Assignment 4 – Show me …

This seemed like a really interesting assignment. I’m been working on doing handlettering and thought this would be a good opportunity to do some more experimenting. The context to this assignment is that typographers and type foundries try and promote their latest designs to show of the different variations of sizes and contexts. All along I’ve been really questioning how and who actually make typefaces so I though I’d do a bit of background research.

Things to do Research type foundries and typographers Interesting article on good fonts to use

The Guardian 2013 The 10 Best Fonts [Accessed March 2014]

Trip Wire magazine Inspiring use of Typography [Accessed; March 2014]

Layout experiments front cover images

Words for article ie content

Handlettering / illustration- fonts to use for body of article Type photographs

Use fontstruct to experiment creating own font

I decided to work in my sketchbook mapping out different hand lettering of the word “Type”. Where possible I decided it would be better to stick wtih the whole word rather than breaking the word up into individual letters as they obviously have to work well together.

Useful type info I later came across this quote from Matthew Carter : “Type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters”. So I thought it better to look at my word from a line and paragraph perspective. I also thought that it was useful to bear in mind that  Typeface Design is the making of type. Typography is the use of type. These days the term “typographer” is often misused to mean “type designer”, but a typographer is one who chooses and uses type, not one who makes it.)

  • A typeface is the specific letterform design of an alphabet
  • A font is a collection of all the characters of a typeface, including capital letters and lowercase letters, numerals and punctuation marks
  • For letterpress printing, using hot metal, a font was produced for every size and style of typeface, but today fonts are delivered as a digital software file that caters for all sizes of a typeface.
  • That is why the words font and typeface are often interchanged

Information  on fav fonts

I started by gathering some examples of type I liked, looking at layouts and fonts. This is just a sample of some of the examples I looked at .

My pinterest boards can be found here

I did a bit of research on type foundries

A type foundry is a company that designs or distributes typefaces. Originally, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wood typefaces and matrices for line-casting machines like the Linotype and Monotype machines designed to be printed on letterpress printers. Today’s digital type foundries accumulate and distribute typefaces (typically as digitized fonts) created by type designers, who may either be freelancers operating their own independent foundry, or employed by another foundry. Type foundries may also provide custom type design services.

I looked at fontshop a type distributor/ vendor. The amount of fonts available is very overwhelming.

Orbe Pro Regular

Orbe Pro Regular

ITC Avant Garde Gothic® Std Demi

ITC Avant Garde Gothic® Std Demi

I chose to look at Typotheque a foundry based in The Hague, the Netherlands, run by Johanna Bil’ak and Peter Bil’ak, developing and marketing original fonts for the Mac and PC. Their commitment is to continue in the tradition of independent type foundries, contributing their small part to the continuous sequence of type history, creating quality typefaces which reflect the time and serve its needs.

Typothque 2014 [Accessed March 2014]

I really had a look at some of their available fonts and I really like the variety and quality of them.

Fedra Serif Display SemiBold

Fedra Serif Display SemiBold

Nara Medium

Nara Medium – a really nice tall serif font

I also looked at FontFont and was really interested to read their about us section and some profiles of type designers. Quite simply, we love type and typography. Back in 1990, Erik Spiekermann and Neville Brody wanted to build a foundry where type was made for designers by designers, a place where type designers were given a fair and friendly offer and where type magic was made. From the very beginning, they wanted to bend the rules and test typographic boundaries, to build a library with a collection like no other; a range of typefaces that had different styles, different purposes, that was contemporary, experimental, unorthodox, and radical.

Fast-forward over twenty years later and they are now one of the leading independent font foundries with the largest library of original, contemporary typefaces. They have a library of over 2500 FontFonts including favorites such as FF Meta, FF DIN, FF Scala, FF Dax, and FF Kievit and newbies like, FF Chartwell, FF Tundra, FF Ernestine, and FF Tisa. The company say that ” At the heart of what we do is a heady mix of intuition, passion, a sprinkling of serendipity, an eye for detail, and a dash of attitude. From the first ever random font FF Beowolf to the release of our Web FontFonts in 2010, we place creativity at the forefront and pride ourselves on producing the highest quality typefaces that are technically robust and that continually innovate.”

