In this assignment I am asked to design my own font for use on the cover of a magazine called ‘type’ and to write a short article for the magazine using a range of typefaces. The article should include sections on: what makes a typeface interesting, how a typeface is constructed and question marks.
I started this assignment by working on the magazine cover. Before I started designing I researched different styles of magazine covers to give me some ideas, doing so also made me realize how different covers are and how a lot can be achieved with fairly simple graphics, but with a catchy and thought-through idea behind it.
My first idea for the cover was an image of a typewriter and I decided to stick to it. I thought it would be appropriate as the magazine is called ‘type’. There is something nostalgic about the old typewriters, even with all the imperfections they are still beautiful machines. They also remind me of my childhood, as years ago sometimes I would go to visit my grandmother at her job and as a treat I could do some typing on her typewriter and to me it was always a great event and the most important and fun part of the visit. Then a few years later my father would bring his work typewriter home at the weekends, it was a more modern model, it worked just the old typewriter, but the keys looked more like a computer keyboard. I tried creating a few different illustrations of a typewriter. At first I wanted just a typewriter outline filled with black scribbles and keys on top, but it did not work. I also tried a simple illustration with black pen, then I made an illustration of a grey and black typewriter. I used watercolour brushes and a few effects in Illustrator to give the image some texture. I was happy with the final result, even though it took me a while to get it right.
The second step was to design my own font. I used my sketchbook for it and when I had a better idea on what I wanted, I experimented with fonts further on the computer.
I was drawn to the fonts that looked like handwriting. I thought that the more complicated and futuristic designs would not suit the cover as well. The font I decided to use and spell ‘type’ with is written with 1 stroke. I like the way it flows and that the letter ‘p’ looks unusual. The letters are joined together, slightly evoking a doodle. I like the way the tail of letter ‘y’ and bowl in ‘p’ look like each others mirror reflexion. The ‘January 2015’ text is my handwriting, I thought it would add a personal touch.
I was looking for a way to merge together different elements of the cover. I did not want anything to look out-of-place or forced together. Therefore, I decided for the page that will be placed in the typewriter to have the name of the magazine on it. I am hoping that the unexpected element where a typewriter produces a handwritten looking font will keep the cover playful. I tried different layouts, backgrounds and different textures and kids of sheets of paper placed in the typewriter.
In the end I went for the version with the wooden table and vintage-looking wallpaper. I also cleaned up the illustration. The background is somewhat busy, but the white sheet of paper should balance it.
The bottom of the cover contains a bar code and the article titles to give the reader an idea on what is inside. The background is the same as the sheet in the typewriter. I wanted to use a straight-forward and classic font on the bottom of the cover, giving variety to the handwriting font in the centre. I used Book Antiqua Regular and BBAlpha Serif Regular. I am happy with the cover. It looks slightly old-fashioned. I like the colour combination. I think that the title of the magazine is clearly visible and its position in the centre of the cover is unusual. I am hoping that the thick black stroke makes the name of the magazine the main focus.
The next step in this assignment is to write an article for the magazine. The article is supposed to include sections on: what makes a typeface interesting, how a typeface works and question marks. I included what I have learned in this part of the course. I went through the material once more to gather essential information for the article. The first part of the article will include general information about typefaces and I will explain the two main typeface families in more detail. To make the article interesting I will include information on how Times New Roman and Helvetica typefaces were created and 2 images that I will add will show the look of those typefaces. The second part will explain how a typeface is constructed. I included an illustration to make the information in the article easier to understand. The last section about question marks is information I gathered after doing research online. I included a definition and explained one the possible origins of a question mark. The article also contains an illustration showing how possibly a Latin word ‘quaestio’ turned into the question mark we know today.
Following is the article:
What makes a typeface interesting
A typeface is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Typeface is a design for a set of characters. Commonly used typefaces include Times Roman, Helvetica, Arial etc.Typefaces are categorised into different families based on the common visual characteristics.
Serif typefaces have small decorative lines added to the basic form of a character. Serif typefaces are still commonly used in newspapers where the type is small to aid readability. Serif fonts are used for body text as they are considered easy to read.
Times New Roman typeface is a very popular serif typeface. It was commissioned by the British newspaper The Times in 1931 after their new typographic advisor Stanley Morison started to redesign the newspaper. This successful serif typeface was created by Victor Lardent. The Times newspaper used the new design in 1932 and from 1933 the Times New Roman typeface was available to the public by commercial sale. The Times New Roman family includes a number of variations, among them are Times New Roman Medium, Times New Roman Semi Bold, Times New Roman Bold, Times New Roman Extra Bold.
The second family are san-serif typefaces. San-serifs do not have serifs or decorative tails. They are simpler, more functional and modern in appearance. They are commonly used for headlines rather than body text.
