Articles by Month: February 2012
A little introduction
I stumbled upon Hannes’ project via the Go Media Flickr pool and have been hooked since. Now that project is over, Hannes was kind enough to take the time to answer to a few questions about the project and what it may span. In Hannes’ own words, here’s what the ADED project is about:
The All Day Everyday Project is something like my graphic design diary. Many designers did similar projects before – designing something cool everyday. And so do I now. When you work for an agency or clients, you’re often not allowed to make things look exactly like you want it – which is sometimes frustrating, but that’s the way it goes. So to keep stuff in balance, I decided to start this project. Enjoy!
— from the project’s Tumblr
I also felt that the visuals were strongly inspirational and beautiful, hence me sharing them here.
GoMediaZine: Hello Hannes, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hannes Beer: Hey, I’m Hannes, a graphic designer from Stuttgart, Germany. The city known for Porsche and Benz – and for Linsen mit Spätzle und Saitenwürstle (google that!).
Can you tell us why you decided to start a Make Something Cool Everyday type of project?
HB: Most graphic designers are graphic designers because they love what they do. They love the creativity and the fun that job brings with it. But it’s not always as glamourous as it sounds. As a normal graphic designer you work a lot for people who don’t understand a thing about design but know anything better than you. That’s disappointing, but that’s the difference between working as a graphic designer and being an artist. And that’s why I started “The all Day Everyday Project” – to keep creativity in balance.
Can you talk a bit about the type of directions and concepts you’re exploring in your series?
HB: When I started, I had no clue where to go with it. I just wanted to try out different styles and to create a design that fits the moment. There was no concept at all. I think after a few days the project started a life of its own – it became a normal part of my everyday life and it went wherever it wanted to. I was not thinking a lot;-)
You have some sub-series in the project, like Skull Monday. Any specific reasons, or was that just for the fun of it?
HB: Yeah that was just for fun – and because I love skulls. Everybody loves skulls.
Any favorite piece?
HB: I don’t have a special favorite – but there are some I like more than others. And there are few I like less – but that’s the exciting thing about working in such a small time frame. You don’t think too much about what you’re doing – you just do. And you never know how it will look when finished.
Can people purchase prints somewhere?
HB: Of course, I have a little shop where you can buy signed and numbered digital fine art prints of every design I created during this project. A friend of mine is a professional printer and he produces every order on demand. The quality of digital printing became absolutely stunning over the last years. And we use a special water color paper for it. It comes out really special with a nice texture. However, I only have paper for a few prints left – so you better hurry up. Once gone – gone forever.
Now that this series is coming to an end, any other cool things in the works?
HB: I’m already working on a book about “The All Day Everyday Project” featuring all 365 designs and a little bit more. It’s gonna be huge. And after that? Yeah I’m already thinking about other projects. But I’m sure it’s not gonna be another everyday thing. Maybe something like “Space Suit Sunday” or “Mad Monster Monday”, haha. We’ll see.
Any last words before leaving?
HB: Sure, I wanna thank everybody how followed me through the last year. I think I wouldn’t have been able to finish it without all the kind words from people all over the world. That kept me going, so, thanks for that! You’re awesome and you know it!
A hand-picked selection of the output of the project
Andy Hayes here from Hucklebuck Design Studio. The subject for this tutorial will revolve around a pet project of mine called FOUNDFONT™. Foundfont™ is dedicated to typographic archaeology as well as the use of found typography within design. It’s about extracting unique type for specific design needs or creating complete type sets based on found examples. FOUNDFONT™ offers typefaces but also hopes to inspire designers to do their own digging. It is a bit similar to a form of land work, before performing the process, it needs a specific criterion for it to proceed as planned. Read more information about Archaeologists and find one near you.
In this tutorial we’ll talk about what makes a good FOUNDFONT™ source and the steps to creating your own usable vector characters from found samples.
Type is where you find it
Useful typography is not only found within the bounds of one of today’s successful foundries. It’s all around us. In the bad signs you may see while walking down the street, on old packaging you might have picked up from a thrift store, even in random images you might stumble upon while trolling google image. These artifacts are often one-off, hand lettered little pieces of magic just waiting to be pulled into the 21st century. In many things that I create, whether it be a tee graphic or a poster design, I often look for opportunities to use these found examples in my layout instead of going back to my favorite type families. I find it can often yield interesting and ultimately unique results.
Here are a few great samples that are ripe for repurposing.
What makes a good FOUNDFONT™ source?
There are a few questions to ask when scouting good FOUNDFONT™ resources that will help you get the best result. Here they are:
- Are you starting with a quality image?
The source image that you start with should be high res if pulled from online, or in good condition if found more traditionally. If the detail in the characters you have to start with is poor, it’s hard to overcome. It will leave you guessing at details.
- Is the type sample in a photo skewed?
If it is a photograph be sure that it is shot without a skewed perspective. If you start with something that is distorted you’ll find yourself putting a lot of work in to fix it.
- Am I just recreating a font that exists and is possibly copywritten?
When I do the FOUNDFONT™ thing I am always looking for type that was either hand done or old and out of distribution. Why recreate a font if you can just buy it online? Keep an eye out for interesting and unique sources to make sure you’re not just duping.
- Does the sample I found contain the key character DNA that you need?
When retroactively building type from a found sample there is a set of characters that you should try to aim for. These characters will contain the DNA for all 26 letters in the alphabet enabling you to create letters that you don’t have.
