Project 3: Fictional Letterforms was all about seeing letters through a designer’s eyes: as lines, curves, and shapes. Although we as designers clearly realize this and utilize letters in a way the rest of the world does, we also have trained ourselves to see letters outside of their everyday context and to take a step back in order to analyze their visual qualities. This project also capitalized on the various type classifications and the characteristics which set them apart from each other.
Here is a small excerpt from Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking with Type” on Type classification:
- “A basic system for classifying typefaces was devised in the nineteenth century, when printers sought to identify a heritage for their own craft connected to calligraphy and the movement of the hand.”
For this project, I chose to utilize the font Perpetua, which falls under the type classification of Transitional. I worked to study the font closely, noticing all of it’s unique distinctions. I initially typed the entire lowercase alphabet out on my computer, and used this as a guide to begin sketching some thumbnails. I focused first on breaking up the letter, getting close and seeing every individual curve, weight, and overall taking notice of the different parts of the anatomy.
I then moved on to experimenting with creating my own fictional letterform based off of my previous findings:
The next step was to then switch over from using a pencil and paper to creating letterforms in Illustrator:
After much experimentation, I chose the following letter form to be my final product. It is a combination of the letters u, t and g.
The file was then sent to Professor Dan, who took the time to get each student’s letter laser cut on wood in the WSU wood shop. I then spray painted the letter matte black. We were then asked to have a “photoshoot” with our letter, collecting various images to potentially be used in the next step of the project: the creation of a poster.
Once I had collected my images, I began to work on the poster. The poster project had a very rigid set of guidelines that were to be followed. I spent time working on various elements, such a devising a Pantone color scheme, showing my letterform interacting with the existing alphabet, naming my letterform and deciding it’s phonetic spelling, and writing information about the typographic category from which it came (transitional).
below: working on my poster
In the book “Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton, various Type Crimes are pointed out. These are basically the no-no’s of the graphic design world when it comes to typography, and should be avoided at all costs. The different type crimes fall under these various categories:
- Type Families and “pseudo family members”
- Caps, small caps and “pseudo caps”
- Mixing Typefaces
- Line Space
- Vertical text
- Marking paragraphs
Here listed in my own words are the various type crimes Ellen warns us against/things to contiously pay attention to in order to avoid type crimes:
- Some type faces that work well at larger sizes look too fragile when reduced.
- Minimal differences are bad. Strong contrast between type sizes is better.
- Pseudo italics are mechanical, forced and unnatural.
- Pseudo small caps are a no-no. They are just shrunken versions of a typeface’s capital letters.
- Unnatural spaces between lines are bad. Do not let the computer decipher these for you.
- Squeezing lines/competing weights of fonts
- Too close in weight/not enough contrast/no noticeable difference when using more than 1 family member in a design
- 2 different type styles used together with not enough contrast
- Hatch marks vs. quotation marks
- Non-hanging quotes (quotes that are taking out chunks of white space)
- Loosely spaced lowercase letters are awkward
- Tight tracking
- Distortion (stretching and not scaling)
- Not using the baseline shift tool; letting the computer auto space
- Poorly shaped text block
- Gaps/holes in paragraphs of text
- Bad rag/wedged shaped text
- Excessive punctuation on the right
- Stacked lowercase letters
- Paragraph spacing and indents
- Too many signals (bold, italic and underlined all at once)
- Two hyphens instead of em dash
- Hyphen rather than em dash between numbers/dates
- Two spaces between sentences
- Don’t use the space bar to create indents
I took it upon myself to discover some of these horrible travesties as they exist in real life. Here is what I came across..
Shockingly, I found the first 3 all while taking a shower. Apparently the soap and shampoo industry needs to get it together when it comes to typography.
The words “shampoo” and “concentrate” are examples of words with lowercase letters that are spaced much too far apart.
“Fragrance-free” really does not need to be hyphenated.
“Higher priced”- a clear example of not knowing when to use hatch marks vs. quotation marks. Also lots of awkward spaces between words, creating a choppy rather than fluid look overall.
This poster has no real hierarchy or difference at all between texts.
Far too many signals (glitter, rainbow, bubble text, bold).
I think this project was a prime example of the evolution that occurs during the creative process. I would say the majority of people who are not designers have absolutely no clue the amount of time, effort, revisions, and brainstorming that goes into creating something that may seem simplistic or not time consuming to them. The journey from brain to actual physical product that exists in the world is incredible. I spent alot of time experimenting, checking and re checking a million times, measuring, developing, re working, tweaking, and problem solving. Having a large chunk of time for the project left room to play and try new things which was very helpful in my creative process.
Here are some screenshots and scans of my doodles, sketches, trials and early drafts:
My overall response to Project 2 is a very positive one. I thoroughly enjoyed this project and particularly liked how all of the steps were broken down in a neat and organized manor. I feel as though I learned an immense amount during the entirety of this project. It was very useful to put into action different elements that we have discussed as being key components to typography and type analysis. For example, I had struggled a little bit with understanding the different “lines” (ex: base line, x height, cap height) but feel that as this project progressed, I grasped the concept much better because I was being made to have a hands-on approach with it. I think this project was a true embodiment of what this class is supposed to be teaching us. We had to take into consideration many different aspects that will be used forever as we grow as designers: layout, cohesiveness, attention to detail, making executive design decisions. I also appreciate the fact that the time frame of this project was a lot more organized than in Project 1. I feel that I had alot more freedom to make important decisions and refine my work because of the length of the period of time we had to work on it. I really did enjoy myself and have fun working on this project, and I hope I enjoy all future projects in this class just as much!
The basis of Project 2 was to be assigned a font and analyze it’s members from various angles. The font I was assigned was Bodoni STD, and the family members I chose to compare and contrast were roman, italic, bold, and poster.
The project contained numerous steps, and at the end we were asked to create an 11×17 book with all of the pages we came up with. The different steps to the project were:
- Pt 1.1: Font Family Display A. Create the whole alphabet for each one of your different family members and set guides for cap height, ascender, x height, baseline, and descender.
- Pt. 1.2: Font Family Display B. Decide upon 8 descriptive words for your typeface and show the words in various point sizes and in the style of each of your family members.
- Pt. 2.1: Visual Analysis. Using your 4 different family members, create 4 different compositions documenting different comparisons within your font family. Examples could be: terminal, x height, counter, serifs, ect.
- Pt. 2.2: Visual Analysis Continued. Using two of your chosen words, highlight various parts of the anatomy.
- Pt. 3: Expressive Compositions. Selecting two of the words from Part 1, brainstorm a list of connotations for each word.. Then create visual compositions for each word that expresses the connotations of the word.
Here are the different pages to my book in order: