A Reflection

Learning about typography, how and where to display it as well as its impact has been extremely helpful. Not only is it something we should know as a designer, it’s something that will help further my career.

There have been strong points within this brief, the contemporary side, and weaknesses, the traditional processes. However, I have developed and learnt from all aspects we have covered. I’d never have imagined myself doing processes such as calligraphy as we now live in the digital era and, before studying here, I narrow-mindedly assumed such traditional craftsmanships had come to a halt. Yet, partaking in both traditional and contemporary methods of graphic design has pushed me to become a well-rounded designer whom now understands that there are some things you just can not mimic on a screen.

One thing I have come to realise is that design is not based on creative intuition alone, but a strong structure behind it. Tools such as the baseline grid that help with fundamental things such as the layout of your page and the placement of your images and text, these are things I would never have imagined helping within design before starting university.

I’ve also learnt that I am surrounded by some of the most creative individuals that I have ever come across; tutors as well as peers. As a group we have a lot of potential and I’m thrilled to see how we develop over the upcoming briefs during the three years we will spend together.

Type Basics: Experimentation

Book 3 was all about my experimentation with typography and how I’ve developed upon letterforms. This was probably the easiest book to manufacture as I wrote about my experiences and views upon the artefacts, rather than defining what they are according to past beliefs.

What I particularly like about this book is that it allows me to look back and reflect on everything I have produced, both contemporary and traditional, and it shows my slight progression through this module. I’ve said before that I never considered traditional means of design as I was born in the midst of the digital era so everything around me has always been produced on a computer. It was good to experience workshops such as calligraphy and using a grid system to create my own alphabet, as if I had been asked to do this, I would have always resorted to the computer. Now, I can debate whether to produce by hand or by machine and in today’s market, that’s rare.

Here is my final book:

My only negative outlook on this book would be that there were not enough pages that I could design on. Half of this was due to my layout, but I wanted to have a concurrent theme running throughout all three of my books as I wanted them to be a range rather than three individual books. However, I think that the pieces I have displayed in my book work well amongst the range and I believe that it very much compliments them. Although I wanted to display my work in this book, I also wanted to write a little about each piece as I believe that I am stronger verbally than creatively, especially when it comes to deeper meanings. The only thing I changed was the size of the text boxes, as I didn’t want to write too much because the whole point of this book was the experimentation I’d partaken in. Again, the white space really makes the text stand out. Overall. my layout worked well both aesthetically and practically. I’ve extremely proud of my outcomes and I look forward to forwarding onto the next brief.

Type Basics: Classification

Book two is all about the different classifications of typefaces. When looking at the evolution of typefaces and their classifications you come to notice that a lot of the fonts mimc the time in which they were used. This was interesting to me as I’d never really thought about what styled fonts before, I never questioned whether they were a reflection and I ever really questioned them at all, to be honest. I just chose what looked nice. But now I have a further understanding, when doing projects that are time-based, for example if I had to do a poster for a tv programme that was set in the 1920’s, I’d know to use a Didone classified font.

Here is my second book and it’s layout:

Out of the three books this is the one I learnt from the most. Adapting from the type basics, this book gave me the in depth knowledge that I had lacked before. If anything, this book helped me develop on my basics skills and, in turn, resulted in me being a well-rounded designer. Before joining university I questioned whether it be better for me to go into the industry through an apprenticeship, but now I’m here, I know that I would have never learnt these techniques and had this much knowledge though a placement. I definitely made the right choice for me.

Adobe InDesign: A Guide

Andy and Alex asked us to create a personal referencing guide including all of the things we have learnt with them during their InDesign sessions so far. They asked us to create a 16 page book that was no bigger than A5. It could be in colour, and they would print it for us as colour is expensive. Very thoughtful.

For my InDesign book I decided to carry on the corporate feel of my 3 type basic books as I believed in that guide and I know it works well. I included page numbers, grids guides and the baseline, magazine deign, packaging, the different types of blacks, pantones and a short guide on short cuts you can find within InDesign. Not all of this I learnt with Andy and Alex, but the majority of it was.

Personally, I really enjoy the sessions we have with Andy and Alex as they’re always fun and we learnt a lot. In these sessions we learnt how to set up page numbers, which we needed within our type basic books, and an in depth session on grids, guides and the famous baseline. Now don’t get me wrong I enjoy these sessions, but there is no way you can make the baseline fun, it’s just not achievable.

Within the book sI explained what I had learnt and how it would help me within graphic design. I mean, obviously it would help us process otherwise it wouldn’t have been taught, but it was a little about where I would use the processes in the future.

