So it’s been nearly a year since my last post – whoa.
Unlike my post count, though, my design skills haven’t been stagnating. Through classes at SCC and specifically the GCOM club, I’ve been involved with a couple different projects that have really helped me expand my skills (and kept me really busy). I’ve cut back on my design classes this semester to get some GE done, and it’s actually left me with a bit of downtime which I plan to use on some personal projects – including this blog. For the next couple weeks I’m planning to go into detail on a couple of the projects I’ve worked on in the last 11 months.
For the Fall 2009 semester, one of the classes I enrolled with was the brand new GCOM class, Typography. Like many novice designers, I had no concept of typography beyond the simplest basics. I figured it would be a good opportunity to get a grasp on this crucial design discipline, and I was definitely not disappointed.
One of the final projects of the class was to design a custom type specimen with 4-8 unique letters. This seemed like a daunting task at the start of the semester, but — well actually I guess it was pretty daunting at the end of the semester as well.
This was the first sketch I did. (As you can see, my word is my tag – Thearc). You might be able to tell that I didn’t have any real direction in mind when I started these beyond some very vague concepts. I tried to have a lot of contrast on the strokes, pairing heavy and light strokes asymetrically (very artificially in retrospect). I was also experimenting with indentations and sharp serifs, but quickly decided they made the letters look too BROOTAL. You can also see that the E was proving particularly difficult to nail down.
This sketch was basically a doodle in class, so this was all off the top of my head and without any font reference. Unfortunately, with finals rapidly approaching I decided these rough, sketchy and ugly concepts were good enough and started refining them.
These were my refined sketches. Of these six, the only letter than I feel really stands out as interesting and worth expanding on is the T. It’s the only letter where the contrast in strokes really adds anything, as opposed to looking ugly and forced. It’s also the only letter that really nails the look in serifs I was going for. The R and the C might have potential with some more refinement. The E, H and A should have all been scrapped and reworked completely, but alas, I’m a student, not a font foundry. With about a week left until finals, I pushed onto digitization.
This is the final result. Digitization, as it turns out, is a lot harder than you think it would be when you don’t account for it while sketching. The C was especially difficult to translate, but I think it actually turned out better than the sketch. The one thing that really makes me cringe is the unequal line weights on the H, E, A and R. I digitized these individually, and the problem didn’t become apparent until the letters were placed together in a composition.
My original hope when designing this font was to use it as part of a personal logo. In that regard, I failed horribly. I wouldn’t think of using this text for anything besides an illustration of the evils of poor planning. Like any failed endeavor, though, it taught me two things: one, that a single set of sketches is never enough, and two, that I should have just used Bodoni.
Giambattista Bodoni: making me look like a chump since 1798.