Side project

Redwood typeface

Redwood

I’m working on a typeface. It will be my first one. It will be called Redwood after the letter that kicked it off. The typeface has esoteric origins, being based more on remembrances than solid references. The first letters I drew were super extended, but I have started drawing narrower widths as well. It seems flexible, maintaining enough character with an ambiguity that I like too.

r

Leading letter

If there’s a letter that you fall in love with when creating a typeface, for Redwood it was R.

Redwood's development began at the kitchen table in collaboration with my five year old

Yes. Redwood’s development began at the kitchen table in collaboration with my five year old.

Drawing Redwood has been mostly an act of imagination for me, and one long play-date with letters. When I first started drawing the letters, words sprang to mind, as well as a general sense and remembrance of American national parks I’d visited as a child (although the letters are hardly similar). Even a signage system started to form in my head. Such a state of flow suggests I have something with plenty of mileage.

Redwood

Early experiments

Update December 15, 2015

Finally out of Illustrator and drawing the letters in Glyphs. Amazing to finally have the beginnings of a working typeface. Boy, the issues to fix are really stacking up and the learning curve is steep but it’s a mountain I’m super excited to climb. I’m keeping track on Instagram if you fancy looking in. Keep checking back for updates!

Redwood, December 2015

Some shots I’ve been posting to Instagram. Right-hand block uses the first exported TTF of redwood.

Redwood new R

Trying to balance the bowls: A visionworked R and P (below) and comparing Rs (right)

Update January 8, 2016

While working through some letter combinations I have become a little wary of the contrast between the large bowls of Redwood’s O and D and the foundation stone R, as well as the P (derived from the R). I decided to have a play with opening up the R bowl a little which seems almost sacrilegious considering the importance of the R to this typeface. But perhaps I could retain its character nonetheless. Above is the first attempt at this change. I may have gone a little far – not sure I’ve maintained the distinctive character – but it’s a start towards redressing the balance.

Comparing Redwood with a 1911 map establishing the Devils Postpile National Monument. Map from the Google Cultural Institute Collections from National Parks.

Comparing Redwood with a 1911 map establishing the Devils Postpile National Monument. Map from the Google Cultural Institute Collections from National Parks.

Update February 15, 2016

I haven’t had a chance to work on Redwood for weeks. But it’s on my mind and I see reminders/similarities everywhere. Today I was browsing a collection on The Google Cultural Institute and came across this lovely map with some uppercase letters that share some Redwood features.Unsurprisingly, given the roots of Redwood, this map came from one of Google’s National Parks collection. Hopefully more drawing soon.