Font Of The Moment: Sentinel

My font of the moment is with Hoefler & Co’s thoughtful slab serif, Sentinel.

 “For everyone who’s ever wished Clarendons had italics, everyone whose favorite slab serif is shy a few weights, and everyone who’s ever needed a slab serif to thrive in text: we designed Sentinel for you.”

It’s not fair to call this a font of the moment, I admire Sentinel enough to put it in the long term arsenal. This is an exceptional slab serif with attention to detail and “slab liberties” impart the typeface serious class.

I recommend reading Hoefler & Co’s overview of Sentinel , you will harbor little doubt why they are the foremost typeface design house in the industry. I’m still sad with the parting of ways of Tobias Frere-Jones and Jonathan Hoefler, but change is not to be feared. Speaking of Tobias Frere Jones, he has a new blog!

Onward!

I am going to be straight up with you, the only purchase option is the entire family of 12 styles for $199.00. Now this would have stopped me in my tracks as a recommendation, however, I believe this timeless typeface you (or your design firm) will use often, for years to come.
Here’s the character map for my favourite weight “Sentinel Book”:

Screenshot 2014-08-17 20.56.49

All images courtesy of Typograhy.com

Highlights:

 

  • Tail on the uppercase “Q”
    Ornate and compact, much of the “action” on the tail takes place within the counter. The result is an exceptionally long tail that is easy on real estate, doesn’t dip too low below the base line and minimal disruption to the right.Sentinel upper case Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lower case “b,d,p& q”
    These letterforms are always good bell weather of the designer’s attention to detail, pride.It’s quite common to cut corners and “mirror” this gang. In Sentinel, you will note head serifs on the p & d and a spur on the q & b  a spur on the q & b
    .Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.02.42 Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.02.30 Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.02.16 Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.01.28

 

  • Numeric “7”
    Classy as hell, amazing transition to the ball terminal.
    Sentenel Numeric 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Italic “b”
    A well balanced, tight, yet elegant letterform

Sentinel italic b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Fence:

 

    • Lower case “g”
      The ear seems a bit excessive and could be reined in.

      Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.07.09

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Numeric 4
    Every other numeric has wonderful flow, the “4” is rigid. A touch of flair on the crossbar would have brought this up to par.Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.08.30

 

Detractors:

I had to scrutinize Sentinel closely to find a letterform to to bitch about. The two small details I found are italic offerings, which I admit is a cheap shot, designing italics for slab serifs is extremely difficult.

 

  • The  lower case italic  “r”
    Unrecognizable as a letterform on it’s own. That shoulder needs a less aggressive angle, the stroke is lost with the ball terminal so close to the “swooping serif”
  • Sentinel italic r

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lower case italic “z”
    Variation of line here is “all over creation” for such a small letterform. The ball terminals at the end of the horizontal stroke akin to the little, tight “bro-fauxhemian” hair buns I see often in my neighborhood.
    Sentinel italic z

 

Summary:

Sentinel is a worthwhile investment as it packs a one-two punch you will be hard pressed to find in any other slab serif offering. Designed to be as useful and flexible as any other serif class font and delicate additions that leave the “rough around the edges” parts of the slab heritage in the past. Let’s be honest, until now, would you have ever considered a slab serif for body copy? below 10 pt? I’ll wager that answer was a resounding no.

If you are not looking for a traditional Slab Serif feel found in typefaces such as Rockwell or Frutiger’s Egyptienne, Sentinel is the way to go.

You can purchase Sentinel here

-Chris Sagert

Related:
Past Fonts Of The Moment
If you’re looking a for a slab that’s a little different, Nautinger

 

Screenshot 2014-08-13 19.07.09

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