Sharp Earth Case Study

Sharp Earth is Sharp Type's largest multi-script sans serif typeface, spearheaded by Lucas Sharp and drawn in collaboration with a team of local experts from around the globe.


Sharp Earth is an expressive show horse sans serif with expansive workhorse utility. Conceived as a full-fledged multi-script family, the typeface is an amalgamation of geometric construction and Grotesk proportion. While Sharp Earth's virtually monolinear features and distinctive detailing unify the different scripts within a single collection, each one has been designed to function as a standalone typeface. The family covers nearly every latinized language script on Earth—a character set we call OmniLatin—in addition to Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Thai, Devanagari, and Japanese.

By the nature of its development and the particulars of its design, Sharp Earth doesn’t neatly exist within a single sub-genre of the sans serif pantheon. Rather, it brings together core aspects of the genre’s styles in order to emphasize utility, neutrality, and warmth. These qualities sit in beautiful tension with the characteristic flair that has become a trademark of Lucas’ sans serifs.



Sharp Earth’s origins reflect Lucas’s growing fascination with multi-script type design. In 2017, the typeface began as a series of sketches during a roadtrip through Thailand, drawn using a laptop trackpad. The family was initially conceived as a more modest PanEuro-Japanese typeface, pairing the subset of Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek with Japanese Kana.

While he was learning how to draw Greek and Cyrillic under the guidance of Kostas Bartsokas and Maria Doreuli, Lucas had also recently met and collaborated with Calvin Kwok, Sharp Type’s technical director, on Hiragana & Katakana prototypes for an unreleased Japanese typeface. He continued to chip away at Sharp Earth's OmniLatin Extrabold over the next 3 years, while simultaneously drawing the first drafts of Sharp Earth's Hiragana, Cyrillic, and Greek.

This dovetailed with the early developmental stages of our new website, Sharp 2.0, and so the decision was made to expand Sharp Earth's scope, becoming Sharp Type's new flagship sans and the debut typeface offered on the new site.

“Although I’m a native Latin designer, and while the initial idea was fleshed out in that medium, the concept of Sharp Earth was to develop a typeface for a world that was shifting away from the primacy of the Latin script” - Lucas Sharp


Despite the way this case study presents one script after the other in linear fashion, the development of Sharp Earth's scripts was anything but. Rather, the various lingual undertakings had unique origin points in space and time; workflows of distinct duration, pace, and rhythm; unplanned stops and re-starts; and differing end points. There was even a period of time when all six scripts were being developed simultaneously, and we're fortunate for our collaborators' shared aptitude, diligence, and patience.

Once the designs of all six scripts were more or less complete, the next challenge is one of the least glamorous parts of type design, and certainly its most under-sung: the mastering and font engineering. This last step ensures proper compatibility amongst the various language scripts. It's a big undertaking that requires the kerning of Sharp Earth's fonts, the mastering of each script, lots of testing and reviewing, and finally, organizing the family to ensure that the final files are uploaded and ready for commercial use.




As Sharp Type’s flagship sans, Sharp Earth OmniLatin has been designed for scalability across a wide spectrum of applications, containing a myriad of subtle details that work on both micro and macro levels, whether for beautifully balanced paragraphs or rich, crisp headlines.

“In Thailand, I was struck by the way Eastern and Western vernacular styles were interacting on Bangkok signage. Traveling around the world, you see the artifacts of the first wave of globalization all around you: from the roughshod contortion of native writing systems to the stroke treatment and specifications of Western typographic styles—most notably the ubiquitous ‘international’ style’.”


The development of Sharp Earth OmniLatin is a progression of this design language. Its construction and texture reference the geometric sans, while the contrast and core proportions are more reminiscent of classic Grotesks. The slight contrast between vertical and horizontal strokes splits the difference between traditionally monolinear geometrics and moderately modulated gothics, giving the typeface an indelible presence.

The narrower double-story letterforms common in geometrics are paired with distinctly oval bowl shapes found in grotesks. The apertures are tight while the spacing is relatively loose. All of these contrasting forms coalesce into a texture that is warm but austere; that is eminently readable, but upon closer inspection reveals subtle quirks and novel ideas in every curve, counter, and join.

Mixed Weights


The uppercase /G, with its subtle overbite,  nods to a feature in contemporary grotesks that has passed from trend to tenet.

