Type Specimen Poster – Research

For this project we have been asked to design an A3 type specimen poster in Adobe InDesign. This is a typographic poster that displays a typeface in its complete form, including, all letterforms, ligatures, numbers, glyphs and punctuation marks.


I was given the typeface Didot. I started to research the history of Didot. Is has a very extensive background and was one of the first modern typefaces of its time. Dating back to 1784, it was developed and created originally by Firmin Didot, part of the Didot family. The Didot family owned the most important print shop and font foundry in Paris. Pierre Didot, the printer, published ‘Editions du Louvre’ series with the typefaces of his brother (Firmin Didot). Firmin born 1764 in Paris had many talents, punch cutter, printer, publisher, author as well as type founder . He cut his first typefaces in 1783 and also reworked his fathers roman alphabets. The family printing company still exists today under the name Firmin Didot, Society Nouvelle. The Statuesque, clear forms of the Didot alphabet are representative of their time. They are known as ‘modern’ and are characterised by extreme vertical stresses and fine hairlines contrasted by bold main strokes. As shown in the picture above taken from my sketch book.

                  The picture above, shows the books that I used while researching Didot Typeface

In 1991 Adrian Frutiger developed the Didot font further and is a sensitive interpretation of the french Modern typeface. Linotype Didot is used in many book and magazine designs, as well as advertising. It is classic and elegant. http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/reputations-adrian-frutiger – A feature on Adrain Fruitger taken from Eye magazine.

Didot is everywhere, on fashion magazine covers, like Vogue and Bazar, on billboards, and branded logos such as Hilton, Dior, CK, Boss, Yves Saint-Laurent, Giorgio Amani, Zara and Guess. https://fontsinuse.com/typefaces/4008/didot  This is blog that I found while researching. It shows Didot being used across a variety of products.

Now that I know the history and where Didot is mostly used, I started to look at different type specimen posters online.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/22748773/Didot-Font-Poster This link will take you to where I sourced my type specimen posters

Above are a four that I found. Each one has a very different layout and are effective in their own entity. I particularly like the bottom right poster, as it depicts the sense of what Didot being used for Magazine covers, such as Vogue. I also looked at typographic posters to get a sense of how I should think about laying out my own poster. Here are some example of a few that I looked at.

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Above are a few of my preliminary layout sketches that I have drawn for the Didot type specimen poster. My initial thoughts are to go with sketch number 2, to me it is the most eye-catching. However I am undecided, more sketches need to be done before I make a final decision.

After coming up with some more designs in my sketch book, I have decided on my final design ready to reproduce in Indesign





Cardiff Font Hunt


We were given a task in groups to seek out certain types of fonts within Cardiff city centre. The typefaces that was had to find were:

  • Nesting – when a letter fits snuggly in a space shaped specifically for that letter, and the letter is shaped for the shape


  • Ligature – When two of the letters out of the word are joined together
  • Condensed – theses typeface allow you to make the font fit into a space when there is limited amount of space to fit your word into.

Finding examples of these was more difficult than first expected. I found that the ligature typefaces that we had sourced were not correct to their definit2000px-ligaturesion, as I discovered after the hunt. Ligature typefaces are only  relevant to certain letters. As shown in the picture to the right. We were also mistaken with the nesting typeface, as the images that we took were classed more as logos rather than nesting.






As you can see from the image on the left, nesting is literally the letter nested neatly into the word.

After our font hunt we, discussed what we had each found and choose a couple of typeface to recreate in the studio, with coloured card. We then up all the pieces together to create a display in our reception at University.

I enjoyed discovering different typefaces in Cardiff, it has made me more aware of all the different types of fonts that are used everyday. I am now finding it very difficult not to spot and question any type of font that I see. It has made me look at my world in a different way. This activity has also taught me how important it is research properly, something that I will be more aware of for my future projects.


Letter Press Workshop

The Letter Press workshop was something that I was really looking forward to as it was something that I wanimg_0167t to have a go at. Letter press is the oldest form of printing, designed so text could be mass produced, such as for books or newspapers. The workshop was on a much smaller scale.

The process uses raised letter incased in a chase, you have to place the letters within it to create the words. However the letters have to be placed upside down, so that when it came to printing it reads the right way, this part was rather tricky. The process of printing is fairly quick, its the typesetting which is the most time consuming, which I found out.

The workshop took place in a small room just off a larger printing room. As you walked into the room, you could see rows of wooden draws full of different types of metal letter fonimg_0174ts, which were at our disposal. As there was quite a few of us taking the workshop there was only limited amount of certain letters, so I decided that I would use a variety of different fonts. I did find though that the packing process, (which makes sure that the letters all stimg_0168ay in place ready to be used for printing), was a lot more fiddly, and it took quite some time to get right, without them all falling out at the bottom. While working on the typesetting we had to use metal blocks in-between the words to create spaces and long strips of leading which was placed underneath the words to create the vertical space between the lines. I learnt that this is actually where the typography term leading derives from.

After the typesetting, I was ready to use the printing press. We were using oil based ink, we had red and charcoal black. I used a roller to spread the ink on the the surface of the raised letters. Then placing the paper that i wanted to print onto, along with some extra padding on top, I proceeded to push a large roller over the top to make the print.

My first print as you can see in the picture below showed all the letters that I got back to front on the typesetting. Once I made correctionimg_0169s, I was able to print many prints. It was very satisfying process and the final outcome I was really please with.


This is something that I will defiantly be doing again. Id like to play about with more type fonts and colours.


Layout, Heirarchy and The Grid


Part of our word section of the course covers the key concepts for designing a piece of work. To begin with we looked at Layout; page layout deals with the visual element of the page to create an overall composition. Which shows a clear path for the eye. This is for the viewer to find the easiest route to look over the piece. There are different types of layout that can be used below are a few examples.


