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.

Grid Placement

To start us thinking about our placement, Neil introduced us to the grid system. Innovated by Josef Muller-Brockmann whom used grids within all of his work to introduce structure and order, we tried to resemble this using a few sentences Neil had already prepared.

Thinking about placement and the hierarchy of the page, we were given a set grid to which we had to place our sentences on. This was a useful task as you really begin to think about how you want the page to look and how it will affect the reader; what will they read first? Is that the most important piece of information? Where do they look next? It was all about putting yourself in both the designer and the viewers shoes.

  • As a designer you have to think about what looks good, whilst still being practical and innovative. You have to attract the reader’s eye as well as still having a precise format that works practically and aesthethically.
  • As the viewer you have to think about where on the page you are drawn to first, what are you going to read first? If you saw this in a magazine or newspaper, would you read it?

Grid placements are all about balance. You have to think about what looks good to you as a designer, and you have to decide whether it will affect your target audience. As a whole, this workshop really helped me acknowledge the subtle undertones of graphic design. Grids are something I have never noticed before, but I am certain that I will begin to now that they have been introduced to me. That rusty spoon menu is never going to be the same again.

These were my grid placements and, although I wouldn’t use these particular layouts in any of my design work, it was a starting point where I can begin to develop further and I will use for future reference. I will certainly use these within my books later on in the moduele.


Ligatures. The decorative aspect of typography, one might say. The term ligature means “connection” in Latin.

Ligatures are the connection of two or more individual letters, or glyphs. This transcended from the use of metal plates when two letters were typeset together to reduced the risk of ink flowing onto other letters and ruining their form. Now, a misconception of ligatures is that they’re separate letters, this isn’t the case. Ligatures are two single letters crafted into one letter, or glyph.

There are two types of ligatures; Standard and Discretionary. Standard ligatures are applied by default as they are an improvement of the text, for example fi, ff, fl, ffl and Th. These kind of ligatures help with the readability of text and allows your eye to flow through text with ease. For example, the single letters of ‘f’ and ‘i’ will clash as the terminal of the ‘F’ will clash with the tittle of the ‘i’. So to stop this the two letters were crafted into a single glyph. Here’s an example of fi with and without ligatures:

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 15.55.52.png

Discretionary ligatures are used for decorative aspects. These are used in things such as logos and for creative advertising, rather than being a practical fix. Examples of these ligature set outs are ck, sp, st, rt and ct. These kind of ligatures heavily remind me of celtic script. Nonetheless, discretionary ligatures are available under Character > the option panel menu > OpenType > Discretionary ligatures. Here is an example of discretionary ligatures: Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 15.59.36.png

Overall, ligatures help with the readability of type. But professionally designed ligatures should match the letter spacing, or kerning, of the rest of the font. Personally, I wouldn’t use discretionary ligatures unless I was designing a piece for the early 20th century, whereas I’d use standard ligatures in every day practice. This is because discretionary ligatures seem a little too decorative for todays style and approach, where as standard ligatures actually improve the legibility and readability of the text. However, by using ligatures you’re still using traditional means in a contemporary context. It keeps us in touch with the past, something few people like, but today it will help us develop and maybe look at evolving on these letterforms.