Pixelschriften – Dokumentation

Juni 10th, 2008

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On a Friday morning at 9.00 I was greeted by a group of 12 people (and a surprise appearance of Jan Middendorp) who were eager to spend two full days drawing and designing type. The group was a lively mixture of experienced graphic designers, design students and graphic industry professionals. Some had already designed a couple of typefaces and others were completely new to the subject.

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The briefing for the workshop that I wrote some weeks beforehand was this:
“Bitmap typefaces have long been popular on computers and continue to be used on low resolution screens of mobile phones, MP3 players and domestic appliances. With most of these devices there comes a point when the resolution of the screen becomes high enough to replace the bitmap typeface with one drawn in vectors. One such example is the Nokia Sans typeface designed by Erik Spiekermann.
During this workshop participants will be challenged to design an alpabet based on this principle. The design process will be done completely manually through the use of paper, pencils, erasers and fineliners.”

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Simply put, the workshop was about manually drawing a new typeface based on an existing pixel typeface. For this purpose I brought printouts with me of three existing typefaces: Georgia (rendered in 16 pixels height), Helvetica (also rendered in 16 pixels height) and Clairsys (a pixel typeface I have designed myself). The names of these typefaces I kept deliberatly secret to avoid any influences in the individual design processes.
After a presentation about the principles and various strategies for designing typefaces based on pixel shapes, everyone was challenged come up with one or more proposals within four hours time. The only tools that were available were transparent paper, pencils, erasers, fineliners, felt tips and a photocopier.

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So after these four hours all proposals were presented in front of the group and definitive directions were chosen for every individual participant. From there on the slow, grinding and solitary process of designing a typeface started for everyone. I prepared a small manual with the basic rules for designing a typeface and with the help of two felt tips that were bound together (acting as a surrogate broadnibbed pen) I was able to explain additional details.

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After a long Friday (some people spent the evening perfecting their work as well) an even longer Saturday followed where everyone worked immensely hard to finish their typeface and had to make a presentation for it. For most participants the Saturday evening was still required to finish their work and therefore they skipped the jazz concert and the performance by DJ Play. But luckily for these people the beer vending machine was fully stocked and a sudden guest performance by DJ Pixel still made for a long and enjoyable night.

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In conclusion I can say that to design (and draw!) a full a to z lowercase in just two days is by no means a small feat and I am seriously pleased with the outcome. Also the concept of spending three days with each other in a closed environment creates a great atmosphere which was only aided by some very nice lectures and great food.

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Beiträge unter: __Rückblick 2008


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