Within the layout of the piece, typesetting is an important part. Typesetting is the composition of text within the layout. The text itself is a ongoing sequence of words which are distinct from the headlines or captions. It is often referred to as the the “body”. When thinking about layout of the text it can be set out in many ways to achieve different results.

Centred type which is most often used is the simplest ways to set out text blocks. Lines are of uneven length, however it allows the designer to create elegant and organic shapes, by breaking the text up.

Justified can either to the left or right. By using justify text you can create a clean shape on the page. Most efficiently used in newspapers and books. However gaps can appear, as the text is forced to make lines of even space. This can be overcome by increasing the line length. Poorly done and you will create what looks like rivers running through the text block.

Flush left is where the left edge of the texts looks hard and the right edge is soft. It give the text an organic flow and avoid the uneven spacing the plagues justified type.

Flush right  text  gives the text hard edge to the right and soft left edges. Often used for captions and side bars .  As it is unusual it can distract from the  path for the eye.

When using any of the type layouts Rag is an important factor to be aware of. The Rag describes an uneven margin for a vertical column of type. A bad rag will create all sorts of weird shapes along the edge of your text. It spoils the overall look of the piece and can be a distraction if wanting to create an organic flowing layout.

Another part of typesetting is line spacing within a paragraph of text. This is the distance between the lines of type. It is also called leading. Designers play about with the leading to create distinctive layouts. It is also important to think about the kerning and tracking when creating a piece of text. As well as line length, as the eye and brain can only stay focused on a line of text for so long before the reader looses position and destroys the flow of the text. The optimum line length is generally set at about 39 – 45 letters. This is often referred to as ‘measure’.


One of the most important aspects of communicating with type is to establish a strong typographic hierarchy. It is the styling and placement of all the elements both type and images that guide the viewer through the contents in order of importance. Hierarchy is important for creating a clear path for the eye. Making things that need to relevant stand out.

The Grid System

Using a grid when designing on the computer is a helpful tool to take advantage of. The grid is there as a base to your design. For instance when designing a magazine layout, you want the magazine to have a uniformed layout throughout, as to make it feel like its all part of the same thing. You basically set up your grid by using X amount of columns for each page. Within these columns you are able to play around with the layout more freely and know that it is not going to look too different on each page.

All these parts of design are important to creating a successful piece of work. To make them legible, and creating a clear path for the eye. However, thinking outside of the box will create some really interesting pieces of work. Something to explore in the future, but for now, I’ll be producing pieces of work using these tools of design.


Quentin Blake Exhibition


Blake is one of Britain’s  best loved illustrators, known famously for his illustrations in Roald Dahl books. Blake himself writes about his techniques and experiences of being an illustrator. The exhibition brings together first drafts and finished art work to demonstrate how his own ideas evolved.

Images taken from Cardiff museum website

We looked at 9 books chosen by Blake and next to each book he talks about how he developed characters and mood, and examines the essential balance between text and pictures. A interesting part of the exhibition for me, was a short film that showed how he uses different types of techniques with is pens to create the distinctive look to his unforgettable illustrations. There was also a piece on the design process showing illustrations from the “The Green Ship”, it was interesting to see the working out of how blocks of text and Illustrations were worked out to sit within the space nicely.

The whole exhibition was very well laid out with a lovely flow to the exhibits all encompassed in a light and open room, adorned with large illustrations of his work all around to see. Over all it was all very familiar, stirring up great memories of reading Roald Dahl books in my childhood. Has also inspired me to look up other works that he has illustrated.

Word – Typographic Terminology

As Graphic Communicators it is important to understand the specifics and terminology of typographic letterforms, their shapes and context. As part of our research process we were required to research and illustrate certain typographic terms in our sketchbooks.

These different letterforms can be applied to different typefaces. For instance when looking at the typeface Helvetica. Helvetica in essence is a san serif letterform but there are many variations. There is Helvetica bold, light, italic and the list goes on.  Variable fonts gives  creators a broad palette of typographic features without having to manage hundreds of font styles. Variable fonts are all about doing more with less.

By looking at the anatomy of different typefaces you gain a understanding of what makes a certain typeface. This website was a great help when researching for this: http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/contents/letter/ 


This anatomy of Didot which is part of the serif family of typefaces, shows the different parts of the type which makes Didot Didot!

This was really interesting to research about, the terminology of typography is extensive and I have a lot to take in and learn. I has made me appreciate the art of typography even more.

Summer Task

Illuminated letter forms 

I had to develop one contemporary illuminated letter form. By using the first letter of my name which is D. We had the choice as to how we wanted to present our letter, whether it being hand drawn, computer generated, collaged etc. No bigger than A3 and based on an existing typeface. It had to include three essential pieces of information:

  • Who inspires you?
  • An interesting fact about myself.
  • Why choose Cardiff School of Art and Design?

I first began to research illuminated letter forms. I enjoyed learning about how letter forms / typefaces started and developed.

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From research I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. I would have liked to encoporate Andy warhol style to my finished piece, by using the technique of screen printing. However, with limited materials at the time, I decided that  stencilling was the best option to me.

So I started to research techniques this website below was the most helpful and relevant to what i wanted to achieve.


I also researched a street Artist called Bansky. One of his main techniques is the use of stencils when he works.  https://en.wikipedia.olaugh-now-sandwich-board-wearing-monkey-by-banksyrg/wiki/Banksy. I am fond of his works and I find some humorous however there are many political connotations, which make you think twice about what you are looking at. His technique is very effective, and I hope to achieve the same effect.



After much research and development in my sketch book. I got started on my final piece


I really benefited from and enjoyed this project as it has reignited my passion for Graphic design, and art.   I look forward to getting stuck into my course with enthusiasm.