“The upper case /R and upper case /B—the way the top and bottom bowl are the same width is a defining element of the typeface. The /R is a reference to Univers, and the flick at the end of it is another defining attribute of Sharp Earth.” 

Mixed Weights

tttttt ffffff

Lucas drew tight steampipe curves at the lower parts of the /t and /f; the divot on the top shoulder of the /t is also a subtle quirk that adds texture in text settings. 

Sharp Earth Icons


Sharp Earth’s glyph set also has an extensive range of icons and symbols. Religious, astrological, and other cultural symbols are present, as are musical icons and UI characters.

The scope of OmniLatin takes an overview of the globe that is both expansive and pointillist. Over two years, we’ve built out the character set that is now available in Sharp Earth. Sharp Type’s My-Lan Thuong undertook extensive research with scant resources to determine the character set for an estimated 1500-2000 unique African scripts, while freelance type designer Cris Hernández developed a character set for the written forms of hundreds of Indigenous North American languages with the technical support of type expert Connor Davenport. 

Indigenous North American Languages Characters
OpenType Features


North American Indigenous Language Map

More recently, My-Lan, along with fellow colleague Léna Le Pommelet, began working with Belgian type designer Marte Verhaegen to develop a tool to make the build of OmniLatin’s character set faster, simpler, and more accessible. The trio consolidated an elemental system of glyph components to include the world’s wide-ranging Latin scripts: strokes, hooks and tails, reversed or mirrored characters, accents, and even Greek characters. With this expanded Latin character set, Sharp Earth OmniLatin has been built towards more inclusive support for virtually all underrepresented Latin languages. Furthermore, the tool itself was developed to make this character set more accessible to other designers, and it will soon be opensource for the benefit of the type community. 


Earth, Tɛtʋ, Erde, Nunaqpak, Dinya, Lalolagi, Terra, Tiŋgbani, Jorden, Trái Đất, Ziemia, Maa, Ntoto, Suuf, Zemlja, Ayé, Yer, Papatūānuku, Sêse, Lefatshe, Tal, Dünya, Akal, Tierra, Yvy, Honua, Aarde, Jörðin, Zəmin, Andonɛɛ, Misava, Bumi, Nunarsuaq, Dhul, Terre, Lurra, Tawava, Tero, Nahasdzáán, Mma, Pământ, Źymja, Aski, Swanta, uMhlaba, Ensi, Kalibotan

As a standalone script, Sharp Earth OmniLatin is our most thorough undertaking yet. It's also notable that it's the studio's first Latin font that was conceived as part of a multi-lingual family, and drawn in tandem with other native scripts. There is much more to come in the world of Sharp Earth, and OmniLatin sets the bar for what is possible.

Pan European


If the studio’s first foray into multiscript type design, Sharp Grotesk Global, was the genesis of Lucas’s fascination with multiscript design, Sharp Earth reflects Lucas’s growing expertise.

Lucas drew the Greek and Cyrillic himself, having gained enough experience directing Sharp Grotesk’s development. “I didn’t look at any reference material while drawing them, either,” says Lucas. “It was all very intuitive.” While Kostas and Maria were integral as consultants, Sharp Earth PanEuro was conceived as a set, and Lucas drew the Greek and Cyrillic in tandem with the Latin, refining them all concurrently. 

Lucas had come to understand the distinct contrast methodology and stroke emphasis of standard Cyrillic text faces, which was key to accurately drawing Sharp Earth’s character set. “Even a seemingly monolinear typeface like Sharp Earth had to be informed by these underlying principles,” he says. “A good example is (И), which might appear as a direct mirror of the Latin /N. If, however, this letter was drawn with the weight compensation typically used for an /N, it would look strange to those familiar with Cyrillic. The difference is to remove weight from the middle stroke instead of the outer strokes to compensate for the weight, keeping with the essential ideal of this letter.”





The upper and lowercase forms of (Д) and (Л) operate on a similar principle, so subtle handling of weight with these forms was of the utmost importance.

That said, certain characters from the Latin alphabet carry over quite well to Cyrillic, especially when working with a sans serif of the international style. The Cyrillic uppercase offered many opportunities to employ the slight top-heavy style of Earth, such as the (Б), (Ч), and (Я).

