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Typographic Poster

It seems that the ability to hold a grudge is something humanity has trouble letting go. The world is also full of those who like to blame others for their own mistakes, and people fighting in the name of religions that preach peace. Our world is full of conflict, crime, war, and other abuse.

Peace for the world is a cliché topic, but the reason it has been brought up so often, is because it’s one of the major needs for humanity. One of the things that can help bring peace is civility. Civility can also make a large difference on a smaller scale than world peace.

I looked for a message of peace in presidential speeches, and found what I needed in the 1961 John F. Kennedy speech. In it he says, “civility is not a sign of weakness”. This is also a phrase that I closely relate to, because I’ve had my own experiences of having to interact with people who did not like me, and were not civil with me, in spite of the obvious benefit in doing otherwise. I’m sure everyone has a similar story to share.

My next step was to choose a color and a typeface to use for the poster. I started with color by printing color samples from all four choices. I knew that I wanted my color to be either green or blue, because of their peaceful qualities. My decision landed on blue, because it is the color of the clear sky, which in itself is a vast space of peace. It is calming, and it felt like it had a closer connection to my message in comparison to green. I tend to associate green with environmental movements.

In choosing my typeface, I initially failed in doing adequate research, thus making a bad first choice, based only on personal aesthetic preference. I have learned my lesson, and  also gained some knowledge from research I performed later in this design process. Credit should also be given to my professor and classmates. The final choice ended up being Caslon, which has a personality of tradition, stability, formality, politeness, maturity, and conformity. All of these are characteristic in the action of civility.  It is also nice that the lowercase “i” in Caslon is reminiscent in its form to a person.

Vertical versions of this poster were tried as drafts, but ultimately, a horizontal layout is a better choice. The horizontal layout of the page, and the horizontal positioning of the text, reinforce the understanding that civility, or the act of being civil; requires one to be calm, well grounded or stable in their behavior, and the ability not to cross set borders. This is also the reason why the text in this composition allows for spacious borders on all four sides.

Finally, I would like to talk about the extra copy of text from the speech. I wanted to use it in a practical, meaningful way. I wanted it to have a purpose other than for decoration or aesthetic effects in this composition. After many failed drafts, several possible good solutions, and help from classmates, I decided to use it to convey a sense of weakness or breakdown of the word “weakness” in my message. This adds a graphic element to the  message. It also provides variety, and an interesting visual element to the poster.

Letter Spacing


As I may have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am currently taking a typography class as part of my graphic design education at UTC. Some of you may have also read my post about Jan Tschichold and the typeface Sabon. That post was a part of a school project, and here I am going to explain the process for completing this project.

The requirements were to create an 11×17 printout, that included the type designer’s name, the typeface name, and a brief description about the typeface. There were specific guidelines about the font and size variations to be used, as well as page layout guidelines. The full instructions can be viewed here:

The most difficult part about completing this project was learning how to implement kerning correctly and effectively. After reading several educational articles about kerning, and obtaining advice from classmates, I was able to arrive at the shown final product.

I learned that it’s not enough to just set the kerning option in illustrator to “optical”. Some  manual adjustments are always needed. It was particularly important and difficult to adjust the kerning between the capital “J” and lowercase “a”, and between the capital “T” and lowercase “s” in the designer’s name.

Another task that proved challenging in this project was the line adjustments in the paragraph containing info about the typeface. I learned about soft and hard returns. I also learned how to manipulate each line’s length so the paragraph looks well balanced on the right side.

Overall this was a valuable and educational experience, that also ended up being fun.

Jan Tschichold and Sabon

Jan Tschichold (1902-1974) was born in Leipzig, Germany. He was a typographer, book designer, teacher, and writer. He had an artisan background from his parents and calligraphic training. This set him apart from other typographers, because most of them were trained in architecture and the fine arts.

Tschichold was first a modernist and later a classicist. He became a leading modernist designer with his 1925 magazine supplement, 1927 personal exhibition, and his most noted work Die neue Typographie. In this book he condemned all fonts except sans-serif. His classicist beliefs started around 1932. Later he even called Die neue Typographie too extreme.

Some of the typefaces Tschichold has designed are Transit (1931), Saskia (1931/1932), Zeus (1931), and Sabon (1966/1967).

