Project 3 Type Specimen Poster

Designing a Type Specimen Poster


Typographic Voice Exercise

Hello! For this next project, I am working on applying and combining different variables in design such as line spacing, indentation, color, tone, value, texture, and position to best communicate information in an intentional and clear manner. In the next few weeks, I will be working on creating a poster that displays a single typeface and its unique characteristics.

Before diving into research on my typeface and initial poster designs, I explored meaning through the use of different typefaces in a Typographic Voice Exercise. In the exercise, I explored different typefaces for the word “Organic” to exemplify the intentional meaning and feeling of the word. I used Illustrator to explore different options and chose the five best options. Below is an image of my experimentation in Illustrator. The left column of words are my initial work and the right column includes the five best options.

The top right typographic option for “Organic” is Didot. The typeface reinforces the meaning of the word by providing the empty spaces or counter forms a box like/polygon feel. These shapes resemble the shapes of molecules, which help describe the makeup of the organic and fundamental units in, for example, foods. The second typeface on the right is Bradley Hand Bold. It provides the word with a simple, scripture like feel that we naturally envision when writing on a piece of paper. The third typeface on the right is Noteworthy, which has a vertical and basic feel. The second to last typeface on the right is Shree Devanagari 714. There is a a certain distinction between the thin letters which eliminates additional embellishment that takes away from a natural feel. The fifth typeface on the right is Bodoni 72 Smallcaps Book. It has a very horizontal feel with a distinct baseline and x-height that guides the eye effortlessly from left to right. I feel like the fourth (boxed) option best represents the word because the simplicity of the text and the clearly identifiable letters provide the word with a natural, simple feel that doesn’t have additional details or fluff that add unnecessary/inorganic elements to the typeface.

Research Gill Sans Typeface and Initial Poster Sketches

Name of Typeface: Gill Sans

Name of Typeface Designer: Eric Gill

Year Designed: 1928

About Typeface and Purpose of its Form:

“Gill Sans rose to popularity in 1929 when it became the standard typeface for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), appearing on everything from locomotive nameplates to time tables. The typeface was used in 1935 by designer Edward Young on the now iconic Penguin Books jacket design, putting Gill Sans on bookshelves around the world.

The typeface is renowned for its inconsistencies between weights, as they were not mechanically produced from a single design (opposed to others like Helvetica)…Gill’s lettering is based on classic roman proportions, which give the sans-serif a less mechanical feel than its geometric contemporaries (Know Your Type: Gill Sans)”.

Full Character Set:


The bold font tends to echo the softer, more open style of the light, while the extra bold and ultra bold have their own vivid personalities (Know Your Type: Gill Sans).

Below are five sketched ideas for my poster:

Poster Sketches


Typographic Hierarchy Exercise

In this second exercise, I explored different typographic variables to more clearly and efficiently convey a message. I created a set of 8 different compositions where I explored, linespacing, typographic weight, horizontal shifts or indentations, and a combination of typographic weight and linespacing. I created two different versions for each exercise.

Linespacing Version 1
Linespace Version 2

For my first version for linespacing, I created a linespace between the last seminar series and the information pertaining to where and when the seminar series will take place. For the second version, I created a linespace between the department information (general information) and the more detailed information about where the seminar series is taking place. The more successful version is version 1 because too much information about the place, time, and type of seminar is clumped in one continuous column in version 2. It’s easier to quickly pinpoint the time and location information about the event in version 1. The information about the seminar topics requires more time to read in both versions, but in version 2 the text is organized too densely in one column.

Typographic Weight Version 1
Typographic Weight Version 2

For my typographic weight exploration, both versions utilize light and bold weights. The second version also utilizes the regular weight. In the first version, I isolated the department holding the seminars, as well as the date, time, place, and admission information about the seminars in bold. The remaining text was in helvetica light. In my second version, I isolated the department holding the seminars only in bold, grouped the specific seminar information in helvetica light, and put the dates of the seminars in regular. The first version is more effective in clearly communicating the information because each seminar is separated through the use of different typographic weights. In the second version, it is hard to distinguish the what, when, and where, but rather only the general who (is holding the seminars: Human Computer Ineraction Institute). The use of both the light and regular helvetica for the text doesn't provide enough contrast when linespacing is not added.

