Book Review By Cody Curley
Welcome to my review of the Logo, Font and Lettering Bible by Leslie Cabarga. There was some talk of this book in the comments of a past article on this beautiful blog. Someone mentioned something of the cover; I think it was me. Anyway, I think it is an absolute atrocity. Considering that this a book about logos and lettering, should there not be an entirely sexy typographic cover? The answer my fellow typophiles is, yes! Yes, there should be.
I have separated this review into three sections: content, typography and layout, and usability. There isn’t really much I can say here without expressing my opinions subjectively, but I hope that some of the points I make help you decide whether or not this book is for you.
Leslie covers a lot of topics in this book. There is everything, from basic logo rules, general typography guidelines, how to start making your font (forms, kerning, hints, and directions), font creation software; and finally, even some professional advice.
Here is a look at an excerpt from the contents taken directly from the author’s website. Brace yourself.
PART 1: The Logo……………………14
Defining the Logo Type……………………………………………………………16
Logo Design in Deutschland 32;
Karl Schulpig, Logo Meister 34
How to Design a Logo in 3 Quasi-Easy Steps…………………………………….36
Step 1: Immersion 37;
Step 2: Creative Copying 38;
What a Logo Is, What a Logo Is Not 41;
Step 3: Thumbnail & Comp 42
144 Logo Layouts 52;
Typestyles Categorized 56;
A Date With Numerals 58
PART 2: Drawing Letters………60
I know what you are thinking: “Cody, are you mad?! Why have you gone and spaced the numbers using an abnormal amount of periods?” Well folks, I hate to break it to you, but I didn’t. The author of this logo, type, and lettering bible did. For the unabridged contents, visit the author’s site.
I’m going to give you the bad part of the content first, so here we go. The main thing that really got me with this book was the organization. This book jumps all over the place and half the time I was skipping through the pages to find the next step of turning the “S” I just drew into a font. Next, the actual logos and examples chosen to support the writing are horrible. The only things I stopped to look at were the historical resources used in the book. A number of the posters and illustrations presented in the book are from the early days of logo design and type setting. However, those are by far the nicest imagery in this book. I know, I am shooting down this book, so let’s move onto to some positive points. I think it’s about time or else you might stop reading here.
Now, once you get past the horrible examples, the book includes some solid and useful information. Leslie covers some really good points and things to think about when creating a logo or font. There are some clear steps on how to start your project. He looks at the thought process, sketching, and illustrating; also breaking down glyphs into groups and suggesting the order in which you should be designing your letters and characters. There are also many different type styles covered: calligraphic, hand written, serif, sans serif, tech’, etc. When breaking down the fonts he only does so for the two main styles (serif and sans serif), but he does it well.
After that it kind of jumps right into illustrator techniques and things to remember. Tutorials in the book are quite easy to follow but, toward the end of the book, those tutorials become less easy to follow. It’s almost as though he ran out of steam towards the end of the book and abbreviated everything. After illustrator techniques we jump back to importing your fonts into a font program. He touches on kerning pairs and general rules of thumb for typography and type setting, but not in any particular detail.
The last section of the book, the “Business Section” is sparsely illustrated with some hints on how to be a successful designer for a living (if only it were that easy). A lot of it is useful, but mostly things you learned in design school or at least in any rudimentary business class. Now, on to the most important part:
Typography and Layout
Grab the arm of your chair, tie off a rubber band, bite into a piece of wood, and get ready for this! It’s going to be a very bumpy ride. I really don’t know what to say. For a type and lettering book, the layout and typography is a crime. However, I would rather let you decide this for yourself, so I took some scans of the title spreads for a few sections as well as the contents spread; this is where that piece of wood I mentioned earlier comes into play. Bite that sucker now!
This book’s usability really ranges from beginners to professionals. The logo section and illustrator tutorials are obviously focused towards people who have no design training, or very little at least. The information and hints for font creation is geared toward a more intermediate or advanced crowd. There is no way someone who doesn’t know what kerning is will even think about creating a font.
The information on font creation software (although limited) is definitely for those who have looked at them or have opened them before thinking about creating a font. However, the author does do a pretty solid comparison of the three major font creation applications.
If you have a few extra dollars lying around the house and want to grab a book with some useful information for getting started on creating a font, then by all means, buy Logo, Font, and Lettering Bible. Hell, there are over 200 pages; perhaps 30 of those are worth keeping. You could just rip out the remaining pages and use them as newspaper for when you decide to ink your fonts with a fountain pen. Harsh, I know, but true.
[Cody is a Communication Designer. You can see his personal blog here.]
The biggest Sunday Type ever. Let’s call it a Christmas Special Sunday Type.