Advanced Typography - Exercises

2/04/19 - 30/04/19 (Week 1 - 5)
Azmina Fathima Haris (0337113)
Advanced Typography


Lecture 1: Module Briefing
Week 1 (2/04/19)

We started off this class with a briefing - we went though the module information booklet and Mr. Vinod marked out the declines for each of our assignments this semester, the exercises and each of the projects. We were also split into groups to work on presentations for the upcoming weeks, the first one being on Typographic Systems.

Lecture 2: Typographic Systems
Week 2 (9/04/19)

Our group had to do it on the modular system which is one that is based on standardised units. Attached below is the compilation of all the typographic systems-

Lecture 3: No lecture
Week 3 (16/04/19)

We didn't have a lecture this week, instead we worked on our typographic systems and asked for feedback. Once we were done, we were briefed about the next exercise, which is Finding Type - we were  told to take pictures of natural or man-made elements/structures and then dissect them to find a crude letterform for 5 letters.

Lecture 4: Compressed history of the Roman alphabet
Week 4 (23/04/19)

This week, we covered the history of the Roman alphabet, starting from the origin of the alphabet, which was in a place called Canaan (Egypt). The Phoenician alphabet was later modified by the Greeks, and then the Etruscans; the Etruscan alphabet was then imposed across Europe under the Roman Empire.

History of Roman alphabet
- the Greeks introduced the 5 vowel letters to make speech clearer and also to make text visually pleasing.
- standardisation of text
- various writing styles, "Roman cursive"
- Uncial, introduction fo ascenders and descenders
- Carolingian minuscule, introduced lowercase letters
- arrival of the printing press, 1450

Lecture 5: No lecture
Week 5 (30/04/19)

No lecture this week, we continued our Type & play exercise (refinement) and also started working on the second part of the exercise.



Legibility, Context & Creativity (Week 1)

For our first exercise we were asked to create layouts using the aforementioned typographic systems - axial, dilatational, radial, random, grid, modular, bilateral and transitional. First, we were asked to sketch our ideas, two each for the systems using the 10 typefaces from the previous semester, limited graphical elements (lines & dots) and one other colour. It is to be made with the following content -
The Design School,

Taylor’s University

The Troublemakers Manifesto: A Design Colloquium

Open Public Lectures:

November 24, 2019

Lew Pik Svonn, 9AM-10AM

Ezrena Mohd., 10AM-11AM

Suzy Sulaiman, 11AM-12PM

November 25, 2019
Dr. Clarissa Ai Ling Li, 9AM-10AM
Professor John Sabraw, 10AM-11AM
Dr. Liyanna Khairuddin, 11AM-12PM

Lecture Theatre 12
I started off with these rough sketches - 

Below are my initial attempts for the typographic systems -
Fig. 1.1  Process in Indesign
Fig. 1.2 Axial

Fig. 1.3 Radial

Fig. 1.4 Dilatational

Fig. 1.5 Random

Fig. 1.6 Grid

Fig. 1.7 Transitional

Fig. 1.8 Bilateral

Fig. 1.9 Modular

Embedded pdf of the typographic systems (initial attempt)

Progress (Week 3)

After asking Mr. Vinod and Mr. Shamsul I made a few changes to some of the samples - most were minor changes, but others were more prominent - in particular, I was asked to redo one other axial systems and make changes to the modular system.

Fig. 2.0 Final work - axial
Fig. 2.1 Final work - axial
Fig. 2.2 Final work - radial
Fig. 2.3 Final work - radial
Fig. 2.4 final work - dilatational
Fig. 2.5 Final work - dilatational 
Fig. 2.6 Final work - random

Fig. 2.7 Final work - random
Fig. 2.8 Final work - grid
Fig. 2.9 Final work - grid
Fig. 3.0 Final work - transitional
Fig. 3.0 Final work - transitional
Fig. 3.1 Final work - bilateral
Fig. 3.2 Final work - bilateral
Fig. 3.3 Final work - modular
Fig.3.4 Final work - modular
Embedded pdf - final work of typographic systems

Type & Play: Finding type (Week 4)

For this exercise, we have to take a picture of a natural or man-made structure or element and dissect it to find 4 - 5 letterforms. I found a picture a I had taken last year of these cherries as a reference and decided to use that for the exercise. 
Fig 3.5 Original image
Fig. 3.6 Greyscale
I started by changing the image to greyscale and then tracing the outline of the stalks alone to find the letterforms. 

