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Icarus Typeface preview by MartinSilvertant Icarus Typeface preview by MartinSilvertant

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Icarus Typeface preview

Production information:

Program(s): Adobe Illustrator CS5
Working Time: countless hours

Here's a preview of Icarus, a robust Garalde typeface which should be suitable for anything ranging from magazines to books to newspapers. Icarus also comes with Icarus Sans (a.k.a. Iapyx) and Icarus Blackletter (a.k.a. Daedalus), though I'm not yet certain if I will follow the direction I took for Daedalus.

The concept for Icarus came when I was designing a typeface strictly based on certain angles (ranging from 76° to 79°) which you can still see back in the serifs. The typeface was designed as such that the imaginary guidelines of one letter would flow smoothly into the guidelines of the next letter with the correct spacing. I realized that with many letter combinations the kerning would ruin that concept, so at a later stage I started to ignore those angles all together. Despite the failure of the initial concept I was left with a template for a beautiful typeface to be.

"In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall to his death. The myth shares thematic similarities with that of Phaëton — both are usually taken as examples of hubris or failed ambition — and is often depicted in art."~Wikipedia

Icarus will come in the following weights (all will include small-caps and italics):
Thin, Light, Regular, Semibold, Bold, Black

Click on 'download' to download a PDF containing all glyphs designed so far
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chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2011
Making guidelines flow together probably would have resulted in eye-tiring optical effects, anyway.
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
Actually it worked very well. It made the letters and the negative space interact with each other on a whole different level. I think you will actually still notice this effect to some extent when using Icarus when it's finished. I have old versions of the typeface, so when I will release Icarus I will make sure the whole concept is explained with visuals in the PDF.
chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2011
I would need to see. For instance I find that [link] is far superior (for my eyes) to [link] for reading, I think mainly because the former (based on Goudy’s Jannon revival) is haphazard and dull while the latter is carefully shaped and sparkly.

There is a place for sparkly, of course. It’s just my habit to think in terms of what I would want to see in a book or on a Kindle or such.
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2011  Professional General Artist
Wait, first you say LTC Garamont is superior to Jannon Pro, and then you tell me the former (Garamont) is haphazard and dull. I guess you mean you find Jannon Pro superior to LTC Garamont. Or do you actually find Garamont easier to read? That would be strange. If Jannon, I can definitely understand that, but at the same time I don't exactly understand what you're getting at. LTC Garamont seems very loyal to the original cuts (and I hope you're not comparing the Display variant of Garamont with Jannon because that wouldn't be fair) while Jannon is clearly modernized (and the stress is slightly more vertical than in Garamont). It became more smooth with more body and less detail than in Garamont, which obviously improves legibility. LTC Garamont is a brilliant choice for authentic oldstyle book setting, but regarding legibility Jannon is far superior while still featuring oldstyle elements. And that's really what Icarus is about, though it's even more robust and modernized.

All that aside, I don't think you're proving anything by comparing Garamont with Jannon because Icarus is all about the negative space and the flow of guidelines while both Garamont and Jannon are more about the texture. Negative space is incredibly important is you want to focus on legibility. Icarus is actually my first typeface where I focus so much on the negative space as well. I mean, I always take it into consideration and I do balance the positive and negative space, but in none of my other typefaces the negative space has very distinct shapes (like the parallelogram in between letters like 'ij' or 'in').

I'm now going to upload a picture which briefly shows the concept, and a picture where I compare version 1 of Icarus with the most recent version 24.
chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2011
No, I mean haphazard -- allowing the hand to vary -- and dull -- lacking brightness -- is superior for reading. The same goes for my Jannon, also based on Goudy’s but darker, though I haven’t done an italic yet, partly so I could take some months or years thinking about how plain it is if you look at it up close.

Storm most likely could improve the readability (not legibility) of his face by using a random number generator to vary things up.

The problem is periodicity. People talk about a ‘picket fence’ effect, but this is far too limited in scope. Probably I am hypersensitive, but that’s useful. I think it is the main reason sans serifs are a problem, and it is a problem with the low-res faces that supposedly are the best for screens (my experience says otherwise).
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2011  Professional General Artist
Ahh got it. With "allowing the hand to vary", are you describing Garalde and Venetian typefaces in general? Because the diagonal stress seems to influence the variety between characters quite a bit. Or are you speaking of angles? I know many Garalde italics feature many different angles between the characters, which is actually the direction I wanted to take the italics for Icarus in.

What's a random number generator? I mean I can guess at what it does, but does it make the typeface more antique looking by making the lines more rough, or is it more intelligent than that? What can it do, and which program would you suggest for that?

You're right about the last thing. I think the conclusion was made that low res fonts are better for screens because high res fonts wouldn't be shown correctly which could decrease readability. I do wonder though to which extent this is still relevant now that our monitors feature such high resolutions.

By the way, I haven't really talked with many people who know a lot about typeface design, so now I've gotten curious what your idea is of the perfect typeface. I don't mean a typeface which could be suitable for everything, but a typeface you find particularly pleasant to read. Also, what's your favorite (in terms of design; not readability) serif and sans?
chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2011
I think that in general, all else being equal, the baroque typefaces (Jannon, Kis/Janson, Caslon, etc.) are better than than the garaldes, and those are better than the venetians.

A random number generator is a subroutine that substitutes for rolling dice. It’s for programmers, not font designers. The font designer can roll dice, and actually that’s what I’m doing now, anyway, in the Caslon I’m playing around with. For instance, I roll dice to decide at what angle to cut the end of a serif.

I’m not big on having favorites. I think probably the typefaces I’d least like to see go into disuse are the Kis/Janson variety, though I think Janson Text needs to be re-made in optical sizes, if it hasn’t been already. I’m not sure anyone has improved on Akzidenz Grotesk for a sans serif. :) Though I’m not too familiar with the existing digital version(s). It’s the only sans serif for which I have an urge to do a revival. (I’ve lost my fondness for sans, along with fondness for boldface.)
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
"the baroque typefaces (Jannon, Kis/Janson, Caslon, etc.) are better than than the garaldes"
Those are Garaldes.

Actually I think there are a lot of good alternatives for oldstyle types like Janson, though the lack of optical sizes remains evident almost consistently in digital type. I believe I only have an extensive optical set of Jenson and Caslon, though the latter covers quite a lot of my needs. I'm not that surprised optical sizes are so rare in digital type. I mean, think of the amount of work... On the other hand, once a typeface is completed, editing it for optical sizes goes quite fast despite the huge amount of glyphs to edit.

"I’m not sure anyone has improved on Akzidenz Grotesk for a sans serif"
Helvetica is just that, in a way... But yeah, I get what you mean. People seem to have forgotten about Akzidenz Grotesk. It's a shame really, because it's so much warmer than Helvetica and I really like those R's.

I haven't lost my fondness for sans-serif but I've always been inspired by serif types much more. I think the serifs just add so much more atmosphere to the typeface. Erik Spiekermann once said a good typeface only differs 5% from the norm (though with so many classes of type I'm not sure what the norm is and whether it differs between classes). While that should be roughly true for both serif and sans-serif, with the former there's just more to work with; more lines, more structure and more potential to create a highly distinctive personality in the typeface; that 5% equals to more change because it's based on more mass. That's also why I find serif types more fun to do, though obviously also more exhausting. Is this also why you lost your fondness for sans-serifs?
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Submitted on
June 4, 2011
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