Designing a Black

Today I finally finished the blackest Black typeface that I have ever worked on, and what a relief!! Designing the extreme weights is always the hardest. An Ultra-Light has so little meat on its bones that there’s no hiding for any extra calories. Unsightly love handles that need to be avoided at all times.

Designing a Black is not easier either. The strokes are so thick that there’s very little room to breathe. If you try to widen them apart you end up with an extended version rather than a true Black weight. And so, you push the strokes back together, reduce the counters to small bubbles of trapped air. Tension and tempers flare. Large counters are inductive for high legibility, so how can we stomach making them so small? It’s all for effect. A Black weight stands out, dominates the scenery, and drowns out all other noise. A Black typeface is not supposed to comfort you. It doesn’t care about making reading any easier for you. It’s here to yell at you.

The difficulty is in fitting all the strokes together and somehow coming up with something resembling a character… Sort of like cramming people into a busy elevator. Lots of jostling about, toe treading, and a few apologies here and there. All in all, a stressful experience. For the type designer that is. Or at least, this type designer!

The typeface family I’m working on is not finished yet so can’t show my drawings yet. And no, I am not responsible for the gorgeousness that you see above. That is all Akira’s doing. One day, I’d like to be able to draw like Akira does. But not while standing up!

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