Mauna Kea





This was my first type design project during my studies. Interesting and quite time consuming as I may not always do things the easiest way. The assignment was to create a new typeface and we had some 1,5 months to complete the task. I wanted to study something and use the information acquired somehow in this work: this time it was geographical interest towards the volcano of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.










At the time I was quite interested in maps. I wanted my typeface to have something to do with maps and came up with an idea of combining a topographic map with type. There was never a “logical” reason to do so, but why not try it and see how it turns out?

As the “mountains” in Finnish Lapland are quite petty I got my inspiration from abroad. Of course you have to top everything else somehow so I studied the tallest mountains on earth. Picking Mount Everest seemed a bit boring and superfluous so I decided to concentrate on Mauna Kea: the tallest geographic formation on earh. Perfect.


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I studied the topographic maps of Mauna Kea and picked one of them to trace. Of course I tried automatic tracing but the result was always really unsatisfactory so I ended up tracing the map by hand.








It was clear from the beginning that I would do a sans serif typeface and that the typeface would be for display use. I tested the topographic texture on existing fonts to see how the end product might look like and how bold the typeface should be.






I knew from the beginning that Mauna Kea was going to be a geometric  (geography, geometry...) typeface. After studying the existing sans serif shapes combined with topographic maps the feeling just grew. So, what is the logical and easy starting point for a geometric sans serif – the letter o in this case.


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After o and c (a circle cut with a square) I tried out how the weight would approximately look on characters with stem, in this case l and p, and it seemed actually quite fine. I was eager to design the letter M because of typeface name: after all, it is the first character of the typeface in a way. As one can see, there's a lot of geometric shapes but combined with some pointy letter shapes, for example A, M, V and W, the alphabet has quite a nice contrast and harmony at the same time. Round with some edge.







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Mauna Kea, gigantic example. Contoured version works quite nicely in large sizes.





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Examples of the Mauna Kea typeface in different sizes. On the right hand corner there is a minor language comparison.





Mark
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