Tag Archives: Typography

Assignment 4 – cover photos

These are the 3 photos I chose for the background cover, 2 nice examples of multilingual and slightly worn signage on the tourist trial, and a shiny new shop sign.

Poor boxguy putting up a shop signMultilingual sign for tourists

Following on from the previous post about the covers… The guy putting up the shop sign was the obvious choice, because it’s the most interesting, it’s the right shape (portrait) and all the elements of the photo are conveniently positioned for a classic magazine cover layout.  The blue-grey tones of the photo, particularly the whites where good to push the image to the back, so it didn’t fight with the text too much – I think this works? Also, I chose to drop the title down the page to hang on the scaffolding.

Warmup exercises

Getting in tune with Illustrator, before I put together the article for assignment 4…  Playing with a found jazz album cover.

cha cha cha
dancing in lines
dancing in circles
dancing crazy

Also, 3 relevent tutorials didn’t get around to (yet)
Chalkboard type treatment
Beveled lettering
Retro type treatment


Assignment 4 magazine cover mockups

Assignment 4 cover options (pdf portfolio)

Lock gates

Numbers for a change > grungy stencils mostly. Looking at: spacing between numbers, reversed digits, shadow effects, opacity, hardlines, softlines, paint drips…

DIY font 2nd pass

Cracking on with the assignment stuff, this is the 2nd pass on a display font – realising it needs to be bigger than just 4 characters if I want to use it for a header font as well. I’ve now roughed up a complete set of lower case characters that has a sort of rationale behind it. It’s all in here > Type font 2nd pass notes.
letters and colours

Truck sign - lettering

Focus the mind

Found this here

DIY font

First pass playing around with ideas for a title font – of 4 characters at minimalist – to mock up a cover for a magazine called ‘Type’.  Done a bit of doodling to date, and have a couple of ideas.   Also trying to get to grips with Illustrator, so the time comes to move the ideas onto the machine.  Experimented with a geometrical approach of rectangles and circles (or ellipses in Adobe-speak) first.  Very slow and painful process, that took all afternoon.  Then just drew it and re-arranged the letters a bit, took 10 minutes.  These are the results!

Candelabra > first pass using shapes to construct the letters


Candelabra > messing about to show the shapes:

type - structure

Doodling on the machine, and thinking it’s beginning to turn into a logo:


doodles - type

Hierarchy exercise

conference poster showing block justified textThis was an interesting exercise.  It’s all in here:  Hierarchy-exercise (pdf) – though I need to do a sample with much larger – 500 words –  blocks of text, as this will make a difference to my choices here.

Meanwhile to pad out this post, here is an example of extreme justification…

Looking at typesetting

Looking at a few mags, focussing on how the type is arranged, what looks interesting and what’s legible…

National Geographic magazine > like most people, I normally only ever look at the pictures.  And actually there’s nothing about the text to drag your attention away from the photos.  Basically does all the right things – classic style, serifed text and headers, neutral greys and browns, boxed text, plenty of white space – but generally lacks impact.  Boring.

Palestine News > cheaper production so bigger body text, no serifs.  A4, 3-column, high contrast, matte paper, a lot of black and white pages.  Colours work to an earthy palette.  Chunky header text and a coherance through only using a few complementary header fonts.  Techniques used like coloured or bigger text for intro paragraphs, boxing blocks of text, tinted boxes, also tonal headers, first letters  and bullets.  Lines and reversed out headers for breaking up text in columns, and also for reinforcing the shape of the columns.  Etc.  These techniques also used for travel catalogues in the pile, with better quality and more luxurious production – Himalayan Kingdoms; or stylish, nice colours and boxy arrangement – High Places.

Looking at Red Pepper mags (again) too, and a copy of TGO.  Notice that generally 3 columns are easier on the eye than 2 columns, and density of text is an issue.  Tinted, patterned and photographic background to text can make it a nightmare to read.  Also if you don’t like the colour you don’t read the article, so it’s a bit risky.  I prefer high contrast and lots of white space, also the feel of the paper, and that affects the options for text size etc.  Also noticing how a lot of greys are used, rather than black, and how important it is not to fragment columns and blocks of text – short paragraphs broken up with blank lines between them is as bad as long unbroken dense columns.  And using justification as well as letter and word spacing to create shapes with headers etc etc.  So…

  • 3 columns are better than 2
  • white background is good
  • high contrast is good (but not too high)
  • use blank lines sparingly
  • boxing text is good
  • chunky header fonts  and reversed out headers are good
  • interesting colour palettes
  • no hyphenating line breaks
  • pay attention to density of text
  • cheaper paper and pdf for download – means text needs to be at higher point size.

Exercise… Do you remember Olive Morris?  I chose this 2-page article to investigate, because it’s quite simple and clear despite the fact it’s text on coloured background (black and purples on white glossy paper) wrapped around a photo. The title text uses the same photo.

Do you remember Olive Morris?

Decided to try and copy it, using the text from the web version of the article – using Photoshop and Indesign. Was a learning tool for Indesign – especially using paragraph and character styles. Copying the actual text and trying to get it proportionally into the right spaces was a good challenge here.  Copied the photo and created a rough mockup of the background and title.

I used the closest fonts I’ve got: Myriad as a base for the title, Century Gothic for the headers, and Minion Pro for the body text.  The latter had to be at 9 point to fit into the space available.  Experimented with bigger body text to make it more legible but of course needed more space.  Noticed that the slightly serifed font does help legibility at this size, as would printing to glossy paper.  Printing as pdf to normal home printer you wouldn’t get away with anything less than 10 point, however much you decrease the density.  This is relevent.  The visual shape of the text matters – noticed that paragraphs are run together, with indented text to separate them – this looks better at this column size – and decreasing the density by increasing the line-spacing helped to make it more legible.  This is the tension between how it looks on the layout, and legibility.

Strategy > basically twiddle around with a sample of text until it looks ok, then create the styles, and apply them… then look at what I’ve done analytically.  I used a series of boxes to wrap text around the shape of the background image – would need to slick this up I think and find out a better way to do it.

This is my very rough mockup:  Do you remember Olive Morris? – rough mockup (pdf)