Cyrillic Characters

Б Ч Я б

The (Я,я) form is based on an older, more Grotesk version of the Latin /R that turned out to be more appropriate for the Cyrillic version. This /R is still accessible as an alternate for Latin.

“Cyrillic’s fundamental forms and shapes offer fewer opportunities to express Sharp Earth’s curvilinear eccentricity, so the lowercase (б) is an important moment, as is its Bulgarian alternate counterpart.”

“The Greek script, on the other hand, offers much more opportunities for curvilinear expression, so much so that I got a bit carried away.” The robust set of alternates in the Greek lowercase is the result of extensive experimentation with different letter constructions with the goal of achieving the perfect balance of expressive humanist shapes and austere geometric forms. “I was very attached to the lusciously curvy (theta.alt, phi.alt), but in the end, they were a bit too curvaceous.”

“The (alpha.alt, gamma.alt, iota.alt, kappa.alt, lambda.akt mugreek.alt, tau.alt, and chi.alt) were more geometric than the Latin, and we were happy to relegate them to a stylistic set.”

Greek Characters


Sharp Earth is a contemporary expression of the international style, encapsulating a forward-looking aesthetic paradigm that has been drawn by and for a truly global design culture. Sharp Earth PanEuro has a unique place in the family since their core character sets, along with OmniLatin, were drawn by a single designer, giving this subset an unmistakable consistency of form and feel. The family is both workhorse and flagship, encapsulating the ethos of the larger collection while testifying to Lucas’ expanding skill set as a type designer. 



Sharp Earth Japanese is a comprehensive Japanese typeface system covering Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji scripts that retains Sharp Earth’s core design principles of warmth and neutrality. Overseen by Lucas Sharp and led by Calvin and Klio Peng, Sharp Earth Japanese’s development involved extensive research, meticulous planning, and collaborative design efforts with an international team. Its design required the creation of new tools and evolving systems over a period of two years of sustained, concentrated work. The result is a harmonious typeface family that is a microcosm of the intricacies and complexities of contemporary multiscript design.

Initially conceived as a pairing of Kana with the PanEuro subsets of Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic, the original design of the Hiragana was drawn by Lucas in 2019, who produced a few drafts with the consultation of Ayaka Ito, a Japanese-American type designer. The scope of the project grew ambitiously when the decision was made to produce a complementary Kanji set. From Hong Kong, Calvin was tasked with putting together a team that could deliver such a massive character set on time and within budget. With Klio Peng onboard, the two of them led the production of Sharp Earth Japanese with group of Taiwan-based designers.

Japanese uses three writing systems: Kanji (ideograms derived from Chinese characters), Hiragana, and Katakana. Hiragana and Katakana are syllabaries, with each character representing a syllable. Hiragana is primarily used for native Japanese words and grammatical elements, while Katakana is used for foreign loanwords and emphasis. The combination of ideogram and syllabic script—and even Latin characters—gives Japanese a unique complexity.


Sharp Earth Japanese’s inception was rooted in the historical evolution of Japanese Gothic typefaces, which aimed to infuse Sharp Earth Japanese with both classical and contemporary elements, drawing initial inspiration from 吳竹活字, a historical sans serif Kanji drawn in the late 19th century. This particular reference was pivotal in shaping the approach to curves, proportions, and spatial dynamics, resonating with the design principles of Earth Latin in both physical form and underlying concepts.

“The practical considerations for Sharp Earth Japanese’s design included ensuring readability and versatility for modern graphic design, while trying to balance a tight center area and loose apertures and manage the contrast between vertical and horizontal strokes across multiple weights,” says Calvin. “Additionally, harmonizing the interplay between Kana and Kanji scripts while ensuring their features align well with the Latin counterparts was also a significant focus.”

The team defined core design principles from Sharp Earth Latin, characterized by minimal stroke width contrast and a deliberate flow of curves, in order to guide the Kanji script adaptation. The overall aim was to maintain the texture and simplicity of Earth without abbreviating any of the structural complexities of Kanji and Kana. With this foundation, the design process officially started in late 2021, with the team opting to begin with a Bold weight equivalent, Earth Extrabold. This weight was chosen since it is generally more challenging to draw than thinner weights due to its more intricate design, and the corresponding definition it provides to the shape of the strokes.

