Aphelion Specimen Book

Introduction and design inspiration

Fonts belong not only to the field of design, but also to culture. Language is a way of transmitting information between us, and fonts are equivalent to our visual language. We can get a lot of information through fonts, which is closely related to our lives. Font design means to make overall arrangement of the text according to the rules of visual design. Font design is the product of human production and practice, and it has gradually matured with the development of human civilization.

During my freshman year of visual communication design at Arizona State University, I have learnt some of the most basic font design knowledge. The font design exists as a project in the whole class program. We only need to design four capital letters: "H","E","A" and "O". 

In my freshman year, I set the standard for my typeface. The letter "H" is the standard for this font. It specifies the width of every stroke, the height of the letter, and the width of letter. My font is thick but narrow. In my sophomore year, I had a systematic font design course: letterform. It was Mr. Nathan Finden who guided me to learn font design at that time. I started to learn lowercase letters. If the overall standard of the font is the letter "H", the standard of lowercase letters is "n". Although the upper and lower strokes do not necessarily need to be the same width, they need to be more harmonious and integrated. 

After determining the font standards, I started using the standards to create other letters, such as "o" with regular arcs and "a" with irregular arcs, and "p" and "y" with straight and curves. The process of making letters is tedious but effective. We were asked to start by drawing draft letters in pencil and then use plaka for coloring. Hang on the wall to see the balance and overall feeling of the letters from a distance, and then modify the details. Some complex letters may need to be repeated many times. I had 27 drafts during the "a" design process before I got the final "a". After getting more mature letters, I had scan them to the computer, and then use AI to modify and improve the details. 



In addition to the glyphs of the letters themselves, the distance between the letters needs to be determined. We call it kerning. Depending on the shape of the letters, the kerning between each letter is also different. Usually I move a little bit in 0.5 mm. Then hang it on the wall to determine the most suitable kerning. I was pleasured to be nominated for the school's design excellent exhibition during that semester. The word we had was "olympian", in addition to that I also made "Olympian" and my name "fiona". I am happy to show my learning results, which also makes me interested and confident in learning font design.

In the senior year, my professor Eric Montgomery arranged an open-topic project, and we can choose one we are interested to design. I suddenly thought of the font that I didn't finish in my sophomore year, and I thought it was a good opportunity to make it into a standard font that can be used. I found out the sophomore files, and started with the standard uppercase "H" and lowercase "n". I used the visual principles and rules I learnt to complete this set of fonts.

I named it "Aphelion", which means the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is furthest from the sun. This set of fonts includes 26 uppercase letters, 26 lowercase letters, 10 numbers and 52 common punctuation marks.