TDi: Type Design Summer Course Day 4

This is the fourth post in a series of articles covering my week attending the TDi summer course in Reading. Read the Day One, the Day Two and the Day Three.

Tools and Innovation with Gerry Leonidas

What makes typography innovative and interesting and novel?

The most important factors in usability testing of reading (as long as the typeface is good enough):

  1. content
  2. vocabulary
  3. sentence structure

The reading test conducted by Dr. Kevin Larson and Matthew Carter (they tested Sitka, Georgia, Swift and Paperback) showed that at a line and paragraph level “well-designed typefaces are not distinguished by performance”.

A few out-of-context bullets:

  • On website commenting systems: Paragraph comments are more meaningful because one paragraph is one thought.
  • The problem is not in technology, the most conservative component is the user.
  • Type designers shouldn’t make identical, but similar letter shapes.
  • It’s a big loss that design critique and review commentary is not stored and archived with the design source files.
  • Designer has to foresee and even speculate the use of a typeface.

Armenian Typeface Design with Elena Papassissa

Armenian script is an example of latinised script that’s spoken and kept alive by the diaspora (more people living abroad than in the country) who want to identify themselves in the surrounding where everything tries to blend them in. As a former USSR republic it lost its identity and the harsh truth is that there’s a little interest to preserve the script primarily through education.

Political Type with Maurice Meilleur

Maurice Meilleur told us an interesting story situated in Switzerland around the beginning of World War II about the famous conflict between two designers Jan Tschichold and Max Bill. He concluded with the following quote:

“Designers are not privileged to opt out of the conditions of their culture, but are privileged to do something about it… to act for the community as (in limited respects) the trained eyes and hands and consciousness of that community.”

— Norman Potter, What is a Designer

Type Design work

Again, the typeface design happened between classes. We traced letters sketched the day before and started adding new glyphs into the font. Most of the morning was spent on familiarising with the font software and we were lucky enough to be supported by the postgraduates who sped up the process. It’s funny how I kept hitting Adobe shortcuts in and how after a while everything became easier.

We learned a basics of spacing and I was able to tweak a few bearings in my font which levelled me up in understanding the interplay between the black and the white in letters.

My first typeface as font ever

This is just a beginning and it will take huge amount of work to make it the proper typeface, but for 10 hours of effort, I’m pretty impressed with what I managed to achieve and how it increased my type perception.

Read next: Day 5

Marko Dugonjić is a designer specialized in user experience design, web typography and web standards. He runs a nanoscale user interface studio Creative Nights and organizes FFWD.PRO, a micro-conference and workshops for web professionals.

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