Hidden Typography

As usual, I’m way behind on posting stuff on this blog, so here’s some more catching up. This time around it’s the first real typography brief we have, which is titled “Hidden Typography”.

The first part of the brief says that we should experiment with creating several full alphabets in which each letterform actually contains two different ones.


The first one I made was fairly straightforward. I took the capital letters from the Rockwell Condensed font, then combined it with a white lowercase alphabet of the same font. It still needs a lot of refinement before it can be considered halfway decent, but I think at least some of the letterforms turned out fairly well. Specifically, the ones that look clean, for example the combinations of “U” and “f”, “O” and “z”, “T” and “e”, “D” and “o”, or maybe even “Q” and “b”. The biggest problem is that the serifs leave awkward edges all over the place, resulting in a cluttered feel for most of this alphabet.


For the second one I tried out the brush tool in Illustrator. Instead of subtracting one letterform from another, here I took the Viner Hand ITC typeface, and added lines to it. It’s weird and I don’t really like it, mostly because it’s really unclear as to what each letter is supposed to be. Like with the “g”, which is supposedly a “b” when looked at upside down, but it ends up being neither one. And with the “h”, I can’t even remember what I was thinking.

So after this I wanted to try something else with the brush tool. I raised the stroke size to 12pt, and drew a wavy line to see how thick it was. But Illustrator decided that it wanted to start glitching out, and that resulted in this thing:


“Wow, that looks really cool!” I thought to myself, then quickly saved it on a separate artboard to preserve it. Then I tried drawing a bunch of letters, to see how they would turn out. Here’s some of the better ones:

glitch-02 glitch-11 glitch-13 glitch-15 glitch-17

Obviously I wanted to use these somehow, so I went back to the subtraction idea, and applied it here too. I used white Century Gothic letterforms, and put them over the glitchy alphabet. I think it turned out fairly well, although it’s really hard to make out what some of the letters are supposed to be. That was sort of the point, with each drawing being a first attempt, but at the same time, a bit more clarity would’ve been nice. I guess the order of the letters helps somewhat, but even that’s not 100% clear, since I had to move some of them around to fit the artboards.

artboard-3 artboard-4

Next alphabet: with this one I tried making outlines with the Agency FB typeface, so the white space creates a full alphabet. It’s a mixed bag to say the least. Some are very easy to understand which letter they are supposed to be, like with N or P for example. Others take a bit of thinking, like C or Q. Then there are the absolutely incomprehensible ones, like R, or G, which are just an absolute mess.


The last alphabet I made (which should be #5 but I forgot to change the number) was based on me experimenting with color overlays. All of the color choices were arbitrary, but I tried to go for a range of different combinations, so I’d end up with a variety of mixed colors. In this first artboard I set each letter to 50% opacity, and put them over a black background so they don’t have a faded look. This resulted in a very confusing set of letters, so I tried something else instead.


I copied everything to a second artboard, and deleted every part of the letterforms that wasn’t intersecting. This is my favorite alphabet out of all the ones in this post, but even then, it has issues. While some of the letters are very clean and stylish, some are confusing or have little edges that shouldn’t be there. Prime example: the R and K combination, which just doesn’t work.


And finally I tried making the inverted version of the previous artboard, where the intersecting parts are deleted and everything else is painted only once color instead of two. This is a bit confusing, but there are a few that are alright, like “A” and “T” or “S” and “L”. Some even have a bit of an “optical illusion” look going for them, like “O” and “H”.


The second part of the brief requires us to make a poster that promotes a series of lectures held at a museum in Lincoln called The Collection. We also have to include other information, like the date, time, and the fact that admission is free (but limited spaces are available). I came up with four ideas:

poster-1 poster-2 poster-3 poster-4

Then I realized that I had to work with 2 colors (which means 3 actually if you count the color of the paper), and the first poster had one too many, while the others looked a bit bland, so I went ahead and played with some colors. Which for some reason look very different in the browser than in Illustrator. Probably because of the CMYK to RGB conversion they had to go through, but I was only aware of the other direction causing problems, since CMYK has less colors than RGB. Oh well, I guess I’ll see how they look when I print it out.

poster-3-artboard-1 poster-3-artboard-2 poster-3-artboard-3

Now when I was making this last one during the Typography class on Thursday, Chris warned me not to stack type. Since that was the first time I heard that phrase, I assumed he was talking about the background,so I mentally ditched this entire poster idea. But now that I’ve googled WHY stacking type is bad, I realized it means spelling words vertically. So this can still be saved apparently.


But I have to pick just ONE of these. I think the first and the third ones are the best looking, but the third one is a bit more lively. Let’s go with the third one.

Now the last thing I need to figure out is the type hierarchy for the following bits of information:

  • Hidden Typography
  • A series of lectures held at
  • The Collection
  • Lindum Hill
  • Lincoln
  • November 16-18
  • 2016
  • 6.30 pm
  • Admission free
  • Limited spaces available

So what’s the most important information this poster has to communicate? Obviously, the title should be on there, so people know what it is. The date and time should be easy to read too, so people can immediately know if they can even make it. And the location is also an important thing, at least “The Collection” should be fairly large on the poster, so viewers immediately know where the lectures are held at. That leaves us with:

  • A series of lectures held at
  • Admission free
  • Limited spaces available

I’d argue that the first one of these isn’t all that important, since if someone’s interested in the event, they will read up on it, and if they aren’t, that little line won’t help enticing them. The other two bits however should go on the poster, even if in small size, because that tells people that they don’t have to pay anything, but should quickly decide if they want to go, since there are a limited number of spaces.

As for type hierarchy, most of the posters I’ve been looking at, seem to only have one or two levels of them, like this one from Armin Hofmann.


So with that in mind, and the theme of hidden typography, here’s where I’m at right now:


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