Thursday, 31 October 2013

Studio brief 03 Design development Refining Glyph Shapes

The images below show the experimentation with the idea gained from my visual research into the London Underground typeface, creating an even and maintained line weight in the bends and corners in each glyph. Another addition inspired by the London underground aesthetic identity is the ligatures between letters like the underground map in its twisting and angular lines.

However, this looks a little bit feminine and not communicating the idea of the Underground and by extension London. So, stripping this design back to its simplest form will hopefully concentrate what it is communicating and do so more concisely.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Studio Brief 03 Post Crit Design Development2 OUGD403

The font Briem Akademi std regular has been modified in several ways. The interior of corners have been smoothed out to create even line weight throughout, letters with two stems have had descenders added where appropriate to show a sociableness between letters. 
As a further development, to show where the font might go given more development time, ligatures inspired by the links of the London Underground map and neon signs (a common site in cities) have been added.

Possibly this has been taken too far and the design needs to be stripped back again.

Design Principles OUGD404Language an Anatomy of Type Lecture Notes

Letter forms are very much informed by the production methods available at the time. However, there re many different ways to organise and understand type. "Typography is the craft of endowing human language into a visual form."

The latin alphabet is such a strong system that modern typography is able to have many different symbols to connote a single letter form. 

One of the things that maintains a typefaces consistency is its standard of spacial awareness. The sketch book page below shows the consideration of x-height, base line, cap height, ascender line and descender line.
For type users the difference between a type face and a font is important:
a font is the physical means used to create a face and a certain point size, a certain line weight and a certain group of glyphs.
Type face- selection of sizes sizes line weights within a distinct design group.

A type family becomes a whole range of different fonts designed together and intended to work together.

The images below look at changing an existing font to something new by utilising knowledge of the anatomy of type. This will for a basis for creating an entire type face.

Below is the font above with softer brackets and slightly rounded corners in places.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Studio Brief 03 Post Crit Design Development1 OUGD403

After the feedback I received in the interim crit I started to apply the ideas and suggestions to the designs I already had.

One suggestion was to mix two of my concepts together, taking the idea of a city scape silhouette and applying it to the increased ascenders and descenders by putting small windows in these parts of the glyphs so that they are like buildings themselves but still social in main meaning, reaching out for one another.
These are really not subtle designs and are not worth pursuing. However, another suggestion received was to look into type associated with London and urban living, so follow a URL below to the post detailing this visual research.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Studio Brief 03: Interim Crit OUGD403

The crit took the form of an informal wonder around the studio tables on which were placed each persons work with a page next to it for constructive criticism. The designs that I brought are below, all are created from the concepts collected by my research into what defines a city environment.

The feed back sheets received are also shown below.

There were a couple of contrasting opinions which i think came from people not actually looking at the notes next to the sketches and me not communicating the information as effectively as I could. The most surprising ones of these were "you have based you chosen font on Handwriting alone", which surprised me to start with Because there are numerous personality traits and concepts that have been applied to the type. Yet there were also comments saying that I should use the handwriting as a bases for my font (when I had already done so in a few of the examples). 

The main things to take away from this crit is to spend time on design sheets and how they communicate, but also on a more specific note to experiment further with textures applied to the type, to continue with the descenders concept and look into creating a header text with this.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Design Principles seminar Notes 02

All that is necessary for any language to exist is an agreement between a group of people. We have been taught, some might say indoctrinated into believing that certain letter forms correspond to a letter and all the denotations and connotations that come with it. For example, we are not conscious of the fact that the letter form A sound like an "Ayyy" from birth (obviously this is a phonetic approximation in order to make a point).
Letter forms develop from seemingly unconnected origins and their meanings and connotations develop differently depending on the people who believe the meanings. For example, a letter A could mean something completely different to people in isolated areas of china. 

The reason that we have all accepted the latin alphabet is not only that the majority do and therefore it is collected by others but also because it is such a robust system that can with stand quite high levels of change and still make sense. this sense comes not only from the shape of the individual letter forms but also from their context within the alphabet and words. We are so used to using the system that we know not only the shapes of the letters but the relationships they have to each other. This is why we can recognise quite abstract type faces. 

We then went on to look at the different production methods that contributed to the aesthetic of some type faces. These include:
-Stone (Stone carving gave birth to the serif, the lead into the main stroke of the letter was needed to stop the stone from cracking)
-Sable (brush strokes and the line width changes caused by the movement of the brush)
-Bone (Quill nibs and the sharp terminals and high contrast in line weight caused by them.)
-Wood (large block like lettering with angular edges to stop too much ware and tear on the movable type blocks.)
-Lead (Much smaller font sizes could be produced with very thin edges and delicate serifs.)
-Silicone (the silicone chip allow the precise production of nearly all the shape you can think of so the creation of abstract fonts increased.)

