Last time I worked on Q, C, G—three of the six curvey letters. This time I’m writing on the last three curvey letters S, U, and J, which are the last in the basic Enlish alphabet.
S is one of those tricky letters that just needs to be practiced to be done well. But there are some things I’m looking for when I draw an S:
- The counter at the top should be slighly smaller than the bottom.
- The shape of the upper and lower counters should be roughly the same.
- The lower terminal should stick out just a bit past the upper loop.
- The lower loop should stick out just a bit past the upper terminal.
I like making the terminals on the S the same as on the C and G: perpendicular to the angle of the stroke. On the S in particular, I like to make the angle of the terminals parallel to one another. (In this case, they’re roughly parallel. It is hand drawn after all.)
The U is another one of those really simple letters that can end up being a pain. This is because if anything is off even the tiniest bit, then it stands out because the letterform is so simplistic. I can draw it and say, “Well, yeah, that’s a U, but it just doesn’t look right for some reason.”
The key is to know why it might not look right. Here’s what I’m looking for when I draw a U:
- The bottom should have as much overshoot as the O (or S, or other curved letter).
- The opening at the top should be slightly smaller than the counter width near the bottom.
- The vertical parts of the U should not be straight. They should curve away from the center ever so slightly.
So basically instead of the vertical strokes going straight up to the cap line, they should curve inward as they reach the top, but only just slightly. It should be barely noticeable unless I’m looking for it.
This does two things. It gives the U a slightly lower visual center, which helps it feel balanced and stable. It also gives the counter less of a “fly-away” feel, like it’s just a tad too open or too large, as if the soul of the letter will fly away out of its mouth, or it’s being pinched from the bottom, squeezed like a tube of toothpaste. Closing the counter at the top just that little tiny bit can make the letter feel more self contained and centered.
Uppercase J has similar curvature at the bottom as the U. The stem of the J also leans in toward that curve in the same way as the U. This is so that it has a better visual balance—so it doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall over.
The uppercase J in this font has a cross stroke at the top, similar to the I. When doing research for this font, most instances I saw of the J in protest signs had this element. The cross stroke should be slightly longer on the left, to help balance the curve.
Numerals! In the next post I’ll be going over the numeric figures for the font.
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