Project 4: Typeface design and type specimen book

Inspiration links:

You will design a typeface based on an architectural style, an architect, or a specific building then create a specimen book for your design.

  • design all 26 letters of the alphabet either in all caps or all lowercase.
  • design 0-9 and punctuation: . , ” ” ‘  ! ? @

Examples of Architectural Styles:

  • Ancient: Egyptian, Greek, Roman
  • French: Baroque, Rococo, Gothic, Art Nouveau
  • English: Tudor, Queen Anne, Victorian, Arts & Crafts
  • Italian: Romanesque, Futurism
  • Spanish: Art Nouveau – Antonio Gaudi
  • Swiss: International Style, Bauhaus
  • American: Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Prairie, Craftsman, Art Deco, Chicago style, Mid Century Modern, Post Modern
  • Any Other: Swiss Chalet, Chinese Pagoda, Middle East, Mayan, Aztec, etc…
  • Architects: Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Phillip Johnson, Le Corbusier, Louis Henri Sullivan, Frank Gehry

The general approach to designing a typeface:

  1. Research and be clear what architectural style you are using. List 3-5 characteristics of that style and be able to explain how you incorporated those aspects into your type design. Collect images to show as examples. Make sure you design idea does not exist already.
  2. Start with sketches. Do not take an existing typeface, create outlines and change it. Grid paper is helpful at this stage.
  3. Use the control characters, H and O for uppercase, n and o for lowercase. We will have a progress crit with these characters. Then use these characters to build the rest of your font in Illustrator. We’ll use a grid template to keep all characters consistent.
  4. After you design a few characters, spell a word and test out the spacing and how the letters flow together. Print out and check.
  5. Only after you have designed all letters, then move to the numbers and punctuation.
  6. Again, spell out more words, a sentence and print out to test.
  7. We’ll critique this part before moving on to your type specimen book.

Type specimen book.

A type specimen is a way of showing your new type design. It can contain the entire font or just select characters. Think about how you can creatively combine your type, the architectural influence and your book format. We’ll discuss binding options in class as I have many examples.

  • accordion
  • saddle stitch
  • sewn
  • zine style

We will have a final crit of your typeface and type specimen the Monday before Thanksgiving break.