Modular Font

Modular Font

In this exercise we have been asked to produce a set of images using any medium. I chose to use Indian Ink, not having any experience with paints, charcoal, pencil or indeed Indian ink, I felt that the latter would be a lighter & perhaps a more easily managed medium.

Modular Font Marks

I created a number of marks on paper from which I chose to work with four. Not knowing in advance the purpose of this exercise for obvious reasons, I chose the four marks as the four that were most visually interesting to me.

Once selected, the four marks were scanned to create a digital file from which we are to make a new type face. Importing them into Photoshop I removed all the white space surrounding & contained by the marks.

Once the marks have been cleaned up & saved as PNG files to preserve transparency they were imported into Illustrator where they were converted to vector graphics.

As vectors, I was able to disassemble them into constituent parts & separate them to be used as a modular font.

Symbols expanded
Symbols expanded

As soon as I had this preparation done I was ready to create my working file. This was an A2 print at 300dpi. I placed the font parts in the top corner of the page & began to set up my guides. I placed a full set of upper & lower case letters & numbers on the page so as to set my guides to a universal size.

Taking parts from my collection I began first by designing the “a” then “b” & “c”, then found that it would be more efficient to create multiple letters such as the “b, p, d,” etc.

When I had my full set of characters completed I created a new library of Symbols & dropped them in to it. This would allow me to open a new document & use this library of characters to write whatever copy I needed. This is simply done by dragging each letter from the library onto the page.

However, I found that on some letters such as the “O” & “P” etc the letter was saved with a white section that was not transparent. This would show up if I placed a colour or another letter behind it. I resolved this issue by opening each problem character, expanding it & unpicking the white area & re-saving it to the library.

Sanscrit 53 Task 04
The Mesh Tool.

I had one final issue in creating my characters which was with the letter “J”. I didn’t have a mark that I could use easily to create the curved end. To solve this issue I used the Mesh Tool. This works by placing a grid over the object, sometimes called an envelope, which can be distorted to achieve a desired shape, distorting the object below. I feel that this was an acceptable solution to the issue. My font was now complete & I was ready to construct my type sampler.

Transforming objects using an envelope.

The final part of this brief was to create a type sampler on an A2 Print. I looked at a number of styles of type sampler & was really impressed by those done by Nevil Brody for Fuse.

The marks I have used range in tone from the light blue to a much darker tone of blue. I wanted to design a sampler that would, on one hand, show this colour off as part of its character, while on the other hand staying with as simple a style as I could. My own preference being to tend towards the uncomplicated clean look.

I created my A2 layout & placed a grid over the page. Then, choosing from my library of Symbols, I placed each one in a roughly straight line on the right hand half of the page placing the Upper Case on top & the Lower Case below as they would be in a traditional print studio.

I used the align panel to first make sure that the base of each letter was level with the others, with the exception of the lower case where some of the decenders go below the baseline. I then used the Distribute Spacing option, aligning to the selection, to evenly space the letters  along the line. This also allowed me to align the x-heights.

I placed the original marks on the top of the left hand side with the Font name below, set against a yellow background to emphasize the blue font. The numbers were placed vertically down the center of the page to provide separation between the information on the left & the font on the right.  I placed a white panel above the grid on the right hand side to allow some clarity when reading the font. The left side of the page shows the grid and also some ink stains both as a nod to the process in making the font. I am quite happy with the finished product considering this is my first attempt at anything like this.

SansCrit 53 Type Sampler

Incidentally, The name I have given the font, SansCrit 53 is a bit of a play on words. I had thought the type in its earlier stages resembled Sanskrit….a little…. & my tutor independently mentioned this too. However, being my first attempt I couldn’t be too critical of the result, hence Sans (French for Without) Crit (For Critique). 53 refers to the latitude of the town where I live & where most of the work on this was done.

I could have called it “Bob”……. but where’s the fun in that…???


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