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The B shares attributes with both the O and E. While the lobes of the B take the general form of the O, the stems closely mask the stems of the E in width and placement.
The example above has old style proportions so the B is narrow in comparison to the O and D. When modern proportions are used the B is set wider and will come closer, if not equal to the width of the O and D.
For optical balance, the waist of the B is above the true center, with the bottom counter protruding wider than the top. Often, the bottom counter and lobe of the B mimics the counter and lobe of the P when inverted. When creating a B, keep in mind that the counters and lobes are where the B gets its personality.
To avoid letters looking stiff and to add visual interest, designers often choose to make slight differences in the bowl and inner brackets of letters such as the B, D, R and P.
When comparing the B to the I, some designers will alter the top and/or bottom connecting brackets slightly to compensate for the smaller counter on the top and larger counter on the bottom. Take a look at the three examples above. Notice each font varies when comparing the inner brackets of the B and I.
Because the lower counter is wider and protrudes out farther than the top, an unusual gap is created when placed next to another letter on the right side. For this reason, the right side of the B will require tighter spacing than other letters and require additional kerning with round letters such as C, G, O, Q, S and diagonal letters such as A, V and W.
The top counter is usually between 45% to 48% of the letters horizontal weight, while the bottom takes up 52% to 55%. However, as seen in the image above, the ratio can vary from font to font.
The thickest part of the curve is slightly above the center of each curve. However, the curves thicken and taper ever so slightly at the waist and at the top and bottom of the upper and lower bowl. Tapering the curve opens up the counters so the letter doesn’t look too thick. However, tapering the curve too suddenly will throw off the proportion of the letter and will not have a good result.
Sans Serif B
The sans serif B is constructed much like it’s serif counterpart. The example above has modern proportions, and therefore the B is set wider and will come closer, if not equal to the width of the O and D.
As with the serif B, the waist of the sans serif B is above the true center, with the bottom counter protruding wider than the top.
Notice the bowls and waist are not tapered, thickening the letters appearance considerably. Compared this to the serif B above and you will see the effect tapering has on thinning the letter’s appearance.