July 9, 2013

Brisbane, a wayfinding typeface

Over the last five months I've been working on my final project for the TypeMedia masters program at The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. Here is a little about Brisbane, the typeface...

Brisbane is a relaxed, self-assured sans serif designed specifically for pedestrian wayfinding in the city of Brisbane, Australia. With a range of three weights in five styles and accompanying optical grades for inverted use, Brisbane’s functionality makes it 
a solid candidate for orientation systems in the city or suburb. OpenType features for Brisbane include superiors for setting times and distances, and a set of stylistic alternates for use in small text. A selection of pictograms and orientation devices have been 
designed to harmonise with Brisbane’s informal character forms.

The Brisbane Typeface Family
A = Positive Grade, for use on light coloured backgrounds
B = Inverted Grade, for use on dark coloured backgrounds
Brisbane has a mix of stylistic and functional attributes. An uncomplicated sans serif design reflects the personality of the city of Brisbane. Other stylistic features include a relaxed ‘y’ and ‘k’, and a single story ‘a’ and ‘g’. The flat top on the stem of the ‘a’ and ‘g’ morphs into a pointed feature in the italic. A large x-height, low cap height and narrow character width allows for maximum legibility when setting 
text tightly within limited vertical 
and horizontal spaces.

Many characters have been optically corrected to remove heavy spots and joins. A slight taper was used in diagonal shapes to lighten the joins 
with tight angles. A single story ‘a’ and ‘g’ was chosen not only for their relaxed personality, but also to avoid the complex shapes of the double story versions  which can be difficult to read at distances.

A set of stylistic alternates have been included to give the designer more control over the amount of character suitable for the orientation system they are working on. The alternates available can be changed as a set or by individual glyph. Superiors have been created to allow for setting times and distances. Included are lowercase characters, numerals, arrows, currency symbols and some basic punctuation. The set also includes stylistic alternates.

One of the technical features of Brisbane is the inverted grades for use on dark coloured surfaces. When white text is placed on dark backgrounds, the light refracting from the white area optically expands, making the text look bigger than its black counterpart. In order to make them appear the same, I’ve created additional grades that have been optically tested to match. You can see an example here by placing your hand over one eye.

Brisbane is still very much a work in progress. Read more about this 
project and my design process here...