Saturday, 28 November 2009


I generally stick to the Fibonnaci sequence (5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 etc) when I’m typesetting as a guide for type sizes but I find that it can be restrictive on its own so I’ve made further number sequences which offer a better choice of size.

Size 8 type is a little on the small side for most body copy so to use only the Fibonacci list would cause problems. It’s very simple to work out a type size list that should be well balanced — use root numbers as a multiplier. Root 2, root 3, root 4 etc are all interesting numbers to create well-proportioned sizes and this goes for page measurements as well as type sizes. Root 2, for instance, is what the DIN paper system is based on. The golden ratio is roughly the root of 2.6 so root 2 and root 3 are also good for getting a pleasing balance in type/paper sizes.

The basic point is to make things proportional. The next step is to make sure you’re using a more interesting measurement to use in proportions than, say, 1/2 or 1/3 because these just give predictable results (and are actually called static ratios for this reason).

Golden section lists (multiply each by 1.618 and round to nearest):
3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 etc
4, 6, 9, 14, 23, 37, 60, 97, etc
6, 10, 16, 26, 42, 68, 110, etc

Obviously the smaller sizes aren’t as significant because the contrast between them won’t be big at all — the lists are most useful when you’re involving large type with small — and, of course, the bigger the contrast, the better.

Root 2 list ( multiply by 1.414 and round to nearest):
2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 16, 23, 33, 47, 66, 93 etc

If paper of DIN proportions, which is the norm in Europe, is based on root 2 would it not make more sense to use root 2 as a basis for proportions of type sizes and layout also? I’ve been using the golden ratio so far which is slightly more than root 2. I’ll have to try it and find out. To be truly pedantic you could always work to a decimal place or two in the type sizes just to make sure you’re bang on root 2 proportions… Might be a little over-the-top though.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Assassins Creed 2

Just thought I’d explain my recent lack of posts — I’ve found the most amazing game on earth! I don’t usually play the ol’ xbox anymore unless its with my big bro (zombie multiplayer gets addictive) but Assassins Creed just breaks new ground in so many ways. It’s educational of Renaissance Italy for a start which happens to be my favourite part of human history (on a par with 1890s/1900s Vienna). The game is free-roam, meaning you’re able to run about as you would in reality…but you can climb up any building around, and every building of significance that you find is accompanied with a mini description of its history/architecture. Likewise, every non-fictional character that you encounter is introduced to you in a similar way, though you usually end up chucking them off a roof, running them through with your weapon of choice or poisoning them. That’s what makes it a game! Oh and you also happen to be good mates with Da Vinci who is basically the Q to your Bond.

Anyway, the in-game graphics have made inspiration pour from my very eyeballs so I may have some new stuff on here very soooooon. Tutto bene

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wine label

The following images show parts of a 52-step design process that I went through to come up with a wine label using ONLY type and as few different typefaces/sizes/weights/colours as possible. I learned that only one form of typographic change can be enough — be it size, weight, colour etc to make a label’s information clear. At certain stages I drew new guides for text layouts which explains the empty-looking boxes. Towards the end I got attached to Univers as a typeface because it makes a big contrast with the usual typefaces found on labels — classical/decorative script faces.

This work is my own and is not designed by/for Casillero del Diablo. I have permission for their label information to be reproduced in my work here.

www Jack Cheng

This blog is well put together and I found some of the posts worth reading — especially the latest one about time management. Speaks a lot of sense too.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Type design: A-N

Getting there. The ‘m’ is a little too extended though; this is especially obvious when two ‘m’s are used side-by-side.


Saw the film 2012 at the weekend which was awesome; it basically covers the end of the world — that ol’ chestnut.

John Cusack, the main dude, is a great all-rounder as an actor…just lacks a bit of va va voom sometimes. John, if you’re reading, try and find a role as a serial killer or something just to spice things up. The film also features a Russian guy with an extremely deep voice — worth checking it out just for that.

The visuals in the film blew me away…to use a suitable metaphor. Enormous land-masses were made to look like the crumbs falling from a biscuit. That’s what came to my mind anyway. Must have been peckish.

