Bilingual Lettering — (5)Alternatives

When creating bilingual lettering, the form of the translation may match the other script perfectly, but sometimes they don’t share anything in common visually. The best scenario is to take the letterform into consideration during the naming stage. If the translation can not be altered, we can also look for other forms as an alternative solution.

Naming

As mentioned in the observation section, the density of Kanji character varies from a few strokes to sometimes more than twenty. The differences in density creates a visual rhythm in paragraphs, but when creating a logotype/lettering with a few characters, it may become problematic and off-balanced. Sometimes this can be solved by using another character with similar meaning.

Figure ⓜ

Forms

If the translation is not changeable, another solution would be to look for alternative forms. For example in Latin, should we be using a single-story g or double-story g? Connected y or two-stroke y? Same with Kanji, we can look up alternative forms in vintage books, handwriting styles, or reference forms from other Kanji-using countries.(6) We can also alter or simplify the form as long as the type is legible and aesthetically pleasing ⓜ.

Read more
Bilingual Lettering — (1) Intro
Bilingual Lettering — (2) Observation
Bilingual Lettering — (3) Making
Bilingual Lettering — (4) Consistency
Bilingual Lettering — (5) Alternatives

Note
(6) For example, the first stroke of “字 ” can be drawn as a point, but can also be written as a short vertical stroke.

If you are interested in this topic, you can also read Branding across cultures : How to Pair Latin and Kanji type by Ulrik Hogrebe.