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Foundations of Typography

Contrast and scale


From:

Foundations of Typography

with Ina Saltz

Video: Contrast and scale

To get your message across to your viewer, nothing is more powerful than using Scale and Contrast. Scale and Contrast allow you to grab the viewers by their virtual lapels and point them in the right direction. Strong differences in scale and contrast also make your project more visually dynamic. Contrasts in style, size, weight, width, color, and position separate information. You have the power to direct your viewers to see what matters most.
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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Foundations of Typography
2h 23m Beginner Feb 01, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Good typography can add tremendous power to your design and your message, whether it is a print- or screen-based project, a still or motion graphic, a 3D or 2D graphic. This course explains good typographic practices, so that you can develop an "eye" for type and understand how to effectively use it. Author Ina Saltz explains type classifications (serif vs. sans serif, display type vs. text type), how type is measured, sized, and organized, and how spacing and alignment affect your design. She also explains how to use kerning, tracking, leading, and line length, and covers the history and current trends in typography. The course teaches the principles of legibility, readability, and compatibility, and how they should be considered when you're selecting and designing with type.

Topics include:
  • What is typography?
  • Differentiating type characteristics
  • Using ornamental and decorative type
  • Combining typefaces
  • Using contrast and scale
  • Kerning and kerning pairs
  • Choosing the optimum line length
  • Aligning and spacing characters, words, and paragraphs
  • Understanding factors affecting legibility
  • Working with three-dimensional type
  • Putting type in motion
Subjects:
Design Typography Design Skills
Author:
Ina Saltz

Contrast and scale

To get your message across to your viewer, nothing is more powerful than using Scale and Contrast. Scale and Contrast allow you to grab the viewers by their virtual lapels and point them in the right direction. Strong differences in scale and contrast also make your project more visually dynamic. Contrasts in style, size, weight, width, color, and position separate information. You have the power to direct your viewers to see what matters most.

Start by figuring out what you want to communicate and who you want to communicate to. Your content is always the starting point for all design decisions. Then look at the information you have in hand, most of the time it's pretty obvious what the most important piece of information is and the next most important, and so on. Scale and Contrast are the tools you apply to make those levels of importance clear to the viewer. The effects of scale are obvious, bigger is better, weightier is better, big and bold are immediately seen as nearer and more important.

Position indicates importance too, the higher the better. But you can't just make everything bigger, bolder, and more visually active. Think of a piece of music with a different instruments being played and different voices singing at the same time. If every instrument is equally loud and every person is singing at the top of his or her lungs. Nothing will stand out it will just be noise. It's the same principle with visual activity, the viewer needs to have a main focus and then be guided into the rest of the information in the order of its visual voice.

Contrast is the level of difference in tonality or value between the background and the foreground. Black and white offer the most contrast, the higher the contrast the stronger the impact. Black and white are at opposite ends of the value scale. As contrast decreases impact decreases, the closer the values between foreground and background the less contrast there is so the level of importance appears lower. Using typographic contrast and scale dynamically can be a great way to create visual interest even when there is no imagery available or if you don't want the specificity of an image.

I'd like to point out three common errors in the use of scale and contrast, the first is trying to make everything look important by making it as big as possible, that just creates a lot of noise and confusion for the viewer. The second is not being bold enough, don't be afraid to create extreme differences of scale and contrast, push beyond your limits and see how effective the big gestures can be. Third common error involves contrast, try to avoid running type over a complex background, it's always a challenge to make this work because there are often a variety of tones in the background.

So no single color of type will show up equally well against all parts of the background. However, there are methods to do this successfully. On this book cover good type use has overcome a very difficult and complex background. There are multiple techniques that work here to lift this headline forward from the busy background. First, there's a thin black outline around the type. There is a hard black drop shadow to the southeast, then there's a soft gray drop shadow also to the southeast.

Also note that the serifs on the letterforms are weighty enough so that they stand out. Each of these steps adds to the visual separation of type from image and creates an illusion of dimensionality. The Sports Illustrated logo is another good example of overcoming a busy background. This logo has to work on a wide variety of media platforms, there are four techniques at work here. There's a thin black outline, there's a heavier gray inline, there's a hard black drop shadow and a soft gray drop shadow.

These are techniques that you can employ to help your type be legible against an image or texture. Remember scale and contrast are your friends, don't be shy about using them to create drama and to attract and hold your viewers attention. But you can't have every piece of type shouting either. It's the modulation of scale that creates the power pick and choose the bits that are the key words, it may be a title or part of a title or another element. But make that type look like the equivalent of a trumpet call and your viewer will hear it loud and clear.

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