Type of Process: Crafting Type

Curator: Firebelly Design
date: December 12, 2013
Categories: Typography
Tags: Craft, fonts, Lettering, Type
Drawing from reference and appreciating the craft (Rob & Lauren Lim)

Crafting Type is an intense three-day workshop where absolute beginners learn how to design typefaces, and intermediate designers boost their skills.

Throughout this week on Design Envy, each of our posts will feature an aspect that we value greatly within our studio. Today’s post speaks to process.

The process begins with drawing tools and an understanding of the letterform. From these basic principles, educated decisions are made that move each attendee toward their goal of crafting a working font. Because a majority of designers are using fonts on a nearly daily basis, this deeper understanding of and appreciation for the method of creation and form can be an invaluable asset in branding and design.


During the three days, each of the instructors demonstrates the fundamentals of typeface design through small lectures and hands-on experience. All instructors are quite reputable and highly knowledgeable on the subject. Many have created their own commercially available fonts and share their experiences, often with documented sketches, process and personal stories.


On day one, attendees learn about the origins of serif letters and practice drawing techniques for sketching letterforms. Group critiques and check-ins allow each person to see progress unfold. FontForge, an open source font creation software is introduced, and attendees learn the skills necessary to begin drawing forms within the application. 


Day two consists of continued digital letterform drawing and personal and group critiques. The principles of letters working together as a system are introduced. By the end of this day, attendees have moved from pencil and paper onto the computer. Key glyphs (a, d, e, i, o, n) have been created that allow for quick creation of a larger set of letters and font metrics have been explored and discussed. 


Day three sees real paragraphs through testing font metrics and spacing. By seeing a printed sample of the working font, the designer gains a stronger connection to how each letter functions together within the system of an alphabet. 


Pencils and process sketching building towards solid forms (Rob & Lauren Lim)

Exploring and understanding forms through instruction and examples. (Rob & Lauren Lim)

Group discussion and progress help each attendee see how others are succeeding. (Rob & Lauren Lim)

The three-day process highlights long hours of hands-on work, digital effort and a greater appreciation for an element of design we use often but frequently overlook.

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