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Exercise 5.4: Text and Image

This exercise was a short experiment in playing around with text and fonts. I was led through stages of giving a list of words character and personality by changing how the text is shown and rendered. For the first part, I was given a list of the following word pairings:

Big & Small | Fat & Thin | Fast & Slow | Fun & Boring | Calm & Mad

I was then asked to write out the words in my own handwriting and then in a way that’s reflective of the words meaning. I made a simple worksheet for this part and had a play around to see what I could come up with.

Some words turned out to be easier than others. Big and Small had obvious size changes and I had fun moving the top of one of my versions of Big out of frame in chunky letters, but I struggled to come up with a letter style that could reflect the size of "small" to me. Fat and Thin made more sense to me as a pair with fat having ballooned swollen letters and melting and sweating effects and thin inspired me to give it skeletal forms and lightly weighted lines.

Next up was Fast and Slow. Fast was easy to blur and play around with the letter spacing, but Slow is a tricky word to decorate that it has limited movement, though I could add some humour with a snail in place of the letter "O" on one version. The letters of fun gave plenty of opportunities to distort into something wacky, but for Boring the most obvious thing I felt that I should to do was hardly anything at all to avoid making the lettering too interesting, but the unevenness of my own drawing style didn't support that.

Calm felt better written in cursive with added distance between letters to make it feel more drifting and wistful but Mad was an interesting one to approach for it's multiple potential meanings. I interpreted this in a few ways to make scratchy frantic writing in the sense of mad meaning crazy and as the shaking "angry" version of Mad.

I then opened up photoshop to do something similar what I had done with exploring typeface in the previous exercise. I manipulated the size and spatial relationships between words using default fonts as well as ones the adobe fonts library in creative cloud, which I found it to be a useful tool for discovering styles that really enhanced my words.

Big (Impact)

A common sans-serif font often used for posters, Impact makes the word Big extra imposing. I shared the same technique in my first sketch to send it out of frame and dwarf the other words on the page by comparison.

Small (Chelsea market Pro)

Even with a wide library of fonts, I found it tricky again to pick something for small, but settled on a carefully hand lettered font nestled away in the nook of the loop of the letter B in Big.

Fat (Bubblegum Pop)

I tried lots of options for Fat by cycling through a few wider and chunky styles, but this balloon style font fits well, especially when I closed the distance between the letters to merge them into a single mass.

Thin (Quake Std)

Although intended for an earth shaking effect, when I stretched the shape of the word Thin in quake std, the result was a row of bone-like branching letters that I feel suits it the word well.

Fast (Flood Std)

I put Fast in italics before I applied a font to it to give the impression that it was leaning into a fast run. Flood standard adds to this as the brushstrokes that make up its letters look hastily drawn.

Slow (Old Man Eloquent)

As the name of this font suggests, I chose an antique looking script font that would have also been appropriate if the word was old, but here I tried to use it to signify a "behind the times" connection to the word Slow.

Fun (Prater Block Pro)

There were lots of novelty fonts I could have chosen for the word Fun, but this one is easily readable while not following any strict rules in any of the irregular proportions of its lettering and shadows.

Boring (Helvetica)

I had to look through a few articles to decide which of the standard and commonly used fonts to choose for this one. Arial and Times New Roman were strong contenders, but Helvetica won as its clear uniform lettering and widespread use makes it unassuming.

Calm (Parkside)

I knew that calm needed to be something cursive or hand drawn and settled on Parkside. The smooth serifs and flicks at the end of each letter feel nostalgic and comforting to me.

Mad (CCMonsterMash)

This is an expressive font that works well in action scenes for comic books, but for the purpose of the word mad emphasises the jagged edges and lack of restraint when someone loses their temper.

I printed off my letters and traced each image with marker pens, adding colours for them that I felt were the most appropriate.

A large area of deep blue felt the most suitable for Big and a delicate flower pink felt matching for Small. Fat was a greasy brown to me and Thin a pale grey. Slow became an old mahogany brown and Fast a bright modern yellow. Fun called for every colour I had available and Boring by contrast had no colour at all in plain black. Calm felt best in a relaxing shade of sky blue and Mad emerged as a raging red.

I then needed to gather up some mood boards for each word that would further communicate its meaning through selecting matching textures and objects for each word.

This was a simple stage that helped me to separate the identity of each word even more as I gathered together each section. The combinations of colour and texture in these natural and man made forms led me to new inspirations that I wouldn't have thought of before, such as the complicated shapes of the microscopic world for the word befitting for Small.

For the final task, I was asked to use these mood boards as inspiration to add textures to emphasise a hand drawn versions of my font choices.

I used a range of mixed media for these and tried to vary the line weight appropriately for each. Some attempts were more successful than others as I really liked how Big, Mad and Thin ended up looking as I exaggerated their features. When I overlaid fat with a brown wash of ink however, the first layer of yellow ochre and white acrylic in thick strokes that created a dripping effect when originally dried became a too dark and in hindsight I should have left it as it was. Fast also didn't work out quite as planned as I wanted to create movement with pencil crayons that blurred together racing colours, but I think my original font was too thin for me to pull this off without the blending becoming messy.

I enjoyed this exercise once I got my head into the mindset of adapting a word into an object that is still legible as well as being self-descriptive. Despite some missteps on the rendering at the end, I am now more tuned into considering the advantages of matching typefaces this way and next time I need to do so, I'll continue to work on my technique to make the quality of my textures even more fitting within my work.

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