A foundational set of 12 industrial standard Kanji characters was selected for initial focus, with the character 東 being pivotal in establishing the overall tone and proportions for the entire typeface. Significant time and effort were dedicated to designing the character 愛 as well. As a central element of the initial set, inspired by the unique interpretations found in 吳竹活字, the team worked on crafting various versions of this glyph, striving to strike a balance between its inherent quirkiness and a modern aesthetic. This was most evident in the elegance of its minimal contrast and unhurried flow of curves.


To further reflect the "contemporary" details, features such as the symmetrical feet of 日 in 映, the symmetrical dots in 小, and the vertical bend of the top-right corner of 阝 in 都 were incorporated. The team also translated geometric constructions from Sharp Earth Latin into Kanji, opting for symmetrical strokes in 心 and a slightly more compact central core with elongated falling strokes (払い) in 愛, aligning with the reminiscence of the Grotesk lineage in Sharp Earth Latin.


都 払い 愛

The project involved a significant degree of collaboration with a team of skilled Japanese and Taiwanese designers, who were integral from the planning to the executing stages of the design. “Ensuring a shared aesthetic among all team members in drawing each character and maintaining consistency in quality and features was the most challenging part of the design process,” says Klio. “However, we implemented methods to address this challenge by placing great trust in different roles, fostering frequent communication, and employing meticulous building and revising processes.” Consulting with various experts helped to ensure that each glyph not only adhered to Japanese typographic standards and expectations, but also incorporated native design principles.


日 映 心

After establishing the foundational glyphs, the team identified and began designing frequently used components and parts to scale up production efficiently. Notably, the team also experimented with a new methodology of creating component-based glyphs through the development of a tool that uses the ufo file structure as a building block. This phase was followed by a thorough review of all glyphs in various orders and groups to maintain consistency and quality across the script. Despite the complexity and demanding nature of designing a comprehensive set of Kanji and Kana glyphs, particularly for a foundry without prior experience in Japanese script, the team implemented rigorous methods of collaboration and review.  “Despite the lengthy and demanding process, it was essential to guarantee the high standard of the final product,” says Calvin.

The extensive collaborative efforts culminated in the launch of Sharp Earth Japanese, marking a significant expansion of the Sharp Earth family. This launch showcased a harmonious blend of aesthetic precision and functional versatility, reflecting an ongoing adaptation of Earth’s design principles to the Japanese script. This structured approach not only highlights the detailed steps taken in the design of Sharp Earth Japanese, but also underscores the collaborative and iterative nature of creating a multi-script typeface that aligns with both aesthetic and functional demands.

Kana Scripts

With the development of Sharp Earth Kanji underway, Sharp Type approached Kazuhiro Yamada, a native Japanese type designer, to assess Lucas and Ayaka's draft of the Kana script and make final adjustments to the artwork. Just as the two scripts that make up Kana originally sprang from Kanji in the 9th century, our process paralleled history in this small way, with Kazuhiro developing his designs using Lucas' Hiragana draft and the Kanji prototypes provided by Calvin and Klio’s team. He began production around April of 2023 and completed the Katakana and Hiragana masters in three months, giving the Sharp Type team time to review the files and integrate them into the larger family.

“Before I actually begin designing the glyphs, I often make a rough draft on a sheet of graph paper to confirm the general shape I want to create,” says Kazuhiro. For inspiration, he looked to history—not only to exemplars of greater Japanese type design, but to his own past. “When designing new Japanese typefaces, I develop ideas by studying existing Japanese typefaces and metal typefaces from the past. Tazugane Kaku Gothic, which I designed, has also become a standard when I start designing a typeface.”

“I first started working with the thickest weight, Extrabold. They are the most complex in terms of shapes and paths. If the thicker weights can be completed with high accuracy and without failure, the thinner weights can be made easily.”

Kana Extrabold


“The design process itself was not particularly unique,” continues Kazuhiro, “but the existence of a prototype [of the Kanji] was unusual. The fact that Kanji samples had been created in advance made it easier to come up with the Kana designs.”