The set of key characters for capitals is: A, B, D, E, J, M, O, S.
A: From A you can create V, W, Y
B: From B you can create a P, R
E: From E you can create F, H, I, L, T, X,Z
J: From J you can create U
M: From M you can create N
O: From O you can create C, G, Q
D and S are unique. Especially the S. If you have nothing to go on for the letter S you’re playing that familiar guessing game we’ve mentioned a few times already. D could be created using the O, but it does often have slight quirks.
The set of key characters for lowercase is: a, b, f, g, k, m, o, s, v
b: From b you can get d, h, l, p, q
f: From f you can get t,
m: From m you can get n, u
o: From o you can get c, e
v: From v you can get w
g, k and s are unique. s, again, will be the toughest recreation if you have little to go by. Look at the curves of your c and a for cues. Letters like x and z should be fairly easy to recreate with little information. Remember to pay attention to stroke weight and other foundational elements of your character’s structure.
Cleaning up and extracting your type
Once you have a good source it’s time to start cleaning it up and start the process that will eventually lead to a set of vector characters for use in layout. I’ve pulled a good source and and will go through the process step by step in a series of screencasts.
Step 1. Identifying your type source
To reiterate, be sure your found sample is of decent resolution, not skewed, fairly original, and contains the key letters for your character DNA. My sample is from a motorcycle jacket that I ran across online. I’d guess the typography was hand embroidered or chenille embroidery. Not a proper font but a great piece of typography worth extracting.
2. Killing the color
Open your image in Photoshop and take its image mode to grayscale as the first step in amplifying its contrast.
3. Amplifying contrast
Once you’ve gone grayscale, you’ll need to increase the contrast of your image. Levels are an easy way to build this contrast. The goal is to eliminate all gray leaving you with only black and white in your image.
4. Delete anything that isn’t the type you’re after
Now that your contrast is amplified select the rest of the image and delete it. It may prove easier to select your type and invert the selection. All we need is the type.
5. Adding pixels to smooth out the edges
After eliminating everything else but your type you might notice that the edges are a bit rough. The easiest cure for this is you just bump the resolution up to add pixels. This will take a bit of the roughness away.
6. Finalizing your smoothed type
Now that your resolution has been increased you can completely smooth the edges by simply using the gaussian blur filter and your levels to harden the edges. When you are done with that, save the type as a grayscale tiff and close the file.
7. Going vector
Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator and place your final tiff into the new document. Go into your tracing options (object/live trace/tracing options), turn on the ignore white option and turn on the preview. This should give you a good idea of how good your trace will be. Apply the trace and click expand to make the trace editable.
8. Editing your type
After you click to expand the live trace you’ll need to ungroup the type and begin the process of lining the type up on a baseline, tweaking the trace results and creating the letters you need out of the letters you have.
Once you identify the characters that you need to modify to create the characters you are missing, use your knife tool to cut letters apart. The knife tool allows you to cut through the vector shape without losing any of it like you would with the eraser tool. Once you break up the core strokes of the characters you can easily begin to rearrange and create your missing characters. For example a trimmed down, and rearranged letter “A” easily becomes a “V” and a “W” as seen in the short video accompanying this section.
You’ll find that as you cut your letters apart and so on that there will inevitably be a few edges that need smoothing or refinement. Instead of somehow using the pen tool to pull the points of your type, use the pencil tool. The pencil tool allows you to modify the contours of your character in a more natural way. If you have a wacom tablet or any other brand that allows you to draw with a stylus you will find this technique very natural. Zoom in as much as you can to see the details of your characters as you modify them.
Whether you’re trying to create an entire alphabet or just the letters you need for a logo your final result could look something like this.
The big takeaway is that you should explore typography that is outside of where you might typically look. Creating unique typographic solutions using found typography will always be interesting and one of a kind. Good luck on your hunt.
Note from the editor: if you have some issues with the videos, you can find them all on Andy’s Screenr profile.
What is Find My Font?
Find My Font is a software created by Softonium Development. As its name suggests it, its purpose is to help the user identify fonts.
Has this ever happened to you? You are given some printed text or logo and want to reproduce it. The font seems familiar but you can’t recall its name. You start going through the fonts on your computer but after several minutes you realize this is hopeless.
Introducing ‘Find my Font’. A software application that runs on your computer and finds the fonts of a given bitmap image. No more wasted time looking for the matching font. ‘Find my Font’ will identify fonts within a few seconds and give you a list of fonts that resemble your input. Not only will you find the font that matches the image but you will also find fonts that are similar or close to what you’re looking for.
From the Find My Font homepage
The Softonium crew asked us to try their software and let you guys know how it went.
To see a product at work is the best demonstration one can make of it.
Some thoughts about the software
Let’s face it, we’ve all been in the situation of having to identify a typeface, and struggling to do so.
After using Find My Font a little bit, I can tell you it’s indeed pretty fast at going through my font library, and it definitely can help.
I spotted one downside to the program so far: its identification method works on the fonts of your own typeface library. So if you don’t have the font, the best the software will be able to do is to suggest types that are close to the ones you own (installed or not). And there are still some weird suggestions that pop up sometimes.
The good surprise: pro version giveaway!
The Find My Font creators have decided to give away 3 licenses of the Pro version of their software, like that you’ll be able to make yourself an idea of how well it works! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. We’ll pick the winners at random on February 8th, 2012, and contact them via email.