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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Nov 19 / Brandon Fredericksen

Project 4 – Constrained Systems

Project 4 has been my favorite project, by far. It is a lot of fun. We started by being assigned 2 different words, and were told to go and create a list of connotations for them and find visual representations for them.




After we did this, the real guts and constraints of the project came in. We had to use a modular system to create a feeling of our words in a letterform. The catch – We can only use either squares or circles, not both. These units must be modular, and we are allowed 3 different sizes of modular units, no more than that. This process started with a variety of sketches.

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The last 6 sketches are the ideas I had sketched out applied to 2 letters. Synthesis was rather easy to sketch out, because the connotations were very simple to draw out and make sense of. Arrogant, on the other hand, was incredibly difficult. It’s hard to find a variety of ways to sketch out ways to convey “arrogance” through circles and squares. However, once I worked on the process, some good ideas came about.

The next step was digitizing our ideas.

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You can see the different size of module units used for each idea. After I got these ideas sketched, digitized and printed, I thought that the square module units were working better, and feedback from my colleagues agreed. So I started going further on my second idea for arrogant and my first idea for synthesis.

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At this point, I faced a few issues. For arrogance, I was worried that the letters would all be different sizes and would look very sloppy in terms of craftsmanship. I played with both uppercase and lowercase letters. I found that the uppercase letters would allow for better representation of the connotations, so I stuck with those. For synthesis, I wanted to display a feeling of mixture. I just jumbled all the module units together the create that feeling. While I think it worked well, I was told that it could be represented better. It looks like it could also mean destruction, or other words distributed around the class.


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These ended up being the final product, mounted on black illustration board and labeled.



Nov 17 / Brandon Fredericksen

Reading: The Armature, The Grid, and Grid System

What is an armature?

It is something that binds elements through deliberate but random placement. They employ principles of alignment,visual proportion, balance and harmony.

What is a grid?

Grids also bind elements, but they have structure, in addition to visual rules. An example being a morning newspaper – the columns are set up in a grid, that read left to right – a common rule.

Grid systems put similar principles to work except within a calculated program. It is an “organizational map” to which every element submits.


“Working with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity.

The use of the grid system implies:

the will to systematize, to clarify;

the will to penetrate to the essentials, to concentrate;

the will to cultivate objectivity instead of subjectivity;

the will to rationalize the creative and technical production process;

the will to integrate elements of color, form and material;

the will to achieve architectural dominion over surface and space;

the will to adopt a  positive, forward-looking attitude;

the recognition of the importance of education and the effect of work devised in a constructive and creative spirit.”



Oct 16 / Brandon Fredericksen

Project 3 – Literal / Fictional Letterforms

Project 3 is the first project that has required us to draft up some thumbnail sketches. The objective was to observe the characteristics of a font style. and then combine those different characteristics. At the end, we will combine those elements and create a fictional letterform. Thumbnail sketches are good for process to get all your ideas down in rough sketches, while you continue to work and build onto them. img003 img004 img007

These thumbnails (excluding the last three sketches in the final image) are the first 15 that show the different characteristics of my font style, which is modern. All they are, are closeups on the different features. This part was easy, and fun to explore and sketch.

The bottom three sketches of the last image were the second part of the thumbnail process. This was interesting because most, if not nearly all of the class got too far ahead of themselves on this part. We ended up combining letters to make the final product (which wasn’t the goal).

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You can clearly see in a lot of these how I tried to simply combine two letters to create something new. Although, a few of these were still usable in the project description.


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These are the redone thumbnails. Focusing mainly on the features of several different letterforms, these are the pieces of the final product.

Overall the thumbnail process has been interesting, maybe a bit stressful after finding we did the assignment wrong, but fun nonetheless.

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This is what my final letter turned to be. I named it “tew”. There is still a lot of room for improvement on this letter, and if I could go back and change it for a new grade, I would remove the curve at the bottom of the letter to make it feel less awkward. I would also change the serif on the thick side of the letter, because as it stands, it doesn’t really fit in to the rest of the piece. The serif on the skinny side is also centered, which on this type style, they are slightly off centered.

Oct 13 / Brandon Fredericksen

Alexander – Timeless Way Reading

Chapter 10

So, this reading is not about typography at all. It is all about architecture. However, this can still be related all the same.  One of the first things said in the chapter is about how there are so many buildings in the world, so many of the same types of buildings. Yet, even though they are all the same, they are unique. The context they are in give each their own feeling to them. Is this not the same with typography? This definition goes hand in hand.

When Alexander talks about how a farmer builds a barn, I’d like to look at it like this. As artists, we all want to make a piece of work. Every composition, essentially, looks the same. Alexander says that every barn will essentially look the same as any other barn. How do they differentiate themselves though? Obviously, all barns (or in this case, compositions) are unique. This is done by using patterns. Common patterns that we see everyday, combining them in a new way.

Where do these patterns come from? How does each pattern vary to look different than the next?  We all have similar patterns in our minds that we imagine and create. “These patterns in our minds are, more or less, mental images of the patterns in the world,” quoted from Alexander.