Sabon is an old style serif typeface, and it is frequently described as a Garamond revival. It was released jointly by the Linotype, Monotype, and Stempel type foundries. It was designed so it would give the same reproduction on both Monotype and Linotype systems. One of its earliest use was by Bradbury Thompson for the Washburn College Bible (1973). Sabon was also used in the Book of Common Prayer (1979) by the Episcopal Church (US), and the church’s secondary liturgical texts.

Later versions of Sabon (released by Linotype), include Sabon Next, Sabon Next Display, Sabon Next Ornaments, and Sabon Infant. Sabon Next Display was designed for a 20point or above size of Sabon Next. Linotype sells both of these typefaces, but shows both available in the same range of sizes (and they look identical), which is confusing to me. If anyone has an explanation for this, please comment to this post. The images shown for Sabon Next, Sabon Next Display, and Sabon Next Ornaments are taken from the Linotype website.

Sabon Infant has single-story versions of the letters A and G and is used in children’s books but is very rare. I was unsuccessful in finding an example of this typeface. If anyone has an example, please post the image and a comment here. It will be much appreciated. The images here simply show what a single-story A and G look like, but they are not written in the Sabon Infant typeface.

My sources for this post include:

The Art Directors Club at

Wikipedia articles on Jan Tschichold, Sabon, and single story letters

The Linotype website at

Color Exploration With Project Ligature

This is a continuation of Project Ligature. It involves the exploration of complimentary colors in combination with the abstract ligature composition. I played around with several color combinations. The colors were all hand picked (click on the image to view a close up) – I decided against using a color scheme helper software. I have also included the Adobe Illustrator versions of the black and white compositions, since my previous post only included photographs of the ink-brushed versions.

I tried to pick colors that would be successful as both a background and a foreground color. As you can see, some do and some d0 not fit that requirement. The more successful combinations are the ones with well contrasting colors. I picked the blue-green/warm yellow combination because it does have good contrast, and it works well when reversed. One of the reasons is because the blue-green has both black and white additions, whereas the yellow is only tinted.

But we all know that contrast (although needed) is not the only influential factor when making a choice about colors. Mood and personal preference is also important. Color speaks to us in many ways. It even has the ability of connecting with our other senses – smell, touch, taste, and even our memories.

I felt split between my final choice shown here and the dark-violet/light yellow combo. Both color combinations posses similar qualities, but the blue-green/warm yellow combination feels warmer and more inviting to my senses.

Something to consider is that if the figure-ground relationship or scale was different, then these color combinations will most likely convey a different look and feel to the color version of the ligature abstract.

Please write with questions, comments, or constructive criticism. I would love some feedback.

Project Ligature

I have found that designing with type can be difficult for a beginner, even though I’ve used type for most of my life. There are so many letter combination possibilities for ligatures, but only a few are visually pleasing as a free standing form.

I chose the combination of lowercase “a” and lowercase “k”, because the ligature is well grounded, balanced, and has an open form. Also, the visual result from the fusion of “a” and “k”, is, to my eye, beautiful.

I created versions of this ligature with three fonts: Univers, Bodoni, and Garamond. The fonts Bodoni and Universe worked better than Garamont, because they provided a better relationship between the letters’ stems and serifs (the serifs in Bodoni). In other words, Univers and Bodoni helped the letters fit together in a better way.

Once I narrowed my choices to the final two fonts, it became a question of personal taste. Both the Universe and the Bodoni ligatures are well-crafted and posses strong design principles, such as balance and unity. I chose the Bodoni font because I enjoy the positive and negative space created by the terminals and serifs. The sans serif, straight edge outline of the Universe ligature has a modern, minimalistic, and sharp look, which was not my preference for this particular project.

Keeping in mind that this project involves the creation of a ligature and the composition of an abstract piece from the ligature, my decision for a final font was also influenced by my experimentation with abstract compositions from both Universe and Bodoni. Universe, unlike Bodoni, did not allow for as many successful abstract compositions.

As I mentioned above, I had a few choices for strong abstract compositions in both fonts. I chose my final one based on my preference for curved lines and for fewer divisions of space in the provided parameters.

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