Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: Scanner, various fonts

This process for this study was incredibly simple. Start with some printed letters on paper, draw on them with chalk. Well, it was supposed to be chalk. Then oil based Sharpie. Then a gel pen. Finally I settled on a white paint pen. Nothing else would stick or show up! Nothing is ever as simple as we imagine. 

The idea for this study was to mimic the process of drawing letters by hand using white and black Plaka ink. Plaka is what designers used to create typefaces before computers. A letterer would draw a letter in black and touch up mistakes in white, then repeat - until the letterform was technically and visually perfect. In this case, I'm only doing the "touching up" part - but instead of correcting mistakes, I wanted to change small aspects of the letterform to completely change the feel of the typeface. 

As I experimented with different adjustments on the letters, some of my additions were ornamental, but some changed the letter completely - sometimes in very bizarre ways. In image 1, I added a line art skeleton inside the bold sans serif to make the letter appear chiseled, faceted. In image 2, I covered up the slab serif on the right foot of the A to make it a weird sans-but-not-sans serif. In number three I rounded the sharp corners, making the lowercase a appear inflated and comical. Number 4 introduces a shadow that gives the letter depth, yet also makes it appear thinner. 5 was purely decorative, and in 6 I played with the idea of making the letter rounded and reflective. In 7 I've hidden a serif inside a sans serif, and in 8 I simply added an inner stroke. Lastly, number 9 plays with the idea of a strong light source, and suggests that the letter is rounded - otherwise there'd be nothing to stay in the shadow. 

I can now appreciate how the method of drawing, correcting, and redrawing letterforms using Plaka was an effective way of making small changes, evaluating, and finalizing what would become the bones of a new typeface. What's interesting about the letterforms I created here is that you can still see the original letterform, which makes the revisions more apparent and more deliberate.