We sorted the letter forms that we had brought as part of the task from the last seminar and sorted them into the production areas that had influenced the aesthetic of each font. Our result is below. From left to right: stone, Sable, wood, lead, silicone.

We were then asked to find another way to categorise our letter forms, we came up with serif sans serif and humanist, transitional and modern. The result is below.

We then went on to look at the origins of the combination of typography and graphic design and the birth of the analytical way of thinking about type. The way they considered the relation of form and function and the way that form came after function. 
The task that we deal with as graphic design is the fact that there are so many different usable font in existence, so we must learn to analyse and understand the fonts to apply them to the correct context and usage. type must change according to international requirements as well because of the shrinking state of international relations. 

It will also be necessary to become aware of the combination of image and text and the way typographic rules may not be applicable to image type.

As part of an ongoing project we have been asked to create a type journal to document our awareness of the type that surrounds us, this will be constantly updated on my design practice blog.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Final Crit and Evaluation: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

The group that I was in for the final crit for this project the majority of people had been really thorough with their research and through process leading up to their final designs. However, one thing that was mentioned was that the final designs and the research did not often have a strong enough link. 

I was really impressed with the way people had discovered their starting concepts and how conceptually in depth each design was. When it came to my designs the response was mostly positive but there are a number of things that I need to bare in mind. The concept was really strong and not the predictable way to go. However, I may have gotten so tangled up in the conceptual side of my design process that the actual communication of idea suffered. Something that I need to take away from this is that at some point in each project I step back and ask myself if it is communicating what I need it to. 

Another point that was raised was that the variations between my designs was not large enough. I got too caught up in this one aesthetic and did not explore all areas of the concept. For the next brief which is tied in with this one I will look at this further and push out of my comfort zone slightly more.


In very general terms I am happy with the out come of this project, there are many things I am happy with. For example, I really like the way I based all the development of my designs on the concepts I started with at the begginning. This will help form a concept based design process which is much stronger in the long term that just doing what looks good.

I am also pleased with the way that I pushed my self a little beyond my comfort zone with the aesthetic of the letters. there were many times I doubted whether or not the look of the letters worked but took peoples opinions on board anyway and continued with it.
The problem of legibility and lack of usability that I encountered when i was almost at the end of the brief really scared me but I am quite proud of the way i managed to keep a cool head and solve the problem by creating the lower case designs through the use of colour lenses.
If I were to do the brief again I would look at doing many more variations of design by looking at possibly one concept and all the different ways I could communicate it, rather that getting stuck going down one very narrow aesthetic pathway. 
I would also make the starting concept of damage more clear. I got too caught up in how clever and conceptual the designs were that I didn't stop and ask my self if the letter forms really communicated damage.
One the production side of things I would also have liked to start producing the coloured lenses for my lower case letter forms much earlier than I did. It ended up being quite a rushed job and I would have preferred to have a full coloured sheet that would lay over the letters rather than small lenses, but the production method I chose didn't allow it.

The main bits of experience and knowledge that I will take on to my next brief and absorb into my design process are as follows:

- Constant self criticism. Asking myself whether or not what I have designs not only fulfills the brief but also communicates exactly what I want it to. Hopefully this will also help me to become more decisive during my design development stages.
- Arrange crits my self with other members of the course. there were many stages when I felt I could have benefited from a quick crit, just to give me more direction so next time i feel this I will just ask same of my friends on the course for some feed back.
- I need to learn to balance the demand for conceptual integrity and aesthetic thought. Once again hopefully this will be helped by more crits and critical thinking in its self.

Final Product: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

These are the finished ten letter forms along with lenses.

Design Development.5: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

A problem has become apparent with the coloured lenses. When the ink fully dries out it looses its flexibility and begins to chip and crack.
Because i have so little time to the final crit I have tried several different solutions at the same time in the hope that one of them will work. I tried PVA glue layered on top of areas where only small amounts of chipping has occurred.
However, I found that the glue reacted with in ink making it practically opaque. so the next thing I tried was a layer of clear nail varnish. This seems to work really well and even help regulate the consistency of the colour.

Design Development.4: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

I have found it very difficult to find any coloured plastic or even glass so I bought some clear acetate and have started to look at painting inks directly onto it to create a colour lens. Below are a few of the test runs.

As you can see I tried to work out how they worked by creating a rainbow of colours in pencils and then seeing if the lenses worked with any of the colours. In the end I found that the most effective colour to use was the pink that I had use in some of my earlier tests. This was because it seemed more transparent when applied to the acetate. However, maintaining an even colour over the entirety of the sheet so I have had to change my approach. Instead of having full coloured sheets that are placed over the designs I will make small windows that are held up to the eye this way the colour can be more even and less distortion will occur. 

