In case you missed it, we've been talking about repetition and how it's what actually gets a message across. I introduced you to the wonderfully weird comic strip, Robonk, created by my friend Brock Frazier, because I want to show you how subtle repeated elements can be while still being critical in the design process.
Brock has been making design and process updates to the strip. We've chatted about font choices as he was looking for a new typeface for the humans in the strip. (I gave him one of my favorite tricks for type that looks warm and informal - it's all about the x-height, baby! But that's a topic for another time.) But I want to point out a couple of things about the choice he ended up going with, because it's a great example of enough repetition to tie everything together, while maintaining enough difference to clearly mark separate elements.
This is from one of the older style strips. The human font is clearly distinct from the robot font, and it works, but there isn't much design harmony.
The recent visual upgrade shows how a number of small changes can add up to a huge impact. The differences between the robot & human dialogue are clear, yet subtle, creating a visual style that ties together and looks far more sophisticated and professional.
Here are the ones I wanted to point out:
The robot's font has worked all along. It's got enough of a squared-off shape to give a mechanical feel, but the rounded corners and tall x-height* (I'm getting to that, I swear!) warm it up a little. This is a sex therapist robot, after all, not some emotionless stiff working a car assembly line.
The new human font is a great upgrade, and repetition is a big part of the reason for that. It's clearly distinct from the robot's, but they have a lot of elements in common that make the whole design feel much more harmonious and unified.
So in the original, the human speech was bolder and colder than the robot's. Now, even though you can clearly tell they're different, the similarities (repeated elements!) make it feel much more like they're having the same conversation. Repeated elements between the font and the speech bubble (square vs. rounded) make it even more clear who's talking, while using the lighter line weight (repeating the weight of the font) creates harmony.
Repetition makes design work. And design that freaking works is what we're all about, yeah?
*There will be more about x-height, formality and space in a future geek-out. But that's probably plenty for today.