Jōyō Kanji Sample


That said, Sharp Earth’s distinctive design created certain challenges. “Sharp Earth follows the model of traditional grotesque typefaces, a bit top-heavy, but it has a high center of gravity for the lowercase letters. Overall, the typeface looks both modern and traditional, unique and timeless at the same time, showcasing a contradictory impression. I kept in mind to try to ‘translate’ this quality into the Kana in order to make it look ‘as if it had always existed’ with a design that is ‘just a little bit unique’.”

Kana Thin


Since the 1980s, sans-serif typefaces have gained popularity in Japan, and they tend to be characterized by their use of numerous straight lines and a design that emphasizes a uniformly wide ‘tightness’ and the surface area of characters. “In the case of Sharp Earth Kana, the approach was different, aiming to blend traditional elements with a unique style. By analyzing the Kanji prototypes, which did not over-expand the ‘tightness’ and surface area of characters, the design minimizes the use of straight lines and incorporates various aspects of traditional Japanese Gothic typefaces, which are distinct from sans-serifs.” To achieve this distinctive blend, Kazuhiro engaged in an iterative process of meticulous revisions and extensive testing with long texts to ensure legibility in smaller text settings.

Prototype Kana

あ ぬ め

Unique attributes of Sharp Earth Kanji’s design were further incorporated into the Kana: “Sharp Type provided a set of prototype Kana, with glyphs like ‘あ’ ‘ぬ’ and ‘め’ having a design treatment not found in conventional Japanese sans-serif forms. In these glyphs, a diagonal stroke swings down from the left and is separated from the next stroke. I decided to make use of this feature; I thought it could be a key point in determining the character of the typeface.”

Kazuhiro’s design for Sharp Earth Kana had to satisfy a number of goals. Practically, the Kana had to work on its own terms while matching the design of the Kanji and also take into account the multilingual context of the larger Sharp Earth collection. “I wanted to ensure that uniqueness does not hinder readability, and balance uniqueness with straightforwardness. Sharp Earth is traditional yet unique, and its charm has moderation. Reflecting on the potential adaptability and modification of Sharp Type's Kana prototype design was an engaging and enjoyable process.”

The development of Sharp Earth Japanese has been Sharp Type’s most extensive single-script project to date, and it was essential to find like-minded native type designers who not only possessed the skills but also an openness and team-oriented attitude to work towards a common goal. The dueling qualities of “classic” and “contemporary” permeate not only the design of the Sharp Earth family but the nature of its development as well. “Collaborating with foundries from various overseas countries and observing how non-native Japanese type designers perceive and interpret Japanese Kana has been a refreshing experience,” says Karuhiro in closing. “I was pleasantly surprised.”



Sharp Earth Arabic is Sharp Type’s first Arabic typeface, a versatile low-contrast script that matches its Latin counterpart’s balance of expressiveness and neutrality through a balance of practical legibility and design idiosyncrasy. By honing in on the boldness of Thuluth calligraphy and the clarity of Naskh’s rounded forms, Sharp Earth Arabic captures the tension of the larger Earth project beautifully, sharing the Latin’s low contrast, delicately flared terminals, and uniform ascender height. Sharp Earth Arabic was initially developed by Shahd El-Sabbagh in late 2020 before the baton was passed to Maha Akl, who finished the character set in October of 2023.

Arabic script is an abjad primarily used for writing Arabic and other languages like Persian and Urdu. It's a consonant-only script with diacritics to indicate vowels. It's written from right to left and features a cursive style, with many characters connected in flowing lines. Its cursive nature allows for ligatures and connections between characters. A unique aspect is its initial, medial, final, and isolated forms of letters, which are determined by their position in a word.

The project began with an analysis of Sharp Earth Latin with a focus on its low-contrast design, which became a pivotal feature in designing the Arabic counterpart. The low contrast facilitated a visual compatibility between the two scripts, setting a foundation for the designers' work. Shahd and Maha approached the design process with differing methodologies: Shahd chose to concentrate on key glyphs such as BEH and YEH ISOL in both Light and Bold weights, establishing a foundational style and weight for the typeface; conversely, Maha adopted an impressionistic approach, viewing the letters in their entirety from the outset, which allowed her to refine the design bit by bit, ensuring a cohesive aesthetic across the script.

