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.  

100 Thumbnails

100thumbs R web

This exercise encourages you to play, take risks, and think creatively with type.
  1. Choose a letter from the alphabet.
  2. Use both upper- and lowercase forms of this letter (real or made up)
  3. On the graph paper provided, visually interpret this letter one hundred different ways.
  4. Consider cropping, touching, overlapping, intersecting, positive/negative space, composition, texture, scale, color, etc.

You can use any kind and number of writing instruments to complete this exercise, but no computer!  Below are some examples of what other students have done in the past:



  1. If you haven’t already, complete your 100 thumbnails for an informal crit next class.
  2. Find the junk drawer in your house and bring in two completely random objects. We'll be using them next class!