Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: inkjet printer, pencil

This study was inspired by the wonderful type experiments I've seen by Barry Spencer (@Speculatype). I've been amazed by not only the complex patterns he's generated but also the innovative type he's created within them. I wanted to do something similar, so my advisor suggested I start with the book Grid Index by Carsten Nicolai, which contains hundreds of geometric and mathematical patterns for design reference. Since so many of these patterns are derived from mathematical principles, I decided to count this as "data visualization."

After browsing the book, I chose four patterns with varying complexity, downloaded the files provided from the CD with the book (thank you!) then printed them out on white paper. To keep them simple, I timed myself - penciling in as many different shapes as I could for five minutes per patterned sheet. I got dozens of designs, but chose 8 with the most variation to share here.

First I must admit that I now understand the current craze of the adult coloring books. I had a blast shaping and shading these letters. I also noticed that the more complex patterns (the green and pink) allowed for the most variation in letterforms, because they offered a larger number of angles and directions for the type to use. I was able to get very loopy scripts and very blocky capitals from the first two patterns (again, green and pink). The blue set gave me something like angled blackletter script (number 5) and a dimensional block letter that very much resembles existing typefaces I've seen, designed at an angle with a shaded side. The last two letters (in purple) gave me the most trouble; I struggled with creating a letter that didn't showcase the pattern of the grid above all else. These two feel kitschy to me. However, I think any of these grids would make excellent guidelines for building out full letter sets, and if this exercise is any indication, it would be a very enjoyable process (at least to me).