Exercise 06.05: Type Families and Visual Reinforcement


The goal of this exer­cise is to increase sophis­ti­ca­tion in design­ing with type. The type font is the set of char­ac­ters that make up one size of a type­face. This usu­ally includes upper and lower case let­ters, num­bers, frac­tions, punc­tu­a­tion marks etc. The type fam­ily is the var­i­ous weights, widths and ital­ics that are avail­able in a par­tic­u­lar typeface.

It has always puz­zled me that stu­dents are attracted to type spec­i­men books show­ing hun­dreds of type­faces, many of which are either incom­plete or so poorly designed as to be use­less. Pro­fes­sional design­ers often man­age to get along quite well with only a dozen or so type­faces! In a field as com­plex as typog­ra­phy, the stu­dents would ben­e­fit much more by work­ing with a few well designed type­faces until they have a good grasp of the fun­da­men­tals.” A quote by James Craig, author of “Design­ing with Type”


The objec­tive of this exer­cise is to cre­ate typog­ra­phy that empha­sizes dif­fer­ent aspects of words to add mean­ing or draw atten­tion to the forms.


  • Dab­ner, p 62–91.
  • Kane, p 52–73.
  • San­toro, p 151–180


Your assign­ment is to cre­ate a visual metaphor for the words you choose, cre­at­ing a com­po­si­tion of let­ters rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the word’s meaning. 

This project is iden­ti­cal to Assign­ment 06.10: Type Fam­i­lies and Visual Rein­force­ment from ART 218 Graphic Design I. Feel free to use a solu­tion from that assignment.

Part One

Cre­ate a list of ten (10) dif­fer­ent action and/or descrip­tive words of your choice. Choose a sin­gle type­face from the restricted type­face list. You will visu­ally illus­trate or rein­force the mean­ing of five (5) words using the tools of com­po­si­tion and the font styles within the cho­sen type fam­ily. Make your word selec­tions care­fully so that the style that you use is visu­ally appro­pri­ate for the word that you have cho­sen. Sketch out five (5) tests for each word (25 sketches min­i­mum), exper­i­ment­ing with style, size, posi­tion, crop­ping, omis­sion, etc. Let­ters may not be dis­torted, and ele­ments taken or cre­ated from out­side the char­ac­ter set are not allowed. Choose the best solu­tion of the entire set via cri­tique and pro­duce the word on the com­puter. The word should be pro­duced at about 72 pt, black and white (no gray) on 1080 HDTV. Save file as PDF and place in appro­pri­ate D2L dropbox.

Part Two

Recre­ate your solu­tion from Part One, but at this point you are allowed to manip­u­late the char­ac­ters in Adobe Illus­tra­tor and/or Pho­to­shop. The manip­u­la­tion should be sub­tle and involve or reflect less than a 50% change. The idea is not to cre­ate some­thing easy on the com­puter, but to add a sub­tle high­light that makes the visual ref­er­ence stronger. Sketch out five (5) tests for your word exper­i­ment­ing with your new para­me­ters, but keep­ing your pre­vi­ous stage of design vis­i­ble. Your word should be pro­duced at about 72 pt, black and white (no gray) on a 1080 HDTV art­board. Mount prints on black matte board. Save file as PDF and place in appro­pri­ate D2L dropbox.


  • The fol­low­ing rubric posted on D2L will deter­mine exer­cise score: Exer­cise Grading


font instal­la­tion, cre­at­ing out­lines, vec­tor manipulation,


restricted type­faces (or Adobe Font Folio Edu­ca­tion Essen­tials), Illus­tra­tor, Photoshop


As defined by cor­re­spond­ing cal­en­dar item, drop­box, dis­cus­sion or con­tent topic description.