Lecturer: Frank E. Blokland
You want to explore the backgrounds and underlying structures of characters and typography, you want to learn how to design type, you want a better understanding of font production and the available software.
The expert class Type Design given by the Plantin Institute of Typography examine the ‘secrets’ of contemporary representations of the Latin script (capital, roman and cursive) in detail. The underlying harmonic, proportional and rhythmic structures of characters and the typographical conventions and rules derived from them are analyzed and dissected. In the first module of the course this acquired knowledge is combined with practical instruction on the use of font production software, which finally results in the creation of a digital type design, a revival. In module 2 each student designs his own font.
No specific admission level is required for the first module of the course, for which a certificate may be obtained, although a ‘graphic preliminary training’ is regarded as a minimum condition, as also are drawing skills and a knowledge of the ‘Adobe Illustrator’ software.
The first module must be completed with a positive result before access is given to the second module. The Plantin Institute of Typography ‘Type Design Certificate’ is conferred on students with a positive result of the second module.
The expert classes take place in the auditorium of the Plantin Institute of Typography in the Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet in Antwerp.
The intensive coöperation with this museum makes it possible for parts of the expert classes, such as the development of a revival, use may be made of unique type material from the museum, whereby account must be taken of the copyright rules of the Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet.
The lessons may be taught in English to make the expert class accessible to international students. The number of students for this expert class is limited. To enrol use the registration form.
- learning how to handle script, type, manual applications (analogue)
- acquiring knowledge of and being able to work with specific software (digital: FontLab Studio, DTL FontMaster etc.)
- the study, start-up and design of a revival
- the digital execution of the design
The models are made available under very specific conditions from the museum collection.
- the study, start-up (and design) of a font
Continuation of own-design module 1 (or another design) to font production and the possibility of advanced study of font production.
Programme ‘Expertclasses Type design’
Module 1 & 2 are one package of 10 lesson days
1: Typography, conventions and Harmonic Systems
- The Harmonic Systems capital, roman and cursive.
How do letters that originated in the Italian Renaissance and are now applied digitally work together? To answer this question the Harmonic Systems are anatomized.
- Typographical structures in relation to the Harmonic Systems.
What is the relation between the letterforms and the ‘rules’ for typography?
- Archetypes (the typefaces of Nicolas Jenson, Francesco Griffo and Claude Garamond) and conventions.
How did the ‘rules’ of (modern) typography come into being?
2: Form, construction and contrast
- Types of contrast (translation [broad pen], expansion [pointed nib] and hybrid variants).
What is the origin of the proportions, forms and details of the typefaces of, for example, Garamond and Baskerville?
- Contrast and contrast reduction.
The thick/thin difference in characters and the way in which this progresses.
- Contrast and (the form of) serif.
What are serifs, what is the their relation and function in contrast and is a sans-serif by definition a character without serifs?
- Form, contrast/sort/reduction and style periods
Why and in what respects do characters from different style periods differ? What is the relation in form as regards, for example, architecture, sculpture, painting and music?
- Type classification.
Which methods may be used to classify type? To what extent are the type classifications of, for example, Maximilien Vox and Gerrit Noordzij universally applicable?
3 /4: Type design (introduction)
- Construction, proportions and contrast/sort/reduction in a type design.
Using DTL LetterModeller (LeMo) the first steps are taken in type design.
What distinguishes one type designer from the other? Why and by what features do we recognize the characters of, for example, Eric Gill, Hermann Zapf or Jan van Krimpen?
What is a revival? On the basis of which criteria is a choice made of originals? How should historical prints be interpreted? How and to what extent should the thicknesses of stems, contrast and serifs of a revival be standardized?
1: Font production software (introduction)
- Analogue versus digital.
Conversion of analogue drawings via a digitizer (Ikarus format) or via autotracing versus direct drawing on screen.
- Contour description formats.
The Ikarus format, cubic Bézier curves (PostScript Type1 / OpenType CFF) and quadratic Bézier curves (TrueType / OpenType TTF).
- Ikarus and DTL FontMaster
Batch-oriented modules for specialized professional font production.
- FontLab Studio
The most used font editor worldwide.
Open source (free) font editor.
- Adobe Illustrator
Design of characters in Adobe Illustrator and exporting the results to font editors.
2: Glyph databases
- Development (aesthetic and technically) of contour descriptions (glyphs).
Detailed development of a type design in a ‘glyph editor’.
- Development of the glyph set.
From the construction of ‘basic’ character sets to the support of multiple codepages.
- Setting (justification).
The justification of type and determination of thickness values.
- Kerning pairs.
The how and why of the making of corrections to the thickness values. What are the restrictions on systems inherited from the Lead Age with characters at right angles?
3: Data management
- Batch management.
Further development of the glyph set (in batch), such as the placing of accents.
- Quality control.
Checking of (contours of) glyphs and code pages (in batch).
- File management.
Organization of files for naming and metrics of fonts (for batch production).
4: Font generation
- Font formats.
A description of modern font formats (PostScript Type1, TrueType and OpenType [CFF and TTF]).
- Automation (batch processes).
Automated generation of font data.
5: Font format-processing
- OpenType Layout features.
Addition of OpenType Layout features (in batch).
Addition of instructions for the recording of characters at low resolutions.
- Processing of generated fonts.
Changing or adding information to already generated fonts.
The programme is provisional and may at any time be adapted in the interests of the course.
The students are in possession of a laptop with their preferred operating system (for example, Mac OS, Windows or Linux). Students are provided with font production software in the form of demo, light and open source versions.
Drawing equipment: drawing and tracing paper (A4 — 120 g), propelling pencil (maximum 0.5 mm) with HB or B leads, an eraser, black felt-tip pens (round head, various thicknesses), Stanley knife-type cutter, adhesive tape, 30 cm rule (marked off in 0.5mm increments).