The Journal

The First Letterform


I've been working for few days on designing the letter "Ayin" which is (ع) and it means Eye in Arabic. There is another letter that looks and written/drawn exactly like the letter Ayin but with a diacritic dot "Nuqta" above it, forming the letter "Ghyin" which is (غ). 

The thing about Arabic letters that they come in 4 different forms depending on their placement in the word: 

  1. Isolated form
  2. Initial form
  3. medial form
  4. final (ending) form

Its helpful to mention that in some occasions, the final, and the medial form could look completely different than the other forms. 

As for the letterform, I am trying to simplify its strokes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't want the typeface to look too calligraphic. It might not look very modern and geometric though. So, I am trying to have the letterforms more geometric and modern but with a hint of calligraphic style. The counters are spacious. The contrast between the the thins and thicks is not great. Moreover, the descender is not much longer than the loop height.

On the right side of the image above is the current letterform of the isolated, and initial form of the Ayin. I am going to stick to it for now, but I am sure it will go through lots of changes as I go. 

A very critical point I learned, is that the letterform can not be judged on its own. It has to be put next to another letters so you can see how the whole thing is going together. This is what I am going to do next; designing more letters!

Feedback is valuable! Please give some.

First sketches


I've been away for a while. School started and I was out of town for few days. During that time, I was reading a book called Lettering & Type by Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals. Its a small book, simple, and practical in its approach. It tackles three main aspects: lettering, designing type, and designing with type. I am about to finish it. I will write another poster about it once I am done. 

As for my typeface designing process. I started sketching the letter (ع) and I am facing some difficulties. One of the main challenges is that I am planing to design a modern typeface and I don't want to make it too calligraphic. So, when I picked Ijazah or Tawqi calligraphic script as a reference/inspiration, it created more challenges. Because of its very organic flow and nature, its making it harder to simplify it into a modern corporate type face. The original script has a great contrast between the thick and thins and I am planing to minimizing that. 

A very good exercise I learned in Type@Cooper Condensed program is to sketch the skeleton of the letterforms first, and then using different kind of brushes and pens to draw the letter forms based on that skeleton. There are multiple factors that could play a huge role in defining that final letter forms and the contrast between the thick and thins:

  • The tool you are using to draw/write to letterform.
  • The angle and the thickness of that tool.
  • The length of the ascenders, descenders, and their relationship to the x-height, loop height and the tooth heights.
  • The speed and the pace of writing/drawing the letter forms could make a great deal of influence too.

So I am trying to apply different tools to the original skeleton of the letter to get the initial wanted look and feel of the letterforms. 

Interesting: The common understanding of the signature (Tawqi in Arabic) is that its something written or drawn quickly. Yet, the Arabic script (Tawqi) is carefully drawn and astonishing when it comes to aesthetics.