Kalam Typeface Design

Kalam is a self-initiated study in Devanagari typography and lettering, culminating in a typeface design (still in its early stages) based on colloquial handwritten script.

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Calligraphy studies Before exploring designed type, I started with studying and practicing Devanagari calligraphy. This helped me develop a sensitivity towards the construction of traditional letter forms.

Stylistic differences My experimentation with calligraphy led me to a question: to what extent can calligraphy  be explored before it merely becomes one's own handwriting, written with an angled tool? This thought spurred me to collect over a hundred samples of handwriting. These samples were a fun way to examine the ways in which the script can be manipulated. The personality and idiosyncrasies visible in each handwriting led to some interesting manipulations of traditional letter forms. These heavily deviated from the formal construction of letters, but were still easily recognizable, and infused with character.

 

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Framework for design I attempted to apply a modular method for type design to Devanagari. In this method, a base letter is constructed first and then modified to  create a set of characters that share a similar form. This in itself proved a challenge for me, as Devanagari characters are more complex to begin with. 

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Designing letterforms Exploration of individual letter forms was an especially enjoyable exercise for me. However, looking back on my sketches, it is clear that the direction is too focused on trying to capture the effortless construction of informal letter forms, and lacks typographic finesse. These issues should be adressed in my next iteration.  

Evenness and texture Blurring out individual characters and strings of text allowed me to quickly pinpoint areas where the evenness of the texture was compromised.

The first iteration of the typeface has several flaws, both in individual letter forms, and as a complete set. However, following through and completing an iteration has allowed me to understand the challenges of designing a typeface. It has given me a practical perspective on rhythm and texture, both important characteristics of any typographic work.