Typographic Writing (Process)

This project was for the module Typography, and was all about understanding typographic detail. We were given the unformatted text for a book called Typographic Writing which was a collection of essays and biographies that had been published in ISTD journals over the years.

The task was to take the text and design the layout of the book. We had to do the cover, spine, introduction, contents pages, essays, biographies and section dividers.

I started with some research into publications that I liked and I looked at the original book to see what what wrong with it and how it might be improved. The audience needed to be young design students so I wanted my design to feel contemporary, fun and bold. Continue reading

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Type x Amsterdam

We went on a study trip to Amsterdam in October last year and it was a fantastic chance to visit some dutch design studios and speak to some of the designers. We were asked to document the trip however we liked.

I decided to collect type from all over the city. As I explored Amsterdam, I photographed interesting, and in some cases not so interesting, typography. I kept a scrap of paper with the alphabet written on it in my pocket for the whole trip so that I could keep track of which characters I’d collected. Continue reading

‘A Word in Your Eye: type’ Development

I finally got around to writing about some projects from Semester 1. This one was completed just before Christmas.

The brief for this project, A Word in Your Eye: type, was to take the answers from an anonymous questionnaire and design a typeface based on an aspect of the person’s personality.

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My typeface: Base Pair

I used the answers from my questionnaire to sum up my person in six words, I went for sentimental, proud, comic, erudite, articulate and quick-witted. I researched as much as I could about these words and personality traits and I made a pinterest board to gather some visual language. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Just My Type’ By Simon Garfield

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I was recently given Just My Type for my birthday (thank you Hannah) and I shot through it, which is unusual for me because I normally lose interest in non fiction books after a few chapters. This one however had me hooked, I thought it was really well written and funny too, full of anecdotes and trivia. Obviously it would be of particular interest to the design-savvy but I would recommend it to anyone really, type should be interesting and relevant to everyone, because type allows us to communicate. We come across thousands of typefaces everyday and we infer meaning from them subconsciously. Some are bold and confident, others more personal and intimate. Some look sleek, clean and professional, others not so much, *cough* looking at you Comic Sans. Either way, type is a hugely significant part of design, I mean, imagine a world where everything is set in the same typeface… nope, I can’t either.

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Earlier in the year we did a typeface design project for which I did some research and yet I was still surprised by how little I knew about the world of type design, the history of movable type and the advances in printing over the last 200 years. Just My Type included lots of history but also plenty of information and stories about contemporary designers and the future of type design. I really liked learning about the origins of characters and the intricacies of type anatomy. It sounds very niche but Simon Garfield writes in a way that makes it very readable and light.
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Structurally, the book is a dream. The chapters are varied and concise and the general history of type design is told in semi-chronological order. Between chapters there are ‘fontbreaks’ with more specific information regarding one of the more prolific and well known fonts or one with a particularly interesting backstory.
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As a design student, I have always been interested in typography but since finishing this book, I have become hypersensitive to it, maybe even a little obsessed. I hope that I am now better equipped, type-wise, to start my Graphic Design degree. Thank you Simon Garfield, type god.

R

‘Just My Type’ Development

For the ‘Just My Type’ project, the brief was to design a new, usable typeface and to take inspiration from a country of your choice. I chose Peru.

I started by researching elements of typefaces and rules for typeface design. I tried to learn about what I think is hilariously named ‘type anatomy’. Lots of this went over my head but I’m hoping that at degree level I’ll be taught more about it.
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I also made this Pinterest board and looked into existing typefaces and typography. The brief said that the design had to be exciting and interesting so I looked at slightly more decorative fonts as well as very famous ones like Helvetica. I then started researching Peru to try to find something about the country that could provide the main inspiration for the typeface.

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When making this board I found myself drawn to the brightly coloured photos that kept cropping up. I decided that I should explore the vibrant textiles that form a large part of Peruvian culture. I found lots of reference images so that I could draw out the patterns and repeating shapes that featured in lots of the fabric.

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I also stuck lots of pictures of llamas in my sketchbook because why not.

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So after deciding to focus on pattern I got to work sketching ideas. I used the zigzag/chevron pattern as a starting point and tried to incorporate the shapes into the letters. When I had done my research, I had discovered that type designers often start by designing the H and the O and then spell the word ADHESION (apparently this covers most of the shapes that are used in the alphabet). So I started there. The image below shows only a fraction of the sketches that I did.