One significant adaptation in the design process was the reversal of the traditional contrast seen in Latin script—making vertical strokes thinner than horizontal ones. This adjustment was critical as it mirrored the natural contrast typically found in Arabic scripts. The low contrast of Sharp Earth meant that, even with this change, the typeface maintained a visual and structural consistency across the two scripts.

arabic styles
Naksh and thuluth styles

Sharp Earth Arabic is mainly influenced by Naskh and thuluth styles. Naskh is usually used for body text while thuluth is used for bigger titles. Thuluth usually has larger counters than of Naskh and longer ascenders. For example, the medial ain ـعـ is a mix between both styles, it has an open counter but the structure is following the naskh style.”



The process was not without its challenges. The designers faced the intricate task of balancing the visual weight and form of the two scripts, considering both the digital medium they would inhabit and the inherent differences between the connected Arabic script and the disconnected Latin. Some key glyphs that were particularly challenging were the kaf medial, a beautiful letter with so much potential even when monolinear, and the reh and waw and meem isol and final forms, which often create collision problems, especially when neighboring letters are dotted below.

kaf medial


The task of simplifying traditional calligraphic details of Arabic script to match the more simpler strokes of the Latin script required careful consideration to ensure that the essential character of the Arabic script was not lost. This simplification was crucial for digital legibility and utility but risked diminishing the script’s traditional aesthetic value. For Maha, designing the connecting memes as well as the swash character styles was the most time-consuming part of the project. “I was torn between going for a Naskhi look or to integrate the maghrib-like swashes that are rounder. I decided to go for the latter in the final version,” which aligned better with the overall modern and streamlined look of the Sharp Earth design.

arabic styles
“This is a screenshot of the process of choosing a swash style for the Alef Maksura in its lateral position, the last line is the final design. which applies to the Noon, Saad, Seen, Lam , and Yeh.”

Because Arabic does not traditionally use slanted forms for the sake of emphasis, the italics drawn for Sharp Type Arabic have been drawn for use in conjunction with Sharp Earth’s other scripts as needed. The topic of Arabic italics is controversial to say the least, presenting a fascinating microcosm of larger challenges in multiscript type design. For Sharp Earth Arabic, Maha drew the script’s slanted form to follow its Latin counterpart—a pragmatic design decision that must be understood in context. “It was imperative to have the Arabic slant in the same direction as the Latin in order to maintain the flow of the text in bilingual contexts,” says Maha. “It would have been distracting to have opposite slants within the same sentence.”

The creation of Sharp Earth Arabic by Shahd and Maha is a testament to the intricate blend of artistic vision, technical expertise, and cultural sensitivity required in typeface design. Their work achieves a functional and visually appealing script matchup while advancing the ongoing dialogue on how multi-script typefaces can be crafted to meet the demands of global digital communication, bridging typographic differences with holistic vision and granular focus.



The loopless variant of Sharp Earth Thai, crafted by Cadson Demak under the leadership of senior type designer Knaz Uiyamathiti, stands as a bold interpretation of Sharp Earth's essence, blending austerity with warmth. Rooted in a year-long project that commenced in late 2021, the design journey of Sharp Earth Thai was marked by an experimental approach, leveraging insights from the era of dry transfer typography and the striking ways Thai and Latin letterforms were set together during this time.

Thai, as an abugida writing system, offers a unique structure where consonants and vowels form segmented units, read left-to-right without spaces between words. Sharp Earth Thai pays homage to heritage while showcasing Cadson Demak's meticulous attention to detail and exploration of stylistic nuances. From the incorporation of Sharp Earth's distinct ink traps and terminal kinks to the translation of Latin features like the /G crossbar into Thai characters, the design process was rich with thoughtful adaptation. Thai is not a common script extension, but it’s an homage to studio founder Chantra Malee’s heritage. For both of these reasons, Sharp Earth Thai has a special place in the world of Sharp Earth.

“The design process of Sharp Earth Thai was a bit experimental,” says Knaz.

Mixed Weights

“The design process of Sharp Earth Thai was a bit experimental,” says Knaz. The existence of a Latin character set gave room for the Cadson Demak team to explore different shapes and textures within the Thai extensions. They started with the Extrabold weight and the koKai-thai character since this character can be expanded into many others. “It is also the most repeated form, so it will determine the overall texture of the set.”

