Brutalist inspired typeface 

In my work on the ‘On Display’ brief I have struggled to produce polished work since nailing down a solid basis for my work presented me a lot of a difficulty. Now that I am at the stage of building my brand identity I am pleased to be progressing more smoothly. 

I have been mulling over the idea of producing my own typeface for the project for a while with sketches and doodles of how it could look. But recently I decided to collate all this and design my own typeface. 

Original ideas

My first idea was to create a type that had the appreance of segmented concrete construction inspired by the techniques of Brutalist Architecture. One hallmark of the movement is the replacement of tradition methods with a Lego esc construction of large blocks. 

This idea, although solid in theory, led to one quite ugly and simplistic lettering that I felt had limited potential. So I decided to adapt front there. 

Typeface exploring the use of Brutalist shapes

Here is my first really attempt at an abstract typeface that follows the forms I have found while researching Brutalist Architecture. I was honestly very pleased with this work. 

I found it very difficult to balance the need for it to resemble the structures I was trying to emulate while remaining legible. But I think I achieved a happy medium. 

The issue with this piece was that a classmate was doing a very similar piece and after seeing it I admitted to him that his was better and decided I’d have to do more to distinguish mine. 

Concrete effect typeface in 3D

Here was a brief doodle I did while pondering my project ideas. This was going to be in regards to the topic of my project being the misunderstanding people have when it comes to Brutalist Architecture. 

My idea was that I would explore the reasons people see Brutalist buildings as so hideous and oppressive and seek to educate them of the philosophy of Le Corbusier and the socialist and populist ideals he harboured. 

Angular concrete type 3D
Here is my most advanced illustration of the typeface I have since decided to continue with. The exaggerated strength and thickness of the lettering was very intentional. 

Almost all the letter are designed to resemble solid blocks with details to distinguish letters being indents in the blocks rather than empty space. I wanted to create something geometric and angular that would follow the line software Brutalist design while remaining simple and legible. Nothing extrvigent as Le Corbusier intended for his structures. 

Digitised Typeface

Although the colouration will require much adjustment from this point (the type was created in CMYK so in RGB it looked a sickly green. I chose these colours because they looked far crisper for display purposes). 

As I mentioned, with such abstract typefaces, the concern is with striking a balance between being true to the brief (emulate Brutalist forms) and allow the type to be legible. 

It is difficult to judge this having poured so much time into the work and become so familiar with it. I asked my flatmates and some members of the course and they had no issues with it. But feel free to leave a comment with your opinion. 

I am broadly happy with the outcome and this will allow me to progress by incorporating this typeface in my ephemera and my animation work. I will refine it further, however. It needs some organic texture, concrete isnt smooth. I also need to nail down a final colour scheme. 

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100 Marques – Conclusions

We recently presented our finished 100 marques project. I was surprised by the immense learning curve it was to increase the quantity of work produced so drastically, but this was not a bad thing. Theo’s rationale was that if we had one hundred pieces we would be able to explore far more options than if we had five and the far more variation could be achieved and evaluated. I could certainly see the benefits this brought, I was very impressed by the work produced by others in the course, and I will create a separate post highlighting my favourites.

We were all provided with six stickers each; three blue and three orange. The blue were to denote the marques we found to have immediate professional appeal. Well executed ideas with promise. The orange were to denote the pieces we found compelling and instantly communicative. I was surprised to find a few stickers on my work.

In the process of creating my marques I started rather off target. My initial fourty designs were simply variations of my initials ‘D R’, my design initial ‘R D’ (Rothwell Design) and simply my name. In our first tutorial two days into the project, David explained the error of my ways. I was thinking in to much of a linear, basic way and not exploring my style as a designer.

This was actually a double sided page so the second image went unseen, sadly. But given the slightly rushed nature of the pieces, I’m very happy that some of the ideas themselves were well received. Regardless of the fact that they are initials, I think some of them contain the basis for a good design.

All of the designs up to this point are pre-tutorial and so they are rather constrained in their design. I was largely caught up trying to hybridise the letter forms, which can only be done so much before I started running out of ideas. Again, the second image is the reverse of the first and s o it went unseen, although it wasn’t anything special.

After the tutorial I began working from a more abstract perspective. Try out shapes and weights. Addressing variations in complexity. Knowing I couldn’t make things to complex or they wouldn’t be vivid enough. The rule of thumb provided by Dave was that if they were shrunk to the size of postage stamp and were still graphically strong, then they were appropriate.

