Thursday, February 25, 2016

Typography in movie

Movies have been around for a long time. Ever since the invention of moving pictures, they have become a world wide sensation and an important part of pop culture. As motion pictures began to evolve, Typography soon became an important part of its visual element. One example we see are in movie posters, which are made to grab people’s attention and quickly show the main visual of the movie, the title, and etc through images and type.

These are movie posters that combine typography and imagery together as visual elements to show the essence of the movies.

Another aspect where Typography is important is in title sequences. Even though we take the title sequence for granted, it came a long way to become what we see now. In the early days of movies, the sequence was just one frame that showed the list of information about a movie. It was mainly type driven and wasn't really integrated with the movie itself, which made the movie and the title sequence seem like two different elements.

Outlaws of Boulder Pass (1942)


D.W.Griffith: Intolerance (1916)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920)

However, title sequences started to change during the 1950s. It was at this time when they became interactive to movies as a whole and not just one frame showing a list of information. Instead, it was done by timing typography and metaphorical imagery to set the mood for movies. This method of titling was done by designers who were outside of the Hollywood movie studio system and it was an era when design perspective took an important role in movie titling. This innovative way of titling gave viewers a sneak peak about the movie they were about to watch, before the movie started. The sequence could show what genre, era, and tone for a movie. 

Saul Bass, Pablo Ferror, Maurice Binder, and Richard Williams are the pioneers of movie title sequences we see today.

Saul Bass

Pablo Ferror

Maurice Binder

Richard Williams

Some additional interesting Title Sequences

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Se7en (1995)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) 

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Almost Famous (2000) - took inspiration from To Kill a Mockingbird seen above

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hand Lettering is making a huge comeback. It’s replacing the cold, digital world of type that many of us are used to. It’s an unapologetically imperfect art form that is currently taking over the graphic design world. Logos, packaging, book covers and advertisements are benefiting from whimsical charm of hand lettering.

Lets talk about the history of hand lettering. I’m not going to go too far back; we don’t have to talk about ancient scribes from the middle ages and the art of calligraphy. That’s a separate lesson for another day. The “history” I’m talking about is relatively modern, exceptionally impressive, and was very close to being a lost art. I’m talking about sign painting.

SIGN PAINTERS (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from samuel j macon on Vimeo.

Sign painting became popular after Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. The increase in literacy rates lead to an increase in signage. Itinerant artists traveled across Europe painting signs for pubs and taverns.

Sign painting was affected by capitalist industrialism in Europe and North America, and by the 19th and 20th century it was everywhere: big, bold and bright. People started integrating it directly onto buildings themselves. Sign paintings transformed cityscapes into typographical canvases, and I can’t help but imagine it must have looked magical. 

This art form was nearly abandoned with the invention of vinyl signs created on computers and cut by plotters.  Computer software programs can generate pixel perfect signage in a fraction of time that was required of even the most skilled artists. This has significantly reduced the cost of signage and largely reduced the need for sign painters.

Thankfully, in the 60s, there was a sudden surge in the general public’s interest in type. From the psychedelically misshapen letters of the 60s and 70s to the ripped and cut grunge letters of the 80s, by the 90s people were seeing type as more than just letters. They were seeing individual characters for what they were- tiny illustrations, each with their own unique style and personality that could only be properly captured by the hand of a person, not by the pixels of a computer.  And thus, hand lettering began its long and powerful comeback.

After two decades of growing popularity, hand lettering has positively taken over my life and yours, whether you realize it or not. PrintMag summed it up nicely when they said “The beauty of hand lettering is its flexibility and adaptability. It can be found in so many forms and so many different types of media that it appeals to almost every audience. From whimsical to elegant, and old school to new school—there is hand lettering inspiration out there for everyone.”

Here are some of the people who make hand lettering great:

Theres the people who we all know..

Mary Kate McDevott

Louise Fili

And then theres the lesser known but still incredible hand letterers who have influenced me.


Annica Lydenberg

But lets bring this full circle. Sign painters didn’t just pave the way for hand lettering graphic designers. They also paved the way for modern sign painters, muralists, graffiti artists, street artists, or whatever else you want to call them. This takes shape beautifully in the mural arts program's A Love Letter For You

Here’s a quick blurb from mural arts’ website:

One of the most (if not the most) popular projects in our history is Steve Powers' A Love Letter For You. Composed of a series of 50 rooftop murals from 45th to 63rd Streets along the Market Street corridor, the murals collectively express a love letter from a guy to a girl, from an artist to his hometown, and from local residents to their neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The murals are best viewed from the Market/Frankford El.
Powers, a West Philadelphia native now based in New York, is a former graffiti writer who became an established studio artist, illustrator, and Fulbright scholar. In Powers’ own words, Love Letter is “a letter for one, with meaning for all” and speaks to all residents who have loved and for those who long for a way to express that love to the world around them. He considers the project “my chance to put something on these rooftops that people would care about”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fonts Have Emotion

Typography plays a big role in our every day lives. Your font choice for any project can make a huge difference in terms of how it will affect the user or consumer .

iOS 9 isn’t a dramatic visual change from iOS 8. But Apple has changed the system font to a custom typeface called San Francisco, instead of Helvetica, which it had used since the beginning of iOS. 

Helvetica is a font that appears virtually everywhere -- more often in branding and signage, rather than in books and newspapers. For example, famous brands like BMW, Oral B, IBM, Target, Staples, and Panasonic all use Helvetica for their logos. It's the default font for Brussels' entire transport system, and became the font for the NYC subway system's signs and maps in 1970.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Let's take a look at braille!

Here's a question to ponder about: Can braille have improper kerning?

Well, no. Since braille characters are structured on a fixed 6-dot grid system, the spacing between the characters are consistent so it is hardly possible to overlap characters, but it can still be differentiated regardless of its spacing.


Well, here's the story behind the creation of braille.

Louis Braille, the creator, wasn’t born blind, however he became blind when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his father’s awl. Ouch.

He struggled in school despite getting a scholarship into the Royal Institute for blind youths in Paris at a young age. The books that had raised letters took too long to feel and recognize, therefore it was inefficient and impractical. Louis was inspired by Charles Barbier’s unique system of “night writing” which was implemented by the French soldiers, in the 1800’s, to communicate safely during the night. 

The night writing system was based on a raised 12-dot cell system. Two dots wide and six dots tall. The individual dots or combination of dots depicted a letter or phonetic sound, however the cell size was deemed too large to feel with one touch.

Louis took the initiative to reinvent the old system into a new system where the raised dots were smaller and easier to detect in one touch, simply by grazing your fingers across the page. He had reduced the night writing system in half, so now it was a 6-dot cell system with two dots wide and three dots tall. Each cell can now be read without moving your fingertips. His system wasn’t recognized at his school, but it gained popularity all over France, and in 1854 the braille system was accepted by the French government and gradually everyone else.

Can visually impaired people read computer screens and other electronic supports?

Yes, there is a device that can help with that, and it is called braille displays.

Refreshable braille display is used to navigate through screen and applications on devices rather than using the voice over or other speech synthesizers. 


Curious as to how it works?

How braille typewriter are made.

Learn how to type!

How a blind people write braille.

Are there any braille fonts?

Deon Staffelbach has designed a variation of braille by experimenting with the beveled dots, thus adding personality and surprise to add a more delightful reading experience in the same way we use different fonts and typography.

Who said braille is only for the blind?

Roy nachum has combined beautiful poetry in braille with paintings, and encourage people to touch his art.

Watching this has made me want to go experience his exhibit for myself.