Garamond: Type Specimen Poster

Design: Print & Illustration

Spring 2021

About the Project

Through this project for Communication Design Fundamentals, we created a type specimen poster. By experimenting with Gestalt principles, line spacing, indentation, color, tone, value, texture and position, I put together a poster about the font Garamond. The poster contains the name of the typeface, the name of the designer, the year it was designed, a paragraph or two discussing the typeface’s history and its form purpose, a full character set and optionally, a quote or tagline relevant to the typeface.

Through the arrangement of all this information, I showcase and emphasize Garamond’s unique qualities, paying homage to the typeface’s history and its usage today. The poster includes type, color, and a background.

Exercise 1: Typographic Voice

February 24, 2021

The first exercise we did was to explore how choice of typeface can affect the meaning and emotional feeling of a word. I chose one word out of the following words to experiment with: melancholy, purity, tradition, future, serendipity, denial, relaxation, rebellion, supreme, organic, bright, trust, and experiment. The word I picked was rebellion.

I picked fonts that I felt broke out of the standard serif and san serif font mold that we see so often in every day documents. The fonts I chose were:

  1. Stick — The unusual disconnectedness of letters (such as in the e or the b) and the abnormal boxy-ness of the font made me think of rebelling against a standard font. However, it is still quite tame for “rebellion”.
  2. Bangers — The loudness, high contrast of the letters, and the oblique axis of the ‘o’ gave me the sense of rebellion. It reminded me of a comic book font which is not a standard font used often in everyday documents.
  3. Bungee — The exagerated serif on the L but not the other letters spoke to me when I first saw it. However, after more examination I feel like the roundness of the letters and the rectangular nature of the letters doesn’t really fit the word “rebellion”.
  4. Monoton — I thought this font was super unique with the many strokes in each letter. However, the uniformity of font with the low contrast makes the font seem not very rebellious.
  5. Rock salt — Making the ‘E’s become descenders really accentuate this font as different and the ligature between the ‘R’ and ‘E’ is something not seen in other fonts. Additionally, the letters seem crooked and irregular, which accentuates the idea of “rebellion”.

In the below figure, I used font size 24 pt for all fonts.

Figure 1. Rebellion 5 Ways

I really debated between Bangers(#2) and Rock Salt(#5), but ultimately Rock Salt really accentuates the idea of rebellion because of its avoidance of uniformity and its rebellion against the typical font (pun intended).

Exercise 2: Typographic Hierarchy

March 1, 2021

This second exercise is an exploration of typographic variables in clarifying a message. To quote Nathan Felde, “Are you working for the reader or are you asking the reader to work?”

We were given a chunk of text and several different ways to change the message of the information.

Linespacing Variation

In this first one, I picked one weight (Avenir Medium) for all the font. I varied where I inserted one full linespace between lines of type of my choice, without inserting more than one full line space between any two lines of type.

In version one, I used linespacing to emphasize the “title” of this chuck of information “The Z-axis Seminar Series”, the time for all talks“4:30”, and the fact that “admission [is] free”. I think this version emphasizes the what, when, where, and freeness the best. I will be calling the what, when, where, and freeness f3w from now on.

In version two, I used line spacing to separate out each of the seminars, so it is clearer which chunks of three lines are the three different talks. This version highlights the main content (the three talks) the clearest and gives a better association of each block of text.

Overall, I think version two does a better job of seperating out the text because each block is one unit of information, unlike the first version which still has blocks of text that needs to be manually parsed by the reader.

Figure 2. Linespacing Variation

Typographic Weights Variation

Next, I varied the weights of Avenir without changing any other aspects.

In the first version, I chose two weights: Avenir bold and medium. I used the bold to emphasize the f3w of the seminar series.

In the second version, I used all four weights in combination: Avenir light, roman, medium and bold. I made the presentation, speakers, and address lines light; the title of the talks roman; the two Carnegie Mellon lines medium; and the important f3w bold. Honestly, at first glance, the light, roman, and medium look very similar and the contrast is so subtle that it doesn’t really aid in parsing the information.

I think the first version does a better job of emphasizing certain texts. The second one with all the weights becomes inconsistent because there are so many small variations and yet somehow still doesn’t make a huge impact. Thus, sticking to fewer weight variation creates a cleaner emphasis.

Figure 3. Typographic Weights Variation

Typographic Weights & Linespacing Variation

I picked two weights and used linespacing (no more than one full linespace between any two lines).

The first version combines the first version of linespacing and the first version of the typographic weights to use linespacing and Avenir bold typographic weight to emphasize the f3w. I also used Avenir light for everything else. This created a super sharp contrast of the important parts versus the details.