None of these marques were ones I intended on taking further into the design process, at least without significant alterations. But again, a couple received stickers, which was a pleasant surprise.

Here re my final two pages of designs. Again, I didn’t want to get caught up making endless variations of the same thing as I did at the beginning of the project. Very few of these designs are even vaguely similar, which for me was one of the main objectives. I’m very happy to see that on these two pages, all of my personal favorite marques received some attention.

My thoughts

I really found this task enlightening. to me, design has always been about quality over quantity, but quantity can throw up quality that wouldn’t otherwise have been achieved. I think the only downside of creating so many logos, is your ability to discern what works and what doesn’t begins to wain. So the addition of fresh perspectives really helped me. I’d never have thought of  the marques that received stickers as my best designs.

Changing Faces – Finalising the Piece

The deadline is right around the corner and so my Changing Faces Project is just about completed. After receiving feedback from David I had a few final changes to implement. Some of them were technical issues to do with misalignment from columns and some were design alterations of a more subjective perspective. I made all the essential changes and did some other alterations to compromise between what I had envisioned and what was recommended to me.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.54.56

The next stage was printing which caused me some issue as the recommended printer was overcapacity. I found a new printer promptly but was unable to get my work cut to size by them. The cutting process with scalpel and ruler was tense because my crop marks had not printed correctly and £15 and a lot of time was in the balance.

Thankfully my margins were large enough to cover any errors in cutting. I could simply trim slightly closer in to correct for any mistakes. This is something I’ll consider whenever I have to do this in future. The gluing and binding went rather more smoothly with some help and final adjustments could be made one all three spreads were together.

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Here is the finished piece. I was overwhelmed by how perfectly it turned out. The print quality was exceptional which made every tiny detail included and adjustment made, stand out. It really made my work look better than I could have hoped.

Across the course of the project my design has fundamentally changed due to constant edits and improvements. It really seems strange the amount of time it took to design three double page spreads. But completed,  it really allows me to understand the difference using professional methods can have. I feel I have learnt a great deal throughout this year and here is the pinnacle of my work. Looking back to the work I produced at the beginning, it really looks quite poor now.

Despite how stressful it was to have to create my own imagery, I’m very pleased it was a condition of the brief. It took ages but I developed my ideas and refined my images to a point where I could not see how to improve upon them. The colour scheme is clear and allows the piece to flow and remain uniform while not being repetitive.

I learnt a great deal from my research, not only into the topic of climate change but into typography and layout design. I am especially happy with the design of my pullout quotes. I used a bold serif font and reduced the leading to near zero, the size of the font allows it to remain clear while being compact, chunky and powerful.

The quality of all the work I have seen during this project has been exceptional and I am eager to see it displayed as part of our end of year exhibition.

Changing Faces – One to One Consultation

Recently we were scheduled one to one meetings with David to discuss our projects and evaluate them. Seeing what ideas we had come up with, looking at how we could refine or build on them, as well as looking for basic errors and misjudgments.

By this point I had a very solid basis for my project. My core ideas had been laid out and begun taking shape. My color scheme or blue/cyan tinted monochrome was solid and my imagery was coming along.

Page 1&2 #5pages 3-4 #5

Still far from a six page spread. The last spread being columned text and nothing more I decided to just leave it out and save some space. Since my last version of this I had entirely redesigned the second spread with my photo series of a dying candle. Details of this can be found in a prior post. Here were the major points of improvement suggested to me.

  • The quote on page 2 is not pulled from the article and therefore must be removed.
  • The text would be far more flowing and dynamic if it was not justified
  • there is no need for a stand first on the second spread
  • All pull out quotations should have a common font size, color etc.
  •  The candle image should not have a border and the title along the edge should instead be in the foreground of the image (this is something I had tried previously but changed last minute)

What I’ve changed

Pages 1&2 #10

In my first spread I have completely reworked the typesetting. Unjustified the body text (this was done throughout the article) and adapted a new pullout quote. I have also created stylized wax dribbles, the details of their creation and reasoning behind them are explained in detail in a prior post.

Pages 3&4 #10

On the second spread I did something similar. The stand-first remains as I neglected to change it by this point. However the quotation has been adapted, the image on page four has been expanded and the title placed in the foreground in white font that is of the same family as the heading and pullout quotes (Bodoni 72 Oldstyle). I also increased the contrast of the image to make it appear more stark and highlight the change as the eye progresses down the page.

