Friday, January 29, 2016

The Importance of Kerning

The Importance of Kerning/ Kerning Fails

The word "kern" came from the word "carne," which is French meaning "projecting angle." This word came from the Latin "cardo," meaning hinge. When the main source of typography was metal, a part of a sort (the metal letter), would hang off the edge when two letters needed to overlap, and this was called a kern. The word kerning, in reference to the spacing between two letters, wasn't developed until digital typography.


Originally supposed to say "Bull Titan US."

The importance of kerning is paramount in making sure the message you are trying to get across actually gets across to the reader. These images show exactly how bad kerning can be disastrous.

final registration

This was supposed to read as Final Registration... not Anal Registration.


Just a CLICK*** away.

fuckering lights

10 Flickering Lights.


Kids Exchange


"The Wig & Pen Is Open For Business"

Remember the huge importance of kerning in your work. Here are some tips:
  • The goal is to balance the amount of white space between letters
  • Some letters to watch out for are: VATWY
  • Try kerning letters upside down.
  • Kern only after you have chosen your font.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

That Type Has Moves...

Typically, we think of type as a static thing on the page...

But that's not the only way we can use type. Kinetic typography, also known as moving type, is the animation of text to increase the impact and interest of readers by increasing the emotion and interactive quality of the text. The text is presented over time and isn't alway all on the screen at once, making it a form of temporal typography. 

Kinetic typography can be a successful way to communicate emotion to the reader. The text can be changed in size to importance, color to attract more attention, or the position to show where it stands in the hierarchy. Psychological researchers have found that there in an increase in attention to text presented over time in this way can positively affect overall reading performance.
"Loudness can be mimicked by changing size of text, as well as its weight, and occasionally contrast or color. For high volumes, motions mimicking vibrations can be used. In the creation of characters, type can be set to in a way that mimics human motion and can further animated to "attach" to objects or shapes in ways the create spatial relationships or create associations to specific direction."

There are two styles of kinetic typography which are motion and fluid. The classification of the style depends on the behavior of the text. In motion typography, elements move in relation to one another and may move away from one another on a 2D plane or 3D space. As for fluid typography, the letterforms themselves change while remaining stationary in space.

The first examples of animated letterforms appeared as early as 1899 in the advertising work of George Milies. However, early kinetic typography was still very static. It wasn't until the1960's when opening titles of films began to feature true kinetic type. Scholars recognize the first film to have extensive kinetic type was Alfred Hitchcocks's North by Northwest. (Seen above.)


Thursday, January 21, 2016


History First:
The origin of modern wood block type spans back to 868CE, primarily for printing art as well as characters from the chinese language. The style of printing moved to Europe when there was a need to print large letters because using metal type was simply more costly as well as had a tendency to be damaged easily. When wood type made its way to the US in the 19th century, a way for mass producing wood type was under way.

In 1827 Darius Wells created a machine called a lateral router (essentially a saw that could cut curved lines into wood) which made cutting block type which could be both a higher quality and allowed for a much better production time. Combined with William Leavenworth’s pantograph, Wood Type could now be manufactured post haste. Wells also published the first wood type catalog (as far as we know), which contained information pertaining the benefits of using wood type over metal or lead.

Left - Case of Woodtype; Right - Modern version of a pantograph
19th century hand carved letter made by Darius wells
Manufacturers, Collectors, and Archivists:
There have been various collectors and manufacturers of wood type in the US since the early 19th century. The designers/craftsmen that worked with Leavenworth and Wells went on to open their own manufacturing shops from which the next generations of type manufacturers was born. By the dawn of the 20th century, a wood type manufacturing company called Hamilton Hollywood Type Co bought out most of its remaining competition. The once booming manufacturing company now functions as a museum which is dedicated to archiving, restoration, and preservation of wood type houses one of the largest collections of wood type in the world (1.5 million pieces).

Modern Wood Type:
The manufacturing purpose of woodblock printing has been utterly halted by the obvious contender; digital typefaces along with modern advances in printing technology. However the value is now held in the physical letters left over from earlier dates as well as some typographers and designers seeking an analog version of printing for its aesthetic purposes or artistic authenticity. Since the reoccurring motifs in today's design trends, wood type and its aesthetic are sure to remain another source of inspiration for modern designers.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Why I Like Comic Sans

We all love to hate Comic Sans. The notorious typeface is an inside joke among design lovers that provides a conduit for mutual disdain, while others begrudgingly accept the font's place in pop culture. As Microsoft describes it, the "groovy script font" is arguably the most hated typeface of all time. But it is also one of the most popular. As designers, we dismiss the reason for Comic Sans' popularity with the argument that it's only used by amateurs who don't know any better—the common folk who don't possess the divine gift of innate design literacy. It's time to step off the high horse and realize that there's more to this story than a world full of design-idiots wielding powers beyond their comprehension.