The second version combines the second version of linespacing and the first version of typographic weights. It thus create an emphasis of the f3w but with extra preprocessing of the information using the line spaces between each talk.

Overall, I think the second is more effective because it uses linespacing to break up the information and emphasizes the important data with the typographic weights. The second one has the same issue as the original version one of linespacing, with the reader needing to do additional parsing.

Figure 4. Typographic Weights & Linespacing Variation

Size Change & Typographic Weights Variation

For this last variation, I selected two typographic weights, change of point size to emphasize hierarchical differences, change of information ordering, and linespacing.

In version one, I changed the order of information with emphasis on the what, where, when and within each talk the topic of the talk. The topic of the talk was also bolded to give more emphasis to the topic. The what has significantly larger point size which really makes it stand out. I also used the line spacing from version two of typographic weights & linespacing to make for easier parsing.

In the second version, I did not change the order of the information. Like the first version, I made the f2w larger. I also emphasized the date of each talk with a larger point size and made the point size of the speakers smaller to give it less attention.

I think the first one is more successful because the order and size makes readers take in the information of the what, when, where first and then tells what each talk is about then the date. The second one has a similar problem to the four weight typographic weight version with too many variations of sizes that the emphasis is less effective.

Figure 5. Size Change & Typographic Weights Variation

Thoughts After Exercise

After doing these variations, I found that variation of line space, size, and typographic weight can make a huge difference in how easy it is to read a block of text. The most important thing I learned was probably more is not always better. Having restraint with the number of types of size, weight, spacing can actually do a better job of parsing information than just trying to add more. This is probably why medium has only the big header, the small header and normal text.

Researching the Typeface

Through my research on Garamond, I found that there have been versions of Garamond fonts that have popped up since it was first conceived in the 16th centure. It has even been used in Apple products. What makes the font so unique is the style of the scooped and rounded serifs and slanted spaces, most exemplified in the ‘e’ and ‘a’ that were a product of Claude Garamond’s handcrafted metal punch cuts and matrices.

Some of the sources I used for background information were: Wikipedia, Freepik Company Blog, and Meaningful Type.

Information For My Poster

Name of Typeface: Garamond

Name of Typeface Designer: Claude Garamond

Year it was Designed: 1561

Full Character Set:

Figure 6. Character Set

Paragraph about the typeface & the purpose of its form:

The Garamond typeface we know today has many variations, designed by different font designers inspired by the original punch cuts designed by Claude Garamond in the 16th Century. Garamond had a unique style of designing type that did not exactly resemble a scribe’s handwriting, rather a kind of typeface which even though boasted a calligraphist feel, was easier to use with printing presses. His typefaces were used in many printed Roman and Latin books. Upon his death, his unique typefaces were acquired by different type foundries; this is when the Garamond Fonts came to existence as we know them today.

… or another possibility for a paragraph is:

Garamond is Michelangelo’s David to the type world: a timeless masterpiece created by a classical craftsman and a cherished piece of history. Even in today’s digital forms, Garamond evokes the hand, puckering and bloating in delicate ways like ink swelling within paper fibers. Its beautifully imperfect letters reads like a renaissance manuscript, elegant without feeling overly ornate or showy.

Classic and classy, Garamond maintains a high level of admiration and continued use that is very unusual for its age.
Like David, Garamond came quietly into the world yet has been a marker to which everything that has come after it is measured.

Sketch Iteration

February 24, 2021

I sketched on my iPad some basic layouts as part of breadth of exploration.

Figure 7. Hand Sketch Iteration 1

I like how 1, 4, 5 turned out. I think 1 and 5 are the most interesting because it plays with the words as well as the G being partially cut off in 5. I think 3 is too playful because Garamond was made for manuscripts and the type being slanted doesn’t properly evoke this feeling.

Digital Iteration 1

March 1, 2021

These are the digital transfers of my iPad sketches. I grouped them in twos because they ended up having similar themes. The color I picked was based on a manuscript because the font was most often found in manuscripts and books, so the color is somewhat mimicking old parchment.

Digital 1 is based off of my hand sketch 1. One thing I found I didn’t like was how the ascender of the ‘d’ got so close to the ‘u’ making it feel not evenly spaced. Digital sketch 2 is based loosely off of my hand sketch 4. I decided to add in the acrostic, but it might be interesting to see how it would look without the acrostic. The second one is has the ‘G’ of Garamond as a drop cap for the description paragraph which I thought was an interesting reuse of the ‘G’.

Figure 8. Digital Iteration 1: 1 & 2

I find both to be a little off kilter in terms of spacing. I also think it might be helpful if I got some sort of grid that could be helpful.

