[Story]A large family that can fluently converse in 270 languages around the world.

Nice to meet you! "SD November" 

A new collaboration with Typotheque, "SD November" 
Sandoll has been releasing complete multilingual font families through various collaboration projects with Typotheque over the years. The first collaboration project, Sandoll Greta Sans, and Sandoll Lava, released in April last year, have received a lot of love from users since their release. The strength of such global collaboration projects lies in the fact that characters in each language group are handled by experts from each country, resulting in a highly complete family designed as one.

November is a practical and highly readable font family developed by Typotheque. Designed for road signs and information delivery systems, it is suitable for long texts and works well in small-sized bodies. It includes various informative dingbat glyphs, making it suitable for use in small-sized bodies.

티포텍의 「November」 (링크)

Before starting the actual collaboration project, SanDoll and Typotheque's director, Peter Biľak, discussed various expansion possibilities of November. The reason was that November had the potential to be expanded into various styles like a gemstone. 

November, various styles such as the rounded version October and the narrowed November Compressed and November Condensed with a basic thickness of 9 are provided as standard, making it clear that it is a superfamily with a wide range of variations. Although the composition varies slightly depending on the family*, the typical ones include Light with a thin weight, Regular with a medium weight, and Bold with a thick weight. Font families have various styles while maintaining a big concept throughout, so font families are often referred to as families.
*Font families have various styles while maintaining a big concept throughout, so font families are often referred to as families.

Of course, it may be difficult to apply all styles to Korean, but we started working on the Korean version of SD November while harboring such attractive possibilities.

Dealing with Multilingual Projects 

There are many things to consider when aligning Korean with Latin characters. Not only aligning the designs consistently but also many aspects such as the physical position, size, and space of Korean characters can vary depending on the character of the family. Characters from different countries carry historical and cultural contexts of each country. Therefore, it was crucial to ensure that November appeared as if it belonged to the Latin script while not deviating from the context commonly used in Korea.

Before starting the actual work, we collected and analyzed all information about November and held a kickoff meeting with Peter Biľak from Typotheque and various collaborative designers from Typotheque. At the meeting, we could share various information from the designer who was working on November Korean and November Chinese, which were being developed before November Korean.

The characters of the three East Asian countries, commonly referred to as CJK characters (China, Japan, Korea), have many differences, but they also share many similarities due to their close relationship. Therefore, through this meeting, we could obtain various hints about the direction of November Korean, such as reflecting the context of each country's characters and reflecting visual features.

Based on the hints obtained from the kickoff meeting and the analysis of November data, we conducted a workshop to confirm the direction of SD November under three main themes: purpose, visual scope, and impression.

For the purpose, we thought about the actual media and environments where November would be used and set appropriate uses for each thickness. Also, we found Korean serif fonts commonly used in Korea to grasp the common features such as width, structure, and size of Korean characters. We set a visual scope that wouldn't surprise agile users too much and analyzed the form of November to find visual features to be applied to SD November. Also, to check if the Korean draft had a similar impression as November, we extracted the impressions felt from November.

In this way, we set appropriate directions for each topic and started working on the Korean draft of SD November by reflecting the visual features of November.

The prominent visual features found in November by Sandoll were: ① Vertical and horizontal stroke end design, ② Track-shaped 'O' design, ③ Relatively narrow width. These were the three main features, and reflecting them 100% on Korean characters is almost impossible due to the different contexts of the characters. However, appropriately reflecting them is the job of a font designer.

① Vertical and horizontal stroke end design

November has a visual feature where all strokes end in vertical and horizontal lines, known as terminals, creating an open form where all inner spaces are open and clean sidebearings, contributing to maintaining high legibility regardless of the medium or size used.