Helvetica is one of the most popular and wildly used san-serif typefaces. It was created in 1957 by a Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger, after it was commissioned by Edouard Hoffmann, managing director of the Haas Type Foundry. It has a compact appearance thanks to its tight letterspacing and it proved to be a very popular choice for corporate logos, including American Airlines, Panasonic and Motorola. This typeface is available in a wide range of variations, among them are Helvetica Light, Helvetica Bold, Helvetica Black.
How a typeface is constructed
Type normally runs on a straight horizontal line, which is called a baseline, all the characters rest on it. The lower part of a letter that falls below a baseline is called a descender. The letter x gives us the x-height, which is called the median or mean line and it provides the measurement for all the letters. The letter parts that rise above the x-height are ascenders. Cap height refers to the height of a capital letter.
Different characters are made out of different shapes. An uppercase A has a horizontal stroke which is called a crossbar. Some lowercase letters (y,g,q) descend, while others (b,l,d) ascend. Some characters have counters, which are spaces within the letterforms (o,p,e). The fully enclosed, rounded parts of a letter are called bowls (a,d,b). Stem is a full-length stroke that can vary in thickness, the terminals are the ends of a stroke.
The question mark, also known as an interrogation point, interrogation mark, question point or query, is a punctuation mark that indicates an interrogative sentence. There are a number of theories claiming the origin of a question mark. One of the most popular hypothesis is that the glyph derives from the Latin ‘guaestio’, meaning question. It was abbreviated during the Middle Ages to ‘qo’ and later the q letter was placed above o. It is thought that symbol later turned into a question mark we know today. A question mark is used in many different languages, but not always as we know it. In Spanish a question requires both an opening and closing question mark. The opening mark is inverted and the lack of it is considered an error. A question mark in Armenian looks like an open circle and is called a harcakan. In Greek a semicolon (;) is used for a question mark. In languages that use Arabic script the question mark is mirrored to keep with the right-to-left style of writing. Some languages do not use question marks, in Japanese they are not a part of the formal writing system.
As for the layout of the article, I want to present it on 2 A4 pages. I went through exercises in this part of the course, as they included designing and experimenting with article layout and design. The first section ‘What makes a typeface interesting’ is longer than the other two, so it should fill out the first A4 page. The other 2 sections on how a typeface is constructed and question marks are similar in size, so I will try to arrange them into 2 columns, sitting beside each other. The information in the first section about Times New Roman and Helvetica typefaces will be arranged into 2 blocks. I want this part to stand out and not to get lost in the article. The coloured boxes should also break up the article. Each section in the article will be written in a different typeface, including Myriad Pro Regular, Verdana Regular and Times New Roman Regular. As it is an article about typography and typefaces it will present a number of different typefaces. The body text size is 10 and 11pt and most of it is quite simple-black text on white background. I added a bit of colour to the text in the headings and included coloured boxes as background to the headings. The mock-up contains all the elements I want to include, just the layout needs a bit of work.
The first page was more tricky, but in the end I managed to fill out the page and to achieve a consistent look. In the first column I placed the clear and large title and body text and the second one contains the two blocks with text. I kept blank spaces in between body text, headings and illustrations to avoid a cluttered look. I hope the article looks approachable and even though it is full of typographic information , it still is easy to understand and all the topics in the article are well explained.
The cover and the article:
I decided to change a few elements of the cover and the article after getting feedback from my tutor. I experimented further with the bottom half of the cover to make it fit better with the image above. I removed the crumbled paper background and changed the text colour to white. It looked well, but I thought it missed something and looked a little bare. In the end I went with the original idea of the crumbled paper on the table and I just experimented with its position.
I thought that placing the sheet of paper laying on the table with its corner tucked underneath the typewriter will unify all the elements and that the composition will flow from top to bottom.
As for the article I kept the layout as it was, but I changed headings and got rid of the colourful blocks. I placed handwritten headings in the article to make it look consistent with the cover. I tried to make all 3 of them slightly different. The other element that I included on the cover as well as in the article were little sheets of paper placed as background for the headings.
The first version matches the cover better as the paper elements have a similar look and feel as the cover, but the second version is more appealing as it is nice to see a bit of colour after looking at the muted cover.
I enjoyed working on the cover more than the article. I was happy with the typewriter idea I had at the beginning of brainstorming and I stuck to it. I was content with the title of the magazine and how it went together with the typewriter. The bottom of the cover was a bit more challenging, but I got to a place where I was happy with the whole design. The article was a bit of a different story. I was actually surprised how much I struggled with the ideas for the layout, especially after enjoying a number of exercises in this part of the course where I had to do just that. Maybe it is the pressure of the assignment and that is when I struggle more than while doing exercises. I was happy I altered the article after getting tutor’s feedback, as I was not completely happy with it in the first place.
The final cover and article: