26 March 2008

Like many geeks, what I do every day at work also involves a lot of the same skills as my hobbies I do for fun. Which means after a long day writing raw HTML code, re-drawing client logos in Illustrator, and creating proofs of web designs in PhotoShop to send to clients, I unwind by... well... creating wallpaper and icons and headers, re-creating vector versions of logos, and writing HTML code. (Yes, I am aware of the irony.)

Anyway, one of the geeky things about being a web designer is you go through life consciously or unconsciously identifying fonts, and identifying what has been altered in existing typefaces to create custom logos. And lately, I've been driven crackjack insane by the inconsistent Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles logos.

Some of this has to do with who has which assets. Now, me, if I'm in charge of the Terminator franchise as a brand, I'm making sure there is ONE consistent piece of vector art per property. The Terminator, T2, T3, SCC, T4, the video games, theme park attraction, etc. That art goes out from a central source, and has extensive branding guidelines that go along with it—along with the RGB and Pantone names for the colours, a corporate supplied 3-d metal-skinned version, one for dark backgrounds, one for light, etc. And they are unchanging, and immutable, and set in goddam stone. Particularly when it comes to typefaces. Because the different As and Rs and Ms? Are going to drive me MAD.

However, I am not in charge of the Terminator brand. I am but a lowly fangirl, with a yen to design wallpaper to make her computers at work and home look pretty and advertise to the planet her new obsession.

So, being a geek and slightly obsessive (stop laughing!) I've been playing with typefaces all week, trying to recreate the logo used in the main title sequence.

The closest commercial typeface to the typeface being used in nearly all the various versions of the SCC logos is Mark Simonson's Changeling (which is the only one out there to contain all 3 different types of As and both Ms). But that typeface was created by taking a 1970s font called "China" and modifying it to match the original 1984 The Terminator main title sequence built by Pac Title. I'm not sure if it was a commission, or the foundry creator is just a geek. Either way, I don't think there can be any other explanation. TLai Enterprise's Steelwolf Medium is another modified version of China specifically made to recreate the Terminator titles, but it's blocky. It's also been pirated as "Terminator 2" and is one of the three fonts you most often find on free font sites (the others being Terminator and Terminator Real).

However all the fonts have slight differences, most noticeably in the width of the letters, spacing, font weight, the shape of the M and the R, and which "A" they use and where.

Anyway, so far, this is what I've got:

It's still not right, mind you—I had to alter the shape of the Rs manually in illustrator, and the subhead is the wrong weight. But Changeling Bold is too blocky, and Changeling Regular is too spindly. I ended up adding a 1px stroke around the outlined letters, and then tweaking it to the right width, but that's inefficient. I need to figure out what semibold face they're using that I can't find commercially available. I think it's much more likely that there is a Pac Titles created version of China specifically for the Terminator franchise that isn't commercially available to little web designers like me.

But it's a start. And I've still no idea what I plan to do with it, other than more fan-made wallpapers and maybe some poster designs for fun, to blow off steam. But I am addicted to the challenge of re-creating logos, and my soul hungers for nice clean vector art to play with.

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