Patterns that we generate are generally based around a “rule”. There are rules surrounding a composition that sets the guidelines for how the pattern must be developed. What makes patterns more complex than other languages is simple. Patterns are not only elements, but they are the rules. The rules and elements are indistinguishable. A pattern is a rule, which describes the arrangements of elements, which themselves are patterns.

We all use the pattern language differently to reflect the ideas in our head. With that said, there is a harmony in the way we think at the same time, created by the repetition of underlying patterns.


“The patterns, which repeat themselves, come simply from the fact that all the people have a common language, and that each one of them uses this common language when he makes a thing.”


Here are some example of patterns in design.

cod4 mario


Each game has the title in very large letters. It also shows the rating and system somewhere to not interfere with the art. The art shows the main characters.



I can see this as being both a graphic design and a typographical pattern. The main title of the book is in big letters, right in the center. There is a border surrounding the type adding more emphasis onto the main idea. Graphic design does this all the time; After all, it is just trying to direct a message.

Oct 7 / Brandon Fredericksen

Project 2: Font Mannerisms

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Project 2 was actually a lot of fun. The objective of this project was to observe a certain style of type (in my case, transitional) and dissect it. We had to take a look at the way the letters were put together, and how each style of the font are different from each other. We learned about things such as x height, baseline, cap height, ascenders, descenders, and other various parts of type. I have labeled all of these parts in a previous blog post. As you can see from my cover page, the font I was assigned was New Baskerville. Even though I consider myself a sans-serif guy, this typeface was a ton of fun to work with, and has further helped me appreciate a different style of type.


Part 1 – I took each font in the family – Roman, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic – and labeled the x height, cap height, baseline, and descender line for each family.

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Part 2: The first section in part 2 was called the “font showing”. We were assigned to select 8 descriptive words that define our typeface. Using each font family, we put them together and adjusted the font size and leading. This showed how different the font could look at different sizes. These descriptive words would be used in a future part of the project, as well.

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The next section of part 2 was the first part that aloud us to start being creative. As mentioned earlier, we learned about the different parts of a letter. Using this new found information, we were to create 4 compositions that compared and contrasted these parts of a letter in each family of the font. The challenge here was to create a visually appealing composition that also clearly showed what was being compared. While this was a lot of fun, it proved itself to be very difficult.

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This first composition is comparing the serifs of the letter X. Using a white outline and overlapping the letter, you can see the differences in each serif. The second composition is comparing the stroke weight. Personally, this one is my favorite, although it does have room for improvement. I thought the easiest way to compare these would be to create a point of reference, instead of overlapping the letters. The black bar in the middle of the composition is my point of reference. Something I could have done different here is to add color to the strokes, and use that corresponding color on the point of reference instead of just using the color white. The 3rd composition is comparing the counters of the letter C. I think this is my weakest composition. All it is really doing is highlighting the counter, but it doesn’t really contrast anything at all. The final composition is comparing the axis of the letter e. instead of changing the direction of the axis line (which was a very popular concept in class), I simply changed the orientation of the letter itself. I don’t love this composition, but I do think that it does its job at comparing the axis.


Part 3: This part was so difficult. Using 2 of the words we chose from the font showing, we had to create a composition for each that defined itself, without using any sort of writing. For example, if you chose the word “exciting” to define the typeface, you would have to create a composition that was exciting. This was very thought provoking and tested your ability as a typographer, but I think it was a very beneficial exercise.


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Here are my two compositions. Can you guess what they are?

Sep 16 / Brandon Fredericksen

Project 2: Definitions

Postscript: It’s  a programming language, and it was created by Adobe for generating  high-resolution images on paper or film. Type I PostScript fonts require an on screen file and a printer file, both of which need to be installed on the computer for use.

OpenType: Also developed by Adobe, OpenType was developed to support up to 65,000 characters in a single file, allowing for multiple styles. OpenType fonts are often labeled as “Pro”.

Typeface: The design of the letterforms; a particular design of type.

Font: The delivery mechanism; A set of type of one particular face and size.

Glyph: A specific expression of a given character.

Connotation: An idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal meaning.

Denotation: The literal or primary meaning to a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.

Modern Type: Designed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, known to be radically abstract. Thin, straight serifs, vertical axis, and sharp contrast from thin to thick strokes.

Transitional Type: Designed in the mid eighteenth century. Sharp serifs, vertical axis, sharp forms and high contrast.

Humanist Type: Roman typefaces of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, emulated classical calligraphy.

Slab Serif: A type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block like serifs.

Sans Serif: A typeface that lacks serifs.

Ligature: When two or more letters come together to form a single glyph.

Sep 15 / Brandon Fredericksen

What is kautious?

Kautious is who I am. It is my tag. It’s who I define myself as a designer. I wanted to create a name that was somewhat mysterious, but has a meaning behind it. Kautious means to keep weary of your surroundings, but look forward to tomorrow. Don’t let the future throw you off, but don’t get caught up in today. The past has happened, today is now, and the future is yet to be.

