01Jan

Arabic Latin Logo Adaptation

I find it most irritating to look at all those badly done Arabic versions of there Latin counterparts. The lack attention given to detail that will in some cases even make the Arabic logo stronger than their Latin original. As graphic designers and visual communicators we need to step up and start working harder to strengthen the Arab script visual identity. We can no longer say that the market knows no better… That is an excuse for either our lack of time, ability, or effort. Nothing more…

In this article we will attempt to highlight only a few points that maybe able to help us achieve this. To do this we have to start from the beginning. So before starting with anything, lets quickly recap a little history of the Arabic script and its rules…

Some History

Arabic script includes many languages and it is the second most commonly used script after Latin. It includes 28 basic letters, and is the only script that still uses its vocalisation marks as a means to differentiate some words from others. It also includes countries such as Afghanistan, Arab countries, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Indian regions where the Pashtu language is used.

Islamic calligraphy mainly became an art during the Islamic empire, not only because of religious belief, but also due to the weight the calligrapher felt when writing the “word” of God. A calligrapher by the name of ‘Ibn Muqla’ was the first to perfect Islamic calligraphy by creating proportions and standardising Arabic letters. It was called the “Alif Module”.

Three elements were needed for the ‘Alif Module” to work;

1) the rhombic dot
2) a circle
3) the ‘Alif’.

The diameter of the circle was determined by the length of the Alif. The width of the Alif was the diameter of the rhombic dot. Based on how many rhombic dots it took to make the Alif length, all the remanning letters fit proportionally in that module. The size of the pen was determined by how the calligrapher cut his reed (the thickness of the pen used), and by the pressure he applied when writing. Each script in Arabic had its own proportions and measurements. Using the rhombic dots you can then draw each letter accurately.

Islamic calligraphy branches out into two different style; cursive and geometric. The geometric based script is called Kufic. Kufic has several variations and is considered the oldest of the scripts. The six cursive scripts are; Thuluth, Naski, Riqaa, Taliq, Diwani, and Muhaqqaq. There are several other scripts and even more styles of scripts (which are a bit like effects you can add or apply to the script itself). Keep in mind that the rules and the proportions of each of these scripts are different and work only for that specific script.

Now that we understand only a little of the rules of Arabic calligraphy, we can start to understand how to look at Arabic Latin adaptation…

As we have mentioned above, Islamic calligraphy has many different scripts, each with its own beauty. For example Thuluth was mainly used for headlines particularly Thuluth Jali. Naski was for body text, Riqaa is a bolder form of script. Diwani was only used for Turkish official documents, etc. So depending on the font’s use, for example for a font that is meant for display or geometric, you would want to choose Kufic as your base or measurement. Diwani is usually a suitable to use for Latin script or calligraphic fonts. For body text, Naski would be more appropriate.

Tips

One of the greatest mistake most designers make when Arabizing a Latin logo, is the lack respect that is given to both forms of calligraphic rules. Letters are randomly rotated, and scaled, ignoring all rules and proportions, making the Arabization of the logo poor. In some cases the overall ‘feel’ or concept behind the logo is ignored, or ‘lost in translation’. For example, in some cases no attention is given to the stress of the axis or the counterpart weight. Kerning (as well as the Kashida) and leading are also curial and must be given proper attention.

A few basic crucial points to look into while designing are the following:

1. x-Height

In Arabic there is no X-height. There is a tooth height and a loop height.
This part is a little tricky. But based on this you can get all the letters right. After setting your baseline, you then have to determine if you are going to have varying tooth heights, or one height set for all. This can apply also for the loop heights, ascender heights, and descender heights. It is up to the designer to set his/her height based on the Latin, and the Arabic script’s measurements. Although the ascender and descender heights vary in arabic, the designer can choose to set some at the same height to help bring it closer to the Latin logo. The choice will also be affected by the font and script itself, and its rules and proportions.