Design Development.3: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

I have started to look into ways that I could create a more subtle version of my high line weight contrast designs, to be used in body text and situations where legibility needs to take priority. Another idea that has been constantly on my mind is the way that perspective can damage someone's impression of something. This is a concept that came from my research into the use of Helvetica in branding and the way that the different brands that used it left behind a certain number of connotations confusing and damaging the clean message of Helvetica.

This got me thinking about looking through something that might reveal the damage that had been done to the letters or reveal the aspects of the letters that would damage the eye. Earlier in the brief I have looked at optical illusions and something that I had found was that colour played a major role in nearly all optical illusions. The idea of incorporating colour into the designs I had got so far sparked off the idea of colour filters to remove areas of the letters revealing the high contrast versions within. Below are a few sketches of these lower case body text versions of my letter forms.

Making sure the colour lenses work is of course pivotal and so I am going to try and get my hands on some coloured plastic and work out what colours need to be in the letter for it to work properly.

Design Development.2: Alphabet soup OUGD403

As an after thought to may of the optical illusion tests I have done I started looking at the line weight contrast idea that was one of the first that I had but this time thinking in a more mechanised way creating cutting edges and corners. Below is the first sketch i did when thinking in this way. I chose the W for the test because its angular shape seemed to lend its self to the concept.
I have also tried out this idea in a few small variations on some other angular capitals. Although I feel the high contrast look really works with the idea of damaging the eye of the reader, there is something that doesn't feel quite right to me. Possibly this is because sharp angular aesthetic is so alien to me especially in my own design. I have talked to a few people not only on my course but others in the college and they all seem to respond really positively to the style and idea so I feel I should carry on with it.

Something that I am starting to worry about is the legibility of he type and the fact that this could only be used at large sizes for header text. So as I continue I want to look into perhaps creating a more subtle version of these designs so that it is more usable.

Optical Illusion Letter Forms: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

I have started experimenting with Optical illusions in my letter forms, by using the optical illusion image shown in my last post and below.

I am particularly aware that the colour contrast is the reason this optical illusion works but when put into a letter form I found that they were so bright that the legibility of the glyph was sacrificed. I also found that the intricate and delicate patterns in the centre of each circle are instrumental in the function of the optical illusion and without the small scale accuracy of a digitally designed glyph I could not make the illusion work. Below is an attempt at working the illusion into a upper case B but it just really didn't work.

Another idea I have been experimenting with is the way light may dazzle and damage the eye when experienced directly. So I had a go at cutting out the shape of the upper case N in Helvetica on black paper. This letter choice was to do with the angular shape; hopefully helping to convey the cutting qualities of light. I then looked at shining an artificial light source behind the cut out. The end result is below and although I like the idea, it would be so difficult to get any number of pictures of a good quality, especially because I have not had the induction to the photography equipment yet. I was using quite a high quality camera but getting a sharp image when the light source is behind the thing you want to focus on is very difficult especially when dealing with low iso. As you can see I would need someone professional to help me get the pictures I would require were I to continue with this concept.

Design Development: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

I have started to play around with the concepts I separated from the main idea of the letter forms damaging the eye of the reader. I have tried reducing the shape of the letters down to their "skeletons" in an effort to achieve a sharp and cutting look (the W at the top of the page) I also attempted creating an optical illusion through the use of lines both inside and outside the letter forms to confuse the eye directionally, I like this idea but felt it didn't necessarily really confuse the eye. Continuing on the theme of lines to create optical confusion I looked at varying the distance between the line inside the letter to create a slight distortion of the letters silhouette but once again I just felt this didn't work very well. At the bottom right you will see that I tried to produce a sort of depth optical illusion that would draw the eye away from the letter shape and confuse the eye. However, this obviously didn't work so I have started to collect a few optical illusion images and experiment with combining them with letter forms.

When looking directly at the image it seem just like a dense pattern but as the eye wonders away from it  the rotation of the circles increases. I have chosen to work with this style of optical illusion not only because the circular shapes that make it up would work well in the counters of many letter forms but also because when considered in situ on a page of text as the eye move away from the letter form while reading along the line it will become more and more distracting and irritating.

Post Crit Ideas: Alphabet Soup OUGD403

Because the concept that people most reacted to in the crit was the idea that the letter forms should "damage" the eye of the reader I have decided to pursue this more thoroughly. I was not pleased at all with the way the earlier tests came out for this concept but other people seem to respond really positively. This could be because the mechanical and very clean cut aesthetic is something that I have never attempted.
So, in an effort to improve and widen my experiences as a designer I will make a concerted effort not to shy away from this look if it is suitable for the concept.

