Thursday, 15 October 2009

Play 08 Letter Y

To explain the gloriously variable amount of detail that typography asks the designer to contemplate, I’ve uploaded 16 versions of the letter Y that offered themselves to me as I was working on my latest drawing of the word ‘play’. I focused on a heavy-stroked classical serif style and, settling on a reasonable height:width ratio, I decided to consider the four points in the character where the strokes would change in weight. Their positions can be seen below where the red circles lie. On each grey letterform, red circles show where a change has been made to the original letterform (which is the first one in red/orange).

I began with the lower half, as above, then altered the upper half and carried on with different combinations of changes to acquire the 16 variations of the shape (by making 4 variable points on the original letterform, 15 further outcomes are expected).

The final letterform (shown above, twice, at the end), with its 4 variable points altered (from rigid/straight to curved) is the furthest away from the original in aesthetic terms. My decision to limit myself to having only 4 points that I could change and only one way in which I could change them (rigid/curved) meant that I would get 16 different letterforms. The number of possible changes that I could make to the original letterform is enormous though.

Considering how subtle the differences are in the letterforms above, I wonder if it is more worthwhile to achieve originality through subtlety rather than blatant contrast. Looking at the last image above, where the original is placed with the final version of the letter, it appears that, although they share an elegance in form, they could each be used for different functions. The original, perhaps, could be used to suggest a modern /technological subject and the end result, a more historical/classical one.

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