Horizontal Shifts and Indentations Version 1
Horizontal Shifts and Indentations Version 2

In my first version, where I used horizontal shits and indentations, I indented the dates and then further indented the speakers and seminar titles. The indentations made it easier to skim through the titles and the corresponding dates. For my second version, I just indented the speakers, seminar titles, and seminar series title. Through creating these indentations I separated the details about the content of the seminars from the rest of the event information. My first version is more successful because the sequential hierarchy of the dates is clearly visible and the path your eyes take does not require sharp, sudden movements from left to right as in version 2.

Typographic Weight and Linespacing Version 1
Typographic Weight and Linespacing Version 2

In both versions, I explored the use of helvetica light and bold. In my first version, I bolded the specific information about each seminar, the word “presents”, and the information about admissions. The word “presents” directly corresponds to the title of the series as well as the bolded more specific titles of each seminar. The admission information should be eye catching for the reader because admissions are “free”; therefore, I placed that information in bold. I placed a linespace between the general information about the event and the details pertaining to time, location, and topics. In my second version, I bolded the title of both the series and the seminars. This bolding isolates the content information (topics) for the seminars. I also separated the time, location, and admission information from the heavier content information. I believe the second version does a better job at clearly presenting the text because although the first paragraph of text is much larger than the time, location, and admission grouped text, the bold text isolates the heavy content information that should be most eye catching to those who are interested in knowing the overall topic/subject of the seminars.

Digital Design Poster Drafts using Gill Sans

I transferred my sketched ideas for my type specimen poster into Illustrator. I played around with different typographic weights, linespaces, and indentations. I grouped the typeface name, designer, and design date in my compositions. Below are three of my poster ideas in digital format.

Digital Poster 1
Digital Poster 2
Digital Poster 3


Updated Drafts Based on 1 on 1 Feedback

I worked on updating my initial three poster drafts in Illustrator based on the feedback I received from my one on one session. I focused on hierarchy of text in my updated drafts in order to make it easier for the reader to scan the poster for information without jumping from one side of the poster to the other. I also started to play around with different color compositions. Below I included screenshots of my feedback and my updated posters.

Feedback from 1 on 1 Session
Design 1
Design 2
Design 3


Updated Designs and Group Critique Feedback

After participating in a group critique, I updated my three poster designs and created an additional design in the vertical orientation. I received a positive comment about the hierarchy of my first poster; however, the color scheme was not appealing to the eye. I played around with the colors and the “L’s” in “Gill Sans” to make the letter design reflect a railway, since the typeface became standard for railways in England.

For my second design, I received positive feedback on the color scheme and the use of large text for the design year. For my updated design, I added color to the designer’s name and changed all the text towards the bottom to black. I wanted to highlight the designer’s name and group the denser text together.

For my last design, I received a comment about moving the larger text further to the bottom left hand corner of the poster. I updated the design to fill in the empty space on my poster. I rearranged the character set into one single line and played around with a combination of warm and cool colors. I wanted the poster to reflect a children’s cover book feel through the use of primary colors, since the typeface can be found in books from all across the world.

Lastly, I created a new design where I oriented the poster in the vertical direction. I worked with different opacity levels on grey text to reflect an underground feel. Below I attached images of my updated poster designs.

Updated Design 1
Updated Design 2
Updated Design 3
New Design


Second Round of One-on-One Feedback and Updated Posters

I presented my first two designs in another one on one feedback session. For my first design, I received feedback on my color choices and paragraph sequence. I worked on creating a color schematic in my updated design that more closely reflected the color choices in my second poster design. I eliminated the yellow background and reduced the bright orange text, to a more subtle orange/yellow. I also moved the history of my typeface to the top and my quote to the bottom of the column of text. In my feedback session, I received a suggestion to potentially move the character set below the design year, but after playing around with the sequence of text, I decided I liked the open space above and below the typeface name, designer name, and design year. Below I attached a screenshot from my feedback session and my new updated design.

