Project 3: Type & Hierarchy

In project 3, we explore typography and hierarchy. The goal of the project is to create a type specimen poster of a typeface by researching its gestalt, scale, rhythm, line spacing, indentation, color, tone, value, texture, and position. The typeface I will be researching is Baskerville.


Invented by: John Baskerville

Year: 1754

Baskerville was created in 1754 by John Baskerville in Birmingham, England. Baskerville is a typeface most known for its crisp edges, high contrast and generous proportions. In order to print the crisp edges of the Baskerville font, Baskerville redesigned the press replacing the wooden platen with a brass one in order to allow the planes to meet more evenly. Baskerville is categorized as a transitional typeface in-between classical typefaces and the high contrast modern faces. Baskerville increased the contrast between thick and thin strokes, making the serifs sharper and more tapered, and shifted the axis of rounded letters to a more vertical position. (

Examples of the usage of Baskerville
Character set

Looking at the different examples of the usage of the typeface allows me to see the character and personality of Baskerville. While it is a traditional typeface, Baskerville’s unique character strokes give it a modern twist that allows it to be used in a range of contexts.

Exercise 1: Typographic Voice

Exercise 1 explores how choice of typeface affects the meaning and emotional feeling of a word. One word, “relaxation” was chosen to explore the personalities of different typefaces. This exercise gave me the chance to recognize the personality of a typeface outside of my assigned one. “Relaxation” invoked a lot of san-serif fonts that are unlike Baskerville.

Top to bottom: Calibri, Simplex, Courier, GENISO, Corbel

Exercise 2: Typographic Hierarchy

Exercise 2 explores how changes in line spacing, indentation, weight, and size can alter the hierarchy in order to deliver information in a legible way. This exercise allowed me to investigate different ways to achieve hierarchy within a composition. This knowledge was then applied to the craftmanship of my poster.

Poster Thumbnails (Initial Sketches)

In the initial sketches, I explored how the position and size of a element on the poster can affect how it is read. Exploring both a horizontal and vertical format allowed for a range of ideas.

Digital Iteration (Breadth)

Once I transferred the sketches to a digital format, I was able to see what was working and what was not. In the first poster, the hierarchy of the poster is unclear because the reader will read the year before other elements of the poster. The second one, which is the design I moved forward with, provided a clear hierarchy with the large “Baskerville” aligned to the center of the page. The other elements organized itself around the central piece. What I still needed to improve on was the craftmanship of the poster and the hierarchy of the elements after the type name.

Digital Iteration (Depth)

Once I decided on the format of the poster, I began to play with the color and stylistic choices of the poster. The biggest stylistic choice I made was the giant “Q” that draws attention immediately. The “Q” is a very iconic letter within the Baskerville typeface, so I employed it to be the “representative letter” of the font. In earlier renditions of the poster, I also included the example letters “o”, “d”, “w”, “g” to the poster to point out the specific characteristics of the typeface. This element was later deleted because having too many elements on the poster made it difficult to organize the information. I explored a range of color schemes in the poster, but I tried to stick to neutral tones that maintained the seriousness and traditional personality of the typeface.

Final Piece

In the final piece I settled on, I was successfully able to create a hierarchy between the elements. The kerning of the paragraph and quote were carefully spaced in order to eradicate orphans and ragged edges. The quote was differentiated from the paragraph by italicizing and increasing the size of the letters. The opacity of the “Q” was decreased so it did not subtract from the impact of the “Baskerville” within the hierarchy. The position of the year on the upper left corner, as well as the bright white color providing contrast, assured its place high on the hierarchy. The “J” in John was carefully sized and aligned so it fit well with the letters in “Baskerville”. Finally, negative space was utilized by giving a generous margin around the elements on the left side of the poster.


Comparing my early iterations with my final piece, it is clear that throughout the process I have been able to learn how to create hierarchy between the different elements on the poster using size, spacing, position, alignment, opacity, spacing, and color. I can also see that I refined the craftmanship of the poster by carefully adjusting the spacing and kerning of the paragraph and quote. The stylistic piece, the big “Q” also was an element added while I was refining the poster. I believe the dark scheme of the poster successfully represents the serious and traditional character of the typeface.

If I were to go back and redo my poster with my current knowledge, I would begin to explore different stylistic choices earlier on in the process. I stuck with the big “Q” element throughout the project but it would have been interesting to explore more options during the early stages of the exploration. I also would have benefitted from trying more color schemes for the poster. Overall in this project, I learned a lot of the subtleties that exist in typeface and characters.



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