All posts relating to Graphic Design 1 Assignment 4 are below:
I wasn’t sure where to begin with this research point as most of the history of Typography is new to me. I looked a little into ‘Linotype Machines’ and how that came into being but was more interested in an a more unique area. I really like the style of neon or illuminated lights you see in America, think above a Diner or Motel and wanted to explore how they got their lettering and what effect if any it had on the development of type…
This exercise began in my sketchbook, cutting and arranging a series of words all in the same size and type of font – Helvetica Bold 48pt. The exercise involved cutting out the words and arranging them on a piece of A4 paper to try and capture visually the meaning of the word…
The second part of this exercise involved working with the words digitally. I was allowed to write the text in different colours, fonts, sizes and arrange them however I wished on the page. The plus side to this is being able to work with more parameters, the negative side is this sometimes led to feeling overwhelmed by what to choose to work with. I chose to work in Illustrator CS6…
I began this research assignment by playing around with finding other aspects of type faces, such as ligatures, I used Illustrator and chose five font families to work with. I chose a mix of Sans serif, serif and script fonts, see the picture below:
For this exercise I had to take the de-constructed parts of the typeface Baskerville and turn them into this pangram:
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”
Here’s the result:
I used tracing paper to piece together the different elements before tracing them onto the lines:
I found the task harder than expected! There’s a few letters, namely the ‘a’ and ‘z’ that look like they’re not quite right. I think a few of the serifs got left behind as I wasn’t sure where they were supposed to go!
I think it has made me think more about all the components that go together to make letters in a new light. I think I’ll find it hard to create my own typeface!
The start point of this exercise was to create a sample book of typefaces on our computer to refer to. I’d not seen a sample book of typefaces before so it seemed a logical point to see do a little research before making my own. The website ‘I Love Typography’ had an article about ‘FontBook’ from the online font store FontShop. There’s some images of pages which gave me an idea for layout:
Research for this project required us collecting different magazines, newspapers and dividing them into ones that look immediately easy to read and ones that don’t. I decided to then try and annotate my thoughts on this using Photoshop to create a side by side image of the magazine cover and an example article…
I was a little unsure what this exercise was asking me to do so I had a little nosy at other students blog’s to see how they’d tackled it. I found this blog helpful, as it was very clear:
For this project & exercise I’m required to research three different types of publications:
1. A TV listings magazine
2. A Specialist Computer Magazine
3. A Book Review in a Newspaper’s weekend edition.
I need to establish what kinds of typefaces they use in the heading, subheading and main body of text in their articles.
This assignment begins with the instruction to research on-line type foundries. So it seemed helpful to find an website dedicated to keeping track of different foundries:
Creating a typeface:
My start point for creating the font for the front cover of the magazine was to begin looking into how to create a font. I found this article on the blog ‘I Love Typography’ about how to create a font using appropriate software. It recommends using a piece of software called FontLab Studio apparently it’s the industry standard. Links to article (there’s pt.1 & pt.2):
However the whole process is lengthy and complex, I didn’t feel it was strictly necessary to create a whole alphabet in order to create the type for the magazine so I decided not try and use a trial version of the FontLab studio to create a font.
So unable to think of a better option I thought I’d create the word ‘type’ from a hand drawing and then recreate it and improve it in Illustrator CS6. That bit settled I wanted to do some visual research and get ideas for the typeface.
Earlier on in the unit I researched the typefaces/typography associated with Neon Signs. During this research I came across a reoccurring typeface or group of typefaces. One of these was ‘Play Bill’, the others I had yet to name but had images of. Using these images I found similar fonts using a book called ‘The Field Guide to Typography: Typefaces In The Urban Landscape, by Peter Dawson’.
The Zebrawood and Rosewood typefaces released by Adobe in 1994 as part of a ‘Wood Type’s Collection’, are themselves a remaking or re imagining of typefaces by William Page from 1874. William Page was a key designer of wood type fonts for use in printing presses.
My idea was to refresh these typefaces again, making them perhaps simpler more refined but still keeping that central Slab Serif feel and a nod to ‘Western or Circus’ theme. I put together a mood board of other similar typefaces and magazine covers that I liked the layout of or colours of as my inspiration:
I set about working on the typeface in my sketchbook trying to use basic construction rules such as the ‘x’ height line and an ‘Ascender line’ and ‘Decender Line’. But then I kept everything as a CAP Height anyway so the ascender and descender were slightly unnecessary…
I was trying to create curved terminals with thick stems to the letters, to give that Slab Serif feel. I tried to simplify things by not adding any edges or features within the letters but letting the split terminals with the curves be the flourish. I’m still not convinced it looks like every letter is even/balanced in terms of weight, the Y was probably the trickiest letter to try and get balanced.
