The Development of Kansas Casual

During the process of rebranding Banzai, over the course of the last year, I needed a font that represented the interests of the youth who used Banzai’s software. Previous to my efforts, hand written fonts (and “afflicted” grunge stuff) that held the hallmark of the early 2000’s had been used. Their time stamped look were just as friendly and inviting as they were insulting to the target age group’s taste.

After some testing, Eckhardt Poster Brush, Suti, and House Slant were all in the running. We eventually decided that there were some undesirable elements in each:

  • The slant (on Suti and House) of about 15 degrees was much too intense.
  • Eckhardt felt too juvenile, but had a lot of the old Egyptian Sans proportions that we sought for by way of educational tone and conventionality.
  • Though the aesthetics of all closely matched what we wanted out of the one-stroke, all-caps, style they were all just off enough to merit a completely fresh take.

Kansas Casual became the compromise between these problems and needs: set at a 10 degree slant, with more conventional proportions, and more weight options for a wide variety of point sizes in both print and web.

Early Versions and Tests

The first version was put into use in July of 2013, in a variety of web applications. The first draft had some pretty elaborate node placement to draw letters like /S/ in the boxy way that I wanted. However, when scaled down, there was a lot of quality loss that was pretty lackluster.

Part of the revision process that was important to me was actually putting paint to canvas and seeing how the forms would look. That process lead to a lot of research on the one-stroke script, which improved my painting, and pushed me to go back to those drawings for some major revisions.

Kansas Casual Pen Proof

Painting became my proofing process.

Kansas Casual Painted Proof

Some Minor Adjustments

Almost all digital sign painter’s casuals have rounded corners to simulate the patina of authentic paint. At first I followed suit, but I had a super hard time finding a good balance. Once I started actually painting signs, I was super surprised to find that paint, properly thinned, hardly ever gave a rounded corner look. Which isn’t to say I wanted this to be 100% authentic, but I certainly didn’t want to follow a convention that didn’t make sense for this project.

Instead I opted for a bowed terminal that more accurately showed how a brush behaves when all the bristles are spread.

3 Responses to “The Development of Kansas Casual”

  1. Paul Lukes

    Kansas Casual is a great typeface and reading your explanation of your research was super interesting and well presented. I’d love to collaborate with you one day if you’re interested. Let me know what you think.