Learn about the anatomical features of letterforms.
- [Instructor] In this movie, we're going to take a look at some of the anatomical characteristics of letter forms, because it gives us a point of reference when we're evaluating different typefaces for use in our projects. So let's start here with the letter H that has an ascender, that's a feature moving up above the X height, and the letter Y, which has a descender, moving down below the baseline.
Now, this is a serif typeface, and on this letter P, we can see one of the serifs at the top here on the left and also down at the bottom. Now, if you want to be clever with the ones at the bottom, because they're mirrored in that way coming off of the stem, the main upward stroke of the character, you can refer to them as bilateral serifs. On the right-hand side, the curvy bit, that's described as the bowl.
And the negative space inside of that is referred to as the counter. Now, the counter is the main feature in the letter O, it doesn't have a lot else to shout about, really, other than its line of stress, which is, if you imagine the thin part there, the angle of that is often known as its line of stress. The letter Q that I'm showing you here, that has a counter, but it's interrupted at the bottom with a tail, which sounds like actual physical anatomy, and there's a lot of that in type.
Such as here, with the letter K, which has a leg and an arm. If I go to the letter H, that has a shoulder, a characteristic that many letters have. Now, interestingly enough, this has almost a fully enclosed negative space inside of it, and when you come across that, it's referred to as an open counter in most cases. The lower-case E has a very large open counter, which, if it was me, I'd call that the mouth, because the area above it is actually referred to as the eye in the case of an E.
And you can see here how this particular one, which is quite cute actually, looks like a laughing face. The letter G that I'm showing you now, this is an example of a two-story character in that it fully fills up both the baseline to X height space and the baseline to descender space. This one has an ear at the top of it, and the curvy bit at the bottom, in the case of this G, is known as a loop.
And linking that to the main body, we have the link, and of course there are two counters there. The letter S doesn't have a stem, it has instead a spine. And if you think about it, that looks very much like the curve of a spine. Not quite that steep an angle, but you get the idea. This character also has a beak, and you'll find that on a few different characters as well. This five numeral has a flag as its main stroke across the top, and it's easy to imagine that as being perceived as a flag blowing in the wind.
This letter F has a cross stroke, sometimes called a bar as well, going across the main stem of the character. And it has as well a teardrop terminal, as does the letter R that is onscreen now. Now, this letter A has a different kind of terminal in that area, it's called a heavy drop terminal, and you can imagine it's like a piece of water gaining in volume off the edge of a leaf or something that's about to drop.
And a terminal is the end of any stroke. And if you imagine back in the days when it was hand-lettering that was doing this, this is where these names come from. So there you are, that's just a few. There's no de facto language across the entire world, but you can make yourself understood with other people when you're dealing with type in the same way that I might say tomato and you might say tomato, for example, we could figure out what we were talking about.
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