Kautious is simple. The designs made are simplistic and easy to read. I like the modern and simple approach to design. This is my logo, along with a slogan. Think simple.


I added this into a previous post about type crimes. The text “kautious” under the logo was stretched out to fit the space under the logo itself, which is a crime. I plan on posting more of the process work under the name kautious throughout his blog along with an updated logo with better type.

Sep 15 / Brandon Fredericksen

Ellen Lupton’s Type Crimes

Crime 1 – Horizontal and Vertical Scaling. “The proportions of the letters have been digitally distorted in order to create wider or narrower letters.”

Crime 2 – “Some typefaces that work well at large sizes look too fragile when reduced.”

Crime 3 – Pseudo Italics. “Italics are not slanted letters. The wide, ungainly forms of these mechanically skewed letters look forced and unnatural.”

Crime 4 – “Uneven spacing between lowercase and uppercase letters, when the uppercase has no descenders.”

Crime 5 – Pseudo Small Caps. “Shrunken versions of full-size caps. These automatically generated characters look puny and starved; they are an abomination against nature.”

Crime 6 – “Squeezing text to fit other lines of text, while they do not mix together.”

Crime 7 – “Using similar type styles while trying to contrast two ideas.”

Crime 8 – “Quotation marks carve out chunks of white space from the edge of the text. Hanging quotation marks make a clean edge by pushing the quotation marks into the margin.”

Crime 9 –  “Big cities use a variety of commercial signs that are fraught with typographic misdoings.”

Crime 10 – Tightly Tracked Text . “Letters are tracked too close for comfort.”

Crime 11 – Tracking Lowercase Letters. “Loosely spaced lowercase letters – especially italics – look awkward because these characters are designed to sit closely together on a line.”

Crime 12 – “Auto spacing often makes uneven looking effects.”

Crime 13 – Poorly Shaped Text Block. “In most uses, centered text should be broken into phrases with a variety of long and short lines.”

Crime 14 – Full of Holes. “A column that is too narrow is full of gaps.”

Crime 15 – Bad Rag. “An ugly wedge shape spoils the ragged edge.”

Crime 16 – Punctuation Eats the Edge. “Excessive punctuation can ruin a clean edge.”

Crime 17 – Stacking lowercase letters.

Crime 18 – Too Many Signals. “Using paragraph spacing and indents together squanders space and gives the text block a flabby, indefinite shape. Using too many styles, such as bold, italic, and underlines, can be replaced by using just one of the few.”

Crime 20 – Data Prison. “The rules and boxes used in data tables should illuminate the relationships among data, not trap each entry inside a heavily guarded cell.”


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Sep 13 / Brandon Fredericksen

Ellen Lupton Reading: 22-47

This chapter started to talk about the historical impact of certain fonts, and starts to break down how fonts are composed and the names for their parts. With the rise of industrialization, in the 19th century came a ton of advertising, which was a new form of communication at the time. This new form of communication demanded a new form of typography with it. Type faces became big and bold, fonts with large height, width, and depth were starting to appear.

Because lead can not hold its form at large sizes, a new technique for type printing needed to be created. Type cut from wood could be used on an enormous scale. The pantograph, originating from 1834, is a tracing device. When linked to a router for carving, it allows a parent drawing to spawn variants with different proportions, weights and decorative excrescences. This approach treated the alphabet as a flexible system straying away from calligraphy.

This new style of typefaces didn’t start off easy with all designers. Some designers viewed the distortion of the alphabet as ugly and immoral. They tied it to a destructive and inhumane industrial system. Though some were attached to history, the designer was redefined as an intellectual distanced from the commercial mainstream, a critic of society, striving to challenge and revise dominant habits and practices.

Cap Height: The distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letter determines the letter’s point size.

Ascender Height: Some elements may extend slightly above the cap height.

Descender Height: The length of a letter’s descenders contributes to its overall style and attitude.

X-Height: The height of the main body of the lowercase letter (or the height of a lowercase x), excluding its descenders and ascenders.

The Baseline: Where all the letters sit. This is the most table axis along a line of text, and it is a crucial edge for aligning text with images or with other text.

Overhang: The curves at the bottom of letters hang slightly below the baseline. Commas and semicolons also cross the baseline. If a typeface were not positioned this way, it would appear to teeter precariously. Without overhang, rounded letters would look smaller than their flat footed compatriots.


Sep 11 / Brandon Fredericksen

Ems and Ens




A dash is a dash right? They’re all the same. To most people this is true, however in the world if typography (and English even), this is not the case.

There’s s difference between an em and en dash, and it’s a bit more obvious than you would think. It’s just what it sounds like.

The En dash, pronounced “N dash” is the shorter of the two, obviously making the “M (em) dash” longer.

Lets take a look at the letters they are named from, N and M. The letter N is shorter than the length of the letter M, just like the en and em dash.

That’s why the dashes are named the way they are.