Project 3

Exercise One : Typeface Tracing

My Typeface Tracing

The typefaces traced from top to bottom: Adobe Garamond, Didot, Helvetica and Futura.

Exercise Two : Typographic Voice

Introduction: This exercise made me explore how choice of typeface effects the meaning and emotional feeling of a word. “Melancholy” is word I chose. And I am going to show this word with 5 different fonts.

Melancholy in Ariel Black

Arial is a sans-serif typeface designed by Robin Nocholas and Patricia Saunders in 1982. It was created to be metrically identical to Helvetica with all characters widths and identical. Monotone in stroke widths, Arial Black just makes the word more formal and traditional indifferent to its special meaning of sadness.

Melancholy in Chalkboard

Chalkboard is a font released by Apple in 2003 which is regularly compared to Microsoft’s Comic Sans font. Similar to Comic Sans, the font is casual and legible that is accepted by many people. In this case, because of its casualness and playfulness, Chalkboard is too fun to convey the meaning of “melancholy” with more unhappiness and gloominess.

Melancholy in Curlz MT

Curlz is a whimsical serif typeface designed by Carl Crossgrove and Steve Matteson in 1995. This font is fanciful in an amusing way with curly circles at the end of stroke. It is obvious to notice that such playful decorations are not very suitable to reinforce the negative emotion in “melancholy”.

Melancholy in Garamond

Garamond is a group of many old-style serif typefaces which was originally designed by Parisian craftsman Claude Garamond in 16th century. As an old-style serif letter design, Garamond is popular in book printing due to its legibility. However, although Garamond is a clean and clear font, it does not do very well in further explaining the meaning of melancholy more of sadness and unhappiness other than functioning as an ordinary typeface.

Melancholy in Mistral

Mistral is a casual script typeface designed by Roger Excoffon and released in 1953. Based on his own handwriting, Excoffon designed Mistral in an informal graphic quality similar to brush and ink and small letters often connect letters together by one stroke. Developed from a real man’s handwriting, Mistral could reinforce the meaning of words through human emotions. In my eyes, the “melancholy” shown above is just like a emotional reflection from Excoffon who might also feel a bit gloomy when he wrote this word. Therefore, I believe melancholy fits with Mistral font the most.

A little research on the font Garamond :

Gamond is a family of old-style serif typefaces derived from the work of Claude Garamond in the sixteenth century. Claude Garamond (ca. 1480–1561) cut types for the Parisian scholar-printer Robert Estienne in the first part of the sixteenth century, basing his romans on the types cut by Francesco Griffo for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius in 1495. Garamond refined his romans in later versions, adding his own concepts as he developed his skills as a punchcutter.

After his death in 1561, the Garamond punches made their way to the printing office of Christoph Plantin in Antwerp, where they were used by Plantin for many decades, and still exist in the Plantin-Moretus museum. Other Garamond punches went to the Frankfurt foundry of Egenolff-Berner, who issued a specimen in 1592 that became an important source of information about the Garamond types for later scholars and designers.

In 1621, sixty years after Garamond’s death, the French printer Jean Jannon (1580–1635) issued a specimen of typefaces that had some characteristics similar to the Garamond designs, though his letters were more asymmetrical and irregular in slope and axis. Jannon’s types disappeared from use for about two hundred years, but were re-discovered in the French national printing office in 1825, when they were wrongly attributed to Claude Garamond. Their true origin was not to be revealed until the 1927 research of Beatrice Warde.

In the early 1900s, Jannon’s types were used to print a history of printing in France, which brought new attention to French typography and the “Garamond” types. This sparked the beginning of modern revivals; some based on the mistaken model from Jannon’s types, and others on the original Garamond types. Italics for Garamond fonts have sometimes been based on those cut by Robert Granjon (1513–1589), who worked for Plantin and whose types are also on the Egenolff-Berner specimen.

Most Garamond fonts have become renowned for their excellent readability, elegance, and character. You have read novels, poems, or pamphlets typeset in Garamond before without noticing, as it is selected by numerous publishers, authors, and individuals for the printing of their works.