Fig. 3.7 traced outlines of the stalk 
Fig. 3.8 Six identified letterforms blocked in

Fig. 3.9 Identified letters - T, L, V, Y, J & K
Next, we have to refine the crude forms that we have identified but without losing its unique characteristics. We were reminded that it showed also follow the baseline when arranged along a straight line and should touch the ascender/descender line. 
Fig. 4 Initial refinement (step 1)
Fig. 4.1 Reference: Universe LT Std Thin Ultra Condensed 
In class, Mr. Vinod suggested that I refer to Univers LT Std light or thin so I can see how to make the stroke width more consistent. 
Fig. 4.2 After adjusting based on Universe thin condensed
Fig. 4.3 Final outcome - T

Fig. 4.4 Final outcome - V

Fig. 4.5 Final outcome - K
Fig. 4.6 Final outcome - J

Fig. 4.7 Final outcome - Y

Type & Play (part 2)

For this exercise, we were asked to combine the picture of a man-made structure or object with a sentence (that is about 5 words long). We were shown examples from a Nike advert.

Fig. 4.8 Reference #1
Fig. 4.9 Reference #2
Fig. 5 Reference #3

Fig. 5.1 Reference #4

Initially, I wanted my subject to be an athlete (of some kind) as I figured it would be easier to connect the image and the text. I tried working with this picture of Evgenia Medvedeva, a figure skater, but I couldn't a piece of text that would fit and this was the best I could come up with.

FIg. 5.2 Initial attempt 
I decided to pick a slightly longer quote instead and chose to work with "Not all who wander are lost". I found a picture I took in Morocco, and starting adding the text to the buildings and the path in perspective, so "wander" drifted down the path and "lost" looked more random.

Fig. 5.3 Chosen picture
Fig. 5.4 Initial attempt 
Mr. Vinod suggested changing the type of "wander" so it stands a bit taller and wider and suggested a bold condensed typeface to mimic the structure of a person better. I changed it from heavy to extra bold condensed and it seemed to work. I also changed the colour of "are". 

Fig. 5.5 Final work 

Week 2 
General feedback: Mr. Vinod said that our presentation was good, well-explained with the right examples. Once all the presentations were done, he gave us a few pointers - to begin the presentation by introducing each group member and the topic, engage more with our audience, to ask more questions, to emphasise each point with visuals and to work on the layouts of our slides; considering the line length, placement and overall appearance of the slides.
Specific feedback: Mr. Vinod said I should start working on the typographic systems in Indesign but to stick to black and white and not use non-objective elements for now.

Week 3
General feedback: Mr. Vinod went over a few shortcut keys and reminded us again of the restrictions for the exercise - minimal use of colour, only where we feel is absolutely necessary and to use only colours for the background and but nothing too bright. We were also briefed about our next exercise, Type & Play and what we need to do for next week.
Specific feedback: After showing Mr. Vinod my thumbnails for the exercise, he suggested I make a few minor changes to some, especially the line height and sizing. They were mostly fine but I was asked to redo one sample for the axial system as the axis was not very well-defined. He said my work for transitional was excellent but others were often too reliant on non-objective elements, particularly the grid system. One sample for the random system didn't look cohesive as the text overlapped too much and created too much texture so I was asked to work on that. Mr. Shamsul also asked me to fix the negative space for the modular system as the circles without text didn't need as much focus as the ones that actually did.

Week 4
Specific feedback: Regarding the typographic systems, Mr. Vinod suggested making a few more changes to the modular and grid system as they weren't very illegible in print. He also told me to reduce the non-objective elements in transitional a bit more. Mr. Shamsul said I should aslo upload the draft sketches to my blog. the As for the next exercise, they said it was fine and I could start refining the letterforms. Mr. Vinod said I should trace the other shapes in the picture as well. 

Week 5 

General feedback: Mr. Vinod reminded us how we're supposed to refine our letterforms, by finding a balance between functional and decorative, the former being a typeface resembling ours that we can base our letterforms on to make it look more consistent.
Specific feedback: Mr. Shamsul and Mr. Vinod both said my work looked almost done in class and suggested make a few more refinements. Firstly, to make sure that the stroke width is even throughout. For this, I was told to refer to Univers (light or thin). The bowl of the J was initially rather jagged and I was told to fix that too.
Online feedback (image interplay exercise) - Online feedback (image-interplay exercise): If the idea is to show the letters travelling along the path with perspective in mind, that would be an interesting idea, however you need to focus just on that then. You need to use a more condense bold type that will give you height and it will mimic people better. Just rework it and add it into the artwork... think people (walking) in perspective.



Week 1: This time around, class felt different and I could tell everyone was excited to be back. I feel a bit more confident - our projects look more interesting and despite the amount of planning it would take, it would be good way to start experimenting and trying out new things. It was fascinating seeing our seniors' work and also the thought that went into each.

