A modern disruption, Kai is a typeface inspired by Standard Script (楷书):
a form of Chinese calligraphy that originated in 200 B.C..
Design an original typeface that provides a solution to an existing design problem.
Chinese typefaces include Chinese characters, punctuations and the English alphabet. Many of such English typeface designs, however, lose the visual qualities of their Chinese counterparts. This project is an attempt to design an English typeface reminiscent of traditional Chinese calligraphy but with a modern twist, utilizing calligraphic brush strokes and thin accent lines. The typeface would need to embody balance and elegance, while avoiding the common trap of coming off as "corny" and old-fashioned.
Kai was inspired by a Chinese calligraphic form known as Standard Script (楷书). The defining characteristics of this calligraphic form include strokes of varying thicknesses and "dots" where ink brushes are first pressed down on the paper.
The first step was sketching. The conclusion was to avoid the geometric qualities of Chinese characters, which would translate to a bamboo-looking typeface.
Forgoing the geometric qualities seemed to be the correct choice for English type design, as most letters are round and fluid in nature.
Thin, accent lines were added for a touch of modernity. This is what sets Kai apart from the typical, Chinese-inspired typeface.
Attention to detail and accuracy are key in designing a typeface. Kai, as a brush typeface, proved to be even more of a technical challenge in Illustrator, as I struggled to handle the letters' varying thicknesses, especially curved letters. The solution was to work within a grid guideline and consistently check how the design looks on small and large scales. I came away with a deep understanding of a typeface's anatomy, which I referenced to ensure consistency across uppercase, lowercase letters, roman numerals and punctuation marks.