What characters are good to start with when designing a typeface?

Given many characters in a typeface build on others and even just a couple of characters can reveal a lot of the features of a given typeface, what characters are good to start with when designing a typeface?


I got interested in the question (I don’t design type, I just design with it), asked around folks that do, and did some research. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus — every designer works with his/her own natural creative process, and many start with a sketched idea that could be any letter or a combination.

Here are some interviews from ilovetypography.com (an excellent resource, btw) that will give you an idea of the diversity of approach: Ludwig Ubele, Nikola Djurek and Alice Savoie. Ubele says, in particular:

The nicest part is to start: sketching
randomly, finding an idea and a
general construction or
characteristic; drawing the first
letters and making the first words. As
I said before I don’t have a specific
letter which I usually start with, but
there are some key glyphs which show
the basic forms: n, b, o, v for
instance for lowercase, A, H, O for

I try in the begining not to
concentrate too much on single letters
but work on the whole alphabet and
balance the single letters in relation
to each other. That way I can set text
very early on, and see how the
typeface looks in small printed
text—that’s usually very different
from what you see on screen.

The best typographic resource I know of on the web is typophile.com. There is a terrific “How To” section in the wiki, and you can branch out from there. This site will take you as deep as you want to go into typeface design.

Source : Link , Question Author : James Tauber , Answer Author : Community

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