As the semester comes to a close, I wrote a short final reflection for my blog book project, reflecting on the semester and course as a whole. Here it is!
Typography has been a challenge for me. There have been things I have liked, and things I have disliked… a lot. However, I can’t deny that I’ve learned so much! Making this book as a final culmination of everything we’ve done was great because it showcases everything I’ve learned. Not only in the content -images of my work and text reflecting on it- but also in its design. I didn’t know anything about type crimes, grids, or type before this class! However, I am now using all of those things to design, and AGD 2250 has made me a better artist and designer.
Here is a PDF of my final printed book. I was pretty happy with how it turned out! I think my layout using the grid was successful, and I edited carefully for type crimes. It looks professional, neat and I love my design for the pages! Here it is:
The blog book is a culmination of everything that has happened this semester, everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve done, and everything I’ve experienced in Typography 1. To begin this process, I went through my blog and compiled posts/images to get an idea of how to organize my book. The next step was to do the text analysis study. Here I played with different fonts, sizes, leading etc. to get a better idea of how to design my book.
Since wordpress wouldn’t let me load any more images (I think I’ve reached my limit!) here is a PDF of the rest of my process work. After the text analysis, we made dummy books to try to organize our pages and figure out layout. I drew a 5 x 5 grid on mine to help me organize my layout in terms of the grid. The last pictures are of my digitized book, I also printed that out before the final to edit and see how things looked in print, because often times it can look much different on the computer!
Over the course of the semester, I’ve gathered many definitions/terms related to typography. Since this is the end of the term, I am posting them all here 🙂 They are all taken from either the fontshop glossary, Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking with Type”, dictionary.com or class notes. Enjoy!
Font- A collection of letters, numbers, punctuation, and other symbols used to set text (or related) matter. Although font and typeface are often used interchangeably, font refers to the physical embodiment (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) while typeface refers to the design (the way it looks). A font is what you use, and a typeface is what you see.
Typeface- An artistic interpretation, or design, of a collection of alphanumeric symbols. A typeface may include letters, numerals, punctuation, various symbols, and more — often for multiple languages. A typeface is usually grouped together in a family containing individual fonts for italic, bold, condensed, and other variations of the primary design. Even though its original meaning is one single style of a type design, the term is now also commonly used to describe a type family (usually only with the basic styles regular, italic, bold, bold italic).
Glyph- Every character in a typeface, (e.g: G, $, ?, and 7), is represented by a glyph. One single type design may contain more than one glyph for each character. These are usually referred to as alternates.
Postscript- A technology developed and trade marked by Adobe Systems, Inc. On older systems, PostScript fonts require Adobe Type Manager. On the Mac, PostScript fonts consist of a printer font and a bitmap suitcase, which should always be kept together.
Open type- The most recent font format emerged at the beginning of the new millennium. OpenType was initially developed by Microsoft, which were later joined by Adobe. In a few years time it has become the new standard format for digital fonts. The biggest advantages shared by all OpenType fonts are their single file structure, cross-platform compatibility, and advanced typographic functionality. This means any single OpenType font file will work on both Mac and Windows systems, and some OpenType fonts include expanded character sets and special features like automatic ligatures and alternate glyphs. OpenType is the best format for most purposes. It comes in PostScript flavor (OTF) and TrueType flavor (TTF).
Connotation- an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.
Denotation- the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.
Type family- Also known as family. The collection of faces that were designed together and intended to be used together. For example, the Garamond font family consists of roman and italic styles, as well as regular, semi-bold, and bold weights. Each of the style and weight combinations is called a face.
Modern type- is a style of typeface developed in the late 18th century that continued through much of the 19th century. Characterized by high contrast between thick and thin strokes and flat, hairline serifs, Modern fonts are harder to read than previous and later typestyles developed for text.
Transitional type- The primary characteristics of Transitional type is medium contrast between thick and thin strokes, less left-inclined axis than Old Style faces (closer to vertical), and a triangular or flat tip where diagonal strokes meet (such as the base of a W).
Humanist type- the primary characteristics of humanist type include: sloping crossbar on the lowercase e, relatively small x-height, low contrast between thick and thin strokes, dark color in terms of darkness of the page
Sans serif- A type face that does not have serifs. Generally a low-contrast design. Sans serif faces lend a clean, simple appearance to documents.
Ligature- Special characters that are actually two letters combined into one. In cases where two adjacent characters would normally bump into each other, a ligature allows the letters to flow together more gracefully. This usually makes word shapes more aesthetically pleasing. Some common ligatures are ‘fi’, ‘fl’, ‘ff’, ‘ffl’, etc.
Kerning- Kerning refers to the horizontal space between individual pairs of letters (a kerning pair), and is used to correct spacing problems in specific letter combinations like “VA”. Well-spaced fonts need comparatively less kerning pairs. Fonts that are properly kerned appear evenly spaced without large open gaps of white space between any two characters.
Leading- Its original meaning is increasing the vertical space between lines of metal type by literally inserting lead strips. In the digital age it now means the vertical space between lines of text, from baseline to baseline. Also known as linespacing.
Small caps- Small caps are capital letters that are approximately as high as the x-height of the lowercase letters. When properly designed small caps are absent in the selected font, many applications can create small caps by scaling down the capitals. However this makes these fake small caps too light and narrow, and they don’t harmonize properly with the lowercase. Originally small caps were only available for the roman text weight(s), but nowadays many type families also have them for the italic styles and the bolder weights.
