Italic form – Adapting ‘reflected z’ form in lowercase ‘s’

It has been long time

After nearly two years offline, I finally decide to come back with blog writing. This should be something I have just made sufficient digging, italic form.

Firstly, I must say that I already quitted the job working as a graphic designer. In that quite long time after, I have invested substantial amount of time for serious self-educating in type designing. Currently, I am proud to call myself following by the title ‘type designer’. I am self-employed and work full-time.

After my very first design, Jaina Sans Bold (JSB), I started working on the idea of a bookish typeface inspired by Jenson’s classic forms, from June 2016. I call this one Jenriv, initially developed with two styles as Regular and Italic. After Myfonts made another contact to me regarding the once rejected JSB font, I requested them for a review of my Jenriv fonts on the same occasion. The feedback I received was detailed and truly interesting in some points. One of them was about the stress of italic ‘s’ of my design, which then turned to be fruitful for my own perception after all.

Type is a mind game itself…

The topic is not a new one since I already had kind of distinctive view on it while studying two years ago in the post Type design study from Old Master – Letter S.


While designing Jenriv Regular, I adapted transitional form between ‘clipped number 8’ form and ‘reflected z’ form, that made the uppercase ‘S’ and the lowercase ‘s’ fairly round with the oblique stress.

But, wishing for more calligraphy suggesting in italic style, I endeavoured to develop the former round form into a more stretching form with the ‘s’.

original italic uppercase s and lowercase s
Original italic uppercase ‘S’ and lowercase ‘s’

At first glance, the result was pretty fitted to me. It gave strong gesture, that making a kind of ‘dancing’ effect. I thought it would help varying texture in certain cases.

On the contrary, Myfonts review board persuaded me that the angle of italic lowercase seemed to be more significant than the uppercase’s one, especially with reference to the ‘s’, which then contributed to create inconsistency between the uppercase and the lowercase.

comparing stresses between two figures
Comparing stresses between two figures

With consideration, I made a fair compensation for this case by shortening the slant strokes and shifting the stress of the letter about 3 degrees withershins. The effort was to give the letter less expanded appearance along with a more steady stress.

old s and its revised version
Old ‘s’ and its revised version

The teamwork of types

I am pretty satisfied with the achieved result. The new ‘s’ is supposed to stay well combined with various word scenes.

Arranged with steep gestures as in the word ‘assistance’, it appears to sway subtlely. Nevertheless, it becomes a factor of significant balance while falling between strong angular gestures, such as the ‘u’s in ‘usually’.

old s in context
Old ‘s’ in context

While comparing with the old version, the performance of the old ‘s’ was quite exaggerated as if it was ‘italic in italic’.

revised s in context
Revised ‘s’ in context

Ultimately, the best deal is that the balanced ‘s’ will easily stay complementing some unusual figures with unregular strokes and stresses, such as the ‘e’.

comparing two designs in combination
Comparing two designs in combination

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