Upon reflection, hadn’t I broken my foot whilst going for dinner and I had spent a little more time on this book I would have made it more than 16 pages as there was a lot more I could have written about. I’ll most likely adapt on this book progressing through the year, or I will make different books developing on the different software we learn. As of yet, I’m just glad I finished it before the deadline. Broken foot and all.

Here is the final book:

Alphabets within Grids

Influenced by Wim Crouwel’s approach to design, we began to look at grids and how we can use them to influence our alphabets, or rather how we can design an alphabet around a grid. I used squared, triangular and circular grids, but in the end I much preferred the circular grid as I had a guide for the curvature of letterforms. Here are a few examples of my squared and triangular grids, which were all a part of the trials and tribulations and helped me develop upon my final alphabet:


Final Alphabet

Now, I know it’s not perfect, but for a first attempt I’m rather happy. Using the curvature of the circles I made a continuously flowing letterform. My only downfall and something I plan to revisit in my sketchbook is the letters H and X look exactly the same, one I wouldn’t use the black forms on either side. Another downfall is the N and its extra long width, I could have cut down the size by using one less semi-circle, but all of these minor details should be easily fixed if I was to revisit the alphabet within my sketchbook.

Woodblock Printing

With Matt we looked at the traditional means of printing known as woodblock. Woodblock printing originated in China and was used throughout the 6th to 9th centuries by Buddhists to spread the teaching of Buddha. This kind of print was used to create calligraphy and patterns which were then soaked in ink or dye and pressed onto fabric or paper material. This ensured a precise pattern every time rather than copying by eye which, as we all know, two designs are never quite the same.

We were given quotes from famous graphic designers which we had to choose from a bowl. On reflection this was probably the best idea as the amount of faffing one can do over a quote is remarkable. I choose the quote “Of course design is about problem solving, but I cannot resist adding something personal” said by Wim Crouwel during an interview with Eye Magazine in 2007. Now, during the time of the woodblock printing I had broken my foot so I was unable to stand up meaning I had to completely press to letters down by hand whilst sitting which, between you and I, wasn’t the easiest task. Due to this, the alignment of the text unfortunately slopes to the left progressively. Looking back, I should’ve placed down some masking tape so I had a line to follow. But looking back, I would’ve done a lot of things differently so it’s best to reflect on the end result I have rather than the one I would have liked to have.

Here are my outcomes:


This is my final quote poster. I like the rustic, almost used look that the ink left. Some would say it’s unrefined where I think it adds character. As I took a picture of the final design rather than scanning it in, you cannot tell that the text leans to the left. Overall, I am really happy with it and I think the use of a backwards d, question mark and 9 really adds something personal to the piece, reflecting on what Wim Crouwel was saying.


This page was where I repeatedly pressed my words so when I pressed them on my poster, they would have a tired look rather than being pure black. I like the textures on this scrap piece, as well as the overlapping of some words.

One overly annoying aspect about this process was the ink and it’s ability to stain everything it touched, almost like Donald Trump. The ink gets everywhere and it’s extremely difficult to clean, especially on the woodblocks themselves. The whole process would have taken me around 40 minutes where as the cleaning upped the anti and the process instead took 2 hours. Tedious but well worth the outcome.

VoxA-TypI Classification System

The VoxA-TypI system was used to classify fonts based on their characteristics. Now, the typefaces would usually be whittled down to their century e.g. 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th however they were also classified dependant on their letterform characteristics, for example the downstroke, upstroke, forms of serifs, stroke axis, x-height and more.

Devised by Maximilien Vox in 1954 the VoxA-TypI system made it possible to define fonts in just 9 different classifications, bot it was revised and is now an 11 part scheme. However, one major flaw of this system was that many fonts overlapped classifications. For example, the font Gill Sans would be classified as both Lineal and Garald.

The VoxA-TypI system can be broken down into 4 main categories, and then split further into sub categories. Here is a broken down spectrum of the VoxA-TypI system itself:

Classicals: Also referred to as ‘old style’, classical fonts are further broken down into three categories: Humanist, Garald and Transitional. They are characterised by a low stroke contrast, triangular serifs and oblique axis. 

  • Humanist: Humanistic, Humanes, or Venetian Humanist typefaces mimic and/or represent handwriting within the renaissance manuscripts. Humanists include the first Roman typefaces created by Venetian printers during the 15th century and look very formal. Characteristics? Low/hardly any contrast between strokes, heavy and short bracketed serifs, diagonal cross-stroke on ‘e’ and n ascenders they tend to have slanted serifs.


