News > design-process

Big update of our website

The actual version of our website that you have under your eyes has been first designed and coded by Raphaël Bastide back in April 2014. Since then, it has grew a lot, has been slightly updated many times and has seen the number of fonts displayed drastically increase. We love our website has Raphaël made it. Its black and white, its marquees, its blinking look and feel. This website is the cornerstone of our identity and our main link between our fonts and their users.

The increasing size of our catalogue, the increasing diversity of the fonts that join it and the increasing number of styles per families — when we where used to release mainly single-style family — asked for a slight re-thinking and redesign of how we show our fonts.

Here are the main changes
  1. Total redesign of the homepage with the hability to sort and filter our typefaces with many parameters such as the number of styles, release date… This was made thanks to David Desandro’s Isotope. We also created a new way to display font-families with numerous styles which put emphasis on a master style.

  2. Wider display. We got rid of our right column to give more room to every page. Some of the content moved to the still exisiting left column when some other moved to our brand new footer.
  3. Body copy font. Thrilled by this font we were about to publish, we decided to change our text font for our newly released Minipax by Raphaël Ronot. It’s now used for pretty all the small size and longer texts you’ll find on the website. We hope that you’ll like it as much as we do. It’s almost to comfortable to read, isn’t it?
  4. Web specimen. Goodbye our former never-changing template, now each font has it’s own web-specimen that shows its particular qualities way better. Those web-specimen will even show you the opentype features embedded in our fonts. Are we in 2013?? Also, goodbye our good ol’ test zone, because now every piece of specimen text can be modified by our visitors.

  5. Charset. Our charset now shows every character in the fonts, even the ones without any unicode code, thanks to the opentype.js tool.
  6. Version history. Certain of our fonts have an insteresting story to tell. They been updated, modipfied, upgraded, sometimes by their original author(s), sometimes by different people, over time, during years for some of them. We needed to tell this story. Our new version history section tells what has been made on each version and by whom and gives access to the files of each version! This allows some deep time traveling. We also coded some pretty neat automatic family tree.
  7. Better credits. We now provide more precise credits about the team who worked on each typeface.
  8. Fontlog! You can have an overall chronological view on each release or update that has been made to each of our fonts, since the beginning. Dive inside our history.


     
  9. About section. Our about page became a whole section with sub-pages such as a handy and growing F.A.Q. or a summary of our activities along the years (workshops, exhibitions, publications, awards…). We even had a ressources pages where we will list and add any tool that we used or find handy.
  10. Footer. Let’s introduce a plain and simple footer that allows some straitforward navigation threw the pages of our website.
Credits

This update has been mainly designed and coded by Jérémy Landes with some help of Anton Moglia and helpful thoughts and feedback from all the Velveteam. The content has been edited and updated by all the community. Thanks everybody! We hope that you’ll enjoy the new look!

Published on the 2 September 2019 by Jérémy Landes

Behind TINY

Today in New York pop-up shop opening day.

The TINY font family was originally created at over the summer of 2018 as the visual identity for an experimental retail pop-up shop in Chinatown, New York City called “Today in New York”, or TINY for short. The shop was the result of an intern project at Verdes, a creative agency, between Jack Halten Fahnestock and Théïa Flynn. There they sold T-shirts and tote bags customized on the spot with a fancy (and stupid expensive) handheld inkjet printer called a HandJet EBS-250.

Printing a customer’s message on a shirt.

Two of the HandJet’s default typefaces, 16x10 and 7x5, were recreated into usable fonts for mocking up designs on tees and totes, respectively.

HandJet EBS-250 default typefaces 16x10 and 7x5 recreated as fonts.

T-shirt and tote back side mockup using 16x10 and 7x5, respectively.

5x4, the smallest type size found in the HandJet’s software using only 5 of the 16 available print heads, was also made. To take it a bit further and really play up the fun of the end product various widths were created but ultimately only used briefly as they were made last-minute.

Instagram post showing various widths of 5x4.

TINY 5x3 is just the initial release with a long-term plan to add additional widths up to at least 5x13, and variable axes in future updates. This debut release includes 1300+ glyphs and a variable dot size, which comes from the HandJet’s adjustable ink output feature.

Download Tiny 5x3

Getting carried away w/ excitement and forgetting to adjust the ink level for a thinner fabric.

Stay tuned :)

Published on the 2 April 2019 by Jack Halten Fahnestock

The Origins of Ouroboros

At the end of 2016, I was really inspired by Elmer Stefan’s project of reviving Victorian typefaces under the guise of The Pyte Foundry. I wanted to create a typeface that was intentionally expressive and ornamental, with a kind of flair that I felt was missing from the open-source type scene.

Based on this premises, my initial concept was to draw letter shapes with a very large serif area, as large as possible, which then I could “carve” in order to create a myriad of decorative effects.

Early tests - “carved” letters (gruyerè A, hollow I and almost unreadable M).

With this idea in mind, I started doing some pencil sketches of these kind of letters. Their serifs were so large, that they created concave counter-forms between the letters that were oval-shaped, or egg-shaped sometimes. The openings on the letters would be very narrow (as for the letter E) and, sometimes, they would overlap themselves in a weird way (this idea was later abandoned). This produced a visual aspect for the capitals not unlike bubbles in dark ink spreading through the page, or at least that’s how I saw it.

Some of the earliest sketches of what would later become Ouroboros - I hadn’t sorted the serif positions yet. Look at those bell-bottoms!

Based on these sketches, I started to trace some letters on the computer. When I had a doubt about how a particular letter would be constructed, I would use Benguiat as a reference, so Ouroboros is relatively influenced by it.

Correcting by hand some of the early digital designs.