Pages 5&6 #10

Similar things have been done to my third spread. Another wax splash, a pullout quote in blue and a final image that lends the article an air of finality. The progression from dark to like as the reader progresses was an idea David nudged me towards and I feel it works very effectively.

My thoughts

These improvements from my fifth version to my tenth were made in just two days, possibly my most productive two days in the course of this project so far. This task quickly went from something I was desperately trying to make presentable and get over and done with, to a piece of work I’m genuinely proud of and filled with enthusiasm to have completed and professionally printed.

Changing Faces – Process

Although I am yet to put the final touches on my project, I am already aware of what needs to be done to make it as good as I can. This is due to my method of refinement I have used for the past couple of weeks. It’s pretty simple and not exactly a new idea.

After creating a solid basis. Laying out my text on the six page spread, devising a column and margin system I was comfortable with an just generally laying down the ground rules. I began Devising my theme. That was a process of sitting around and thinking about the meat of my subject.

I did quite a bit of research online on websites such as Pinterest and Behance. Not only for layout of my text. But imagery and general applicability of various themes. I have accounts on both websites with albums of collections of my favorite pieces. They should be linked to this webpage.

Here is just an example of some of the changes I made and the feedback that encouraged me:

Here is the first double page spread of my fourth version of the article. And here are some of my inspirations:

I really liked the use of serif fonts for the titles with the leading reduced to squash down the text to make it more black in contrast to the white background as well as the small subheading standing proud of the body text, centered above it. I found both of these spreads on Pinterest making them difficult to attribute to an original designer.

Overall I was told that the imagery was strong, he color scheme too. However, the text felt quite stuffy and unimaginative. I knew this was true but I needed that basis from which to advance so I was happy to receive the feedback. Also that the attribution for the quote was too large. The other criticism was in the placement of the heading. I had made a point of asking about it because I felt it looked a bit too much like the cover of a murder mystery book. It was suggested that possibly I should change the placement so it was less centered and lined up with another element of the page.

Page 1&2 #5

This is my subsequent attempt. Number 5. I dropped the heading to be inline with the bottom of the body text on the opposing page. Played around with the text placement and generally applied the changes suggested. It certainly improved the piece but there’s always more to be refined.

After this point I went on a bit of a design spree and made huge sweeping changes until my one to one consultation with David. Following the universal approval of my heading for the article. I decided to use the candle metaphor as my main source of imagery. It fit with the aesthetic and all in all made for quite an elegant solution to the heading with no purpose other than to look cool.

In a following post I shall explain my further changes  the article as well as the construction of the subsequent two double page spreads and the imagery to adorn them.

Changing Faces – Wax Work

With my main theme being the lifespan of a candle. I wanted to expound on this throughout my article. One idea I had was the transition of light to dark. The first double page spread would contain swathes of white space. The imagery in the following spreads would gradually darken in a nod to the message of the article. I decided that as well as these main images, I should add some small detailing to make the page more appealing to the eye. I was very careful with this idea however, as I have a tendency to overfill pages to the point of crowding them.

Here are some examples of further experimentation with wax on paper. I was very pleased with the center left image, which simply has the page flipped showing the wax silhouetted on the reverse of the paper. My previous attempt had involved smearing the wax to draw images. This was effective but the results weren’t right for the article in my opinion. They looked a little childish and fun in a kind of Quentin Blake way.

This time I decided to let the wax fall naturally. I propped an A3 sketchpad against the window and dripped wax down it. The images aren’t excellent as I was again using my camera phone. But I had no intention of using the vanilla shots. They were high definition enough to be edited effectively.

Here are two of my finished pieces, post editing. I removed the background color and increased the brightness and contrast on the wax. I then removed the color information and implanted cyan onto the monochrome image. This worked even batter than I could have hoped. As they were they were too cluttered however. And I was making the effort to avoid this.

Here are some of the close crops I made to apply to the pages. Wax has a certain density that means it pools at a certain size. If I was to use the full page shots, it wouldn’t have looked right. These images were scaled to fit my page properly.

#11 spread no1 psd

Here’s the most recent version of my first double page spread. The inclusion of the wax drip doesn’t crowd the page at all, but evens out the point of focus somewhat. The heading should of course be the main focus on the page. But prior to adding the drip it seemed a little lopsided. I’m very happy with the results.