Tuesday, November 10, 2015

License Plate Typography

The processes of designing license plates, especially in the U.S., are thought about and created a little differently than how graphic design is usually developed. Typically, the ones who are designing American license plates are trained draftsmen, mechanical engineers, and/or product engineers that work more with industrial design methods and tools than a designer might work with.

Even though this picture is the perfect license plate for every graphic designers out in the world, the design processes made to create the plates are heavily influenced by the tools that are used by these professionals. Therefore, when they design these metal plates, they have a very industrialized looking style, using precise geometrically shaped arcs and lines that work together to create letterforms that are evenly stroked with equal line weights all throughout the letterforms. It is important that these steps are taken very seriously, and thought out very carefully, making painstakingly exact measurements and details, because drivers need to be able to visually read and understand license plates very clearly and quickly. When designing some letters like D and O for example, which we can see very easily are similar in how they are round in forms, it can be easy for some people to mistaken one for the other at times, especially when driving. Without a readable typeface, a dangerous situation is at risk.

That being said, license plates typefaces have been going through this process over the course of many, many years, being sorted into categories. There are 3 specific groups, as well as one that is a hybrid group. They are based on the structures of curves on characters like B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, R, S, 0, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9, since characters like A, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, T, V through Z, 1, 4, and usually 7 remain usually very similar ­with straight lines.

The first category is called Semicircle Curves and Din-Style. The characters that    belong in this group are ones that have straight, left/right sides joined by semicircles, on both the top and bottom.

The next category is called squarsh. This usually involves letters with curvy sides that are more box-shaped, with straight sides on left/ right/ top/ bottom with rounded corners, almost always have perfectly round 90-degree arcs. The style and look of this typeface is very similar to the one of Eurostile, although Eurostile does not form perfect ninety-degree curves and edges.

This typeface is oval curved. This style of typeface forms curved characters that have oval/ elliptical bowls and arcs that usually measure into a 90 degree curve. This can be compared surprisingly to humanist sans fonts. Although of course they have such an industrial look to them, due to AutoCAD shapes, and it’s consistently balanced line weight quality, the way these letters come together, letters can obtain slight human-like qualities.

And last but not least is the hybrid group, called mixtures of hybrids. This one involves having two types of pattern all in one single character. Mixing up different design elements into one like this can be viewed as inconsistent and random, not really having much of a point that it is trying to get across, and not really having much of an organized plan. This can be seen in graphic design for showing typographic hierarchy. And even though this is meant to make something standout beyond the rest, this is known as a hybrid.

1 comment:

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