Design the font for use on the cover of a magazine called type and write a short article for the magazine using a range of typefaces, with typographic illustrations, drawing on all that you have learned in this section. The article should include sections on:
• what makes a typeface interesting
• how a typeface is constructed
• question marks.
Do a mock up of the magazine cover to show where and how your title font will appear
along with other cover elements.
Produce a magazine article that is attractive and interesting enough for someone to want to pick it up to read, and which shows off what that you have learnt so far about typography.
Defining a ‘Brief’ for the Font
I started the process of designing a font by defining my own ‘brief’ for the typeface in order to set some parameters in which to work. There are a vast number potential variations of typeface designs, so to help with designing the font, I first considered what the purpose of the font was and what it would be used for?
The font is required for use on the cover of a magazine called ‘Type’. I have assumed the magazine to be 23cm wide by 29.6cm high (with a portrait orientation). I assumed that the name of the magazine was the most important element of the cover so I wanted my typeface design to specifically consider the letters ‘T’, ‘Y’, ‘P’ and ‘E’.
The typeface will be used for headings and will be displayed in quite large letters and as such needs to be a reasonably heavy weight so that it is clearly visible. However, given it is required for headings and not for body text, it has the potential to be quite decorative.
Only the characters of the uppercase alphabet are required.
Because the magazine is about typography and is likely to be read by graphic designers, I also decided that I wanted the font to have a modern, graphic and ‘designed’ feel and not be a handwritten style font or feature elements that were too contrived or ‘gimmicky’.
I decided to consider a serif font because of the scope that the serifs would give to design specific characteristics of the typeface. However, serif typefaces can sometimes look a little ‘old fashioned’, so I wanted the serifs to give my typeface a modern feel. I researched other serif typefaces which I felt had a modern design and examined them to determine what their key features where and what I felt made them look ‘modern’:
I concluded there were several design elements which were appealing to me in these typefaces. The Courier New font had a very retro feel which is what i think was making it feel contemporary. With the Vollkorn SC font it was the monospacing, again I think it was the retro feel of this attribute that I liked. Cormorant SC and Cinzel are both quite similar. They have a high contrast in the width of strokes, are generally quite slim and delicate with refined serifs.
I was also particularly inspired by the typeface used by the National Trust, which I had researched in an earlier exercise. At first glance, this looks like a sans serif typeface but on close inspection there is a subtle ‘flare’ at the ends of the terminals.
I started by drawing letters freehand, focusing on the uppercase letters ‘T’, ‘Y’, ‘P’ and ‘E’ and exploring different variations with contrast and small serifs:
I was feeling rather uninspired and did not feel there was anything particularly original about my ideas, so I then considered looking at my own handwriting for inspiration, looking at both upper and lower case and how I write with different sizes of pen…
I noticed that on certain uppercase letters, such as ‘A’, ‘F’ ‘H’ and ‘M’, I often draw a long descending stem, so I decided to incorporate this design element into my typeface design to give it some ‘personality’.
After a bit more experimentation, I decided to try a low contrast style with quite thick stems, small triangular serifs and ascenders terminating at an angle.
Now that I had a clearer idea of the characteristics of my typeface, I worked on defining all letterforms (both upper and lower case). I drew the letters out by hand using guide lines to define the baseline, x height, ascender height and cap height. This process helped to define a set of ‘rules’ for how characters with similar shapes should be drawn.
Having completed this exercise, I wasn’t entirely happy with the design as I felt it was a bit ordinary. I experimented a bit more, this time using the idea of a slightly flared serif but having the serif flare out from the centre of the stem:
I was happier with this design, so again, I drew out the whole alphabet to define the ‘rules’ for how all characters would be formed:
Having a clear idea now of how my letterforms would be constructed, I created the letters using Adobe Illustrator.
As an additional task working in Illustrator, I also carefully defined the widths of each letter. I did this by analysing Google Fonts, ‘Marcellus Regular’, a font that I liked and whose styling was similar to my design. I printed out the alphabet and measured the width of each letter and grouped the letters together into ‘families’ where the letters had the same widths. I then used this as a guide for my own design, although I didn’t follow exactly the same proportions for my letters, e.g. my ‘E,F’L’ family is wider than the Marcellus font.
As I created the letters, I also experimented with placing them together to see how they would look as words. As a result, I did some final finessing with the designs, making the stems and the flared serifs a little wider.
The final design for the uppercase letters is here:
Magazine Cover Design
The next stage was to design a cover for the ‘Type’ magazine. I started by researching typography and graphic design magazine covers on the internet. I collected samples in Pinterest, here:
Taking inspiration from these samples, I sketched out some ideas for the magazine cover:
Graphic design magazines often do not have much text on the cover and are quite minimalist, focusing more on graphics or images to give high visual impact. I decided to follow this trend with my own designs.