Why do you hate it?

There are about a million reasons to hate Comic Sans. Most would say it's overused, it's badly used, it looks silly, etc. Typographers and designers such as David Kadavy will point that the typeface exhibits poor use of typographic fundamentals. Some people hate Comic Sans so much that there has been a website devoted to banning the font, and even a game created to kill it! Why does something as innocent as a font bother us so much?

YouTube vlogger Vsauce proposes the theory that Comic Sans lies in what is called the uncanny valley. In the simplest terms, this is the idea that when something appears almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it makes us uncomfortable.

Diagram that charts how our familiarity with things that possess human likeness are more aesthetically pleasing, except in the uncanny valley. 
In terms of design aesthetic, it's possible that Comic Sans fits into this "no man's land" category because it's not a precise, balanced font like Garamond but it isn't an organic, hand-written script either. But not everyone feels this way. Journalist Patrick Kingsley explains his first experience with choosing fonts:
There was something called Helvetica, but that was too bland. And I toyed with this sophisticated thing called Garamond, but eventually found it too formal. Comic Sans, though–that seemed about right.
To Kingsley, Comic Sans provided an aesthetic that classic typefaces couldn't. And of course, as designers, this thought process is what drives us crazy! How could our beloved Helvetica be tossed aside for something so ugly? How can so many people do the same thing? Designers are threatened by Comic Sans because it exposes our underlying fear:  If so many people don't understand design, how can it possibly be effective?

The Creative Brief

Microsoft Bob's literal "desktop" using Times New Roman.

Vincent Connare designed Comic Sans in 1994 for Microsoft Bob (code named the Utopia Project), an operating system designed for children and novice users. The user interface featured a cartoon dog named Rover who spoke in speech bubbles very similar to comic books. When designing the font, Connare mimicked the hand-drawn lettering style in comics, hence the name Comic Sans. But there's more to be said about the design of Comic Sans than just it's appropriate style.

The first personal computers used screens that had extremely low display resolutions. This caused type to become aliased and more difficult to read. When Connare designed Comic Sans with this in mind it resulted in a typeface that was better than Garamond in terms of readability.

This example shows Comic Sans and Garamond as they would appear aliased at the same point size.

Connare understood that being able to easily read the typeface was essential to his target audience. The British Dyslexia Association mentions that Comic Sans is a great typeface for children learning to read and struggling with dyslexia because of it's easily distinguishable characters.

What Design Is All About

I like Comic Sans because it is a good design solution. But unfortunately, we never see it applied to the right problem. Connare explains:
Comic Sans was not designed as a typeface but as a solution to a problem with the often overlooked part of a computer program’s interface, the typeface used to communicate the message. There was no intention to include the font in other applications other than those designed for children when I designed Comic Sans.
Regardless, when Microsoft Bob flopped the company carelessly threw Comic Sans into the default font pack for Windows 95. The personal computer was a huge success and Microsoft's mission statement, "a computer on every desk, in every home" was actualized. Soon everyone had a collection of ~200 fonts at their disposal and Comic Sans became the go-to for many.

This brings us back to what us designers fear the most: becoming irrelevant. We marvel at the popularity of Comic Sans and arrogantly peg every non-designer as a novice with no taste in our attempt to come up with an explanation. But this brash assumption couldn't be further from the truth. Designer Corey Holms, a supporter of Comic Sans, provides a strong argument for why we shouldn't hate the typeface or the people who use it:
Most of the designers who mock Comic Sans don't seem to understand that the person using it is not necessarily displaying poor taste, but rather trying to communicate at a rudimentary level with the tools available to them. Comic Sans is proof positive that design works. The public gets it and understands that type means more than just words.
But perhaps Connare, explaining why his unanimously detested typeface has gained popularity, sums it up best: "Why? Because sometimes it's better than Times New Roman, that's why."

Vsauce's "A Defence of Comic Sans":
David Kadavy's "Why You Hate Comic Sans":
Patrick Kingsley's "In Defence of the Comic Sans Font":
Christine Erickson's "Not My Type: Why The Web Hates Comic Sans":