Crafting Type Ukraine

Crafting Type workshops teach font design beginners how to create original typefaces. The first workshop was held in Edmonton, Canada from Aug 27 to 31, 2012. It was then decided to make the events happen around the world.

The next cities to host Crafting Type were Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine during 14-18 Dec, 2012. I was happy to join†the team to teach in Ukraine, and share my knowledge on type design and Cyrillic. (Ukraine uses Cyrillic in writing).

The main format of the Ukrainian workshops was a two-day event. The programme was very concentrated with the aim of immersing students into the whole process of designing type from pencil sketches to a printout proof specimen. The Kyiv workshop was enforced by a local typography teacher Mykola Kovalchuyk who explained calligraphy basics, and greatly assisted in teaching and translating.

Here’s an overview of the whole process. The first day started off with sketching exercises.

Sketch by Anton Gridz.
Octavio teaching

After the first series of drawing letters, Dave introduced students to Gerrit Noordzij’s area drawing method. During the review-session we compared the initial sketches with the new ones using the mentioned technique. Participants very happy to see their progress in sketching and benefits of this method.

Review of sketches wrapping up the exercises.

Octavio presented an Г«Introduction to Type DesignГ­ lecture about balancing form and function throughout the history of Latin.

Octavio’s lecture

Octavio’s second lecture was an overview of existing type project. Each project was discussed and student input collected. The goal was to get students with different backgrounds and experiences inline with modern typography.

Octavio Teaching

After the lectures students were asked to develop sketches of their soon-to-be-ditigal typefaces.
Dave overviewed the working environment in FontForge.

Dave overviewing Libre Software FontForge
Dave’s introduction to FontForge

Having the sketches complete and software installed the participants moved on to digital drawing with bezier-curves. Designer Anton Kostenko demonstrates a clear straightforward design process from sketch to digital format.

Sketch for a typeface. Anton Kostenko

Once the first letters are digitized he defines rhythm in metrics Гі something that is inseverable from the design process and should be dealt with from the start.

Working with metrics of the digitized version. Anton Kostenko

The next important stage is testing the typeface in various sizes. Seeing a first proof of a typeface is an eye-opener. It allows you to see how your font behaves in different areas of use. It can be surprising to find out that your work is well-suited or absolutely unimaginable for text-setting, if you planned it as a display font from the start. Or vice versa.

Another problem that occurs is the relation of metrics(or letter-spacing) to a given point size. Large or super-small sizes can require ample adjustments to the initial preset metrics. This experiment gives you an understanding that you should make you design decisions to suit the intended purpose and areas of use.

Making a proof

Here’s another student working with outlines, and then testing the produced font in a design application.

Working with outlines
Working with metrics
Testing a font in an application

After the students have struggled with bezier-curves, I gave a lecture on ‘Digital Drawing Basics’,
explaining how curves in fonts are different from those in illustrations, and what are optical adjustments. My other lecture was on Cyrillic, and covered the history, and problems of designing multilingual typography. You can browse my Cyrillic lecture on here.

Alexei teaching Digital Drawing Basics.

On the second day Octavio demonstrated more type history, and talked about conventions in typography. Right after that Mykola demonstrated how calligraphy helps to understand the structures of letterforms.

Octavio’s lecture on conventions
Mykola Teaching
Mykola’s calligraphy demonstration
Octavio Teaching

Let’s take a look at was was achieved during the two-day event. All participants were able to get a printout of their typeface and make several iterations of the design process. Type design is no longer ‘Rocket Science’ for the Crafting Type participants.

Results of the two-day workshop
A very bold typeface
An italic typeface by Sergii Grygurko
An italic typeface by Sergii Grygurko
Compilation of final work
Compilation of final work
Compilation of final work
Compilation of final work

The final critique gave valuable insights to students on improving their projects. Of course there’s a lot of work to be done to produce professional fonts from these projects. We hope that students received an essential understanding of what it is like to craft original typefaces, and will benefit from using the newly-obtained skills in their day-to-day practices.

Final critique session

The Kyiv workshop at the school of visual communication.

Group photo of the Kyiv participants at the school of visual communication.

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