Coursework part 2 – Type samples

‘A small independent type foundry has asked you to design a range of typographic sample sheets that celebrate and describe at least three different fonts or typefaces. Your sample sheets should be decorative and informative in equal measure:

  • They should be decorative in a way that only uses the typeface, for example by using the font’s key characteristics, symbols or another aspect of the typeface as large structural design elements in some way. You may want to zoom into the detail of what makes this font special or use large single letters as a way of suggesting the font’s cultural references as well as a structural form to build the rest of your text around.
  • They should be informative in demonstrating how the font functions as body text and headlines text, as well as showing some of its symbols, ligatures or other characters. The content itself should be informative, providing some history of the font – for example, who designed it, why it was designed, or where it’s been used. You could do this by using quotes from other designers talking about the font, or by developing your own narrative about what makes this a good choice of typeface.The client is flexible as to whether you choose to use three different typefaces or concentrate on one typeface and choose three different fonts from it (bold, extended, oblique, etc.). You may not use photography, unless it’s a photograph of typography, and you must set all your text in your chosen typeface. Your sample sheets can be to any scale and can be in colour or black and white.’

There is a vast array of typography sample sheets that are equally appealing, though very different in style:

Calligraphy has often been associated with highly decorative work, the letterforms are embellished, and the decorative border uses the same fine lined motifs.

Fairchild's rapid letterer and show-card maker, commercial alpha

This a screen shot from I really like the crisp, eye catching layout; this design is perfectly balanced within each section, and the overlay of the main type emphasises this is a demonstration of the qualities of this typeface – the content is of secondary importance.


Another screen shot, this time from The bold colour combination and use of pattern blending historical and contemporary styles looks interesting


Perhaps its hard to go wrong with Helvetica? But this is particularly elegant, making strong use of tonal contrast and the shape of letterforms. And the limited colour palette makes it look extra classy!


This is flipping gorgeous isn’t it?! Its lovely and fluid, highly legible and the layering of the two main letterforms works so well. I would imagine the designer has thought about proportions of each shape and colour block very carefully. The larger capital M is a lovely touch; I would not  have the confidence to do that! It is ironic that Gill himself was such a foul person. The man himself certainly doesn’t deserve any form of celebration…


These next two use similar shapes and colour combinations. They are both impactful, well laid out and inviting to read.


I like the use of quotes and different weights and kerning.


A typical ‘taster’ from Linotype, giving you an overview of the ‘flavour’ of this typeface (rather than a full range of glyphs)


This is a screen shot of the footer from – I really like the way they have grouped these diverse typefaces together very effectively.


I simply chose attractive typefaces that I have previously downloaded, but haven’t yet used. They are all display fonts, which immediately made me wary, as they aren’t meant for body text, or to be read at small sizes…For this reason I have kept the amount of text quite small, whilst trying to show the main glyphs available, and the key qualities of the typeface.

I’m also aware I have ‘cheated’ a little by using some simple shapes – I did stay away from images/photography though! Perhaps I should have played with scale more and used actual letterforms as suggested.

My first pick is Selima from JROH Creative. Brush script fonts are very popular at the moment, and they are often presented with very pretty imagery – such as food or florals. Its usually quite a girly look, and I make no apology for liking it!


This is Selima…


I added the lines, and as I was doing so, I realised any embellishment needs to be clearly not related to the font, to avoid confusion.


Which is when I ‘sneaked’ the unashamedly girly heart into the picture…(Some very similar fonts do come with heart glyphs – I really ought to have chosen one of them instead)


Then I needed to introduce the other elements…As the lower case characters are more interesting, I made these more prominent, wrapping the rest around the curve of the heart.


I was also trying to echo the free flowing movement and liveliness of this script. Finally I added some ‘ice-cream’ style colour, and changed the canvas to landscape.




Next, I chose to work with ZnikomitNo24 by GLUK fonts. I found this particularly challenging, as it needs a particularly high contrast between text and background to be readable. It also comes with a large range of very pretty decorative glyphs. Lovely to use, but how to incorporate them without overwhelming the eye, and making the piece less legible?


As you can see, this works OK with just the title, but I thought adding more text would make things look pretty busy and cluttered once you lost a large proportion of white space. Or I would have been forced to use tiny illegible lettering.


I experimented with reversing the text out – which gives the high contrast (though less restful on the eye), and making a break in the decorative line


And this…(Incidentally, you can see there are some lovely features to this typeface, such as the ligatures, and alternative letter forms.)



Lastly, I tried changing direction, by using different colour combinations. I’m still not sure this has worked all that well – this was the most difficult typeface to work with, especially when moving away from simple black/dark grey text.


My final choice – using dark grey plus a little injection of complementary colours



My final choice was between these shown below…( I made an ‘aged’ background in photoshop)


I went for Lobster Two, as this is another retro style script, I wanted a ‘vintage’ style colour palette…As this was my third task, I have took less steps to along the way, because things flowed more easily. Apologies, theres not much to tell for this process!

Here’s my choice of colour combination and the bold/italic options available.


To get away from the horizontal sections, I introduced a circle to break up the line. Then I added the special characters, and a row of full stops to create dotted line to separate the sections…. and well, that sort of seemed to work. I hope?!

Lobster Two


Although I think the brief was hoping for more experimentation with scaling letter forms (like the examples I found for Gills Sans and Helvetica), I found this a challenging exercise, that required a lot of time. Its deceptively simple when finished, but trying to present rows of letters in an appealing way and balancing a pleasing composition with the hierarchy was hard. What these images don’t show is the time spent simply pausing, thinking, and head scratching. And there was a lot of that!





The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog




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