From Pen to Vector

A typeface typically begins with either a concept or a desired visual expression. Alternatively, it may be crafted based on a specific technique. For instance, the Albaro typeface draws heavily from calligraphic principles, showcasing this approach.

In recent years, my emphasis on calligraphy led me to create two sans-serif fonts: Valpo and Yport. Both fonts started with exploring ideas freely at the start of their projects.

Keeping this approach in mind, I eagerly used my skills to create an elegant serif font with my broad-nip pen. I started with a clear design idea, focusing on a large x-height to give the letters plenty of room, ensuring they look balanced and well-composed.

Following an extensive period of work with the broad-nib pen, I carefully shaped the letters ‘Saturdyne’, getting them ready for digital use. This starting set eventually became a complete alphabet. I discovered that it was really helpful to regularly print out the alphabet and go over each letter with the broad-nib pen. This method made sure that the digital versions stayed faithful to the main ideas of calligraphy.

From a sketch made with the broad-nib pen…

…to the creation of the first vector version.

The final version of Albaro Display follows all calligraphic principles.

From digital to analog, a feedback loop that provided valuable insights; early digital and nib-pen drawings.

I started creating new characters by sketching their designs with the nib pen. It took me about three months to refine the shapes and go through the feedback loop from pen sketch to digital adjustments.

Crafting the design for each character with the pen...

After that, I focused on fine-tuning the details and making sure the vectors interacted well, aiming for consistency. This method made sure that all the shapes worked well together, resulting in a cohesive font.

At this stage, I chose to make two versions of the typeface. The first version has a taller x-height, which was my initial idea. Even though I later made the x-height shorter to appear a bit more conventional, I still appreciated how the taller x-height made the font stand out.

A variable font animation shows the final version of Albaro Display Light from Normal → Tall.

The display version features tightly spaced lettering to ensure seamless integration in titles. Albaro Display includes advanced contextual alternates that adapt letters to its surrounding context.

Some of Albaro’s contextual alternates.

Additionally, I created a text version to expand Albaro’s flexibility. This variant has less contrast in the characters, as well as wider spacing, making it easier to read at smaller sizes.

A variable font animation shows the final version of Albaro Text from Light → Black.

Observing Albaro’s unique character unfold has been a challenging yet enriching experience, with the broad nib pen as a constant companion; giving it a unique warmth and sophistication.

→ Albaro

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