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After coming up with a few ideas I selected a design to take forward. I chose it because out of my initial ideas, it was one of very few that I could see working for more than just a few letters and I thought it had potential to be quite structured/geometric and therefore fairly simple to construct.

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I went through each letter to get a general gist of how each one might work. The idea was to have each letter feature a pointed top so that when they were put next to each other, they formed a zigzag shape. Obviously, some of the letters proved VERY difficult to get to fit this formula. eg. I, J, M, Z etc.

I figured that it would be easier to test the harder letters if I had a grid or a template that I could use to get the letters matching. I chose the B to use for the template because it worked particularly well with what I was trying to achieve and it had both ‘curves’ and a straight line. I used gridded paper to help create the template.

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After I had created a shape with all the correct proportions, I duplicated it and used it to tweak all the letters. I found that it was impossible for letters with no horizontal line at the top (eg. M, N, U, V, W) to fit within the template so I decided to introduce another element that would tie all of the letters together.

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I thought that the problem letters could all have angled terminals that were the same angle as the zigzag tops of all the other letters. I created a new template that had more lines and all the correct angles and widths. I then made it on Illustrator so that it was neater and more precise and then I duplicated it so that I could put each letter into it.

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Here is the final hand drawn version of the typeface on the template. (Although, after the final group critique, I did go back and change the N)

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I decided to name my font Lana which means wool in Spanish. I thought this was appropriate since it had been inspired by fabric and textiles. The image on the left is the final illustrator sample sheet of my font and the image on the right is after it had been converted into a type-able font (!!). I used this really cool program and now I can use my font on Illustrator and Word as a useable and working typeface!

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Peru Font Colour

I also created this more colourful and decorative version of the typeface sample sheet to highlight the inspiration behind the design and have a more poster-like final piece. Overall I thought this project was really interesting and I really enjoyed throwing myself into it. I am also really chuffed with the way the final design turned out and I have started to see fonts in a whole new light.

R

‘Keep Calm and Make a Poster’ Development

For the ‘Keep Calm and Make a Poster’ project, the brief was to design a series of posters to boost British morale in the same way that the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster did during WW2. After some initial research,  I decided that I liked Saul Bass’ film posters and title sequences as a style. I liked the way that they all tended to incorporate one or two bold, bright colours and feature clear, simplistic design.

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Although I really liked the idea of only one or two colours, when I came to do some sketching of ideas, I found that I wanted to do something a bit more illustrative and bright. I brainstormed things that I thought were good about being British or funny British stereotypes.

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From the first critique for this project it was clear that the strongest idea I had played on the British stereotype of our tendency to queue ALL THE TIME. I thought this was really funny but I couldn’t work out how to turn this seed of an idea into a poster that boosted British morale. I felt that it in fact just pointed out a rather unenjoyable part of British life and so I went back to my initial ideas and did some more sketching. (Actually I did end up producing the queue poster for fun anyway.)

Finally I came up with the slogan, ‘there’s nothing quite like being British’ to go along with little illustrations of typically British foods and drinks. I wanted to celebrate the British summer and contrast to the dull, grey stereotype that Britain has.

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I settled on ‘Afternoon Tea’, ‘Strawberries and Cream’ and ‘Pimm’s On A Summer’s Day’ as my motifs and I set to work creating digital versions of my sketches on Illustrator. I scanned in the drawings and used the pen tool to draw over the top. Looking back, it would have made more sense to use the image trace feature on Illustrator but I was doing this project back in September right at the beginning of Foundation and I hadn’t learned how to use Illustrator efficiently yet. Now, image trace is my best friend.

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The final posters turned out quite successfully in the end and I am satisfied with the way my drawings translated digitally although without image trace it was a very time consuming process!

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British Poster Collage

I think that the posters work well as a group and I can see them being developed into a campaign to promote the idea of a British summer. I really enjoyed getting stuck into this project and it confirmed to me that Visual Communication was the pathway that I was most suited to. In my reflective journal entry for this project I wrote “next time I will allow myself enough time because I hadn’t foreseen how long the final posters would take to make”. For subsequent projects I have tried to do this but learning how to use Illustrator properly has really sped up my working.

R