Typography! Designing Fonts
by Ellie Baek
Calligraphy has recently become a popular pastime in Korea. As a result, typography has also come under the spotlight of many designers. Typography, as a word, has its roots in Greek: typos, which means “impression,” and graphia, which means “writing.” It has a literal meaning of “using writings to express (design) an idea.”
A “font” is a set of characters that share the same style and size. These fonts are fixed in a specific pattern and are often perceived as being monotonous or boring. Typography attempts to bring life and beauty to fonts by various forms of design. It may create a new style by adding a simple dot to the end of a letter, or express cultural characteristics through slight manipulations.
It may sound like a lot, but it’s actually not that difficult to approach. Simply speaking, it is a process of manipulating the shape of a printed character on paper. Anyone can do it, especially when all the little scribbles and drawings that you made on your textbooks can be considered typography. It only becomes challenging when it goes through the coding stage.
Elements of Designing
So what are the steps in designing fonts (typography)? According to an interview by Yoon Design Lab, typography goes through the following steps.
First, come up with a concept that clearly shows the theme of the font.
A good design is that which clearly conveys the designer’s intentions. Therefore, planning the concept and applying it to the font is the first stage of the design process. As is the case with designers in any other field, typography designers spend the most time in the initial planning stage.
Second, draw a sketch of the characters.
Designing the font’s shape is the most important part of typography. The designer sketches all the characters within the alphabet, or their respective language’s character base. I say “sketch,” because the designer is drawing, not writing, during the creative process. When the sketches are finalized, the font becomes materialized through a font program.
Third, arrange the sketches and see how they fit in the sequence.
Check to see how the characters come together as words. Make sure they are aligned properly and consistent in all sizes. Also, make sure they convey the theme set in the first stage. This is the stage where designers can see the degree of completion of their work.
Fourth, check for misprints and/or omittances.
As it is with all designing processes, this is a stage in which one checks for design errors. Since we are designing letter characters, checking for misprints and omits is a vital task. Once the fourth stage is completed, the font is ready for use.
More than a font
Typography has established itself as an essential tool of content-marketing.
Some fonts have been symbolized to the extent that people relate a particular font immediately with its corresponding brand. It acts simultaneously as a messenger, icon, and representative of a brand. Airbnb’s “cereal font” is a good example of such a font. Airbnb’s head of design, Alex Schliefer, came up with the design in cooperation with England’s Dalton Maag, a font design company known for their work with Netflix and the Rio Olympics of 2016. He said, “Typographic systems are the key to any design, and it’s become more important to create a font that supports all your touchpoints in a clearer way. That’s why you’re going to see a lot more organizations thinking about it.” It is clear that typography will keep growing as a key design element.