COMD1167 Type & Media, FALL2017

This is a foundation course in typography with an emphasis on using type for a multiple of industry related applications.

Meet the Pros – J. Walter Thompson New York

This Thursday (NOV 9th), please join the Art & Design Club as they will be hosting a panelist discussion with 5 creative designers who are all from J. Walter Thompson New York. Amongst the guest speakers will be a former City Tech Alum –Emely Perez – who is a senior designer & illustrator at JWT and who has also been working there since 2011.

The other panelist guests from JWT include Keni Thacker, Mo Osunbor, Chris Phillips and Andrew Berardi who will all, along with Emely, talk about themselves and what they do and will also discuss diversity in the advertising industry and why it is important in today’s world.

The session will be starting at 6:30pm in the amphitheater.

Feel free to join and bring your questions for the Q&A After.

Project #2 – Design a Poster

We are now working on our second project. This project should be fun and give you an opportunity to incorporate all that you’ve learned so far about typography and basic graphic design. This project will be graded on those points. If you didn’t get the design assignment in class, download a copy here.

On Monday, Nov 6, 2017, be prepared to present your initial sketch ideas. We will do this first thing when class begins, so don’t come to class and begin to do your sketches for the first time. Not having computer access will not hinder your ability to do the sketches. You should have a full page of thumbnail sketches and then another page that has 3-4 sketches of your better ideas. From those 3-4 sketches we will be able to determine which will make a better design layout for your project.

One of the main emphasis of this project will be use of the grid system and hierarchy. Here is a video what may give you more insight into developing hierarchy in your poster design.


In case you’re still a bit unsure about doing thumbnail sketches, here is a video that previous students have found to be helpful. Please note, the tutorial is done on a computer for the sake of recording, but you will be using pencil or pen and paper.


The Type Book: Assembly Instructions

Every type book exercise is to be included. All of the exercises are listed below and should appear in your book in this order. The titles are based on the assignment sheets. Some of those handouts included more than one exercise. Hopefully this list is clear. If you have questions, please ask for clarification. Use the handout as a guide for the number of pages included for each exercise

  • Front Cover
  • Anatomy
  • 5 Families (5 pages)
  • Variations (6 pages)
  • Alignment
  • Alignment 2
  • Leading (2 pages)
  • Tracking (2 pages)
  • Kerning
  • Type on a Path
  • Legibility (in color)
  • Hierarchy
  • Grid (2 pages)

Your type book  is to be printed out (8.5″x11″ pages) and bound along the left edge where we left space for such details. Use a clear vinyl (acetate) front cover and a black vinyl back cover with spiral binding along the left side. You can print the pages out in class, in lab or on your own printer. The only page printed in color is the Legibility: Type Color page. The spiral binding is done at Staples or FedEx Kinkos. Don’t wait until the last minute to get this done because they may require that you pick it up the next day.

The finished books are to be submitted no later than Monday, Oct 30, 2017.  All projects submitted late will have lowered grades by 5%.

Reviewing the Five Families of Type

We have discussed the five families of type since the early days of the semester.  Sometimes these are referred to as type  categories. Make sure you are  prepared to identify the differences.

Here is quick review:

Old Style: Garamond
(15th-17th century)

  • designed in France in 1615 by Jean Jannon (Claude Garamond was
  • given credit originally)
  • designed in a time when inks and paper were coarse and type
  • technology was still rather rough
  • relatively thick strokes and heavily bracketed or curved serifs
  • emulated classical calligraphy



Transitional: Baskerville
(mid 18th century)

  • designed in England in 1757 by John Baskerville
  • designed in a time when inks and paper were considerably smoother and
  • type technology was refined
  • increased contrast between thick and thin strokes and the serifs are more sculpted
  • sharper serifs and more vertical axis



Modern: Bodoni
(late 18th century)

  • designed in Italy in 1788 by Giambattista Bodoni
  • designed in a time when printing technology was refined by leaps and bounds
  • extreme contrast between stokes and hairlines
  • brackets virtually eliminated



Egyptian or Slab Serif:
Century Expanded
(19th century)

  • designed in the United States in 1894 by Linn Boyd Benton
  • type design, freed from technical constraints, became eclectic
  • characterized by heavy serifs
  • very little contrast between thin and thick strokes



Sans Serif: Helvetica
(19th-20th century)

  • designed in Switzerland in 1957 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman
  • sans serif fonts were usually considered too hard to read as text, but the Swiss refined this face until it became quite balanced and legible


Class 6 — Multiple Pages in InDesign

Here’s a brief recap from  Monday’s class. After doing a review of the grid system, I learned how to create a multiple-page InDesign document, which included a quick introduction to master pages. You need to be familiar with these as you create the next Type Book assignment, the Five Families of Type.

This video will help you with adding and managing pages. We will get more in-depth with some of the things a little later.

Insert, Deleting, and Moving Pages in InDesign


Homework — Due Monday, Sept 25

  • Quiz #1 – will cover everything we’ve covered so far, through class 6. It will be given at the beginning of class and should only take about 30 minutes, so please arrive on time. Our Google Drive folder will have copies of the slide presentations shown in class.
  • Type Book – Five Families of Type – You can download a copy of  Type Book – 5 Families of Type if you didn’t get one.
  • Letterform Work Sheet – This was a handout from a few weeks ago so you should have had time to complete. If you need a new copy, Typography Letterform can be downloaded, but you will need to print out all 10 pages to complete the assignment.


Class 5 — Introduction to the Grid System

Here’s a brief recap from  Wednesday’s class. One of the main things we covered was how to work with the grid system.

