if you are not aware it. You can do almost anything for display purposes, but in order to make a small and legible typeface you can't piss against the wind. You'll have to use letterforms that rely on tradition. Our result had almost nothing to do with Bauer Bodoni, so the workshop was mostly about finding out things you really don't know, even if you think you do!

download Spritus.pdf

   picture 6 of 15

20 comments so far: read comments , please do comment
Hrant H Papazian -- Friday, October 25 2002, 01:49 am
Very nice - too much to talk about. Please, please, if you are not dead tired of thinking about this project, post it to Typophile's Critique Forum: http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/29/35.html hhp

matthé -- Friday, October 25 2002, 10:30 am
vodka & bibles? I love the idea of designing a bibletype as sinfull as possible or maybe one designed by someone gay handpalmblood for ink? so much possibilities...if only I could be there

Stefan Hattenbach | MAC Rhino -- Friday, October 25 2002, 01:23 pm
As a type designer I'm weak fro this traditional faces. I like this one a lot. The tricky thing is to give it personality enough. The characteristcs on "i" and "b" for example are good. keep up the good work and please finish this family.

Jan Middendorp -- Friday, October 25 2002, 03:50 pm
Ofcourse, you can't judge if a typeface like this REALLY works from these lo-res pictures, and I'd love to see a Spiritus specimen on paper. (Love the name! The display font could be called Absinth.) If it's true that >>Spiritus font really save space and is legible in small sizes. The text is still "easy" to read in 4,5 bodysize.

Jan Middendorp -- Friday, October 25 2002, 03:50 pm
Ofcourse, you can't judge if a typeface like this REALLY works from these lo-res pictures, and I'd love to see a Spiritus specimen on paper. (Love the name! The display font could be called Absinth.) If it's true that >>Spiritus font really save space and is legible in small sizes. The text is still "easy" to read in 4,5 bodysize.

Jan Middendorp -- Friday, October 25 2002, 03:50 pm
Ofcourse, you can't judge if a typeface like this REALLY works from these lo-res pictures, and I'd love to see a Spiritus specimen on paper. (Love the name! The display font could be called Absinth.) If it's true that >>Spiritus font really save space and is legible in small sizes. The text is still "easy" to read in 4,5 bodysize.

hugo@visionandfactory.com -- Friday, October 25 2002, 04:29 pm
Jaaaaan, you repeating yourself. Sounds like a priest to me... Hugo Puttaert http://www.visionandfactory.com

John Hudson -- Saturday, October 26 2002, 04:11 pm
I'm glad to see that the things I found questionable in the early drafts have been resolved (although I was sort of hoping that you might try to justify them), and the PDF sample is very welcome. There's only one thing I really don't like much: the very heavy treatment of the top left of the bowl in the lowercase b. I think the straight cut, if you're going to have it, needs to be angled slightly more steeply to coordinate with the angle of the outside curve. Compare the weight of this area to the corresponding area at the lower right of the bowl of the d. The same is true of the lowercase q, although to a slightly less degree because you've shaven a bit of weight off the outside by making it a touch less rounded. But why have the straight cut at all? Or, to put the question more precisely, why have an arbitrary lack of clear relationship between the outside of the bowl and the inside? I'm not saying you shouldn't. I'm wondering what your reasoning is.

John Hudson -- Saturday, October 26 2002, 04:13 pm
So where's this lowercase g that we were promised?

Hrant H Papazian -- Saturday, October 26 2002, 09:15 pm
> why have the straight cut at all? Dwiggins's "M-formula", the best -if still too short- treatment of which is in an article by Unger in an issue of Quaerendo. At small point sizes, "abruptness" in outlines (and for a reason I still don't understand) specifically in counters creates greater legibility through the illusion of clarity. It sounds like hocus-pocus, but it's true. BTW, have you seen De Macchi's new Nomima? Out of this galaxy, baby. But we should be discussing all this on Typophile... And yeah, the "g" *please*! hhp

John Hudson -- Sunday, October 27 2002, 02:51 am
Thanks, Hrant, but I was really hoping to hear from one of the people who worked on Spiritus, since it is their reasoning which interests me.

jacques le bailly -- Tuesday, October 29 2002, 11:39 am
This is a very good result, given that the workshop only went for 2 weeks. Therefore i won't go in on details. The difficult part has just started. You should try to keep the fresh character in mind when you are correcting the glyphs and adding the UC. Good luck! Reacted way too late... http://www.baronvonfonthausen.de/

