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Briem’s notes on type design: Work habits

A place for everything

Until you develop your own working habits, I suggest these.

At the very outset, make a folder. If you haven’t decided what to call your design, give it a temporary working name. “December” will do, but “Masterpiece” or “Abcd” are just as good.

In your December folder, make these four folders.

1_Background 2_Source 3_Progress 4_Tools

1. Background

If you use typefaces for reference, keep them in there. If you work from scans, save them in your Background folder, in a separate folder called “Scans December.”

2. Source

The source document for your design goes into your Source folder. You may have one for December-Plain, and another for December-Italic. But your Source folder may only contain one of each style. This is important.

Sometimes it’s sensible to make a copy of your source document. But make sure you don’t work on it by mistake. (Comparing two documents, searching for the most recent versions of each character, is a waste of your time.) Rename your copy, starting with the date: “94/12/23 December-Italic”. Then put it into your Progress folder.

3. Progress

Like any sane computer user, you no doubt make regular backups. In addition, you should make an outline font (printer font, if you prefer) at least once every working day. It takes less than a minute. If you ever need to dig up what in heaven’s name you worked on last week, you know where it is.

Add the date and time to the name. Let’s say you generated an italic font at 27 minutes past ten on 23 April 1994. Then “DecemIta” becomes “94/04/23 10-27 DecemIta.” You put in your Progress folder. It is your record, step-by-step, of what you have done.

4. Tools

In the Tools folder you keep useful documents, such as text samples. You use them to scrutinize characters in large size, and judge texture in a column of text. Some will help when you space and kern.

Notes on type design. Copyright © 1998, 2001, 2022 Gunnlaugur SE Briem. All rights reserved. Republished with permission in 2022 by Fontlab Ltd.