I then set about drawing all the letters together and lining them up (see photo below). I then did some rough thumbnails in my sketchbook of other elements for the cover design, such as background shapes or themes.
Working on the typeface in Illustrator:
I drew the basic shape in Illustrator and outlined it, I left the fill white to begin with before beginning to play around with colours and patterns. My initial idea was to create a grey and orange coloured font to give a hint to western theme (as in sand, being a dusty yellow/orange, grey as a sophisticated colour)?
I used the 3D fx tool to create a bold shape from the lettering, I struggled with the lighting of the text though and some elements had to be adjusted.
I tried to adjust some of the lighting and colours to improve upon the first version for the second version. These were more successful and the colours look balanced. But you can see that it has a hand drawn feel which you wouldn’t have with a real typeface, I felt I didn’t have the time to get the terminals to look perfectly the same in curve.
I moved on to trying to play with colour and texture, below you can see my experimentation in typeface 3.
Here it looks a lot bolder than in Illustrator but I like the contrast between the colours and that the colours add a different feel, they don’t remind you of ‘westerns’ and to me that’s to try and add a different feel to the typeface. It’s making the visual language take a different reference.
I tried to add a visual nod to neon signs to the font in version four by creating a simple bulb like repeating pattern as a fill. It wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped and I think that’s mainly due to the repeating shape being too large to fit within the area of the front of the letters. Again this is an element I would work on if given time to revisit the typeface.
For the fifth version of the typeface I put it in a context of a black background to help show the effect I was experimenting with. I was trying to create an overprinted/woodblock type feel with the colours bleeding into each other. I think it worked fairly well, although maybe the tone could be warmer.
As my last experimentation with the font I tried to create a neon like effect in the outline of the letters. I found a tutorial on using gradient settings to create a neon like effect and so used that to help me achieve what you see below.
It’s quite bold, and I think a little crude but does hold some resemblance to neon lighting. I’ll talk about how it might fit into a cover in my next post.
Here’s a reminder of the thumbnails I drew that were my starting point for cover designs:
Cover Versions 1-5:
For this series of draft covers my idea was to create a strong contrast image with the texture of a printing press/overprinting process. I wanted the typeface to be the central thing that drew someone to pick up the magazine so left no indicators of what the magazine might contain in terms of articles. I tried to play around with arrangement of the text to help the cover look more dynamic. I think that versions 1 & 2 achieve this best, as the enlarged text of versions 3 & 4 reveals some of the balance issue my font has (not the best bit to highlight).
Again with more time/in revisiting this I would change the font colours, maybe dial down the contrast between the background and the text to see if that makes the Cover feel more appealing.
Cover Versions 6-13:
For the following cover versions I tried to use the circle as a reoccurring shape to give the context. The circles were cropped/cut in Photoshop from photo’s I took at various locations of typography related machinery or publications. The photos are of: two typewriters, Victorian printed newspapers, metal type in trays, printed slab serif posters, a printing press, a pub window with a wood type font.
I feel like the images work well as a visual hint to the content of the magazine and also help the typeface feel more balanced as there’s a link between the printing press and the wood type font which inspired the font.
You’ll notice as you look down the page that the initial set of these designs is black & white. I felt black and white might create a more sophisticated feel. But actually it looks quite cold and uninviting. I think the circles look cold because there’s a blue tint to them, I’m not entirely sure how to tweak that. But I think of the black & white covers version 8 is most effective, with the rectangle behind the type the letters are made very clear, and punchy!
I decided to try a coloured version of this cover, using a sepia tone I thought might be a good way to hint at an older style, maybe even old publishing or printing. I think the result is a much warmer, inviting cover design.
I wanted to try incorporating some colour into the cover beyond sepia/grey so placed the multi coloured typeface I’d used in the first cover drafts. As a jpeg image the colours look a lot colder than they actually are in the image. I think the colour lifts the image and draws the eye to the typeface. I played around a bit with moving the circle and the shape behind the text to balance the cover more.
I can’t quite decide between Cover 12 or 13. I feel like the Cover of 12 has a bit more space, room to breath having the rectangle behind the word ‘type’ removed. But then again the rectangle feels like a bit of an anchoring point?
Cover Versions 14 & 15
In these last draft covers I tried incorporating the ‘neon’ version of my typeface. I thought perhaps a high contrast of black textured background again the text might be eye catching. It certainly is, but I think it’s quite jumpy and doesn’t give any nod to the measured, analytical approach of true typography.