  • Garald: Garald, or Aldine, was named after Claude Garamond, a famous typeface designer, as well as Aldus Manutius whom was a printer and publisher. Garald’s were used to support the orthography and use of proper grammar under the reign of King Francis I in mid 16th century France. Different to humanists as their characteristics included finer proportions and a stronger contrast in stroke weights, as well as using a slanted axis.


  • Transitional: During the 18th century John Baskerville established transitional typefaces, also referred to as Realist, Réales and Baroque. These typefaces take attributions from both humanist and neo-classical typefaces, using characteristics from both.


Moderns: Further broken down into Didone, Mechanistic and Linear, modern fonts are characterised by a simple and functional aesthetic that grew popular during the industrial period.

  • Didone: Also known as modern, they were first created in the late 18th century. They are named after two type-founders; Didot and Bodoni. The contrast between the stroke size is dramatic compared to what had been seen before. The characteristics for didone include a strong contrast between thick and thin strokes, vertical axis for curved strokes, limited to no bracketing on serifs and the terminals often have ball shapes.
  • Mechanistic: Mechanical, Slab Serif or Mécanes grew in popularity during the 19th century; coinciding with the Industrial Revolution. These typefaces were very much popular for advertising as they were easy to read. Characteristics include low contrast between strokes, heavy strokes with rectangular thick serifs and limited to no bracketing on serifs.
  • Linear: Linear fonts were further sub-categorised into grotesque, neo-grotesque, geometric and humanist.

Linear Grotesque: Originating in the 19th century,grotesques were early sans serif fonts which grew increasingly popular commercially. The grotesques feature many unlikely characteristics including an odd distribution of line thicknesses on curved letterforms, a double story lowercase ‘g’, a spur on the uppercase ‘G’, a curled leg on the uppercase ‘R’ as well as a vertical axis.

Linear Neo-Grotesque: Also referred to as transitional, neo-grotesque on the earlier grotesque typefaces. This category contains some of the most famous sans serif designs. Developing on the grotesque designs however the letterforms are much more simple. There is less variation in stroke weight and the lowercase g is now a single story, rather than it being double like grotesque fonts.

Geometric: Created with an equal or almost equal stroke width and are designed using simple geometric forms which are repeated and used throughout the letterform. As a result of this the geometric typefaces are less readable and letters are harder to differentiate from one another. Characteristics of geometric letterforms are little to no contrast between the vertical and horizontal strokes and character shapes are influenced by geometric forms such as squares, triangles and circles.

Humanist: Humanist typefaces are inspired by earlier classical letterforms. The uppercase of humanist typefaces relate to Roman inscriptional letters, and the characteristics of the lowercase are similar to those of Carolingian script. Characteristics of humanist fonts are noticeable contrast between stroke proportions and characteristics match serif typefaces, they are influenced by calligraphic forms and due to this the humanist classification are said to be the most legible and readable of all the sans serif classifications.

Calligraphics: Charaterised by a hand-rendered look, calligraphic typefaces can be further broken down into Glyphics, Script, Blackletter and Gaelic. 

  • Glyphics: Glyphic, incised or incise letterforms are based on engravings in stone and/or metal. As a result they have small triangular shaped serifs or flared terminals. These typefaces focus on the uppercase characters, many of which don’t contain any lowercase letters altogether. Their characteristics include minimal contrast between strokes, a vertical axis for curved strokes and a tapering effect at the terminals and/or triangular shaped serifs.


  • Script: Scriptes or scripts represent cursive writing and as a result they have strong sloping forms, like italic, and letterforms can be connected. Included in this category are typefaces that imitate copperplate scripts. Characteristics of sript fonts appear to be written with a quill and have a strong slope/lean as well as letters often being connected.


  • Blackletter: Blackletter, otherwise known as gothic script, gothic minuscule or Textura is based on the medieval scribe hand-rendered with broad-nibbed pens. First used by Gutenberg for the letterpress. They were used to print body text until eventually Humanist typefaces took over with the invention of movable type in the early 20th century. This typeface was also famous for being used in Nazi propaganda, but it is very narrow-minded to limit the classification of blackletter to the one negative attached to it.


  • Gaelic: Irish character, Irish type or Gaelic script was used as early as the 16th Century. These typefaces originated from Irish scripts found on medieval manuscripts. Gaelic type was used for mainly setting body text and was used throughout Ireland before losing popularity during mid 20th Century. In modern times, Gaelic type is used for decorative purposes rather than commercial advertising or body text, but is commonly found on pub signs and greeting cards.


  • Non-Latin: Famously known as exotics to English printers, the non-latin category was not included in Vox’s original 9 groups. The clear distinction of this category is that the typeface is not based on the latin alphabet. It includes typefaces that are Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Chinese, etc. As the Vox type classification system is very Latin based, non-latin types are very underrepresented