Key Thai characters like 'saraAa', 'choChan', and 'hoHip' guided the design direction, embodying Sharp Earth's neutral yet subtly playful ethos. Each letterform balances tradition and innovation. Notable examples include 'hoHip-thai', where a slanted stem complements specific Latin characters, 'loLing-thai', echoing the trend of Latinization with necessary adjustments, and 'doDek-thai', featuring deliberate stylistic choices inspired by the terminal ends of Sharp Earth Latin.

hoHip Thai

Latin cap R


hoHip-thai; “This letter is the most stylistic character that you could design. Traditionally, the right stem of hoHip-thai is upright, but in this design, we've slanted it to go with specific Latin characters. We've translated features that were found in the construction of 'R' that is found in the diagonal stroke of its leg.”

loLing Thai

Latin lowercase a


loLing-thai: “The Latinization of Thai letterforms has become a stylistic trend since the era of dry-transfers, specifically this letter, which has similar forms as the Latin /a.  It could be shared directly, but it still needed some adjustment in specific cases to fit in more within the Thai context.”

doDek Thai

Latin lowercase t


doDek-thai: “This letter has features lifted from the terminal ends of Sharp Earth Latin’s lowercase /t, where the terminal lays flat with the baseline. In more traditional settings, this would not be the case as the terminal ends would be lifted upwards more. However, with Sharp Earth Thai, we made this a deliberate stylistic choice as a translation from the Latin set.

Sharp Earth Thai marks our second collaboration with Cadson Demak. As before, the Bangkok-based studio brought their characteristic professionalism and insight to the project, and we’re grateful for their expertise as we continue building upon the work we’ve done before. Being one of the few foundries to offer Thai as a script extension, we like to think it’s becoming something of a trademark, and we’re excited to see what our shared future holds as we continue to work together.



Anagha Narayanan's endeavor with Sharp Earth Devanagari marks a significant milestone for Sharp Type's exploration into Indic scripts. The meticulous design process involved studying Devanagari signage, calligraphy manuals, and book covers, alongside a thorough examination of Sharp Earth Latin's stylistic nuances. The result is a craftily executed script that mirrors Sharp Earth’s overall warmth, approachability, and groundedness while translating certain key stylistic quirks—such as the Latin’s ink traps, top-heavy Grotesk proportions, and geometric terminals—into a new context. Crafted over a span of 2-½ years, Anagha began work at the start of 2021 while she was enrolled in a full-time type design course, making Sharp Earth Devanagari a testament to her growing erudition as a type designer. 

Devanagari is an abugida writing system used for languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, and Marathi. It consists of consonant-vowel combinations where consonants are represented with a base character, and vowels are indicated with diacritic marks. Devanagari is notable for its vertical line on the left side of characters, called a "shirorekha" or "head line." It's unique in the way it combines consonants and vowels into a single character, making it efficient for representing syllables.


अ क ड थ द प ल

Anagha referred to certain Devanagari shop signs, book cover lettering, and calligraphy manuals throughout the design process, but her initial task was to study Sharp Earth Latin. “I had to adapt the Devanagari to an already established Latin design, so this required an understanding of the structure of the Latin design first; after that, I could pick out key features and ideas from it to impart onto the Devanagari design.”

In order to determine the overall proportions and vertical metrics, Anagha began work on the regular and black weights in tandem, honing in on a selection of letterforms—अ क ड थ द प ल— that would help her make key decisions about counters, knots, loops, stroke terminals, and double-storied forms for the entire font family. “Early on in the process I also added above base and below base matras along with select conjuncts which helped in determining the weight and texture of the Devanagari letterforms. I explored several options for these parameters before narrowing down on a system.”


यद्यपि बायोम में वनस्पति और जन्तु दोनों को सम्मिलित करते हैं, तथापि हरे पौधों का ही ज्यादातर प्रभुत्व होता है क्योंकि इनका कुल जीवभार जन्तुओं की तुलना में बहुत अधिक होता है। विश्व में पाँच स्थलीय बायोम क्षेत्र पाते हैं। किसी रेगिस्तानी बायोम में पौधों में अक्सर मोटे पत्ते होते हैं (ताकि उनका जल अन्दर ही बंद रहे) और उनके ऊपर कांटे होते हैं

Finding the right texture balance between two scripts that are traditionally and structurally very different was the biggest design challenge. The forms in Devanagari are a lot more populated, which could contribute to overall darker textures. “We had to address the extreme weights in this design space—the thin and black weights particularly. The letterforms in Devanagari can get very dense, and with the addition of vowel marks, it tends to increase the ‘grayness’ of the overall structure.” 

