Friday, 18 November 2011

Alphabet Soup//Illustrator Typeface: Development

Being new to Adobe Illustrator, I began with tracing over a few different letterforms using the pen tool to see what would look the best digitally, to start getting used to understanding how the software worked and also what would be the most interesting to produce a typeface from.

I also played around with colour when testing out some of the letterforms to vary the designs and see how they altered the image. The black G (above) looked good with a turquoise outline but the style of the letter would be fairly easy to recreate into a typeface on Illustrator and wouldn't be that interesting overall so I decided to try something more challenging.

The lowercase 'g' shown below is the letter I'm going to base my typeface, creating the remaining letters using the same style and technique. To begin with, I drew up the 'g' on Illustrator using the pen tool to create curves that traced perfectly around the image. The letterform was originally based upon lowercase Georgia Bold and is intended to communicate the word 'extract'. 

In order to maintain the same style for the rest of the letterforms, I printed off the lowercase Georgia Bold alphabet and drew over them, designing each letter by hand first, in rough, so that when it came to tracing over them on Illustrator, I could just neaten up and adjust the images. The original 'g' was hand rendered and so by doing the typeface by hand first, the typeface would be a more accurate depiction of the original letter.

I photographed the quick sketches of the letterforms and placed the file into Illustrator to trace over the shapes and curves using the pen tool. I used guides and a grid to help layout the letterforms:

On a separate Illustrator file, I created a grid to fill the page (4x8) using the shape tool to create a square (holding the shift key down) and copy and pasting it, which would help me fit each letterform neatly and precisely onto the page.

All the traced letterforms were all different sizes and so, to make sure that they were all even and completely precise, I re-typed up each letter (in Georgia bold) and gave it a red outline which was at 50% opacity so that I could line up my drawn up letterforms underneath and size and adjust them appropriately. This meant that I could feel confident that my typeface would look neat and work well as a completely set.

To test out my typeface, once all the boxes and letter guides had been deleted, I spelt out my name to see how the font would work in context and to see how each letterform flowed, whether it was legible or not. The typeface is readable and the style of each of the letterforms are all matching after some tweaking to a few of the letters.

The brief specifies using colour, so my next step was to experiment with colour and also how it can enhance the idea of 'extract' throughout the typeface. I used the original Georgia Bold font as a white shape behind each of the letters to make it look like the curved shapes of each letterform had literally been extracted from the white space. I reduced the black letters down to a charcoal grey using the colour guide on Illustrator to soften the overall appearance of the typeface against a pastel background (all colours created in CMYK).

Final Typeface Design:

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