Digital 3 & 4 are based off of hand sketch 5 with the letter ‘g’ partially cut off. In both, I really like how the ‘C’ intersects the ‘G’ and creates a sort of chain effect. In digital 3, I also really like how “GARAMOND” is capitalized and has the “Claude” that follow right after because in French on forms, names are written such that the last name comes first in all caps, and then the first name comes after. I wish there was less of an awkard space between the left side of the poster and the alphabet; I also wish the paragraph line length didn’t span most of the width of the poster. In digital 4, I really like where the ‘g’, ‘c’ and establish date cross and how the description is split with the “Claude” running through. I also think the spacing of the alphabet is better. I wish the overall rag on the right side was cleaner.

Figure 9. Digital Iteration 1: 3 & 4

The following two are almost the exact same, just with the white space and the colored space flipped. They both remind me of a book cover/book back cover simultaneously. I got inspired by the super large letter in the previous iteration and thought it looked so cool with the “aramond” sitting on the ‘G’. However, looking at it now, I do have questions of whether or not it is still readable. Also, I’m not sure I like the way the paragraph is styled. I think digital 6 is more successful because the G feels like its sitting more solidly.

Figure 10. Digital Iteration 1: 5 & 6

I‘m starting to realize through this process truly how many different ways there can be to style these five components on a page.

Feedback on Iteration 1

My use of colored blocks in the background is not within the specifications of the project becaue they create shapes; I’ll this for future iterations. The ‘g’ the fourth composition is a signature, so I should try to highlight it in future iterations. I also committed a type crime in the fourth composition with the orphaned “showy”, poor word. The muted colors work well. The sixth one really has the paragraph as a footnote; this needs to be fixed.

Digital Iteration 2

March 3, 2021

Based on the feedback of the first iteration, I explored the fourth and sixth compositions more in depth.

For the fourth composition, I got rid of the color block in the background and then I tried out adding a shadow and thrid color to the composition. I think the shadow adds a nice dimensionality in 4.2. I think 4.1 does a better job having a clean interaction of the large ‘g’ and ‘C’ of Claude.

Figure 11. Digital Iteration 2: 4.1, 4.2

For the sixth composition, I also got rid of the color blocks and tried to make the paragraph more noticeable and integrated into the poster. For 6.1, I made it such that the capital ‘G’ is a drop cap of the start of the paragraph. I think the alphabet looks a bit squished though. In 6.2, the shadow ‘G’ gives adds some dynamics to the composition and the “garamond” in the corner was my attempt at some sort of watermark, but I’m not sure if it becomes too busy. In 6.3, I just wanted to try out if 6.2 didn’t have the watermark or shadow; it looks a bit too static in my opinion.

Figure 12. Digital Iteration 2: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3

Feedback on Iteration 2

This was the peer feedback session, which was good to have many pairs of eyes look at my compositions. The general consensus was that the iterations on 4 were more interesting. People liked the ‘g’ with a shadow better, so in the future I will do iterations off of 4.2. Things to edit starting off of 4.2: the color of the shadow (it’s not very clean right now), the vertical space between the paragraphs and “Claude”, and the sharp rectangular space around the top of the ‘g’.

Interestingly, people also wanted to see how series 4 would look with a capital ‘G’, so I am also going to go back and try to do more deepth iteration on 3 from digital iteration 1.

Digital Iteration 3

March 8, 2021

From 4.2, I first changed the shadow to be a hollow ‘g’ that just accentuates the ‘g’ without adding another color. There are 4 main areas I did variations on. The first area I changed was the area above the big ‘g’ to wrap the non-alphabet letters in the character set around it (4.21 just a close wrap, 4.22 the letters are spaced out more vertically so there is less of a top margin, 4.23 there are less characters to wrap). The second area I played with was the lower left corner (4.21 same as before, 4.22 watermark year, 4.23 the numbers). The third element is where the shadow is either to the left or to the right (look at 4.22 and 4.23). I think 4.23 does a better job because the interaction of the top piece of the ‘C’ looks cleaner. The last thing I changed was the positioning of the ‘Claude’ and the two paragraphs to try to address the spacing. I played with it quite a bit and now I can’t really tell which one is good.

Figure 13. Digital Iteration 3: 4.21, 4.22, 4.23

I tried playing around with the capitalized version that I started doing in 3 from Digital Iteration 1, but I ended up having a lot of trouble with the white space on the left and right of “Claude”. The one thing I found I liked was the left-side shadow and putting the “Est. 1561” in the character []. I incorporated thses into 4.23. There is just not as much dynamic that can be created with the big ‘G’.

Figure 14. Digital Iteration 3: 3.1

Feedback on Iteration 3

The feedback I got was to the 4.2 series was a good refinement. I think one of the biggest things I struggle with is negative space and the need to fill negative space. Some of the feedback I got was to switch the character set to lighter shade. The watermark in 4.22 is a bit too busy. I need to make small adjustments to the letting and spacing of the paragraph. In terms of the direction of the shadow the ones in 4.21 and 4.22 work better since it’s more typical for the light to come from the upper left.

