Froggy Semi-serif leaps into the critique area

Froggy--Inspired by a Typophile Battle Week involving ligature madness with Cooper Black. Froggy was my double “g” ligature carried on to something else, a semi-serif. It is pretty early in the development but I am trying to get it ready for the Type Battle display at TypeCon by July 5th or Tiffany will see to it that I get worts :-)

Please let me know what you think.

Here is round 2
Here is round 3
Here is round 4
Here is round 5
Here is round 6
Here is round 7
Here is round 8
Here is round 9
Here is round 10
Here is round 11
Here is round 12
Here is round 13
Here is round 14
Here is round 15
Here is round 16
Here is round 17
Here is round 18
Here is round 19
Here is round 20
Here is round 21 below with Icelandic text and a new eth.

Chris Lozos

| Attachment | Size | | --- | --- | | Froggy_Plunk.pdf | 48.99 KB | | 2Froggy_Plunk.pdf | 50.4 KB | | Froggy_Plunk3.pdf | 51.47 KB | | Froggy_Plunk4.pdf | 58.89 KB | | Froggy_Plunk5.pdf | 60.96 KB | | Froggy_Plunk6.pdf | 61.59 KB | | Froggy_Plunk7.pdf | 62.15 KB | | Froggy_Plunk8.pdf | 62.74 KB | | Froggy_Plunk9.pdf | 88.87 KB | | Froggy_Plunk10.pdf | 89.76 KB | | Froggy_Plunk11.pdf | 89.08 KB | | Froggy_Plunk12.pdf | 89.26 KB | | Froggy_SC_diacritics.pdf | 63.83 KB | | 14-Froggy_SC_diacritics.pdf | 65.62 KB | | 15_Froggy_more_diacritics.pdf | 173.54 KB | | character_set2.pdf | 59.89 KB | | Froggy_character_set17.pdf | 66.55 KB | | FroggycharacterFigures18.pdf | 73.12 KB | | Froggy-character19.pdf | 77.12 KB | | frog_legs20.pdf | 34.85 KB | | Icelandic_froggy.pdf | 33.91 KB |

27 Jun 2006 — 8:00pm

Glad to see that PDF upload is working again.


Hi Chris. I like the feeling of this generally as a friendly, readable display face. I can see it being used in ads a lot.

Something is a bit off about the top of the e; I'm not sure what. But the main problem are the diagonal characters--here vwy. To me they really stick out like sore thumbs--they don't seem like part of the same face. If you can find a more harmonious solution for these, I think this can be a winner.

I'm way far from be qualified to do any critic, but I'd like to share some of my thoughts in the hope of being of some use.
I agree with William about the general feeling and I think that there's something strange in the lowercase e's counter (it feels strange to have the upper right as an almost straight corner).
I love ligatures and the ones you've designed so far are definitely interesting (I really love the "gh"), but the "is" and "ts" ones seem to slightly slip forward, especially when they're inside a word.
Are you planning also to add lining figures?

I have to tell you, Chris, the "f" and "r" characters are just so beautiful - they really sing. There is something about the shapes of the counters that make the counterspace just as interesting as the actual glyphs.

Although I love the slant of the "y", it doesn't seem to be playing nicely with the other letters. As William mentioned, it sticks out far too much. The "f" seems to have a bit of a funny slant to it as well - ever so slight, but noticeable in the smaller size.

This is a font on my "Must Have" list, Chris - elegant and different - inspirational!

Chris this really is interesting and you shouldn't avoid this one. I can see it going much heavier as well as much lighter into almost a typewriter-like weight.

I agree that the _y_ seems a little too stiff. I like the _v_ and _w_ though.

Above is PDF #2 with new v,w,y and some kerns.

I am planning a range of weights Tiff and lining figures jacopo. What is meant by "slip forward"?


Good catch Andi,
"The “f” seems to have a bit of a funny slant to it as well "

Is this only with certain glyphs or all? It may be the typical illusion you get with italic f where it seems to fall forward more than the others. I will try back-slanting it a tad but, as you noticed, it is less visible when larger and I need to find the ballance point.


For those of you youngin's who never saw early 1950s kids TV, here is what the TV character "Froggy" looked like:


Hi Chris. I like the new 'y' better. But the 'v' and 'w' are still problems. To me because of the bent right diagonals they look like italic characters mistakenly dropped into a roman font. If you compare Souvenir, where he has bent diagonals, he bends both sides in the roman and carries it throughout the face, caps and lc alike, except for the z.

Here I think the v and w might work with just straight right sides like the y, or with your rounded corner serifs, this time turned outward to the right. Even with this the face will have lots of soft features, and will keep its overall look I think.

On the caps, my feeling is that there are too many serifs. The most successful semi-serif caps I think are Rotis Semi-Serif's and he just put one top left serif on everything. Somehow it works in combination with other caps or lc. It seems to be quite widely used. The only problem is the M. To me the top right vertex looks painfully chopped off in Rotis semi-serif, and even more so here. So I would try adding a serif there--against what I am saying otherwise. Or if you don't, in any case the right stem of the M can be lightened with benefit I suspect.

The unique look of this face is that it manages to be soft but clean looking. Cooper Black is soft but not as clean. Sauna has something of it, but is more soft, with a lot of italic details. Here you have more sharpness.

Anyway, this I think is a unique look that still can be very usable--something not easy to achieve, but you're almost there, I think. Very impressive!

But I think it needs more consistency and a little more restraint to really become itself. Dr. Berkson's prescription: take two MFB (Morris Fuller Benton) pills and they will do wonders for you :)

" take two MFB (Morris Fuller Benton) pills and call me in the morning."


Thanks William, I'll take another look at the caps.


Oh, you quoted me before I revised for (appropriate) humility :)

Hey! Froggy really looks like your gg ligature!

I guess "slip forward" is not exactly a technical expression... What I meant is that looking at those two ligatures I have the feeling that they're about to (I'm sorry but I really lack the appropriate word) fall on their back, by back meaning the left side of the glyph.
Now of course the more I look at them and the more my eyes get used so that feeling might just be something to do not take in consideration.

I'm quite curious about how a lighter cut will look because I believe it will be really interesting as a text face.

Your edit kills the joke though!


"Now of course the more I look at them and the more my eyes get used so that feeling might just be something to do not take in consideration."

All of these things we see in type are "illusions" but that is the visual world we live in as designers. Some illusions are transient or are only affected in some rare glyph combinations and perhaps are not an issue. Others may come into play often and need a correction--sometimes this is just a kern and sometimes a redraw is required. The difficulty with a new typeface is that it has not settled yet in the viewers eyes and subsequent viewings may erase the problematic vision. I don't know if this is the case so we will let it percolate a bit longer :-)

This may well turn out to be a viable text face at the lighter weights. First I have to battle this weight through and hope you will help with comments on progress of all coming weights.


The cap "I" can be confused with the lwercas "l" (elle) if I take out the serifs top right and bottom left. This opens the dilemma with the "J" and "H" so I am still fighting with it.


I also see a semi-serif as an iatly asymetrical face so the v and w seem open to more asymetrical treatment to me.


Rotis is a sem-sans and more geometric in nature. It has more the feel of a slab serif than Froggy.


>>asymmetrical treatment

I think you can do asymmetrical, like the y you did. My problem is not so much with asymmetrical as with consistency. You don't have the bent right diagonal in the kxyz, nor any of the caps (though you can follow somewhat different rules there). That's why it sticks out to my eyes. (by the way, I think the x with the two squiggles is too fussy and needs to be simplified.)

I pointed to MF Benton, because he took totally different styles like Broadway and Franklin Gothic and identified and carried through their logic with beautiful consistency and even color.

On the caps, like everything else, you can of course do anything you can pull off. Rotis semi-serif (not the semi-sans) is not geometric though not as modulated as much as Froggy. I was just pointing to it as one of the few successful semi-serifs to ponder.

Thinking about it further, I think the problem for my eyes with a lot of semi-serifs is that going half way, like on the current Froggy H, makes characters look mutilated to me.

I think you could also go the other way on the caps: eg put small serifs on everything in the Caps except the thin strokes--you are almost there in your current version anyway. Or some variation, but with just leaving a few serifs discretely off, so the absence of them does not shout at you.

Overall, I think there is a danger in trying to do too many things in one typeface. You have achieved a really nice distinctive look with your lower case, and I think the 'Benton pills' would make you just create good caps that work with it, and not try to be too innovative on the caps. After all, Benton was going to do over 100 faces--and you are so full of interesting ideas, you just might as well!

