Typographic Character Forms 10


Today is the last day for the typeface Clarendon. Hope you have enjoyed it. I certainly have. I feel the inclusion of color on this go around has helped me to play with the character shapes on a whole new level. I would like to move on with TCF submissions until the end of April experimenting with two more type styles. We have seen my favorite San Serif typeface, Helvetica. And Clarendon is my favorite slab serif typeface. My next 2 typefaces will be my favorite Serif face and a script face, which I can’t say I have a favorite but I have a couple in mind.

typographic character forms 10

happy belated tax day!

This design may have been better suited for last Thursday, Tax Day. The character choices are fairly obvious an upper case ‘X’ rotated on it’s side, a zero rotated approximately 50 degrees and a dollar sign ($). I was intrigued by the negative space inside the top and bottom of the ‘X’ and how they seemed to create arrows pointing up and down. When rotated 90 degrees, the arrows point inward from the left and right sides. After considering what they might be pointing at I felt a circular shape would fit, and balance nicely. So I chose the zero as my numerical character, leaving me with one more character choice – the dollar sign ($). Is this design hitting home for anyone?

Happy belated tax day everyone.
See you all tomorrow!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 9


Like yesterday’s post I switched out the characters again. I will also have you guess which 3 I chose (still not too difficult). Like the past few I am still using the typeface Clarendon Bold.

typographic character forms 9

This one is probably my favorite so far. I think I like it so much because it is more like a brand identity piece (logo) than any of the others. Brand identity is one of my favorite observations in the design world. I love looking at company logos. I have a genuine appreciation for how a well designed logo makes us immediately relate to a company’s product, service and identity in the marketplace. I am spending a considerable amount of time on the TCF designs for several reasons, but this image reminds me that one of those reasons is to become a better logo and identity designer. This piece is confirming to me that the daily design challenge is starting to get me back on the right track.

Color inspiration, again, comes from the spring season. This time the greens are more dominant and varied like the leaves of trees that turn from the bright green of new growth to more mature and perhaps darker shades. A pop of yellow color is added. It’s like a dandelion poking through a rich green lawn. The shapes of the characters as they merge together also give me the feeling of a stem and leaf. If this were a brand identity it might be a garden shop, landscaping company or perhaps any other company that is just “going green” somehow.

Hope you enjoy! See you all tomorrow.
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 8


In the interest of variety I decided to switch out the three characters. I had Colleen look at the entire typeface and had her tell me which 3 to use. I will let you guess which character’s she chose. Not too difficult this time but in the future I may have you guess again and it might not be so simple.

typographic character forms 8

I chose the color scheme because they are Colleen’s favorite colors. Shades of orange. Hope you all enjoy the design as well as guessing the 3 characters.

See you tomorrow!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 7


Today I am using the same characters from Typographic Character Forms (TCF) 6. On Tuesday I set the characters further apart so everyone could see the shape of each one. Today I am drawing them in tightly on one another. This arrangement gives me a feeling of a sculpture. Or, perhaps a creature like an octopus balled up on the ocean floor with some of it’s curling tentacles visible. I like how the tight arrangement accentuates the negative space of each character. The openings of each character are more prominent in this arrangement. The negative spaces surrounding and within a character are important in the identity and style of a typeface. Really, that is what the TCF exercises are all about – exploring the shape of the characters, both inside and out.

typographic character forms 7

Finally, the color inspiration is a bit past its peak. When I think of this color combo it takes me to the earliest part of spring where daffodils and forsythia are prominent. We have reached the end of that cycle here in the mid-atlantic region, but I wanted to squeeze the color combo in at the last minute.