An Example of Book Design in Garamond

Sources :

Exercise Three : Typographic Hierarchy

  1. Linespacing

2. Typographic weights

3. Horizontal shift or Indentation

4. Typographic weights & linespacing

5. Typographic weights & horizontal shift

6. Horizontal shift & linespacing

7. Size change & typographic weight

Part Two: Process Documentation of Type & Hierarchy Design

In this final design assignment for Project Three, we put together the variables we have experimented with in the previous exercises along with some new elements to create a type specimen poster. My poster is about Garamond, which is an old-style serif family of typefaces originally designed in 16th century. The following documents my whole design process for this poster.

  1. Poster Sketch

This is my first sketch of the poster that roughly covered my initial ideas. After looking some other typeface posters for inspiration, I found that it might be a cool idea to put the name of the typeface, which should be the core message in the poster, on the center by positioning the letters vertically in an interesting pattern like what I did above. With time of design on the top left corner, I wanted to put other important information like history and type feature along the two sides.

Even though I tried to create a sense of symmetry, the diagonal pattern of the letters kind of disrupted it. And another problem of this sketch is that people might find it hard to recognize the “Garamond” on the center by linking the letters from left to right and right to left. If the center message could not be understood easily, then my poster is definitely a failure then. Therefore, I started to figure out a more symmetric and easy pattern to highlight “Garamond” as well as other message I want to convey.

2. First Digital Iteration

My first digital version by Indesign utilized a two-column layout that kept my initial idea in centering “Garamond”. Since Garamond is an old-style family of typeface representing French Renaissance, I chose dark red as the background color to show its traditional and classical feature. Also, by using 4 different sizes of Garamond, I played with hierarchy and highlighted the history, feature and book design parts with italic fonts.

Although there were some progress compared to my sketch, I realized some problems in it through class feedback and advice from my instructors. An apparent one is too wordy. A successful poster should catch people’s attentions right away when they stand in a distance rather than explain everything in details like a manual. Another feedback I receive is that the diagonal “MADE” may be hard to read and kind of ruined the hierarchy structure in this poster. Based on these comments, I began to think about what I would really want to convey in limited words and how to arrange the content to achieve a better design effect.

3. Second Digital Iteration

In the second version, I made a lot changes in order to express the idea of hierarchy with a better understanding of “tradition” and “classic”. First, I decided to use gray instead of dark red, because I like the effect of the color of the font by adjusting the gray scale. For the “Garamond”, I used 100% white and 40% white for the small texts under history. Second, I placed everything horizontally. To highlight the “Garamond” theme even more, I chose a much bigger size font for the “G” than those of other letters to catch people’s attention. Besides, I picked history and feature to be the two parts of information I want to emphasize. And instead of listing all the features of Garamond in a boring way, I added some comments next to the letter. For example, a small bowl of “a” and small eye of “e”.

With the help of my instructor, I found some other problems in this revised poster. For instance, the “Made in 16 Century” is not that interesting if its function is just to show the feature of the typeface. Also, the size of “History” and “Features” is not a good contribution to hierarchy because they are a little bit big as a section title. I continued to work on another iteration to address these problems.

4. Final Digital Iteration

Compared to the last version, I improved hierarchy by shrinking the size of “History” and “Feature” and enlarging the “G” even more. I believe this contrast would attract people a lot to come closer to the poster. The border lines I inserted above and below the “Garamond” not only function as separation of content, but also create the sense of elegance because of the beautiful shape of the stroke itself. Moreover, I abandoned the “Made in 16th Century” under the feature section and substituted it with “Traditional” and “Elegant”. These two features really are the two key concepts I want to convey so that is why they are in the second largest font size in this poster.

5. Conclusion

This project really makes me delve into the application of type and hierarchy in designing a poster. From the first sketch to the last iteration, I have a lot of thoughts about what information I hoped to express in this poster, what pattern I hoped to position items and what visual effects I hoped to create for the readers. The feedback from my classmates and instructors taught me well in addressing these questions. The experience let me obtain many useful insights in using typeface, color and shapes to convey hierarchy.