When asked to give five tips for type beginners, Veronika shared these:
1) Function & purpose
Having a well-defined brief of what the intended purpose and function of the typeface is will help define parameters for the design. For example, an informal font for children will require different criteria than a text face for newspapers.
These parameters will help decide items such as contrast, stem thickness, modulation, serif structure, x-height, and extenders, helping shape the typeface’s DNA with just a few letters.
Generally speaking, it is important and very useful to know type history. It allows the designer to understand the construction of letters, which parts can be manipulated, and where the connections lie within the system. However, history should not be the only place of research. Contemporary needs and current type offerings might also open your eyes to seeing gaps, and therefore opportunities.
At times having a purpose may seem limiting, but the possibilities available within a defined design space can be surprising. When speaking of functional text typography, type design happens in the subtle changes of design elements that shape an harmonious system. Small variations can have a big impact due to the repetition rate of letters within a paragraph of text.
At the beginning of the process, take time to explore, mix shapes and styles, go to extremes, even experiment with different tools, and analyse why one idea works within a concept but others don’t.
It may seem very mundane and obvious, but being consistent within a type system can be more difficult than imagined. It is one of the main ingredients that makes a typeface cohesive — glued together appropriately. This is especially important for components such as stem thickness, overshoots, vertical proportions, etc.
It is necessary to understand the structure of strokes and terminals, their provenience, and modulation to then apply similar treatment to the rest of the design. This does not mean that the elements have to be exactly the same, but they should follow the same logic. Actually, depending on style and purpose of the typeface, it is advisable to keep a certain sense of irregularity rather than a copy–paste feeling. This advise applies of course not just to lowercases and caps, but to the whole character set, from punctuation and math operators to accents.
Once the typeface is underway, it is important to test it as much as possible. Try to imagine the effects of the intended environment and even emulate them if possible. So if you are developing a typeface for screen use, make some mock-up text in html and test on different screens and mobile phones. Or if the concept is for newspaper use, use a copy machine several times with rough paper or a cheap ink-jet printer. Only a small character set with the key letters is needed to fine-tune the DNA of the typeface so it works for its intended purpose.
Oh and don’t forget to excersise!