• Exercise I – Letterform

Hand Drafted & Digitally Rendered Geometric Letterform:



“Letterform: Middle English/French/Latin – the shape of a letter of an alphabet especially from the standpoint of design or development” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. For this first exercise we will render several (tutorial-concurrent) structural line-quality drawings utilizing a grid, with consideration for the circle, triangle and square… (+ golden section/ratio), beginning with a diagrammatic study of the letter “S”, originated by Giambattista Bodoni.

Researching early Typographers such as Francesco Griffo (Bembo), Giovanni Battista Palatino and Albrecht Dürer (as well as Leonardo da Vinci), and also observing in greater detail: illustrated manuscripts, such as: the Book of Dorrow, the Book of Kells, the Washington Haggadah, the Qu’ran, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili… helps to divulge the variety of underscoring latticework beneath intricate illuminated characters.

Working from a “figure-8″ matrix, or after re-inventing the fundamental grid: the next step is to pioneer a new letterform (or perhaps more than one new draft), before choosing a final draft to scan, trace and digitally re-render. This new letterform, with consideration for the upcoming ‘Invent your own typeface/full alphabet/upper and lowercase/any language project’… may act as the instigator.

Sketch size: each 11 x 8 1/2 acid-free card stock or 14 x 11” bristol board & at least one digitally polished draft: print size: 8 1/2 x 11” (300 ppi resolution / 300 dpi output).


*A Tribute to Bodoni: http://ilovetypography.com/2013/03/14/a-compulsive-tribute-to-giambattista-bodoni/  …our first exercise begins with hand-drawn grids + renderings… based upon Bodoni’s carefully balanced letterform proportions; contrasting hairlines with thick stems.




Teaching Demo:



Perceptual ‘Warm-Up’: WCC Students were asked to finish the top right corner of the two and three dimensional ‘Bodoni’ font (reinterpretation) Demo:

Faded (in top right corner) Handout:


Top Right Corner Completions, by Students @ WCC:


Students’ Geometric Solid Letterforms + Alphabet Cities/The Letterform Visualized in 3-D: an offshoot of this exercise (shown below)




Visit: http://vimeo.com/channels/typentech/33434885, by Thibault de Fournas & Christopher Wilson to see an animation revealing the typeface/weight styles and underlying geometric structure/s of the font: Futura