Week 2: These were the first presentations we've had for typography and it was a fun experience, the class was more also interactive compared to last semester. Also, having to start digitising my work in class, meant that the whole process was stressful and very rushed - I wish I had got a head-start so I could sill play around with different options.

Week 3: Despite being rather difficult, I found this exercise rather fun and a good way to warm up for our projects. Somehow, it feels easier to think of ways to apply these layouts to our ideas for the poster.

Week 4: Having finished creating the rough version of our finding type exercise, I continued working on the typographic systems and made a few more changes, I also ran into some trouble while printing the outcome.

Week 5: I found the first half of the exercise to be rather straightforward and manageable - especially as Mr. Vinod told us how to find a balance between functional and decorative. But the second part, was much more difficult - particularly finding a picture that would be easy to express and think of text that can be integrated with it.


Week 1: Mr. Vinod talking about lack of originality and contemporary design made me realise how difficult it would to really stand out in this field and have an identity of your own.

Week 2: What I realised during the presentations were that some of the typographic systems could be combined and in the examples shown, it was hard to distinguish which system was which. I felt the same with my thumbnail sketches - I seem to have got the axial and bilateral system mixed up. A lot of our designs were similar as well and I felt it was hard to come up with a truly unique design for each system.

Week 3: How much ever I obsess over it and try to make it clearer, hierarchy is still quite unclear to me. Especially when it doesn't have to be shown through contrasting size or typeface but with space and layout.

Week 4: It was rather difficult for me to find a proper balance between the non-objective elements and text. I felt that sometimes, I would end up doing it for the sake of it and consequently draw away focus from the content.

Week 5: Compared to other aspects of typography, font design is surprisingly the most interesting to me and the one I finish without too much trouble.


Week 1: It would take as much research and planning as the actual designing process to have a strong concept behind our work that is unique and also communicates the given theme/idea well.

Week 2: Translating the thumbnails sketches to Indesign is much more complicated than it seems, particularly managing negative space and the alignment. This would only get more difficult as more shapes and colours are involved as well.

Week 3: I found negative space to be a very tricky thing to work around in this exercise, in some systems more so than the others. I don't know where exactly I should stop or exactly how much is right - finding reading material on this would probably help.

Week 4: Finding type was an interesting exercise, but one that has so many different opportunities - I felt like I could have tried to find something more interesting to take a picture of. Sticking to photos I have is a safer bet but limited my chances.

Week 5: I felt like working with font design for my final project would be a good idea as I really enjoy it.


Typographic Systems by Kimberly Elam

Source -
This book covered the various structural systems on which typographic compositions are based on - axial, radial, dilatational, random, grid, modular, transitional and bilateral. Factors like the hierarchy, order of reading, legibility and contrast are also important factors in typographic organisation. Many designers rely on the grid system by default and are unaware of the potential that the other systems hold. These systems expand the visual language of typographic communication and invite the reader into the text.
[The Circle & Composition]
To create a distinct texture and tone in the design, line breaks can used, leading can be adjust to make it tight or wide and also varying the word/letter spacing. The writer also talks about using elements like dots and lines to cleverly emphasise the point and change how it is read - the designer should experiment with its placement and see what works best in catching the viewer's eye.

[Non-objective Elements]
Non-objective elements enhance the functions of emphasis, organisation and balance and creates hierarchy, also directing the viewer's eye. Rules can act as guidelines and also create a rhythm. Circles can act as a pivot point of sorts - placing the dot/circle next to a single word could make it the first read word in the composition.

[Modular System]
This system is dependant on standardised non-objective elements or units, such as circles, squares, rectangles or ellipses that act as a ground to hold and contain text. The placement and organisation of these "modules" is what creates the composition.

Square, rectangle and circular modules [Source: Kimberly Elam (2007), Typographic Systems]

Typography Workbook: Real world guide to using type in graphic design by Timothy Samara
Integrating Type & Image (pg. 84)

This chapter spoke about finding a visual harmony between words and pictures, and their relationship. The elements of typography must form unifying visual relationships with the non-typographical material around it. The content to be communicated- both pictures and text helps the designer weave a unified expression in which the typography and the images are equal players. Combining words and pictures together means finding a visual harmony between the legibility of text and also adding conceptual dimension to the image. The example below is a poster for a lecture. The image acts an anchor to the type and as a conceptual and visual cue for the arrangements of it. The text appearing to sit on the chaise is also conceptually related to psychoanalysis.

[Source: Timothy Samara, Typographic Workbook]