Glyph design: the lowercase ‘e’

A look at the Latin letter

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y X Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w y x z

A look at the Cyrillic letter

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я Ѣ Ѥ Ѧ Ѩ Ѫ Ѭ Ѯ Ѱ Ѳ Ѵ Ѷ Ѹ Ѻ Ѽ Ѿ Ҁ ҂ ҃ ҄ ҅ ҆ ҇ ҈ ҉
а б в г д е ё ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я ѣ ѥ ѧ ѩ ѫ ѭ ѯ ѱ ѳ ѵ ѷ ѹ ѻ ѽ ѿ ҁ

Cyrillic Alphabets

Cyrillic Alphabets of Slavic Languages
Cyrillic Alphabets of Non-Slavic Languages

A look at the Diacritics

Diacritics


 

1 lesson on ‘e’ drawing with Johan Mattsson

1 lesson on ‘e’ drawing with Kelvin Song

 

The ‘e’ is probably the last character you should design before stepping back and taking a good look at how your glyphs look together. Oh you could go and make the ‘x’ too, but I like to draw the line at ‘e’.
The ‘e’ is one of the hardest letters to draw and design—probably third only to ‘s’ and ‘g’. While commonly thought of as an ‘o’ with a crossbar and a gap cut out of its lower right, the ‘e’ is really more of a spiral that ends abruptly with a crossbar.

While the letter shares little else in common, like the ‘b’, the ‘e’ is elongated diagonally and can be thought of as having two axes—an axis that the counter (or what would be the counter if the letter was closed and had no crossbar) is aligned to (pink), and another “outer axis” (gold) that the outer contour is aligned with.

Left to right: Minion Pro, Garamond, Sorts Mill Goudy
Left to right: Minion Pro, Garamond, Sorts Mill Goudy

Compared to the ‘o’, the stress is also slightly more diagonal, and the thickest part of the bowl is found near the bottom left of the letter.

Left to right: Minion Pro, Garamond, Warnock, Sorts Mill Goudy
Left to right: Minion Pro, Garamond, Warnock, Sorts Mill Goudy

The letter can be made from an ‘o’, but not without substantial reshaping.

Finally, experiment with different crossbar heights. Higher crossbars look older and more elegant, while lower crossbars are more readable. The crossbar–bowl join often has a slight bevel. Also try and make sure the finial tapers off nicely instead of looking “cut off”.

Kelvin Song | Glyph design: the lowercase ‘e’

If you like this site and find it useful, help us to make it better by giving feedback, suggesting improvements or by donation.

Donate