For this reason, the shirorekha, or top horizontal line, of the Devanagari sits just under the cap height of Latin and rests on the same baseline. It took several rounds of testing to crack the right weight to match the two scripts in texture. In the end, she and Lucas made the decision to design the black and thin weights to work for display sizes predominantly, and the regular and other intermediates to work for text.


ड ठ ह छ

In terms of unifying the two scripts, the main considerations were geometric connections and a slight flaring-out at stroke endings. “Sharp Earth Latin has varying grotesk-like proportions—rounded glyphs are very wide while the /E /S and other letterforms are relatively narrower—which I tried to emulate in Devanagari in letters like ड ठ ह छ. I also tried bringing in features of the Latin double-storied forms, where the counter sizes on the top are slightly bigger such as अ घ ध.”


भ म t n

Sharp Earth Latin’s mix of geometric and grotesk features doesn’t comply with one model, but contains a blend of different influences. “Some of the features that I found particularly interesting were the presence of ink traps in perpendicular junctions like in भ and म.”


अ घ B S

Additionally, the Latin features heavier tops in double-storied letterforms like /B and /S which Anagha tried to bring into the Devanagari in forms like अ घ.

And finally, the geometric terminals in letterforms like /t, /y,  and /c made her turn towards a more geometric connection for Devanagari letterforms like ल, त and the eMatra. 

Despite the challenging nature of the project, finding a solution that was both practical and creative had its pleasures. “I enjoyed drawing the black weights, especially for dense forms like ढ्ढ ड्ड. These vertically stacked forms are compressed vertically and to find the right curve tension and weight balance are crucial.”

“Both scripts share the feeling of warmth. In terms of construction, the aim was not to snip out shapes from Latin as is but to be inspired by proportions, curve tensions, and an overall feeling.”


t y c ल त ढ्ढ ड्ड

Drawing inspiration from Sharp Earth Latin, Anagha created a Devanagari script that stands on its own while skillfully adapting to an established design. Crafted over a span of 2-½ years, the overarching goal remained to evoke warmth and coherence in both scripts, not merely by replication but through inspired proportions, curve tensions, and an overarching sense of unity. As Sharp Type's inaugural Indic script, Sharp Earth Devanagari not only expands the typographic repertoire but is a testament to Anagha’s deep understanding of both script’s structures and her growing expertise as a type designer.



The near-term aspiration for Sharp Earth is to dive straight into Chinese GB-2312, and we are also pursuing a Hangul script. Beyond that, we hope to work with more Indian collaborators on more Indic scripts like Tamil, Telugu, and Bengali. OmniLatin now extends its support to virtually all Latinized African languages, and have very good support throughout the rest of the African continent, so we want to eventually build an Ethiopic script. Finally, we will be expanding our Kanji set; The JIS 1-2 we currently support is robust and can handle 99% of all commercial applications, but we want to make sure Sharp Earth Japanese includes character for more voluminous editorial and educational applications.

The development of a global type family is a wildly labor-intensive undertaking that typically requires major institutional resources to realize. The products of these efforts often benefit the commercial interests of its developers, the communication flow of multinational commerce, and, hopefully, users of under-served languages. Because of the structural limitations inherent to the institutional frameworks of their conception, however, the resulting typefaces either lack in artistic expression—Google’s Noto Sans— are proprietary and therefore inaccessible—Apple’s San Francisco family—or are too specific to the brand it has been designed to represent—IBM’s Plex.

The stakes are simply higher for us. As an independent foundry with finite resources, Sharp Earth represents a significant gamble into uncharted territory. Its multiscript design has been deliberated over to feel both classic and contemporary, unique and familiar, adaptable and noticeable. Sharp Earth is our most ambitious project to date. Its scope wasn’t an obligation, but a choice, and the first steps towards the possibility of a new standard. It’s a contemporary expression of the international style, unified by a forward-looking aesthetic paradigm that has been drawn by and for a truly global design culture. Sharp Earth is, simply put, a love letter to this planet and all the people on it.

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