Let me know what you think! See you all tomorrow!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 6


Today I would like to introduce you to Clarendon. This is a typeface that dates back to the mid 19th century. It has seen quite a bit in the way of world history. Clarendon was originally designed in England in 1845. Over time it became a popular typeface in America where it was widely used, notably in the old west on wanted posters and signage. During the early 1900’s it was commonly used in Europe by the German Empire for World War 1 proclamations and propaganda pieces. Later, during the mid 20th century it received a redesign and this is the Clarendon we often see today. Until recently, The National Park Service in the United States used the typeface for it’s traffic and road signs. Currently I have noticed, and taken some delight, in it’s use in promotional pieces for Starbuck’s Coffee as well as for Ruby Tuesday’s recent brand identity makeover during the last few years. Personally, I have been using Clarendon for the past couple years on informative pieces and announcements for my family’s annual reunion.

typographic character forms 6

Today I have again chosen three characters to interact with one another. The upper case R, the numeral 3 and the ampersand (&). I have chosen to blend the characters together leaving them separated just enough for you to get an idea of there individuality. I believe that the three characters demonstrate some of the common traits of this slab-serif (thick serif) typeface. In this piece they blend nicely as if they are holding hands while crossing the street. A 30 degree rotation is applied to the group to add visual interest.

I also decided to add some color this go around. The original constraints of the assignment dictate not to use color, but I figured grayscale may be getting a bit boring (Colleen also dropped me a hint), so I will attempt to add color to future designs. Today’s color inspiration is derived from the spring color of the American Redbud tree which is blooming at this time. The small clustered blossoms tend to be fuchsia in color and are supported by the backdrop of medium gray bark on the tree’s trunk and branches. Just so you know, I will often use nature as a color inspiration as I tend to be influenced by nature and the changing seasons, particularly as it pertains to trees and horticulture.

Well, that’s it for today. See you all tomorrow!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 5


Today is the last day for our a, s and 2 set in Helvetica medium. They are all scaled to be about the same physical height and overlap at various points to highlight the clean curves in the typeface, which is what attracted me to these particular characters in the first place (both, 11 or so years ago, as well as today). Today’s design helps to accentuate those clean turns and curves.

typographic character forms 5

The cleanness and simplicity of Helvetica has always made it my favorite typeface. It is clean and modern. It is also diverse, featuring a vast number of weights and styles which have developed over the years. despite this diversity, each weight and style remain true to the original intent of Helvetica as a modern and clean typeface. No matter how it is set, it remains fresh and current.

The clean geometry of each character make it easy to work with as a graphic element with out making it’s contribution to a design busy or cluttered. It is a great typeface for the minimalist which in many ways describes my own style.

As I mentioned before, my education in design began with this assignment, as well as Helvetica. I find it fitting that I decided to kick off this project the same way. You will likely see Helvetica used often in my designs during the coming months and I will point out when and how it is used as much as I can. Thank you Helvetica!

With that, I will move on with another typeface in my next rendition of Typographic Character Forms. I still haven’t decided whether I will use different characters or not. You will just have to check back to see.

See you all tomorrow!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 4


Today we continue to hang out with the same characters. Literally! Yesterday our characters performed a balancing act for us. I explained how variations in rotation, value, scale and arrangement can create a perception of balance in a design.

typographic character forms 4

In today’s design we find our 2 doing most of the work once again. This time supporting the weight of the s and the a as they hang on for their lives. We can use the base of the 2 to, again, give us a sense of stability, or support. Rotated at 180 degrees the 2‘s shape resembles a hook on which the s may hang. The a appears as it may be temporarily part of this group as it is precariously supported on the edge of the s. However, at this moment in time they are influencing each other. We see this in the slight rotation of the s which indicates that the a has some weight and is able to push the s on it’s pivot point which is located between s and the 2.

Not much else to say about this one. Enjoy. Feel free to hang out for a while and look at some of the previous designs. See you again tomorrow with another design!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 3


Continuing with the theme of using typographic characters as forms or shapes and having them interact with one another. I am also continuing the 1/3 scaling of each character that I introduced yesterday. In the previous two designs the 3 letter forms were merged in a way that created one, cohesive shape. This created an experiment in positive and negative space using only two colors (shades of gray).