Very good, as usual.

Comma (and tilde) worries me a bit - too thin/light maybe?

I can see why you've done the e like that (like the c and the f to a certain extent). But why isn't the r like it? I would prefer c, e and f to match the smooth and curvy r and not have the angle which is distracting.

If your H is going to have outer serifs, then shouldn't it have smooth curves on inside rather than corners. Like William B says, looks like some sort of chopping has occurred.

On the gh ligature I would make the g dominate and lose the pointy curve in favour of a gentler one inside.

j would benefit from more closely resembling the cap J which has a prettier hook.

I think William B is right, this would benefit massively from an audit and then a rigorous drive for consistency between characters. Hope that won't make it lose its character.

It's a robust concept though and I think I have sounded far too negative.

Keep going.

Thanks Nick,

I know it needs much work and was just trying to force it along to make the July 5th deadline. As usual, haste makes waste.


Do you think it'll sell in France?

"Do you think it’ll sell in France?"

Perhaps only the decenders since frogs legs are a delicacy there:-)


Or maybe I should post an ad for it here?


Or perhaps here:


"On the gh ligature I would make the g dominate and lose the pointy curve in favour of a gentler one inside"

That is the way I had it originally and it looked too much like a g waering a hat because of the large countewrspace.


"by the way, I think the x with the two squiggles is too fussy and needs to be simplified."

I am surprised no one has mentioned this before. This is the glyph I am the least happy with. I shold have fixed it a week ago.


Here is version 3 pdf with the caps revisited and the x fixed; the punctuation made bolder and a few other things I want to see if you can notice.


I'd make the y like the v (ie with a point bottom left). People will get used to it!

B counters: I would make the other inner corner rounded (not the top one) which will echo the penstroke. Ditto D which should have one point and only one round which will help distinguish further from the O.

Prefer the H with less serifs but would try curving the arms (on the arms with serifs).

I think the foot of the a should echo foot of u.

Lower comma slightly.

Tail of C shouldn't come round to horizontal. Take the cue from c and e.

Middle leg of m I would square off. You should only go round the corner if there is an associated serif.

s looks very wide compare to surrounding characters.

Left arm of w should be more sloped to look a little more like v. It looks too vertical (even italic!) and is conspicuous in text. (3rd stroke also too vertical).

Keep going - it's got a great feel in text - I find it really easy to read.

I am still pluggin' away at it Nick and will try some of your suggestions. My () need some work too I see.


I like your changes on the caps, I think it works better now. On the L, would it be more consistent visually to chop the bottom left serif, and put it up on the right, like the I?

On the lc x, did you try using the shape of the left diagonal of the y as the left diagonal of the x? That would seem more logical, though I don't know if it gives problems.

This reads fine on screen, but at smaller sizes on the PDF it is hard for me to read. It might benefit from being tracked wider at small sizes. You might think about what sizes you anticipate it being used at, and adjust the space according.

If you don't want to have a straight diagonal on the right of the vw for the default of the face, you might consider doing one as an alternative.

I am still debating with myself about the y and w problem. I know what I have is wrong but I don't want it to be just the typical treatment so I need to fight with it some more. My guess is that I will just have to throw what I have by tomorrow at the July 5th deadline and continue working for a while before I am satisfied with it.
I'll try your y to x idea as well.


>I don’t want it to be just the typical treatment

Christian Schwartz said something very thought provoking to me at Typecon last year: "You have to resist the temptation to put too much of yourself into a typeface." By that I think he meant that the face has to become itself, with its own nature. Like a child, it needs to be respected as having its own character, and the designer needs to work to realize that nature to the maximum. Once you have some basic ideas, it starts to have its own rules and nature, and resists you doing what *you* want.

So I am not against wanting to make any particular bit innovative. But I think that past a certain point making innovation a top priority can get in the way. Here you already have a concept that is really strong, which is an achievment. From my point of view, your challenge now is just to realize the concept most fully and effectively. I think if you *at this point* forget about being innovative and just be a servant of the typeface, it will end up with a very distinctive look anyway, and may be more effectively realized.

Interestingly, a typeface becomes *you* even when you consciously avoid it. Goudy argued against being personal in type, and throught we was not being personal. But of course almost everything of his came out shouting 'Goudy'.

