Susan is a project aiming to recreate the typeface used in the end credits of the first Doctor Who serials. Susan is the name of the Doctor's granddaughter, the first character to travel with him through space and time. The resulting font will be free and published under the SIL Open Font License. I'll try to release it before the show's 50th anniversary, on 23 November 2013.

Susan Foreman in the credits

The original typeface come from the British foundry Stephenson Blake. Several digitalizations are already available, notably Bureau Grot by Font Bureau and Grotesque 6 by Émilie Rigaud. They are of infinitely far better quality than I would ever achieve with this little exercise! Susan is a side personal project to familiarize myself with typeface creation and celebrate fifty years of Doctor Who.


Susan is not available yet!


Started working on this again! A lot to do, the letterforms are still quite clumsy, but at least every letter has a first version and moved into Fontforge.

Also, archiving this webpage, as the project is moving to Github. I may do a nice Doctor Who themed web specimen when the font is usable, though!

Since I started working on the project, I ran on several occasions into usages of the original typeface. Today, there are many available variations, such as Bureau Grot by Font Bureau (1989), Grotesque No 9 by URW++ (2000), Grotesque 6 by Émilie Rigaud (2010). When the occurrence is a little older however, we are more probably dealing with the one used in Doctor Who (1963), possibly the original from Stephenson Blake (closed in the 1990s).

Here are two appearances found this month:

Poster at the National Railway Museum in York.

Advertisement in the New Yorker (1961) ~ Source

Waken up at five because of the sun. This is a day to start tracing! The original source, this is the point of the project, is a Doctor Who episode from the sixties. The type is not all clear on the video, which lets me a certain degree of interpretation. I try however to play a little with it before starting. At which point should I make it sharper?

I eventually choose a compromise:

Second choice: using a grid. A very tight one — it's not a geometrical typeface! — but one anyway. It allows me to reduces the possibilities from infinity to some millions. That'll be easier.

Look, an r! I also make some first versions of s, i, h and p.

I'm wondering, should I draw everything sharp and clear? I could also follow the approximative rounded edges created by the display's artefact. It would look nice, but also be far longer to draw! I'm not doing it for now, but I feel like I'm loosing something when I convert them to clear shapes:

Some more glyphs…

It's eight, time to go back to sleep.

Started the project.

Letters extracted from the credits.

Some characters are missing, I'll have to find them in other episodes.

Project idea.