Roboto — Typeface Spread
Sept 18, 2019
Learning About Roboto
To start this project, we are going to do some research to understand more about our typeface. To brainstorm how I should write out my research, I looked at my typeface and made a list of adjectives that first came into my head:
- Sans serif
Sept 20, 2019
This was my narrative for Roboto.
Life of Roboto
Roboto is a relatively young typeface, but it has quite a long family history. It comes from a huge family of fonts — the Grotesque typeface family. A long time ago, the Grotesque family (or called Grotesque or Gothic typeface) came into history in the late 1700s as the earliest sans-serif typefaces. Types in this family had very unique forms, uneven stroke weight, double-story lower case a’s and g’s, and larger x-height. Then eventually as the family got richer and more well-known in the world, they improved the family image to becoming more geometric. They wanted to achieve higher readability by making lowercase letter g’s often single-story and smaller aperture. They family name evolved to the Neo-Grotesque Sans-Serif typeface family.
Roboto was born to this Neo-Grotesque family, in 2011, by its father Christian Robertson in-house from Google, United States. Roboto was born to fulfill a duty, and that was to be the system font for the mobile Android system. It was said that at first sight people would say that Roboto gave a modern, yet approachable and emotional response. It was finally released as free in 2012 for public use. The reception of this font had mixed responses. The Verge, describes the font as “clean and modern, but not overly futuristic — not a science fiction font.” Some describe it was a mix of different type styles that don’t well together, other professionals called out its errors and name it a “Helvetica” rip-off. However, this didn’t affect Roboto’s life and gradually with modification, it steadily rose to its fame and status.
How Roboto changed started in 2014, where it was affected by Matias Duarte. Roboto’s tittles in the i’s and j’s in the lowercase were changes from square to rounded. Overall, it changed from being tight to becoming more relaxed. It opened up the holes in the letters and this open width has made it more natural when reading. Now people find that Roboto has almost a sort of “dual nature with its mechanical skeleton but its forms are more organic” with its friendly open curves.
Roboto had children, and its name became a reputable home for many variations of itself. It also has condensed fonts in Light, Regular, Bold with matching oblique designs. Roboto has many siblings as well. There’s Thin, Light, Regular, Medium, Bold, and Black weight and to keep the family tradition names, his cousins are called the names listed above but added in Oblique after. There are also the more distant relatives that are sort of like Roboto, Roboto Slab and Mono. The slab serif font was from 2013, and then came Roboto Mono which is a monospaced font, and Heebo, which is for Hebrew characters.
Roboto is a lively spirited typeface that is still changing and continuing to be updated by Google.
Sept 25, 2019
Testing with Layout
I started with looking into the different fonts and sizes that looked compatible with Roboto.
Fonts with serifs and have similar type characteristics such as x-height would better fit Roboto. Therefore, I decided on Droid Serif font.
I then tried using two column or three column grids. The two column was definitely too small and made it harder to read. I ended up with 3 columns, 14 leading, and 10.5 font. This would be a baseline that I could go back to once I made my designs.
Sept 26, 2019
I started drawing layouts of how I wanted my spread to be.
I chose amongst these drawing my favorites, then as I created them digitally, they either worked or didn’t.
I think the msot successful out of these layouts would be the 2nd and 3rd. This is because there is a clearer flow of where the audience should look at first and last. Also, the design is more cohesive where elements match rather than the 4th design, where only the first page is slanted.
I’m going to go back to the layout but before I did that, I experimented with color and image to see if this could inspire me to some more designs.
I chose to use architectural images because this created a feeling of clean, modern, and simplistic which is what I think of Roboto. The geometric shapes compliment the structured-ness of the font as well. However, I didn’t like the aesthetic of the building images on a spread about typography — it seemed out of place.
I then briefly looked at color. I chose more Swiss design colors, muted with bold splashes of color that pop, because it came from the Neue Grtesk font family that was influenced by Swiss design. And I used “Google” colors that were very pop since it was created by Google.