Promotional FontCard

FF Din


FF Reminga Titling

research-Recovered Research page  2

I then moved on to creating the article text and research. I created boards of text and layouts which were appealing to me and interesting to look at/ I was drawn to them in some way.

I decided I wanted to try answer the questions in reasonable detail as they’re all areas of interest to me and like the idea of having a double page spread.  My article text is below.

How is a typeface constructed? The design of a typeface begins with considering the purpose. Is this a purely self expressive typeface or in response to a brief.  Only when you know what your typeface will be used for can you really start on the design. The process then typically starts with the drawing of fonts by hand.  Letterforms should be constructed in a traditional way and the fonts should have good proportion. Usually typefaces start off as rough characters in a sketchbook (although it is also possible to jump right in and start working on computer), with much experimentation to investigate the way you can construct letterforms. These rough sketches then tend to be drawn up on computer and referred to while the letterforms are refined. Working on computer can be challenging as everything is in sharp black and white and doesn’t allow the softness of a rough pencil drawing and it’s only after hours of refining it starts to look acceptable. At this stage many design decisions will be made such as will the font be serif or sans serif, will it be suitable for long documents. There are a variety of ways to get drawings onto the computer. Some advocate tracing programs, however manual tracing allows full control over where the point on the curve go. Most software requires a well-defined drawing to work with effectively, so once happy with a sketched character, they are typically outlined with a fine tipped pen and the shape filled with a marker. Many designers from a graphic design background will naturally opt straight for Adobe Illustrator to draw their type. For drawing individual letterforms and experimenting, this is fine. However, it soon becomes obvious that this is simply not the right tool for creating a typeface. The popular choice tends to be FontLab Studio but new software including Glyphs and Robofont are gaining more credence with designers.  These programmes provide a better working environment to get you thinking about letter spacing and word creation. It’s then a case of exporting the work as a font and seeing how it works in paragraphs which usually involves switching to a programme like InDesign.

What makes a typeface interesting? British type designer Jonathon Barnbrook is inspired by British heritage and old lettering, many of which are from everyday life. Typographer Eric Gill (designer of Perpetua and Gill amongst others) produces beautiful letters influenced by his work as a stone carver. Both designers create beautiful letters and have first class drawing skills – a very important skill required to create a typeface. Developing an interesting typeface has far more to it that creating an aesthetically pleasing letterform. Typefaces have to express language, meanings and moods all captured in the letterforms. If typefaces are for use in a particular project, personal use or for a very decorative design it’s okay to have a limited character set but if the aim is for it to be used by other designers, an interesting typeface needs to be flexible and have a broad character set. This would generally include small capitals, diacritic signs (accents), and a choice of numerals, ligatures and more. A good breadth of weights also gives designers a range of options to design with. Typography and the selection of fonts is a vital aspect of Graphic Design aesthetics. A slight weight or stroke discrepancy or, as so often seen a very slightly stretched font can wreck an entire design. There are no hard and fast rules however consistency in design characteristics throughout the full complement of characters, legibility, good spacing and kerning and even colour and textures are typically thought to create a pleasing and interesting typeface. Some people really, really don’t like certain fonts. There’s even a Hitler Downfall parody on YouTube regarding Comic Sans thought to be poorly laid out and overused. Many argue there is no “best” font, only fonts that are well-suited to certain situations. For instance, Gill Sans, Frutiger and “Transport” are all excellent fonts to make a clear message come across, hence their use on road signs and in airports.

Question marks? When early scholars wrote in Latin (the universal scholastic language of the time), they would write the work question, in Latin  – “quaesto” at the end of the sentence. To conserve valuable space (paper was expensive), writing it was soon shortened to qo, which caused another problem – readers might mistake it for the ending of a word. So they squashed the letters into a symbol: a lowercased q on top of an o. Over time the o shrank to a dot and the q to a squiggle, giving us our current question mark.

Sketchbook and type front cover experiments

I then spent a lot of time experimenting in my sketchbook creating different letterforms, practising calligraphy, creating the word “Type” and considering various layout options. I really enjoyed this stage and was trying to be fairly experimental. I have developed an interest in calligraphy but wasn’t sure if a basic calligraphy version of the magazine title would be bold enough for purpose. Taking some of the examples I liked the best I moved to Indesign, Photoshop, illustrator to do some experiments with layout and setting out a cover design.

