Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Typographic voice, part of Learning to Set Display Type.
- The reason any of this matters, form, function, spacing, contrasts, the reason we have so many typefaces is because type has a voice. Just like the tone in your voice affects your spoken words, the look of your typeset words quite literally affects what they say. Judging purely by appearance, what would you say this show is about? How about now? How about this one? One more.
My eye tells me we have a lover's fight, a bar room brawl, a WWF match, and a playground fisticuff. Everyone understands this intuitively. But the designers job is to know the voices of type, all the way from obvious to subtle. Let me show you what I mean by looking at a variety of typefaces. We've seen this one already. Essonnes is an italic as graceful and light as a breath.
It's excellent for topics that require the tradition of classic Roman letters, and a barely there touch. It's a good choice for anything romantic without being cliche or sentimental. Here we have organic, hand-scripted forms in contrast with geometric Sans-Serif type. A huge size contrast is key here, along with the big differences in thickness variation. This looks casual and at the same time put together.
Trendy but classy. Purely hand-written fonts can combine two. You can see here the different X heights and weights, and combinations of all caps with sentence case. The line is a single weight, which makes it seem like this could have been written by hand or felt marker or an icing piper. Perfect for the local coffee house or natural foods outlet. Not so good for the hardware department at Walmart.
Baker Street has a British vibe, kind of quirky. It gets its charm from the idiosyncrasies in its glyph set. The swash scrolls are very Victorian and the high contrast in line thickness conveys a hint of polish. Kerning is especially important here. This would be a fun face to work with. Dharma is loud and heavy and unapologetically in your face. This typeface shouts and in all caps it presses forward pretty aggressively.
It's not a font you can relax with. Not one to brand a spa. It should work for loud, fast venues like races and car shows. Typnic Headline Slab, that's a long name, is a hand drawn face that has several parts. Inline, shadow, highlight, and fill, that can be used interchangeably and colored separately. So it has a lot of looks, all of which, I'd say, feel honest and earthy. It's a friendly face, kind of reliable.
You see it often in hip food applications. Plenty of cookbook covers use typefaces similar to this. VideoTech is a modern stencil that mimics the pixelated text of old video games. Each letter looks like it could fit inside a square. That uniformity allows the characters to fit tightly together to make geometric forms. These forms bring to mind video games like Mario Brothers and computer games like Tetris.
Kafenia looks strong and confident and dramatic. The end caps make the word look and sound like it's being announced and echoing. Imagine 'whisper' being set like this, or 'wimpy' or 'slippers', on the other hand, 'Cromwell' and 'Armour' work very well. Content matters. Magiel Pro looks cheery and playful and a little mischievous.
It has tiny round counters that look like little eyes. It's whistling at you. Finally, Mathieu's dripping paint effect looks innocent and a little simplistic, and that lack of perfection is its charm. It's a humble little voice. You wouldn't set phenylalanine in this face. Well you might, and you would have either a precocious child, or a rather questionable chemical company.
Join John McWade as he explains how to design in a variety of styles and voices using display type, which is type that's set at headline size and above. He discusses type families that include strikingly expressive characters, shows how to combine typefaces, shares how to avoid common design flaws, and takes you through working with type in photos. This art form is applicable to print advertising, brochures, magazines, posters, fliers, slide decks, and much more.
- What is display type?
- Form vs. function
- Setting display type
- Combining typefaces
- Tightening or loosening a setting
- Using display type with images
- Avoiding common mistakes
- Typographic voice