A grid is a non-printing system of horizontal and vertical lines which help the designer align the elements of the layout. This system of alignment helps to create a more organized layout. In multiple page documents, the grid assists in the consistent placement of design elements. Think of the grid as the skeleton of the layout—similar to the frame that you see on the construction site when a building or house is being built.

Vocabulary used:

  • text page – the area on a page, within the margins, where text appears.
  • margin – the area of the page around the text area. It creates a boundary to keep text away from the edge of the page.
  • folios – the page number. In most instances this is at the bottom of the page below or outside the text area.
  • header – the area at the top of the page, outside the text area. A running header is a header that is repeated across many pages
  • footer – the area at the bottom of the page, outside the text area. A running footer is a footer that is repeated across many pages.
  • gutter – the gutter separates the columns and rows from each other. It is also the area where two facing pages meet.
  • active corner – the upper left corner of any field in a grid system. This is where the top of the text is aligned.
  • passive corner – the bottom right corner of any field in a grid.

For additional information on using grids, read the online article 15 Reasons Why A Grid Based Approach Will Improve Your Designs

In InDesign we learned to set up columns for a grid, how to use a template, and how to name files before submission. We did this as we were introduced to the Type Book project.

We also covered using the line tool to create rules, strokes, and arrows in InDesign

 Introduction to Project #1 – The Type Book

The Type Book is a typography manual that you will create as we cover the basic principles of typography. Each student will choose a performer/famous person/fictional character who will be used for the Type Book assignment.

Homework Due Monday, 9/18

Do you have any questions about information covered during this lesson? Write them in the comments below.

Class 4 — Controlling Space, Leading, Tracking and Kerning

We covered three main topics in today’s class that deal with spacing—tracking, kerning and leading. It is important to understand the difference between tracking and kerning.

  • Tracking deals with the adjustment of letter-space which will affect entire lines or blocks of text. By adding tracking, the letter-spacing, which is the amount of space between the characters, will be increased or decreased. The goal is to have consistently even space between all the characters
  • Kerning is often confused with tracking but kerning deals with the letter-space adjustments between a specific pair of letters. You only have to be concerned about kerning display or headline text. Certain letter pairs don’t fit well together, so the designer’s goal is to adjust the space so that letter-spacing looks consistent.
  • Leading is the amount of space between lines of text. It is measured from baseline to baseline. It is important that line-spacing is not too tight or too far apart.
  • All three of these—tracking, kerning, and leading—are important to the overall look and to make reading easier.

We viewed the following videos to help with clarity:

Kerning and kerning pairs


Kerning & Tracking


Design Principles – Typography, leading

To test our kerning ability we used The Kerning Game, which can be found online:


Homework — Due Wednesday, Sept 13

  • Finish lettering your phrase  on the tracing paper.  You are to trace a short phrase that is 2-3 lines long. You will have to pay attention to you letter-space and line-space. These will be collected on Wednesday.
  • Bring 1 or 3 magazines that you don’t mind cutting up.

Class 3 — Typographical Anatomy

During our third session on Wednesday, Sept 6th we not only covered The History of Typography and the Five Families of Type, but  we also were introduced to Typographical Anatomy.

  • If you missed the lecture on the History of Typography and the Five Families of Typography, you download the slides here.
  • We learned the parts of type of similar to our body parts. Download the TypeAnatomy sheet and keep it handy to help you identify the different parts of letters.
  • We watched the following two videos in class:

Typography tutorial: Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type

The History of Typography – Animated Short

  • We learned about the Five Families of Type, and the characteristics that distinguish them. The following videos will help you will this process.

Type Anatomy and Terminology


Type classification


How to identify Old Style fonts


How to identify Transitional fonts


How to identify Modern fonts


How to identify Slab Serif fonts


Homework — Due Monday, Sept 11

Type Journal

  • Draw in and label all parts of anatomy of the single word you began tracing in class. Use the Typographical Anatomy sheet as your guide. Label at 5-10 parts. Keep your work neat. Submit on Monday morning.
  • Search for examples of actual typefaces and their specific use. Find examples of work that use typefaces belonging to each of the five families of type. In what scenario are they used? You can use photos that you take or cut the examples from magazines or brochures. Tape or glue your samples to the plain sheet of paper that will fit in your journal. Be sure the identify the typeface, the family it belongs to and how it is used (headline for an ad, body text for a book, etc).
    For example: a typeface that belongs to the Modern classification of type is used on a heading for an ad. Do this for each of the 5 families.

Gentrifying Typography

Throughout my neighborhood, I was searching for the perfect sign that can represent the entire borough of Queens. However, I started to notice that some of the signs were similar to the ones in Manhattan. For instance, on Jamaica Avenue, the epicenter of Southside Queens is predominantly  African-Americans/Caribbean-American and most of the store’s signs were made of mostly old-fashioned san serif fonts and used warm colors to make the customer feel comfortable and eager to shop. Most recently, there is a new establishment that has been added to Jamaica Avenue, Starbucks. With Starbucks, their signs are made with serif fonts, white as the font color, and the two-tailed mermaid logo. These three essentials help Starbucks get customers and possibly new customers as well.

However, Starbucks doesn’t represent the South Side of Queens, and this is just a prime example of a bigger issue at hand, gentrification. These corporations are buying cheap property and making their profit by raising their prices on their product, which will increase the price of other property in that area. These corporations only appeal to the upper middle class, which can be a problem for people that are of a low-income household.  This can also cause the small business to shut down and lose the essence of the original neighborhood and the culture. Even though it’s only one store, it can have a big impact in the future; there are still some areas on the Ave that still preserve the culture.

« Older posts