I looked at cover designs from magazines including Baseline mag (see inspiration above) and really enjoyed looking at the cover and through a now out of date type magazine called U & lc magazine.

Link to back copies of the magazine

Ulc magazine [ Accessed 29th January 2014]

I also tried to create some text using other methods and had some daft ideas like using the bubbles in the sink , mushrooms, fruit loops and flowers to create type. The bubbles was worth experimenting with and I thought it looked quite striking when I added some filters and colour.

During this process I came across the work of Craig Ward a typographer, a designer and art director based in New York. Ward has produced letters/ type using unusual and experimental techniques including  Pagan dialect and the ancient wood-burning technique, pyrography. He has also produced letters using pollen cells. light writing and smashed glass to name but a few alongside more traditional digital type creations.

Maxim - The Hot 100 Creative Review - The Annual 2010Words are pictures Online images accessed via [Accessed March 2014]

A lot of design type mags have simple graphics as the front cover but I decided I’d like to try my hand at using some of my own images and liked the idea of having a typewriter with letters coming out of it or featuring a typewriter somewhere on the page. My colleague at work conveniently has a replica typewriter which I borrowed and took some shots.

I then manipulated these using Photoshop zooming in and using filters to create some interesting effects.  I also experimented with having the typewriter with letters coming out of it and used Illustrator to add a sort of spotlight idea an idea I had from some of my researching and pinning  on pinterest! I then played about with my typeface ideas adding drop shadows and doing some clean up in Illustrator. I then tried different placement of my typeface on the page and decided that I liked it centered as I thought it looked quite clean and modern. I experimented with different sans serif fonts namely KG WHY you GONNA be so MeaN and Franklin Gothic settling on the later to contrast with my own typeface.

Article content I worked predominately in Indesign for this part experimenting with breaking my type up in different ways and selecting different combinations of type, size, positioning, kerning etc I like a variety of combinations and did download some new fonts to experiment with. I read some articles on font combinations and tried to combine serif and sans serif but also was thinking about things like the mood and feel of the typefaces and how they worked together and contrasting sizes and font weights. From previous exercises I think that left aligned text seems to be most readable so I stuck with that for the majority of my experiments. I also liked the idea and had seen many examples of a background letters used to add interest some of which are overlapping or different colours. I tried these in different fonts and positioning on the page experimenting with opacity to make sure the main article was still readable and tried having letters coming off the page and within it. I think some of these are relatively successful but I would welcome some feedback from my tutor on these as I came up with a lot of different combinations and had some difficulty selecting the most successful layout but did think that I preferred a sans serif font for readability.


Fengardo Neue Main Body – Crimson Body. Very hard to read – disjointed being broken up by the letters. I do like the body font though

traditional type

Gills shadow header and Sabon – a lot more readable but not that exciting. Rockwell large article heading

Heading questions - Crimson Text (12), Main body Ferngardo Neue (12) backing letters 500pt

Heading questions – Crimson Text (12), Main body Ferngardo Neue (12) backing letters 500pt. Sans serif body is very readable and clear but could become tiresome reading the whole article. Like the idea of backing letters but is the opacity okay?

Decided I like the use of a sans serif font for readililty for the main article esp as my article contains a lot of text

tetra header

Gills shadow main questions (17), Sabon main body (12), Tetra decorative headers at the bottom and the letters. Quite a long article but clear and readable. Think the two fonts work reasonably well together

traditional type2

good rockwell header  BACKGROUND FINAL2

Rockwell for main article header. Drop caps on the main body left aligned , sabon main body. Think the two fonts even although serif work together header slab serif. Not convinced by the layout of the article lots of space at top of left page.

gill shadow clean with back letters coloured

Gill shadow header for questions, left aligned, narrower columns size 12 body Sabon

gill shadow clean with back letters gill shadow


Tetra decorative back letters size 500pt, Bodoni article header, Sabon body and switch to Sans serif Franklin Gothic for the sub header questions. Drop caps used think this looks quite good. I like the header not sure of the layout.