Hanna, Kirsi, Susana and Heikki -- Thursday, October 31 2002, 12:48 pm
Thank you very much for sending us comments! Stefan Hattenbach, as You mentioned, the tricky thing is to give the font enough personality. The group is now divided between two cities, so we are working on the missing lower case characters separately, and are planning on having a “group meeting” at the end of next week. Please stay on line! John Hudson, thank You with the comments with the b, d and q. This whole angular feeling started with the straight-cornered serifs. We had the straight cut in the lower part of the a and decided to put it in some of the other characters also. Still, we don´t have it in the n or m, so there are still many questions unanswered. This straight cut has quite a different feeling in the upper part of b and d if compared with the one in the a. Still, details like this are the heart of the font. On this note, thank You for the kind words, Hrant H Papazian. Now that we are working with the lower case g, who knows where we´ll end up! Best wishes, Hanna, Kirsi, Susana and Heikki

Sami -- Friday, November 1 2002, 11:25 am
Ah, good to see that your Spiritus is still going strong! To keep this production process open for everybody, I suggest that your group makes ten new images for the web, deadline being next week Friday (8th November). Give us a proposal for the missing lowercase characters as well as for the most important capitals: O, H, A and P. Try to find an economical cap-height and narrow, but still wide feeling. Adjust also the overall blackness of caps to fit with lowecase. If you have even more enthusiasm, go for the non-lining numbers and italic words with caps, like 'Lord', 'Jesus', 'Herra', 'God' and 'Jumala'. This would give an extra kick for the process. So if you separately start on working on some of these subjects and Underware updates your images on next Friday to the web, you don't necessarily have to meet physically. So let's support this online experience! I'm looking forward to see UPDATE 01 on the web...

Ritva Leinonen -- Wednesday, November 6 2002, 02:22 pm
Spiritus-font has something that especially fits for Finnish language. Can that kind of ability exists? The very strong and steady serifs fit for Finnish word images. For example the letters j, k, y, ä, and ö have an essential influence on how Finnish text shows up. Slightly too heavy ascenders in letters (h, k, l) turn out to work well, surprisingly. First I thought that those elements should be fixed. This work deserves to be finished! Spiritus could work as a base for a bigger typeface family. This Bodoni, which is here shown, has a weird and alien-like dots in letters ä and ö, those dots are too apart for each other. Bodoni and some others classics have an extremely dry feeling when they are set in Finnish - many of those attractive curves hardly exist then.

Hrant H Papazian -- Thursday, November 7 2002, 05:15 am
"Slightly too heavy ascenders in letters (h, k, l) turn out to work well, surprisingly." I have a theory that -in a text face- certain key features have to be exagerated - they have to have a certain ugliness to work well. For example, the dots on "i"/"j" need to appear a little big. The reason for this is that during high-speed immersive reading divergence between letters/words is much more important than during "contemplative" reading (which is when you look at something directly). Same for the ascenders/descenders: overweight terminals might feel too heavy, but they amplify boumas (word shapes), increasing readability. hhp

Bible team -- Saturday, November 9 2002, 07:03 pm
We had a group meeting on Saturday and discussed about different approaches on the missing characters. We had found completely different approaches for several things (numbers and lower case g, for example). From now on we will be continuing with (at least) two versions of Spiritus. One will be slightly tilted to guide the eye forward on the lines. It would also be possible to make some characters stand out by making them straight (numbers, for example). Numbers will be aligned and of capital height, for the way numbers are used in bible (verses and cross-references; sentences and rows that begin with numbers ). The other version will concentrate especially on unifying the letterforms. Unlike the first version this one will have non-aligned numbers and a two-storey g. The final result will propably be a third version based on ideas found while working separately. A fusion of ideas that worked well on previous versions. Thank you for your comments, it is very encouraging. Please stay tuned. Best wishes, Hanna and Heikki

Hrant H Papazian -- Sunday, November 10 2002, 12:18 am
"slightly tilted to guide the eye forward" That doesn't actually work (especially not for small type). In fact it has two problems: the greater the slant, the less readable; the slighter the slant, the more stair-stepping (aliasing), especially on lo-res devices, especially small. :-( > "make some characters stand out by making them straight" Nice idea - and you could say that numbers in particular are idealogically straight. > "unifying the letterforms" But not too much! Immersive reading relishes divergence more than what our conscious aesthetic prefereces tell us. > "two-storey g" For both versions, better. > "a third version based on ideas found while working separately." Interesting. Don't kill each other! :-) Keep going strong, eh! hhp

Rita Pavone -- Saturday, February 8 2003, 02:27 pm
Recurdan aquella canción de ... Esto es bastante peor, Susana

Sami -- Monday, March 17 2003, 05:35 pm
Spiritus has joined 'Kirjoituksen lumo' exhibition, which takes place in the University of Helsinki's library during 18.3. - 31.5.2003. So see the latest stage of Spiritus at: http://www.lib.helsinki.fi/ajankohtaista/nayttelyt/Kirjoituksen_lumo/Spiritus.htm or go to see it in exhibition!

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