Part 3: Logotypes

“A confectionary company has asked you to present some rough ideas for a new range of chocolate bars. They are looking for logotypes and decorative typography that can capture a sense of the unique qualities of each of the bars. In your sketchbook, produce a number of ideas for each of the following chocolate bars, developing some of them into vector graphic versions:

High Tea Biscuits – An altogether classier chocolate biscuit
Aztec Gold – Exotic dark chocolate with buried fragments of honeycomb
Pow Milk Bar! – Retro chocolate for big kids

Document the evolution of your thought processes in your learning log.”

I tackled this one from various angles – my own sketches, which started as just freeform unstructured visual brain storming…

…I felt I was getting a bit stuck trying to sketch anything useful, so I looked at existing typography – in particular ligatures – to try and get a feel for how type often flows and what are the variations in letterforms that I might adapt and make my own. I simply typed out these from Illustrator. provides a lengthy course (4 hours is quite long isn’t it?) about how to design and render hand drawn typefaces, and the best methods to produce vector artwork from paper originals. The tutor is a designer named Von Glitchka, I’m not sure I like all his work – its very well crafted but I find some of it a bit cheesy. (Dated/cartoony) Some are really fun though.

That aside – the course starts with an overview of the anatomy of type, and some tips about constructing your own, for example the curve of a  bowl should extend a little higher, or it will look smaller than the other letters.

Looking at variations in letterform

I was hoping the course would contain ‘how to letter by hand’ but actually it jumps mostly to digital – numerous ways to scan and finesse at vector stage.

The best part was when he showcased the work of other designers, and showed their roughs…

Kathy Weller

She’s scanned in real coins, and finished her work digitally.

Roberlan Borges

Gorgeous work. On his website he explains this script is based on the standard formal typeface used in old American legal documents.

Ty Paulhus

This is just a small selection of his roughs – so interesting to see how a professional goes about roughing in ideas and exploring different options in exactly the same way we are encouraged to do. It also reminds me its OK to not just pick up a pencil, but also use paint, markers or digital roughs too.

Scott Biersack – designers are often refining by tweaking the negative space between the letter forms, and working towards a sense of harmony.

also pencil roughs on his website complete with correction notes

Nicholas Fredrickson Inspired by Victoriana

Nikita Prokhorov

These are ambigrams – they can be read upside down – I’ve never tried but they look tricky!

In reference to the Aztec theme, I looked at Mexican street art, which is inspired by pre-Spainish artwork. There’s some great stuff.

Aztec images and fabric design  sourced from Pinterest:

And finally a quick look at comic book lettering (Pinterest)

Todd Mitchell

My Work

Hand lettering is not the sort of skill I can hope to pick up in a few weeks, so I don’t have really high expectations here! But I have seen that designers do have a sound knowledge of existing typefaces and letterforms that allows them to build on and embellish what already exists. I think this is my best route too. I wanted to attempt a fancy script for High Tea…

Here’s my roughs

As you can see after many attempts (often with layout paper) I ended up with this. I still wasn’t happy. You can see the letter forms are completely inconsistant in style.

I looked at a variety of existing fonts again, and tried to firm up my style

Digital Versions – I used live trace to convert to vector. There are drawbacks; letterforms are in large sections and several traced as one continuous piece. In some ways it is more fiddly to edit and refine than if I’d used the pen tool. The last change was to get rid of the flourish on the ‘h’ as I felt it was over egging the pudding.

High Tea Biscuits

I’ve done a bit of tidying here but if the biscuit company wanted a less playful approach this would need to be a lot neater.

Aztec Gold

I’ve managed to lose some of my pencil roughs for this! Heres what I do have

I photocopied and enlarged, then used them as a guide in Illustrator. I used the pen tool to construct tidy versions of each idea.

Aztec Gold

I’m not that keen on this one, but it would be easy to fill with Aztec style pattern. I tried an angular style to mimic carved stone. Obviously the Aztecs didn’t have an alphabet as such, but a series of pictograms to represent letter sounds or words, so we were free to interpret “aztec” in any way we wanted.

I prefer this – tho my partner pointed out the ‘a’ looks like a ‘q’!

Pow Milk Bar!

I really hated my initial pencil sketches of all three words, and most of all this one, I really wasn’t inspired at first. On returning to to this a few days later, it went much better.

Pow Milk Bar

Some vector experiments…You’ll see they aren’t perfectly neat. POW is hand lettered with the pencil tool. I kept the little imperfections, but they’d probably have to be tidyed for a crisp version.

Is it me or do some of these look quite retro??

Sometimes when I came to fleshing out my sketches, its clear it doesn’t work

But could be adapted

Again, this is rough but it starts to flesh out my sketch and give me an idea of how it might be worked up.

It may not be obvious from what I’ve produced but this has been one of those times when I’ve learnt loads. I’m starting to grasp hand lettering (a little). Another time I would rule lines, as its really very hard to stay neat without any guide lines. And I was surprised to find how nice it was to use a marker pen for the Pow milk bar for my roughs. I felt a lot bolder and more free – I will try to not rely on pencil from now on. Sometimes its just too boring and puny!!!






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