cluster one

Crimson font used (size 13) Rockwell headers for the questions . Large letters in the background are Bodoni MT. Is the text still readable with the backdrop? As the text box I created in Indesign contains the sub header too it means the text doesn’t sit totally in line with the next text box. I think this is probably unavoidable when changing font and font size within an article. Quite like the clean look of this one.

franklin gothic demi header

Franklin gothic article title and question header, Bodoni body text left aligned not justified, KG WhY yOu GoTtA Be So MeAn backing letters faded . Like the clean and almost modern look to this. Article font is fairly readable – still not so sure about column layout


More letterspread

Crimson text header, Fengardo Neue body size 12

Things I considered as I went along – length of lines some worked better than others, issue of having the columns and subheading different fonts how does it affect the lines next to each other. Fonts I worked with included Crimson, Bodoni MT, Fengardo Neue, Sabob, Gills Shadow and Rockwell. Trying to think to the font compliment each other and convey a similar mood – do they fight for attention.


Final one

Final one

Franklin gohic and sabon finaldrop caps

Franklin gothic main and sabon body – looks quire clean and modern to read. Contrast of the two fonts seems to work.

cluster onepink

Rockwell (17pt) for the questions. Bodoni MT letters in the background (500). Main body text Crimson (12pt). Think the layout is pretty clean and readable but is it interesting enough.


KG WhY yOu GoTtA Be So MeAN background letters, Bodoni main and Gills sans.

gills ans sabon 1jpg Neater BODONI HEADER AND BODY gill shadow clean with back letters bit along bottom crimson with block letters2 crimson with block letters Franklin gohic and sabon final1 gills ans sabon 2

Final ones – Based on my experiments


I like the simple shapes colour scheme and the idea of the different letters/ fonts coming from the typewriter. The central placement of the “type” heading looks quite clean with the black at either side and I think the use of  KG WhY yOu GoTta Be So MeaN works well with the typeface I created as its sans serif and quite tall

Final one

Final one – I like the contrast of serif header Bodoni with the Gills sans shadow questions.


I was thinkng perhaps the Gills Shadow in the previous version could be improved on so I switched to Franklin Gothic for the headers and think this maybe looks a bit more professional but would welcome some feedback.

Overall, I really enjoyed this exercise. I think that my final selections look quite professional and I really now am conscious of fonts in use in everyday occurrences thinking about their properties and usages. I particularly enjoyed the sketchbook phase creating different typefaces and think a number of these ideas had promise but I went with the ones which I thought would be most suitable for the front of the magazine and capture the sort of mood I had in mind – which was modern yet slightly vintage/ old looking a bit like the u & lc covers I had encountered in my research. I feel that the article content was perhaps more of an exercise in layout given that I decided to try and include / layout a lot of text in my article however I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing and while there is probably room for improvement with the article layout for a first attempt I am fairly happy with it. I think that larger bodies of text do pose more issues in layout and font selection but I have tried to use fonts which I like for their readability and which work well together.

Bibliography Jonathan Barnbrook on drawing fonts

Do typefaces matter?

How to design your own typeface by Jamie Clarke Aug 2013 Accessed 29th January 2014

 After tutor feedback 

Overall I was fairly pleased with the comments I received from this assignment but did take on board the feedback and did agree that the front cover masthead could be improved. I worked on my tutors advise to try perhaps straightening up the typeface and that if my typeface was to be a complete alphabet there would be certain rules it would follow (I’m not entirely sure but I think this means like certain features would be repeated, the same degree of slant, sizing uniformed in certain elements etc) and I did refine the letters to try make them more uniform whilst still retain some of the script qualities I liked about the original. I think this new version works better with the flying letters and other front page elements but it still retains a hand lettered look which is what I wanted.

Another suggestion was to look at the baseline of the columns in my final article and try and line these up. I had been trying to achieve this along the way but wasn’t entirely sure how to do it so will aim to give it a go.

That being said my tutor said he thought one of my earlier article spreads was slightly stronger using Franklin Gothic and Sabon and looking back now I do think this version is cleaner/ stronger.

Much happier with this version

Much happier with this version


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