This feature is commonly used in Latin design but is not a typical feature in Korean. Usually, characters like 'ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ' naturally end with diagonals following the flow of strokes. However, to reflect this as much as possible, we went through several draft tests and designed characters like 'ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ' symmetrically so that the stroke ends vertically do not look awkward. This terminal design creates a mechanical impression, but we smoothed out the curved parts to prevent it from being too mechanical. It needed to blend in appropriately for use in body text.

Actually, this terminal expression has a positive effect on legibility in Latin, but in Korean, it is merely reflected as a visual feature. Therefore, SD November supplemented it by adjusting spaces and thicknesses to ensure legibility.

② Track-shaped 'O' design

Another visual feature, the track-shaped 'O,' posed similar difficulties when reflecting it on Korean characters. This is due to the significant variations in Korean characters, such as 'ㅇ' and 'ㅎ,' becoming narrower horizontally or vertically. It required delicate adjustments by carefully handling paths and points. The key was to adjust the straight line expression of the vertical stroke as the height decreased.

③ Relatively narrow width

Lastly, the width was a concern. Compared to reference Gothic fonts commonly used in Korea, November has a consistent width, giving a uniform and dense impression. Therefore, we set the width of Korean characters in SD November to preserve this feeling. We considered not narrowing the maximum width too much to accommodate possible expansions like November Compressedand November Condensed.

Additionally, one of the points of concern in creating SD November was how to adjust the Latin and Latin-adapted punctuation marks for Korean. As SD November was the third multilingual collaboration project at Sandoll, we could refer to the previous projects, Sandoll Greta Sans and Sandoll Lava.

Korean and Latin have different baseline standards. Especially in Latin, the baseline is firmer compared to Korean. Latin punctuation marks are aligned based on the baseline, x-height, and cap height. Those who are extreme alignment enthusiasts might have differing opinions.

In contrast, Korean punctuation marks do not have a clearly visible baseline like Latin. The position of punctuation marks varies from font to font. Perhaps because most punctuation marks used in modern Korean are not native to Korean? As they deviate from the baseline and are relatively free, font designers face deep considerations.

Greta Sans and Lava transformed the shapes of existing Latin punctuation marks to fit Korean. Moreover, Lava separately designed punctuation marks frequently used with Korean and added Adobe programs' Locl function to enable their use. 
*Localized Forms (link)

However, SD November had various expansion possibilities and aimed for universality, so we tried to delete additional functions as much as possible. Therefore, for Korean and commonly used punctuation marks, we readjusted the length and position to match Korean, while Latin, numbers, and commonly used punctuation marks were used as much as possible. Since we designed Korean to match the cap height, this method did not feel awkward. Multilingual projects are interesting projects with no right answer, branching out into many paths depending on what the designer considers.

Farmer and Chef Relationship 

Growing crops well is the role of a farmer, while turning those crops into a fantastic dish is the role of a chef. Similarly, the relationship between font designers and designers in various fields is an essential two-way relationship. Perhaps most font designers remember the moment they discovered the first use case of a font after its release. Therefore, collecting real-use cases is as crucial to font designers as making fonts. Sometimes, designers gain insights from unexpected uses in different environments.

Therefore, Sandoll has been conducting closed beta tests before font releases, requesting new font usage tests from designers active in various fields. SD November also went through closed beta tests before release, allowing us to pre-determine the real-world environments in which the font would be used and collect actual use cases along with the release. Many beta testers participated, allowing us to grasp the environments in which SD November would actually be used in advance and present font utilization methods like the following guide with the release.

Nice to meet you! "SD November"

November supports over 270 languages, including Korean, Latin and Latin Extended, Greek and Greek Extended, Cyrillic and Cyrillic Extended, and includes Devanagari characters for the first time at Sandoll, making it truly versatile with a total of 20 styles, including italics and Sandoll's first variable font.

Dryly reciting information, but in other words, SD November can be described as a family of 20 versatile members that can fluently converse with locals in over 270 languages around the world. We hope you look forward to how this family will grow in the future, and it was nice to meet you! See you next time!