I liked the fact that the film wasn’t based solely in the US too, unlike other apocalyptic flicks. It uses a varied cast and definitely ties in locations from all around the globe. Not really a DVD essential but certainly worth a watch. Hope to see The Informant soon.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bags Cushions and Cats

I’ve been looking through blogs for a while now over the recent weeks and must have seen thousands. The number of times I’ve seen blogs with pictures of fashionable bags, patterned cushions and sleeping pet cats is amazing. Is this a new trend in arty people or am I just learning the primary concerns of most women in general??? Suggestions of newly coined terms to describe these bloggers are welcome. Best I have so far is Bagpushioners…

Incidentally, they always seem to use mild colours from nature like light greens and creams. Just saying!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Vector World Map

It might come in handy some day! I’ve been meaning to do one since my mate did the same thing for his own work in Bath. It’s vector-based so it can be changed in a number of ways e.g. the shapes/colours/sizes — see bottom image for example of alternative.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Black Dynamite

Scotland map

I bought this old map of Scotland in London last time I was there. I’m always amazed by how much effort the draftsmen would put into work like this. Super cool type skillz. You can see Hamilton, if you look closely, just above ‘Lanerk’ in the second image — where my family are from!


Japanese Book

I dug this little booklet/manuscript out that was given to me by my flatmate last year. All my flatmates in my last year at uni were from China and Japan and they were really generous with gifts after holidays! I love the calligraphy in it so I’ve put up a couple of images. It reminded me of when I would go to Chinese restaurants as a kid; if they had those little cocktail umbrellas I’d take them apart really carefully and unravel the tiny scroll of Chinese writing that would be inside.

Type design: E by gum

The lower half of the ‘e’ needed tweaking to avoid the stroke appearing too thin or too short — depending on which early version I’d choose. This latest attempt gives the lower half enough weight to look more balanced.

Type design: Part 01

I’ve been trying to devise a system of type design that might make use of the geometrical shapes in faces like Rockwell (below) but take into account the balance of lettering along the baseline. On close inspection it can be found that, for instance, the ‘p’ of a serif like Baskerville will extend very slightly higher than the ‘u’. It’s easy to neglect the finer details of legibility, like that, when working primarily with geometric shapes.

The first attempt was more rigid than I’d hoped for at first. The second is less rigid but still quite narrow. On a third attempt I refined the slab-serifs and widened the letter grid. The ‘e’ still needs some work and many more letters are yet to be drawn with this grid so my next post on the subject should show progress.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Berlin photos

Some other shots from when I went to Berlin. They should change its name to Tagged-like-crazy. Congrats to the lucky graff-artist who got his/her work on my blog! The fourth pic is of what used to be the river.

I went to the Jewish Museum which had an exhibition/installation as a response to the Jewish involvement in the war but most specifically the Holocaust.

Saw VI

Went to see Saw VI with my bro at the weekend and almost threw up my popcorn and coke combo within the first 10 mins as I watched an angry desperate woman take a cleaver to her outstretched limb…. Suffice to say she was no trained butcher so it took a good number of chops to finish the job.

I won’t bother giving a review of the riveting plot-line…it’s a gore movie after all. And guess what! It was left open ended. Never saw it coming.

A new film with Michael Caine comes out soon. It’s one of those normal-guy-turns-nasty-on-evil-baddies films…much like Taxi Driver or The Brave One. Looks worthy of a watch!

www Smashing Mag

I came across the website below while having a rummage around online. It’s great for tutorials and list-oriented articles on design. There’s a page about ‘great logos’ and their designers which is worth having a look at.

The Illustrator tutorials are okay but I got through them all in a couple of days and they can be quite repetitive. In fact, it’s probably worth pointing out that you should only take them as a means of learning techniques. A lot of them involve making something look shiny or 3D — I’d be weary of doing that for the sake of aesthetics. As it says on the site, doing something for aesthetic purpose (like the ghastly drop-shadow, for instance) are basically giving a design an expiry-date. So…I would learn the techniques and ignore the aesthetics…

Friday, 6 November 2009

Devendra Banhart Album

I recently bought Devendra Banhart’s ‘Cripple Crow’ album and, listening to it, I started to hear the words ‘little boys I’d like to marry’…

Alarm bells began to ring until I read an interview with the guy online that said he’d written those lyrics to make sure Starbucks wouldn’t play his music and reduce him to coffee-shop ambience. Genius

Two Life Drawings

Here is a couple of drawings I did last year. They’re A1 size and I got a couple of digital prints made of them before I left Bath.

I was lucky enough to have a laid back tutor so I got the chance to just try new things. Accuracy shmaccuracy. It’s really worthwhile to try as many different things as possible before exploring one approach in more detail. In fact, I found that trying to draw accurately was probably the worst thing to do if you want to draw accurately. Learning how/why something looked the way it did was how I learned to draw more accurately and more creatively.

www designshop

Found this site that sells some nice stuff in the UK. Shall have to see what I can get for family Christmas pressies on there.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

www Kid from Brooklyn

I have to point you to this guy…. My mate showed me this video a year or so ago and I didn’t stop laughin for hours!

The fawkin’ balllls!

The big man’s always…happy to see ya

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Monday, 2 November 2009

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