Speed Lettering 17 – tracing the design process [Column_Letters & Figures]

gn_logo_1.jpg: figure showing the supposed process of logotype design, GN as an instance

My question was that why C&NW and the followers introduced the italic font for their logotypes.

Relatively long names of the railroad made them difficult to apply their names on the side of boxcars.
For all these efforts aforementioned, the space of the side of a boxcar might be too small to achieve the goal.

The considered idea is to go typography: design the letter itself to achieve the goal. Now we can imagine one might have come to an idea of using italic font to apply large letters in a limited space.

Decreasing the width of regular letters seems the easiest way to apply letters in limited space. But, it seems that the readability would also decrease, considering the move of equipment. Italic font indeed has a more narrow width than regular font at its baseline. But, according to its inclined angle, the total width including dimension at the cap-line is almost the same as the regular letter (ex. dimension “A” illustrated above).

Accordingly, using italic font seems to be the way to keep readability regardless of its limited space.
Thus, it may be said that the pioneers’ purpose of introducing italic font was to save space: italic font’s primitive purpose, not to create the image of speed.

I tried tracing back the process of logotype-design using old GN logo-mark, the shortest among the pioneers, as an instance. The supposed process reflects the result of the inspection described before.

According to my traceback, I extracted a logotype using the regular letter (bottom, the figure above) from the original logo-mark (top, the figure above). The width of the letter “N” is kept through the process (dimension “A” illustrated above).

Figure below shows the genuine logotype using regular font succeeding the square herald (top, figure below), and the extracted logotype (bottom, figure below). The extracted logotype resembles the genuine logotype, isn’t it?








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