The process of making the poster for Project 3 was a long and tedious one for me. I had fun making and photographing the letterform, but then we had to do 10 layout ideas for a poster about the process we went through to make our letterform. I was so stuck, everything coming to my mind was so boring and uncreative. It didn’t help that we had so many restrictions on what we could do (no diagonal text, no color blocks except the one that had to take up 1/3rd of the page etc). Here were some of my initial trials:
Then I chose several that I liked best, and worked on them further:
After a lot of revising and playing around with layout, grid, and color, this is the final poster:
I think I actually enjoyed this project the most so far, and I think it helped me retain the most information about characteristics of typeface families. I almost wish we had done the first analyzing portion for all the families, because it really helped me zoom in on what is important. Drawing out the characteristics and letters was also really helpful because it made me more aware of the typeface. Experimenting with the letters –cutting and pasting them together –was also helpful, because it made me aware of not only letter characteristics, but also how the parts come together, including the specific angles and proportions of the letterforms.
I also learned a lot about grid structure when organizing my poster. I hadn’t really used a grid when designing before, and it really helped me. I used to just place everything wherever I thought it looked good, but now I was looking at what lines up correctly, and subtly aligning different elements on the poster. It really makes a difference when you’re looking at a poster that has an underlying grid structure –it looks more cohesive and there is a certain unity that arises from the use of a grid. At first the poster was really frustrating for me. There were many constraints that we had to follow and it made it really hard for me to design! The fact that we could only use one block of color and only 3 colors was a big challenge for me. It was also very difficult because there was a lot of information to put into the poster, it was hard to decide which parts of the process to include. I found it easiest and best to organize the process into 3 steps: analyze, experiment, and finalize. Using these 3 steps, it was much easier to organize the poster and add information/pictures as I went. I made sure to focus on how the letterform fit into the typeface Didot and what modern characteristics it had that make it modern! I isolated several characteristics which helped my letter fit into the modern typeface: dramatic stroke variation, rounded terminals, flat thin serifs, and a vertical axis. Overall, this project was very helpful for me technique-wise. I learned a lot about the modern typeface family, and letterforms. It was also interesting to treat my letterform as an image/graphic in my poster. I also got a lot of practice with poster layout and using a grid structure. Even though it was tedious, and got a little frustrating, I think going through the process of designing so many different versions of the poster really helped me achieve a better final product!
Here are some examples of incorrectly spaced letters:
Then we spray painted the letter black and photographed it for the second part of this project –the poster.
Now that I had the letterform photographed, the final portion of the project was to create a poster for the process and letterform.
After experimenting with cutting, cropping, and combining letterforms, we chose the best options to digitize. I looked for the letterforms which would be exhibit the modern typeface family characteristics. I also chose the letterforms which would best fit with the rest of the letters, having proper proportions and not standing out. Here are some of my digitized letterforms:
As you can see, we printed out the digitized forms and further examined their acceptability into the modern typeface. I ended up focusing on a letter that combined “u”, “r”, and “a”. Then I made several versions of this letterform. I had to work out where the letter would sit in terms of baseline, x-height, ascender, descender etc. I also had to look at how different parts of the letterform came together and resolve any problems I had (like how the terminal of the “r” would attach to the spine, and whether or not I should have serifs everywhere). Here were my options:
After examining and analyzing my options, this was my final letterform:
The first thing we did when starting this project was to practice drawing letterforms from the 3 main typeface categories: Old Style, Transitional and Modern. Since I worked with Baskerville (a transitional typeface) for Project 2, I only had to practice with Adobe Garamond Pro (Old Style) and Didot (Modern). Here are a couple photos of this point in the process:
The next step was to choose one of the two typefaces you worked with, and start analyzing the features that make it fit into its particular typeface family. I chose to work with Didot and the “modern” family. We had to first draw out details and point out characteristics like serifs or terminal shape. Here is my work, detailing the characteristics of Didot:
Finally (for this part of process!) we had to combine letters and characteristics to create new letterforms that would match the rest of the typeface. This was the pivotal part of the process for me because it really helped me understand the Modern typeface family. It was important that the experimental letters had the same criteria as the other letters in Didot- flat, thin serifs, vertical axis, rounded terminals, and dramatic stroke variation. Here are some of my experimental letters:
After this, we had to choose the best options from our experimental letters and digitize them. See the next post for further process! 🙂
1) Horizontal or vertical scaling
2) Font doesn’t work on a small scale
3) Not enough size difference
4) Pseudo italics
5) Pseudo small caps
6) Stacking lowercase and uppercase letters which makes lines look uneven (space between lines) (unadjusted leading)
7) Too close in weight even though mixing in the same type family
8) Multiple family mixes
9) Quotation marks that carve out chunks of white space from the edge of the text
10) Hanging quotation marks
11) Using foot marks instead of quotations
12) Tightly tracked text
13) Loosely spaced lowercase letters
14) Auto spacing, which creates uneven effect (improper leading)
15) Poorly shaped text block
16) Holes in justified text block
17) Ragged right edge (wedge)
18) Ragged left edge (wedge)
19) Punctuation eats the edge
20) Lowercase stacked
21) Small caps stacked
22) Too many signals- bold, italic, underlined, exclamation point etc.
23) Stroke on letters
25) Stacking the same word or the same punctuation on top of each other
17- Ragged Right Edge
4- Pseudo Italics