Because I based my design solely on vertical and horizontal anchors, drawing some of the letters, like the Z and the X, proved to be quite a challenge. It was necessary to strike a delicate balance to keep the strokes consistent with those of the other letters, and at the same time keeping the impression of a diagonal stroke.

Some early versions of the X and the Z vs their final forms - they’ve come a long way.

In addition to letters like the H (which were rather square, with a strong vertical axis), there were some others like the S and the J which were quite asymmetrical and curved in a sensuous way. The spline of the S is quite narrow compared to the rest of the strokes, and its shape mimics the gesture of someone pressing a paint brush on a support while applying a circular motion. This is a deliberate reference to art nouveau letters, which were often produced with brushes, rather than with pens. Some other details, like some of the accents, also recall brush strokes.

By that time of the design, the name I had in mind was “Circus Maximus” (I saw it as a tongue-in-cheek nod to Momus’ debut album rather than to classic Rome). My initial intentions were to create an extended style of the typeface so it could be used to compose  circus posters, with letters of different widths. But with some letter shapes, like the O, this approach didn’t work so well.

Preliminary extended versions of Ouroboros that didn’t make the cut.

The problem was that 1) the name “Circus Maximus” was already taken by an existing font and specially 2) the typeface didn’t feel so circus-like after all. But one day, I came upon the name “Ouroboros” and all the pieces of the puzzle fell in place. The name wasn’t taken by any existing font, it conveyed the magic and fantasy feeling that I wanted to express, and most important of all, the O shape that I had drawn looked like an actual Ouroboros! So, it was perfect for this project.

Ouroboro’s infamous “O” vs the creature as depicted in the Codex Parisinus graecus 2327, a copy of an early medieval manuscript. The circle was complete.

During online conversations with Sébastian Hayez, who was an early fan of the typeface, the will of creating lowercase characters slowly started to take shape.

Ouroboros’ lowercase letters take some cues from ornamental typefaces such as Deberny & Peignot Les Modernes [here seen on the “Les Locomotives” title] [later released as DeVinne Ornamental by Stephenson Blake around 1900, today owned by Linotype], which can be commonly found on antique French postcards.

As for the numerals, my main inspiration [and a massive, ongoing obsession during the last months] were vintage number signs found all around Paris.

Hunting for numbers, day and night.

Some crude sketches for the numerals

The relationship between Art Nouveau letter shapes and magical themes was a strong one [Check out Manuel Orazi’s Calendrier Magique over at Gallica.fr if you have the time], and the Ouroboros is also an important symbol for alchemy, so the next logical step was the development of magical and alchemical symbols. The challenge here was keeping the same calligraphic feel and mood of the letters on symbols that 1) were radically different at times and specially 2) were so complex that the same stroke width [present on the rest of the letters] could not be maintained.

“A Table of Mediaeval Alchemical Symbols” from Basil Valentine’s The Last Will and Testament [c.1670] [detail]. Alchemical symbols were originally drawn on manuscripts [even if metal-cast versions of some symbols exist] and their representation varied wildly between authors. Contrary to the letters of the latin alphabet, there’s no general guide about how to draw them [and specially where their baselines should be placed exactly!], so the ones you see in Ouroboros are my personal interpretation.

Some of Ouroboros symbols compared to a capital A. As alchemical symbols come from very varied sources and authors, it was difficult to keep a homogeneous look. For the smallest circle shapes of the symbols, the contrast of the stroke disappears, as it happens when one tries to draw a very small circle with ink, instead of a large one.

After a preliminary online publication of the font on October 10th 2018 up at Font Library, the people over at Velvetyne told me that they were really interested in releasing it (we know each other for some years now actually). The date of the 31st October was proposed (just in time for Halloween). Between these two dates, I went a little bit crazy improving the kerning, fine-tuning the design of some characters and adding new symbols, accents and stylistic sets. 130 ligatures were implemented, as well as positional variants, which allowed the text to become a bit more compact, specially for texts set in all-caps. As for the resulting font, you can check it yourself by downloading it.
 
See you later, alligators!

Download Ouroboros!

Published on the 2 January 2019 by Ariel Martín Pérez
All Articles
Big update of our website02 Sep 2019Pilowlava20 May 2019Type Workshop: Imago Mundi Mei30 Apr 2019Behind TINY02 Apr 2019Typefaces from a Solarpunk Future at Fig. Festival25 Feb 2019The Origins of Ouroboros02 Jan 2019Trickster, a postmortem15 Nov 2018Utopie & langage (feat. VTF Mourier)15 Nov 2018The short but real VTF Lack story09 Oct 2018Hyper Scrypt12 Sep 2018Le Murmure won a “Grand Prix” at the Red Dot Design Awards 201810 Sep 2018Designers posters for Trickster01 Mar 2018Mariant la Truie et l'Ourse : double release party on 27/11/201712 Nov 2017Le Murmure09 Nov 2017Pre-order the 288 ampersands book till Sunday, September the 10th08 Sep 2017Public talk — Polices de France06 Aug 2017Saint Jean05 Jun 2017Velvetyne in Chaumont festival 201722 May 2017New workshop: Saint J&an13 Apr 2017We now accept donations!24 Jan 2017Solide Mirage18 Jan 2017Grotesk for Paris.fr17 Jan 2017Des Gens En Photo17 Jan 2017Bluu Upgrade14 Oct 2016Workshop Font Fonk Fork10 Jul 2016New workshop FONT > FONK > FORK26 Apr 2016Launch of La Perruque magazine06 Apr 2016Result of the vote for Millimetre06 Apr 2016Vote for Millimetre24 Mar 2016Workshop AVEC20 Oct 2015Workshop Pictoporn10 Jun 2015Steps Mono for Étapes Magazine12 Mar 2015Workshop Résistance22 Jan 2015Marathon Général02 Sep 2014