Feedback for Poster Design 1
Updated Poster Design 1

For my second poster I received feedback on my character set and the use of bold text in my history paragraphs. I received a suggestion to left/right align the character set at the bottom of the poster. I also received a suggestion to eliminate the bold text in the history paragraphs because it added an unnecessary addition to the composition. For my updated design, I played around with the sizing, spacing, weight, alignment, and opacity of my character set. I also eliminated the bold words in the paragraph to make the text more uniform. I resized the large “G” and the design year in the top half of my poster and changed the font weight of the designer name. Below I attached a screenshot of my feedback and my updated poster design.

Feedback for Poster Design 2
Updated Poster Design 2

In addition to the two designs above, I worked on updating my remaining two poster designs. I resized the history paragraphs in my third poster design as well as the spacing and alignment of my character set at the bottom of the poster. These changes eliminated some of the empty space in my poster. For my fourth design, I made changes to the readability of my character set. I also eliminated the bold in the history paragraph and rearranged the designer name. Below I attached images of my third and fourth poster designs.

Updated Poster Design 3
Updated Poster Design 4


Group Feedback and Final Poster Design Revisions

I presented my first two designs in the group feedback session. Some of the comments I received for my first poster included working with my color choices, placing less emphasis on the character set, scaling down the text in the history paragraph, adding greater variation to the layout and size of the text, watching out for hyphens and weird spacing, and possibly placing the quote in italics. I received less feedback on my second poster design overall. My classmates enjoyed the use of color in the second composition and the right aligned character set. I also received a suggestion to align the “G” with the text right below it for readability reasons. I decided, however, to move forward with my first design because I thought it represented the history of the typeface as well as the typeface’s unique characteristics better than the second design.

I explored the use of red, navy, and white in my first poster design. I also added orange to better distinguish the typeface name, designer, and design year. I scaled down the history paragraphs and eliminated the color from the character set. I increased the history paragraphs’ weight and reduced the size and opacity of the character set to place less emphasis on the character set. I also progressively decreased the weight of the text on each line on the left side of my poster to emphasize the difference between the typeface at different weights. I eliminated all of the hyphens, weird spacing in the character set, and placed the quote in italics. I also made sure to align the typeface name with the end of the second history paragraph. Below is an image of my final poster design.

Final Poster Design


One-on-one Feedback and Final Poster

I had my final one-on-one feedback session before my final poster submission. During my session I received feedback on my color intensity, linespacing, margins, and content differentiation. I updated my poster design based on the feedback I received by brightening the red color to provide greater contrast between the background color and the font on my poster. I increased the spacing for the character set and decreased the spacing in the history paragraphs to allow for better readability. I also increased the weight of the quote as well as the size of the text to better differentiate the quote from the history content. I deleted the citations and rearranged the hierarchy of the text on the right by placing the quote at the top to emphasize the main/interesting points about the typeface. I also played around with increasing the margins at the top and bottom of the column of text and the alignment of the larger text on the left side of the poster with the paragraphs at the right. Below is an image of my final poster.

Final Poster


Final Critique

I presented my final poster during the final critique in class today. I received positive feedback on the hierarchy of my text on the right side of my poster, the use of different weights across the poster to represent the inconsistencies that exist in the font, and the use of extended “L’s” to represent the history of the typeface. I received suggestions about potentially aligning the text under “Gill Sans” with even spacing. Also to produce a better divide between the dense text on the right and the text on the left, I received a suggestion to extend the character set across the bottom of the whole poster.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my poster design process! Through working on this project, I learned how to combine variables such as line spacing, indentation, color, tone, value, texture, and position to display content in a clear and effective fashion. I also learned how to use these variables to communicate the typeface information, while displaying its unique characteristics that make the typeface different from other typefaces. I also worked on applying previous designs principles such as rhythm, scale, and balance to best communicate the content in my poster design. Thanks for reading!