As a quick follow-up to last week’s pairing faces to work in unison, I thought I’d take the topic just a hair farther, to the point where a pair grows so similar in features one to the other, it’s unsettling. I’m not advocating this for general application by the way, only pointing out that there are times when, once you’ve got the reader’s attention, you want to keep him or her on edge. Note how each of the faces below deviates from the norms of its genre in similar ways.
Éric de Berranger’s Maxime, our serif, introduces a humanist element by softening its hard lines, heavily bracketing its serifs, shifting weight to the shoulders of the lowercase letters, and introducing fine painterly touches most notable in its serifs and intersections. Evert Bloemsma’s FF Legato similarly takes pressure off the baseline by rendering its characters with weight and larger than normal counterforms up high. Its humanist feel comes largely from its construction, but this quality is reinforced by accentuating the corners, stiffening up the hard lines, and deliberately and carefully placing weak points along its curves.
Together, the two are different enough that they can still work with each other, but just enough alike to raise the occasional eyebrow, or cause a momentary strained stare. And if as a typographer you’ve ever arrived at this destination by mistake, you know that the way out is by playing up your pair’s differences, or changing one of the faces to a more disparate design.