Today additional shades of gray are introduced to distinguish each character form from their neighbors. The characters no longer overlap, or merge, as they did in the previous designs. Today they interact, or influence each other individually to create the feeling of a balancing act. Balance is a key factor in design. Static elements in a layout can be given the perception of weight by use of scale, color value, position, as well as other factors.

typographic character forms 3

If I were to name this piece I would call it “power of balance.” The numerical character 2, which today gets to be 1/3 the size of the largest character, is tasked with balancing both of it’s larger neighbors. The 2 has a flat base which gives it a perceived stability. Even with its arc shaped top, it balances the a at a single point. The a is rotated 60 degrees which throws off it’s center of gravity. However, the s, which is not rotated, stably nests itself on the rotated a. This positioning assists to offset the a‘s disrupted center. In the end the characters’ grouped orientation creates a shared center of gravity and thus, perceptual stability despite their precarious arrangement. The poor little 2 is still bearing the brunt of the weight though, so I used lighter shades of gray for the a and the s to create a perception of lighter physical weight. By using scale, rotation and value (lightness and darkness) each of these characters is interacting with one another to create a sense of balance in the overall design. Good work guys!

See you all tomorrow
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 2


Today’s design is more typographic character design. I used the same characters as from Tuesday’s design, lowercase a and s and the numerical character 2 set in helvetica medium. I will continue to use these characters for a few days. For an explanation of why I am using these characters, refer to Tuesday’s post. After a few days I will change typeface and perhaps at some point I will try out some different characters.

typographic character forms 2

For this design I started with the character 2 and scaled each character to nearly one third the size of the previous character.The a is scaled to 1/3 the size of the 2 and s is scaled to 2/3 the size of the 2. Not sure why I decided to do this but it’s fun to experiment. I will go with this theme for a few days giving each character a chance to be scaled differently and see what comes of the concept.

See you all tomorrow with another design!
Sean

Typographic Character Forms 1


Today’s design, and I think the next few, will not excite many of you, But for me, it was a lot of fun and definitely a back to basics exercise. I reached back into my memory banks and tried to remember as accurately as possible one of my first exercises from Advertising Design school. In the exercise my classmates and I were told to pick three characters from a typeface of our choice and have them interact in a design. I thought about this project a while ago and thought I would use it for my daily design challenge.

character forms design

The Rules – I don’t accurately recall the rules but here is what I remember. 1.) Choose three characters, at least one character must be numeric and one must be alpha. 2.) Choose one typeface and one weight in that typeface. 3.) The design must be in grayscale, not color. We were also given the dimensions of the final design which I seem to remember was 11 x 11 inches. We were going to have a couple trial runs but once we presented our first design we were not allowed to change our typeface or character choices, this also included our choice of upper or lowercase characters. I remember choosing Helvetica Medium, lowercase ‘a’ and ‘s’ and the numerical character ‘2’. So that is what I chose to use here. we were also not allowed to distort the type in any way. We were allowed to scale the characters proportionally to any size and we could rotate them, but no distorting, stretching or squeezing.

I also feel compelled to mention a couple more things. This was not a computer course. We were forbidden to use a computer and had to render our typographic characters as accurately as possible by hand using gouache, a type of water based paint. I remember scanning characters from a typography book at the library and enlarging them to a variety of differing sizes to take home and move around on my drafting table. Our instructor, whose name escapes me, was a bit like Simon Cowell of American Idol in his evaluations. It was amusing for some and humiliating for others when it came time to for the final judgment. This assignment humiliated me a bit personally, but I learned well from the experience. One thing the instructor said about his bluntness “In the real world some may say worse about you than me, the rest won’t hire you or pay you. So listen to what I’m telling you, not how I’m saying it and you should do fine in the real world.” I’m paraphrasing, but it was, and still is, true.

The Lesson – This was one of the first projects assigned in the afore mentioned class. It may have been the very first. The instructor was a typophile and wanted us all to understand and appreciate the proper use of typography in design. Typographic characters are basically graphic shapes. Through our culture we stop seeing them as such because they take on inherent meanings. When joined together in groups they are powerful indeed. The object of this exercise is to briefly strip the cultural meaning of the characters away and enjoy them as shapes interacting together. The graphic designer must learn to see typography in this way to better match the cultural meaning of the grouped letters with most appropriate letter forms, or typefaces. For now, I will simply try to see only their shape.

See you tomorrow.
Sean