Digital Iteration 4

March 10, 2021

I focused on small tweaks mentioned from the previous feedback on 4.22. I made changes to get rid of the water mark and tried a new stile for the year. I also tweaked the paragraph spacing. I also changed the color of the character set. I think the last one 4.223 works the best with the subtle fading of the character set.

Figure 14. Digital Iteration 4:4.22

Feedback on Iteration 4

From the interim design review, I was able to get some feedback. In the next iteration I will make the ‘C’ bigger, put the ‘[Est. 1561]’ in the bottom left corner, and I will play with the font size of the paragraph.

Figure 15. Digital Iteration 4: Critique

Digital Iteration 5

March 15, 2021

I addressed feedback with with making the ‘C’ bigger and moving the ‘[Est. 1561]’ in the bottom left corner. In these iterations, I mainly played with the sizing of the font of the paragraph. I really like how the two paragraphs wrapped ‘Claude’, so I tried to keep it in all iterations. However 16pt looks very spacy and so does 18pt. I think 20pt looks the best, but I’m not sure if it is a huge change from 21pt (which was the original).

Figure 16. Digital Iteration 5

Feedback on Iteration 5

Some of the feedback I got was to make the ‘g’ bigger and to remove the fade on the character set so that it felt more like part of the background and was less distracting. In the final iteration, I will continue to play with the paragraph size and placement.

Digital Iteration 6: Final Iteration

March 17, 2021

I played very subtly the paragraph placement, trying to even out the space between the ‘garamond’, ‘claude’, and two paragraphs. I ended up asking for more feedback and Anna suggested I make the font smaller and change the width of the paragraph to make up for the vertical height of the paragraph lost by making the font size smaller. I did this and found myself struggling with how the rag of the paragraphs looked. I ended up filling in a couple of words to help smooth out the rag of the paragraphs. Which was my final version.

Figure 17. Digital Iteration 6

Something someone pointed out in critique was the wobbliness of the outline of the ‘g’ and while the image I put into the Miro was small, I looked at the outline in inDesign and found that I kept seeing the slight wobbliness. I tried to fix it by making the ‘g’ smaller but it still had the issue so in the end I didn’t change it.

Final Type Specimen Poster

Here is my final poster that I presented at critique. What I hoped to to capture with this poster was the long history of Garamond being used in manuscripts, but with the font still very much in use today. The colors and the overall left-to-right proper feeling are meant to evoke this rich history of the font’s use in manuscripts. I wanted to highlight the ‘g’ since it is one of the distinctive markers of the typeface, which is why it is large and I added the shadow to the letter. Additionally, this effect with the ‘g’ with a shadow as well as the interlocking ‘C’ and the ‘Claude’ that interrupts the paragraphs adds some dynamics to the poster so it doesn’t feel to uptight and ordinary.

Figure 18. Final Poster


Throughout this project, I was able to really play with the garamond font and layout. I would describe the overall process as a funnel. I started with a really large breadth of ideas, narrowed down on one design and focused on tweaking small areas to make the poster more effective.

I know I struggled with this previously, but again I struggled with the idea of large areas of whitespace. My first instinct was to try to fill whitespace, even if it may actually be more impactful to have keep the white space for stronger effect. This showed up in two parts, the bottom left corner where I ultimately but the establishment date cleanly in the corner and in the bottom right column which I changed at the last moment to have large right margin for the paragraph. There is a more clean and clear separation of space and the paragraph doesn’t seem as “plopped” onto the page as it was previously the width of the paragraph extended to the end of the ‘d’ in garamond.

I really liked how for this project we were able to see how other people were progressing and practice giving feedback. This helped me in my own design process which I decided to change the shadow of the ‘g’ to be an outline rather than another solid color. This element really helped keep that clean look without making the poster too busy.

This project really helped me think about layout of posters and has definitely changed how I think about laying out posters/presentations other projects. For instance, I had to make a presentation for my Language Diversity & Cultural Identity class and I took some extra time to add more typographic style to my title slide so that the fonts really embodied my topic of street art. I used a stencil font for all my headings, found a more organic font to “sign” my name as the author of the presentation, and used a “wall” background to mimic my information being on the wall. (See bonus picture below.)

Figure 19. Bonus Image of the Title Slide of my Linguistic Landscape Project

I had a lot of fun with this project and look forward to the next project!




This course @ CMU introduces non-majors to the field of Communication Design by focusing on the foundations of visual communication that are relevant to a variety of disciplines. This publication includes process documentation of student work over the course of the semester.

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