Sept 28, 2019
Focusing on two spreads
I chose the two layout design I felt was most compelling and made more modifications based on those. I feel like as I added more color, it did not necessarily add to the hierarchy.
The design on the left, the reader’s eyes goes to the bottom and top then middle. On the right, the reader’s eyes looks from the left to right and is more clear.
Sept 28, 2019
I got feedback from the two designs that I chose to focus on and the major feedback was that there was no strong flow in the layout where the audience looks at first. Overall, it feels very textbook-like.
Therefore, I decided to have more contrast between the words and less elements overall to make it cleaner.
I chose to dramatically change the scale of the R in Roboto and create a neg/pos space quality with the name of the typeface because I was looking at Swiss style designs (Roboto was based about Neue Haas Grotesque fonts which were part of the Swiss design movement) and many use a high contrast scale and color design.
I also tried to keep some of the designs I had in my previous layouts, but emphasizing contrast.
However, this was not very effective because people did not understand why the blocks were placed in that fashion and it was not very obvious the reasoning behind the enlarged styles of Roboto either.
I focused on the big R design and experimented with color while keeping in mind contrast and emphasis to keep the readers moving in the page.
Since the R was so big on the spread, I tried incorporated an image into this. And I think it turned out to be pretty interesting! Before, the R didn’t move the viewer’s eye as much because it was just a big block, but now with the image it adds more depth and dynamic to it.
I wanted to use more saturated colors to create a bold Swiss design style and also how Roboto was created by Google, and Google’s thematic colors are very bright.
Working with these iterations, I also tried making the sample letters just outlines (in the first image), changing the highlight/secondary colors, and making a background shadow R tilted. The outlined sample letters were harder to see so I decided not to use that. When I used too many colors, it was too chaotic as well because of how the image already adds visual interest. The tilted R feels out of place because of how everything else was not tilted.
I chose more images that i thought reflected Roboto’s character: clean, modern, structured yet organic, and timeless. Based on these images, I modified the colors but still keeping the poppy element of it, with one exception, the first one — I chose a darker background to fit the image. In the end I decided that the last image (bottom right) was most compelling in what I wanted to convey. The image was a structured piece of architecture, yet it’s curved and organic, just like Roboto. The image gives a bit of negative space in the top right of the R and doesn’t make the spread feel too heavy on one side.
Oct 2, 2019
Edits After Critique
Some of the main comments were:
- What purpose does the R serve in the background? Is there a reason for it to do symmetrical?
- The orange and light blue version of the poster was more eye catching
- The subtitles could have tighter tracking to look more impactful. Paragraphs could be smaller for more readability.
- The placement of some fo the graphics seemed out of place, like they were not connected to the text.
I flipped the R upside down and used the old Roboto’s font to compare and contrast the changes in the font. This I hoped could create more meaning in the R in the background.
I also tried different images inside the R. I wanted to find something that fit the dualistic element in Roboto: having a modern and geometric structure but also having curvy and organic details.
I decided the last image embodied this the most while not creating too much contrast inside the R itself.
Oct 2, 2019
Now that I had all the elements I wanted in my poster, it was more of a matter of how I can place it in the most compelling way. I needed to pay attention to the details more.
Some elements that I needed to pay attention to:
- evening out the rag, width of text
- counter balance blue in the opposite corner/side of the R
- Tweaking the colors to be brighter and more saturated
- Alignment of the text in correspondance to the environment
In the images are some of the changes I made. I tried making the text width the same as the leg of the R, moving the title, tweaking the rag of the quotes and text, and more repositioning.
I decided on this one because it felt the most comfortable to the eye, and I felt like there was a flow to the composition. My eyes goes to the big R, then to the title, the bolded first paragraph, to the text, then to the quote. I liked how the R in the title ‘Roboto’ mimicked the large image R and has similar colors as well. When I printed it out, the bod text was thicker on screen, so I also changed it to thin.
Oct 17, 2019
Coming back to the typeface spread after the video
I finished my video and from this project, was inspired to create some more changes to my final piece.