I reviewed my design ideas with my husband and we selected six to develop into a mock ups:
After further discussion with my husband, we selected the cover below as the final design. We both really like the cover with the yellow letters as flowers, chosen for the spring edition of the magazine and felt that the coloured cover would have a lot of visual impact if the magazine was on a shelf. However, we felt that the cover with the ‘blood spatter’ was communicating more visually and had an element of humour which made the cover more interesting.
Final Cover Design:
The final step was to write a short, magazine article with typographic illustrations.
I started by mapping out ideas for the structure and content of my article:
The brief was to write an article discussing how a typeface is constructed so I decided to write an article describing (briefly) the steps I had gone through in creating my own typeface. Because there was potentially quite a lot of information on this, I decided to make the article fill two pages of the magazine.
As this was quite an ‘informational’ article with a lot of text, based on previous analysis of other similar articles, I opted for a three column layout.
The article heading is large and bold and spans the first two columns. It is intended to attract attention and encourage people to read the article. The main heading is Libre Baskerville Bold 48pt. I specifically chose this typeface because it has a traditional feel and is often used in diagrams that illustrate the components of a typeface – the same typeface is used in the diagram on the second page which illustrates guidelines.
The sub-heading is in Lato Bold 21pt. The Body text is also all in Lato Light 10pt. I chose Lato for the body text because I felt a magazine about type would have a particularly contemporary design aesthetic and I wanted something that felt a bit more contemporary than the more common serif fonts often used for small sized body text in magazines. The light weight Lato font has a clean, uncluttered and delicate feel which I felt was still quite readable printed at a small size.
The body text is split into sections, each with an uppercase heading in Lato Bold 10pt. The section headings divide up the text and signpost the information which is contained within the section. Sections are also broken up into short paragraphs, separated with a blank line. The columns, sections and paragraphs all serve to break up the text and make it more digestible.
I wanted the typographic illustrations to be distributed evenly around the article so that it would look balanced and also help to avoid having too much text in one block. I also wanted the illustrations to be located at least close to the part of the text they were relevant to. This meant that I chose the illustration specifically on where I wanted it to be placed in the article (rather than because I specifically felt a part of the text needed a diagram to help explain it). On the first page, the text wraps around the word ‘Love’ for visual interest. I also think this large graphic, slightly offset to the right, nicely balances the large title.
I kept all the illustrations in black, partly for consistency but also because type is very typically in black and white.
Illustrations are annotated in Lato Bold Italic 9pt.
The completed article is here:
Thoughts on this Assignment
I really enjoyed the process of designing a typeface. The process requires a lot of attention to detail and is quite methodical and I think appealed to my quite logical way of thinking. The process has also really given me an appreciation of how many subtle elements can be changed to influence type design. It has also made me realise how difficult it is to design something truly original. I was pleased with the typeface that I eventually created although it may be considered a little ordinary for the cover of a ‘Type’ magazine. Having created the complete uppercase alphabet with my design, I did feel that some of the letters not used on the magazine cover, needed a bit more refinement (the ‘A’ and ‘U’ are a bit wide, for example). I would have also quite liked to take my font design to the next stage and used a font generator program to create a font file, but I didn’t feel this was necessary for this assignment and did not really have the time.
I found the design of the magazine cover quite difficult as I lack confidence in working with colours. Also there is a danger with a ‘minimalist’ design that it has very little to say. I wasn’t totally happy with any of my cover designs but I did like the feeling of anarchy evoked by my blood spatter design.
Creating a magazine layout is also surprisingly time consuming and I found this process quite annoying at times! A lot of tweaking was required to balance the text and illustrations, keep the layout tidy, stop text being separated from its heading, fill the required space without leaving gaps, etc. Very often I was having to take out sentences I wanted to leave in or add words I didn’t really want just to make layout work. Patience and flexibility are what are needed here.
My tutor made the following comments regarding this assignment:
“This is a great assignment for you where you show a range of attributes that
grant you the staying power to over time, become a good type designer. Your systematic and detailed approach has paid off and you create a credible uppercase font – I particularly like the ‘A’ which feels influenced by the Cyrillic alphabet. I love the process you undertook for inspiration for this through your own handwriting and how this thinking has spread over into your final front cover which discusses handwriting. As an engaging cover and title I think this final design works well.. more could be explored in terms of the dynamics of the full front cover page (the blood and the type are very similar scale, what happens if you make either one of them larger or how could these two elements somehow connect better to avoid there being a channel of white on your page.
Your interior article is great too.. very thoughtfully written – the design style feels closer to a journal on classic type design for serious discussion rather than a more trendy or cutting-edge magazine. It’s worth thinking about this in terms of your own design values and where your ongoing work sits.”
Rework Following Tutor Feedback
In response to my tutor’s suggestion regarding changing the scale of the elements on the front cover, I reworked the design to make the ‘blood spatter’ much larger and overlapping the word ‘Type’.
I think this version of the cover has much greater impact. The larger blood spatter is much more prominent and, in turn, much more violent and aggressive. The larger spatter makes better use of the full front cover. In this design, the title of the magazine feels less relevant. The word ‘TYPE’ just happened to be standing in the way when handwriting was killed.