Benson Script started as a rejected piece of lettering from a logo job in early 2011. Now that I look at it, it’s pretty obvious why it was rejected. The logotype, for a monument company in Santa Barbara, was an exercise in what chiseled script might look like. Knowing nothing about the art of chiseling, I could only imagine that, as much as possible, all letterforms would adhere to a ridged chisel.
I lettered many logos in this style long after that job was done. It became very attractive to imagine a script that was desperate to be anything but a script. As if it was straining against the author’s insistence that scripts were more curvaceous. As the author, I often questioned my decision to adhere to those modern, techno like, horizontals. No doubt I will one day release a font that is a revisiting of these ideas, with kinder curves.
Many of the early ideas that derived from that sketch lacked unity and the modernist, anti-calligraphic, look I was going for.
It was difficult to decide which conventions should stay, and which should go. This lead to a lot of experimentation—leading Benson Script to become a type family with a lot of variety. At first I hoped to whittle down all of my ideas to a single, worthwhile font. Eventually I realized that its strength was in its ability to provide variety within tabular space, and released it as such.
Specific Solutions with Opentype
As I discuss this stuff, keep in mind that your “Character” and “OpenType” windows in Illustrator should be open. When I tried to explain some of this stuff to a veteran Illustrator user, they were unaware of these totally crucial windows. So forgive me if some of my explaining seems a little dumbed down, while simultaneously being TMI.
When using Benson Script, as is the case with just about every font I (and most type designers) design, keep the ligature button checked. Clicking that little button keeps things nice and b-e-a-utiful. Especially in the case of the lowercase /r/.
This little fix came thanks to my pal James T, of Wisdom Script fame. The trouble with the /r/, in a script, is that you want it to look good for those who don’t turn on that ligature button we talked about. So the default you design is one that connects to most letters. BUT, if you should start a sentence with a lowercase /r/, it looks awfully gross. So the solution below essentially dictates that you replace it with the more conventional /r/, no matter what, then swap it back to the regular /r/ only if it is appropriate.
Creating alternates for the end letters is a little more common, but a solution I hadn’t thought much about until I was spending some time in the land of connections and ligatures. Especially with the odd, awkward on the end, connections on numbers 15, 25, and 35 (see the /w/ and /v/ below). This solution says that whenever one of these awkward ends is put up against a space, or a character where a connection doesn’t make sense, it swaps for an end character.
Last, but certainly not all, is the fractions. I’m mentioning this because it’s an opentype feature that a lot of people don’t talk much about. Just click that little button, and normal numbers with slashes between them become beautiful little fractions.