This final draft cover is the beginning of creating the thumbnail I’d drawn that had a wild west theme. I would continue the cover, to have the typeface on the desert floor, a cactus, the sun and a drop shadow off the text. But I don’t have the time to try creating that (plus I don’t think I can really do that justice), so I’ll leave it there for now.If you’re wondering why I don’t feel like I can do the neon and western style justice, see the crazy skill of these neon designs below:
Next post I’ll discuss the articles/inside magazine pages and the complete assignment…
I found this part of the assignment quite challenging. Partly due to having to try write about Typography, and partly due to the issue of layout (I didn’t feel particularly sure what would work).
I looked at a couple of other students approaches to this to help me see what might work/be appropriate for assignment. I found these two students blog’s helpful:
I then set about jotting down possible ideas/angles for writing the articles:
I decided that I could describe what makes a typeface interesting by using an example. I looked into the typeface ‘Playbill’ earlier in the unit and am fond of ‘Slab Serif’ typefaces so this seemed like a good choice. I felt like this might be a more effective way for me to express what I’ve learnt in the unit on typography.
I liked the way student Elizabeth Vessey had broken down the construction of a typeface into different steps. I wanted to do a similar thing but with the emphasis I had or felt was important. I also admired her approach to the Question mark section. I initially thought I could go a different route and show Question marks in Graphic Design. The site ‘Print Mag’ had an interesting article with a visual history of the use of Exclamation marks and question marks:
But I felt this was looking at question marks from the wrong perspective, it wasn’t really about typography. So my idea was to display ‘Slab Serif’ font question marks in keeping with the theme of the main article.
With a rough starting point for the articles I drew some thumbnails of possible layouts:
I then set about trying to write the article and play around with layout using Indesign. At first I focussed on looking purely at the main article ‘what makes a typeface interesting?’:
The circle and the image in the circle were an attempt to reference the circles on the front cover of the magazine, whilst also providing a visual which had an old, print feel which fitted with the history of Slab Serifs. In my first version the circle is too prominent, it leads you away from the text rather than helping add depth or interest.
I tried to incorporate the circle in a more subtle way by placing it behind the columns of text and decreasing it’s opacity. I think this is more effective but I wasn’t sure about the size of the font within the columns, compared to the text on the right hand page which is much smaller. I tired using a Slab Serif (Playbill) for the article heading and a Serif font for the body of the text (Georgia). I tried to create a sense of flow by using Georgian as the typeface for the body of text on both pages. I used Georgia Bold for the Heading and Subheadings of the ‘How to construct a typeface’ article, this was an attempt to add variety in the fonts. I’m not sure it works next to the big Slab heading on the left hand page.
I wasn’t sure about the circle behind the text on the left hand page so tried another layout. I decided to take the photo and make it a rectangle and the backdrop for a larger heading. I spread the body of the article out over three columns which I think looks more balanced. I had a bit of trouble with how to best align the paragraphs but settled on aligned them to the left.
I moved on to experimenting with the typefaces and layout of the right hand page in version four. I decide to try using another Slab like typeface for the heading ‘How to construct a typeface in 6 steps’, except this font was Sans Serif. I like the contrast between the two main headings. I also liked the way the grey strip with the question mark broke up the page and added some movement. But when you look at it as a whole it does draw the eye to itself.
For version five I tried to create a new layout for the left hand page, by reducing the text to one column and including lots of pictures. But I struggled to figure out how best to arrange the photos alongside the text, so I ended up moving on.
In my final spread experiment I tried to balance the layout by having everything sitting landscape. I thought this might work but it still feels like there’s too much empty space underneath the question mark section. Maybe a different coloured strip than grey would help things look more dynamic? I also tried experimenting with placing a photo within the body of the main article. I don’t think it was very effective as it caused several words to become hyphenated, which made the text harder to read
Final Cover & Magazine Spread
I feel like the final cover and magazine spread work well together, largely due to similar colour schemes and the tie of the ‘slab serif’ theme throughout. I think there’s plenty of room for more experimentation and improvement of layout and also with using different typefaces across the spread. I think my experimentation with typefaces was limited here, perhaps I became too concerned with addressing the issue of layout. It would also be fair to say I gave more time to the cover than the magazine articles. Again I felt more comfortable working on the cover than the article as I was unsure of how to articulate what I’d learnt about typography. I think a way to improve the articles could be by using more in-depth or technical analysis of typefaces.