2. Serif

There are various styles and types of serifs for Latin fonts. You also have sans serif fonts (fonts without serifs). When Arabizing a Latin logo, carefully keep the serif style, or classification, i.e. Transitional, OldStyle, Modern, Egyptian, Decorative, Sans Serif. You can also take the serif itself and re-apply it, if it works with the Arabic. If it is a sans-serif font, then so should its Arabic counterpart be.

3. Counterpart

Also something commonly ignored is how the counterpart of the glyph is working. Remember when Arabizing a Latin font, or designing your own Arabic font you must stick to the basic guidelines and proportions. If the Latin has large counterparts then the Arabic must also have proportionally large counterpart space.

4. Stress of the axis

Another difference that will occur is the direction of the stress of the axis of the letter. For example, by changing the stress of the letter or glyph from vertical for the Latin to diagonal for the Arabic, the designer has given these fonts two sets of different characteristics. Thus making them fundamentally different logos.

5. Thickness of stroke

This can be at times linked to, or equals to the baseline thickness. Although the stroke thickness can vary within each letter itself, or it can remain the same. So basically the glyph can be thin its vertical sides, but thick at the baseline (or horizontally). It can also be the same thickness all over.

6. Placement of diacritic dots

The dots placed on the glyphs changing the way they are read, or changing them from one Arabic letter to another. The height of these dots can be standardised, or not. This, the same as the above points depends on the both the original Latin logo as well as the rules of the chosen Arabic script. Also pay attention to the dots shape, and it relation to the character, like the amount of space between it and rest of the glyph’s body, or the relation to it to the second dot, etc.

Obviously, some cases rules must be bent to suit the logo designed. If these rules are followed too rigidly it can achieve an opposite reaction as well. It is knowing when to bend the rules and how to bend them that is the key. These are only some of the things to keep in mind while working with Arabic type. But this should help you get started…

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Some of these images were inspired by the Typographic Matchmaking book. Also some images of logo were taken from the internet.

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    20 Responses to “Arabic Latin Logo Adaptation”

    1. Lama says:

      Nina,
      great informative article!

    2. zeina says:

      it’s really impressive!
      miss u nina :)

    3. Haider says:

      This is what I call a scientific approach to Media business, which we lack here I guess ! Great Job Nina! looking for more to come!

    4. ghenwa says:

      Good job Ninz.. Keep up
      very useful article

    5. Samourka says:

      I am so proud of you sweet thing,
      I can’t believe my blond thought this all up…
      i miss you

    6. ihab says:

      There goes our clever girl

    7. kamal J says:

      Very nice article Nina
      keep it up
      Thanks

    8. Jomana says:

      helpfull info but i still don’t know what is the difference between Stress of the axis and Thickness of stroke?

    9. Nina Kreidie says:

      I am gonna try to simplify it kind of:

      The thickness of the stroke is the thickness of the letter itself, while the stress of the axis is related to the counter part of the letter. These two are related, for example when the letter has no stress then the thickness of the stroke is the same all over the letter or glyph.

      Thank you all for your support… I appreciate it a lot :))))

    10. It’s wonderful to find out web sites with material and many thanks for the share which you’ve got gave. Usually, I’m very stunned, but etc…

    11. Salam.
      Great article, you’re right, I was always taking time to finding a matching font for the Latin version of the logo, this is not easy, properly not everyone encounter but it is kinda common on the middle east because we work on Arabization and Arabizing logos and brands, so we have to find a matching logo, and I should say I was having both on the same baseline and trying to play with curves as font weight and style as you just said to reach a satisfaction point.

      But wonderful, I’ve enjoyed making Arabic logos with Thuluth style, I think it is the best or the most artistic, I’ve made alot of artwork using the font glyphs.

      Thanks for your effort doing this wonderful article.
      Mohammed.

    12. Dan says:

      That’s a good one, Thank you

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    14. reham says:

      very nice article Nina,,, thank you

      look for more

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