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Type Design


A reversed contrast sans-serif typeface.

It began with an o

This font started while playing with the Offset Curve setting in Glyphs. It gave me a reverse contrast o with the horizontal stroke thicker than the vertical one. It looked nice, so I continued with that idea.

From my experiences with R91 I learned that spacing and kerning are tricky. I tried to stick to a similar shape/box for every glyph in the hope it would help. It does, but only so much.

Adding a weight axis

I nominated the first weight to be the Regular one. For the shape of the Thin and Black masters I experimented with the shape of the a.

The common option is to change the stroke widths on both the horizontal and vertical axis. Doing this also changes the width of the glyph depending on the weight. Looking at the thin and black a’s I wasn’t sure about them. The letters seemed to lose some of the vibe that the regular a has.

I tried a different approach where the glyph width stays the same across masters. Only the horizontal stroke width changes, leaving the vertical stroke untouched. When changing weight, text stays in place. Instead it ‘opens’ or ‘closes’ depending on the font weight. I liked that and progressed with that idea.

How many weights does a typeface need?

I interpolated all the weights between thin and black, nine weights in all. The result shows very little change between some of the intermediate weights. I removed four and kept five weights, but even that seems too much. What if there is no interpolation at all, but the final weights are thin, regular and black?

This made me wonder about the purpose of the thin weight. Could that be a text weight companion to the display weights?

If in doubt use the fonts

To find some answers I created some typographic posters inspired by Swiss Design. I had a lot of fun with that. And the conclusion is that I am undecided. I used the heavy weights most, so there could be my answer. Ditch the thinner weights.


It’s fun to start a font/typeface on a whim of an idea, but for it to grow into something with potential it needs more. A good idea is to slow down and think about the purpose/application/use before going full steam ahead. For example start by writing a brief to give yourself some guidance. I started Tokkel months before I did Practica, so that’s my excuse.

Tokkel is a reverse contrast sans serif display typeface. It has some seventies vibes, but works for anything not seventies related as well. It comes in five weights giving you some scope on how ‘open’ or ‘closed’ you like your characters. Tokkel has a fixed width across weights. It will have support for Latin Extended A.

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