The time spent between terms was used to sketch and come up with ideas for an original typeface. I went into sketching knowing I wanted to create something that was inspired by blackletter. I like the angular qualities and edginess of blackletter so my goal was to try to shape those characteristics into something more contemporary and legible without losing sight of them.
I did some research on typeface that strived to achieve a similar idea, and some of them took it much much further towards blackletter. Some of my favorite finds were:
We presented 3 sketches for the first class and got some feedback. Most of us decided which sketch to pursue that day. The entire term was dedicated to the regular weight, making sure we had solid structures before moving onto other weights and styles. The biggest challenge for me was finding the balance between straight and round characters and making them all feel part of the same family. I redrew the ‘O’ so many times which also caused many changes among other round characters. Another huge challenge was the ‘S’, which had similar issues, but also the added challenge of getting the angle of the spine.
Hannes Famira is founding principal of the Kombinat-Typefounders. He is a graphic designer, a type designer and a teacher of both disciplines.
This workshop was scheduled the week before our first class session to help generate more ideas and sketches for our original typeface. Hannes introduced us to an oscillating technique that imitates the thicks and thins of a broad nib pen when held at a consistent angle. For me, this technique was magic since I’m not so hot with an actual calligraphy pen, and I like drawing letters rather than writing. By working this way I was easily able to figure out where the natural thicks and thins of each letter was and build upon them from there. One of the sketches I created in this workshop was the one I pursued as my original typeface. I regularly use this technique in my workflow when sketching letters now.
Sumner Stone is a type designer, type founder, author, and teacher. From 1984–1989 he was Director of Typography for Adobe Systems. In 1990 he founded Stone Type Foundry Inc.
Sumner touched on a lot of history in this workshop, teaching us about the tools used that were used to construct letterforms in ancient times. We used this idea of repeating simple shapes to create letterforms. I had this idea to create top-heavy letters, where the strokes could be reused and rotated to expand the character set. We started this process by sketching a few letters ‘R’ ‘O’ ‘M’ ‘A’ ‘N’ which contained most of the straights, rounds, and angles we would need strokes for. From sketches, we brought those shapes into Robofont and rapidly began creating more letters.
Over the course of two days I ended up with a decent amount of letters that I had quickly and sometimes crudely put together to get a basic idea down. What I created had a comic book kind of personality. During the workshop a few classmates and I thought it would be funny to create an additional version called ‘Bloodweight’ (blood dripping from the letters)… another idea on the to-do list.
Ben Kiel is a typeface designer, graphic designer, and educator. He runs Typefounding, a typeface design and production studio in Saint Louis, Missouri. Before starting Typefounding, he worked at House Industries where he worked as a typeface designer, director, and developer.
This workshop was a great intro course for someone who knows zilch about Python or any other languages (that was me). We started out drawing simple shapes in DrawBot which is an application that primarily serves an educational purpose, used as a tool to teach the basics of programming.
After getting a bit more comfortable and understanding the basics of variables, strings, etc… We moved on to applying this knowledge in robofont, writing simple scripts for making new glyphs, compiling, adding unicodes, etc… Later, we had a lot of fun experimenting with pens like SpikeGlyph and HalftoneGlyph. It was a super intense weekend, but I walked away with a solid introduction to Python.