The Journal

Alif as Ascender


Alif is the first letter of the Arabic alphabets. The origin of the Arabic letter Alif comes originally from Aleph, which is the west semitic word for "ox". Speaking of "ox", I've recently got this book called: A is for Ox: a Short History of the Alphabet. It is a nice small book that has a good amount of information on the history and evolvement of these letterforms.

Back to the letter Alif which is one of few Arabic letters that comes only in two forms. The isolated form (ا) looks similar to the initial form, and the middle form (ـا) looks similar to the medial form. It is on of the letters that could define the ascenders height. 

In the image above, there are four letters. From right to left, the letterforms are the following: 

  • Initial/isolated Alif
  • Initial Ayin 
  • Final/medial Alif
  • Isolated Ayin

By drawing those letterforms, the ascender, the loop height, and the descenders are set, but, they might change as I develop more letter forms. Moreover, there is a chance to have more than a loop height, and another shorter descender guide line. I like what I see so far. The typeface does look modern with its open counters. It has a bit of a calligraphic/gothic look and feel too. I think that the letter forms have a lot of character and they are not generic. 

Next step will be defining the tooth height, or maybe more than one height. Lets see how it goes. 

Again, if you are reading this and have any feedback, please shoot me with it!