Type Design in Illustrator

  1. Download one of these typeface samples and begin this exercise by trying to recreate a few of the characters in your sketchbook, as if you were drawing from a live model or still life. This will train your brain to understand the curves, nooks, and crannies of letterforms:

    Typeface 1:  Fraktur (various, c.a. 1500s) 
    Typeface 2:  Bifur (A.M. Cassandre, 1929)  

    Typeface 3:  Gill Sans (Eric Gill, 1926)

    Typeface 4:  Helvetica (Max Miedinger, Eduard Hoffmann, 1957) 

    Typeface 5:  Caslon (William Caslon, c.a. 1722)

    Typeface 6:  Peignot (A.M. Cassandre, 1937)
  2. Once you have completed drawing a few characters in your sketchbook, it's time to recreate one of them in Illustrator. First, however, we need to create the capline, baseline, mid-line, and x-height lines:type-guidelines
  3. Once these guides are completed, you can begin using Illustrator's various tools to recreate a character (or two) from the typeface you have chosen. 


Junk Drawer Fonts

The Rundown: Let's take a look at the two objects you grabbed from your junk drawer. The shapes or outlines these items make will be your two shapes.

The Assignment: Create a typeface out of only these two shapes. Build all letters of lower or uppercase by only using these two basic shapes.
Use each shape the least amount of times as possible within each letter. The individual with the smallest total amount of used elements is the winner! 

(please note: you don't really win anything...)

The Rules:

  1. You can rotate and flip the shapes.
  2. You cannot skew a part.
  3. You cannot scale a part.
  4. Parts can intersect, overlap.
  5. Sketch out characters first, both upper and lower cases: 52 characters in all!
  6. Scan or photograph objects for digital use (see homework below).



  1. Isolate and vectorize the shapes using Photoshop/Illustrator (I'll demonstrate in class)
  2. In Illustrator, begin to assemble your letterform shapes from your initial sketches on a copy of the baseline grid we created in a previous class 
  3. Read Letters of Credit pg. 26-48