"I think if you *at this point* forget about being innovative and just be a servant of the typeface,"

That is what I am trying to do. I want it to be a servant of this typeface, not just a duplication of type solutions done with other typefaces. I guess what I am saying is that the best path is neither the conscious attempt at innovation nor the conscious attempt at avoiding innovation by just adopting often-used solutions lock-step. Sometimes just trying solutions in a naive way "allows" the typeface to bring its own force to bear. As you said, "Like a child, it needs to be respected as having its own character."


>Sometimes just trying solutions in a naive way “allows” the typeface to bring its own force to bear.

Good point!

I don't know why my previous post didn't take but I just posted round 4 pdf above with many of the suggested changes as well as adding a few diacritics and some German text.


Interesting. Nick Job was right the problem was not the v (version 3) but the w. You were right to stick with your guns on the v!

Your new w fits well with the face and has its playful quality. But it is still a little awkward. Perhaps thinning the far right diagonal will be enough to balance it. And perhaps changing its angle a bit. Another thing would be to go a different way and do two of your left squiggles like on the v and y, with thinner straight right diagonals. Perhaps you've tried and rejected that already.

I was just concentrating on structural stuff, but I agree with Nick Job that the s is too wide. Perhaps for that reason I find the ligatures with the s distracting. I hope that users will also have the option of a regular gg and gh, if for some reason they don't want to go with your playful ones.

Exciting to see you develop this, Chris!

I know it needs much work and was just trying to force it along to make the July 5th deadline.

What is this deadline???

Chris, sorry i haven't been able to get to this sooner, but you've come a long way!!! I looked at an earlier PDF, but i didn't have time to give it full attention till now. I like the new caps, the lower serif on the L bothers me most -- it feels like a mistake to me. The tail of the Q feels like it was broken -- like the O portion fell on it and it got squooshed. Do i see a rubby slipper on that foot sticking out from underneath? >^p i also think the top of the c and the arm on the r should have the same treatment. i prefer the r with the smooth inner counter. smoothing out the c would also allow you to smooth out the e, which looks funny to me with that crick the way it is now. the s and e feel too wide, as does the v. i liked the old w construction better, it was just a bit wobbly before. the new w construction jumps out at me as you try to read text. is the tail on the eszett shorter than on the f? if so, why? the cedilla looks a bit alien to this face to me. your best characters imo are the g and r. the caps are very solid too. the lc just needs some quirks worked out to bring it all into harmony. keep up the good work!

Thanks guys. The w still bothers me. I think I was closer with the first one--back to the drawing board with it. Paul is right about that sorry Q too. The eszett is shorter. I didn't know it had to match the f. I was going to make the long s match the dblss. I narrowed the s some in this last cut, do I need narrow it more?
The July 5th deadline is the last day to send entries from the Type Battle week stuff for the TypeCon show. See the post from Zara: “The deadline for submission is July 5, 2006.”


Whoops, I didn't realize you'd changed the s. It looks fine to me now as far as width, but it's lost a little of the sweetness that the old one had. Do the 'spikes' need to be reduced or something to get the same look? Or the width of the thin part reduced? Type is so complicated!

Here is take number 5 pdf above. Most of Pauls suggestions: New w L C s dblss s ligs and other stuff.
Too late William, I narrowed the s some more :-(


I for got to mention a major change to the tail of the Q--it nolonger requires red slippers and a bark from Todo :-)


Here is some German text as well:


Yes, the ligs will have alternates. I will probably won't put them in the Standard Lig set and just in the discretionary lig set--but, leapin' Lizards, I assume a true froggy lover would want to get a leg up and jump at the chance to use at least the gg :-)


The L and Q and w are all improvements, imo, as well as the eszett, but you may want to run that one by a native german speaker. the s looks a bit squooshed now. if you can just sweeten up those curves a bit, i think it'll be just right.

Thanks Paul, I'll try not to be so s-oteric :-)


Paul, I worked on the s, here is a png to start:


Looking at the old and new s, the top of the old was a bit more open and a bit longer. Would this get the 'sweetness' without the excessive width? The latest looks too much like Froggy swallowed a Palatino pill!

Oh God! Not Palatino! (my least liked font).


I added a PDF with the new "s" above.


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