lowercase ‘g’


Even before I went back to school to study graphic design (in the Design Essentials program by BCIT and Emily Carr), I’ve always been intrigued by typefaces. If you’re familiar with word processing software such as Words, you might recall how Word allows you to pick the font, such as between Times News Romans and Arial. Times and Arial are two of the thousands of typefaces available.

One of the biggest challenge I find being a novice graphic designer is to know when to use which typeface, and how to pair them. Supposedly there is some logic and process behind picking the right typeface, but I get a feeling that it’s very much an art, if not an instinct.

What I hope to do is to study the typefaces up close and personal. Perhaps one glyph at a time. It’ll likely take my entire lifetime to study every single typeface, and there’re so many beautiful typefaces, with more new ones to come everyday!

Let’s start with the lowercase ‘g’. Not only because it is part of my initial, but also because the letter ‘g’ possesses such fine, delicious curves and details. It is one of the few letters to have a ‘link’ and a ‘loop’ (Ref: The Complete Manual of Typography, James Felici, p. 33).

Here are just a few samples of ‘g’:

  1. Futura (medium)
  2. Helvetica (regular)
  3. Sense Regular OT
  4. American Typewritter (regular)
  5. Adobe Garamond Pro (regular)
  6. Gill San (regular)
  7. Adam BP Text Regular OT
  8. Baskerville (regular)

    Baskerville (photo by iStockPhoto)

What I did is that I traced them using color pencil on tracing paper. As you can see, there is such variety of form, stroke weight and counter (the white space inside the closed-loop of the ‘g’). Can you feel the variation of mood these letters are conveying?

I’m particularly touched by Baskerville’s ‘g’. The tiny “emph!” at the tip of the loop shows so much detail, craftsmanship and love from the typesetter. Don’t forget Baskerville was set in lead by hand hundreds of years ago. There isn’t any computer then.


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