To explore the concept further I have returned to thinking about the way letters may damage the eye of the reader.

One of the first thoughts I had was about the way not being able to focus on something hurts the eye as it struggles to make sense of what it is looking at. I could play around with out of focus letter forms playing on the eyes constant need to focus on what it is looking at. However, I feel that this would sacrifice legibility too much, and not communicate connotations of damage effectively.
Another thought I had was looking at optical illusions and how they play with the eye. iI could explore this idea by looking at holographic images and pattern optical illusions and how they might fit into a letter form.
Light is also something I want to look into, the way that it can hurt the eye went very bright. To do this I want to look into using photography to capture this glaring light effect and if it really does hurt the eye when only a photograph and not the real thing.

Another idea I really like but have dismissed on the grounds that it is way too unfeasible in the time and on my own is to create letters out of water balloons and use high speed photography to capture the moment when they burst. I like this idea but once again I have to think about whether it conveys damage or simply the concept of and explosion or wetness.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Design Principles Introduction OUGD404

During our Design principles introductory lecture/seminar we were talked through the different areas of study, including type, grid and colour, which form the main subjects. these areas are analysed to create a deep understanding of the laws and principles so we can know when and how to question and challenge these principles in a way that creates new and exiting designs.

In the end the major theme we often returned to was the way all designs come down to communication and the link between the designer and the audience and how effectively a design uses this link. The factual and technical grounding this module will provide links in with both our studio briefs and context of practice lectures, which in turn siphon into our design process to improve and renew our work.

The module will be submitted in the form of a portfolio of physical work as a result of the set tasks, note books and sketch books, and a journal in the form of our blog.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Alphabet soup: Interim Crit OUGD403

There were approximately ten of us in the group for our crit and each person got a chance to briefly talk through their font and the word they had been given. They then went on to explain why and how they carried out their research and how it lead into their concepts and eventually their designs.

In general people had really considered the unexpected way to take their designs and created some surprising work. However, one theme that people often picked up on was the fact that the designs created were not as subtle as they could have been, often because someone had only considered designs in upper case or for header text. We agreed that the lower case lettering was something we all had to go away and reconsider.

The feedback I got for my designs was largely positive but also surprising. I was told that by far my strongest and most promising concept was that of the letter cutting or damaging the eye of the reader. I love this idea but the visuals I had come up with to communicate the concept were more than lack luster. However, as a result of this feedback I will revisit the idea and try and come up with some more effective designs. Below are the starting point ideas for this concept that I showed at the crit.

People also seemed to really like the subtlety of my "overused" designs, and specifically the one where I rounded off the edges to show ear and tear of the letter, they seemed to like the simplicity of the visual. So I have decided that when developing each of my visual ideas I will go through a process of simplification and purification to try and capture the essence of what I am communicating. Below you can see the 'h' that has the slightly weathered look that people liked.

They also suggested many routes for experimentation for my design development. For example, looking into old signage, like painted weather-beaten shop signs, physically creating letters in some way and allowing them to be damaged by water and wind and other forces of nature. Experimentation with different media was also suggested, such as photography and painting, not just pen and ink.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Idea Development: The Beginning OUGD403

Once I had decide on the concepts I was going to follow I started doing a number of sketches trying to realise them visually.

Below is an attempt at creating letters that damage the eye of the reader.
These are for the concept that damage is something of two parts.

This is looking at the substance of a leter form and how I could damage it.

This was looking at damaging the letters through over use.

This is a continuation of the concept of overuse. 

Basic Starting Concepts OUGD403

Once I had done sufficient research I narrowed down the concepts I had come up with to 5 main ones:

-The two sided nature of damage (in short the way that damage is always done by something and received or suffered by something else.)
-Damage as and external force. (specifically that of overuse, because it is so applicable to Helvetica.)
-Damage inflicted by the letters on the reader.
-Damage through perspective and connotations.
-Damaging the purpose of Helvetica (its purity and legibility)
- What the letter is made of and how I can break it down into its component parts.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Type Lecture: The basics of Type Anatomy OUGD403

As part of our lecture we were given examples of lettering and asked to change the classification of them. For example, turning a sans serif into a serif. Below you can see an attempt to change a Baskerville lower case a into a sans serif form.
These are some sketches from other people on our table.

We were also given an upper case R in Ariel. I found that particularly hard because I have had very little to do with arial as a font and so don't fully understand what defines it. This has really taught me that to change my font for my alphabet soup brief I have to really understand the font I am starting with for my changes to be accepted by the letter  forms.

I really loathed the result of this attempt, but I learnt a lot from it so...not a lost cause!