First Class

Type 1 — Day 1

SYLLABUS — 2:00-2:30PM

  1. Go over Course Format, Attendance, Data File Management (naming conventions), etc.

  2. Introduce the class blog by having students go online to

BLOG — 2:30-2:35PM

  1. In order to familiarize the students with the class blog, have them explore the Syllabus, Assignments section, and the first blog post Welcome to Type 1.
    Please let me know if there are any bugs on the site.


  1. Ask students to fill out the class questionnaire.


  1. Print Borders_All.pdf and Type_Speciments.pdf and place them on two piles next two each other.

  2. Ask students to choose a frame and a type specimen that they like from each pile.

  3. Ask students to draw their name, nickname, or however they prefer to be called, inside the frame. They must use the letters from the font they chose as reference for their drawings.

  4. Take a portrait picture of each student holding their lettering piece (Name Tag). Here's some pictures from last semester for reference.

FUN FACT — 3:10-3:20PM

  1. Ask students to form a circle, hold their name tags and introduce themselves by answering these three questions:
    I feel this would complement the questionnaire since this is an opportunity for students to learn about each other and hopefully bond outside of the classroom.

    • What’s your name or nickname? They can read from their name tag.

    • Where is home for you? They can interpret this in any way they wish

    • Fun fact

  2. Collect Name Tags and leave on my mailbox at the end of class.

HELVETICA a — 3:20-4:10PM

Print 15 copies of the Helvetica a assignment. One per student.

  1. Introduce the project by talking about the origins of the Helvetica a. (~10 mins.)

    The two story a on the handout comes from the Helvetica Bold font that is a default font in the MacOS.
    The typeface was originally called Neue Haas Grotesk and was designed by Swiss designers Max Miedinger and Edward Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry.
    It was initially produced for typesetting by hand in a range of sizes from 5 to 72 points. However, on the digital font, the a from the MacOS Helvetica Bold is what Type designer Christian Schwartz from Commercial Type calls “a one-size-fits-all translation on the metal type which leads to unfortunate compromises.” 

  2. Hand out the Helvetica a assignment and ask them to write their name. Then one by one, introduce and ask students to complete each exercise.

  3. Pixelation (Constraint) (~5 Mins.) Sometimes they need an extra 5 mins.
    Draw the letter a on Grid A by coloring the full squares only using a very dark marker or pen.

    Have them pin their work on board and make the point that on the web and on screens, type becomes fragile and needs to fit on a grid. The resolution of the type depends on the rendering engine and the resolution of the screens. Some typefaces are designed with those constraints in mind. What they just did is adapt a typeface for print for a screen with coarse resolution.

    Ask them to point out which of the samples on the board looks more like Helvetica and start a conversation about what typographic features (flat stems, teardrop counter, etc) convey the essence of Helvetica?

    People who draw type, type designers, design typefaces to solve a specific problem or to add to palette of styles, thus giving designers more choices. It’s our role as typographers to understand how typefaces work and in turn how type works, so we that can use them effectively and appropriately in our work.

    *Some students will probably not follow instructions, but this first wound of conversation allows them to get up to speed.

  4. Connect the dots (Constraint) (~5 Mins.)
    Draw the letter a on Grid B by connecting the dots. The could start by connecting the dots to draw the outline and then filling in the shapes.
    *Make the point that by changing the constraints, we can arrive at different results even though we are repeating a similar process.

  5. Distortion (Translation) (~5 Mins.)
    Translate the first letter a from the Pixelation exercise (Grid A) to Grid C.
    *Make the point that a pixel is not a square but rather a point sample (
    This is an exercise on questioning their assumptions.

  6. Invisible grid (Translation) — ~5 Mins.
    Draw the letter a big enough to fit perfectly inside Grid D
    *Make the point that a piece of paper is a grid that is of such high resolution that the human eye cannot perceive the individual pixels or smallest units that form the whole.

  7. Pin the drawings on the wall or place them on the middle table and ask students the following:

    What was the easiest and hardest grid to work with? What was so easy or difficult about it?

    *Make the observation that even though they all had the same set of constraints, every drawing is different and the results are never 100% predictable. Ask them to think about, how do you design something so that everyone has the same or similar experience? Is that even possible? What are ways designers do this? How would you deal with this problem yourself?

  8. Collect worksheets and place them on mailbox.

    Possible solution below:

HOMEWORK — 4:10-4:30PM

  1. Print Garamond g, cut out small g's and hand them out to students.

  2. Introduce First Homework Assignment by asking to student to check the blog

  3. Ask them to read it during class and ask if they have any questions.

  4. Hand each student 2 sheets of 11×17 in tabloid size paper so they can complete the assignment due next week.

  5. Remind them to bring their supplies for calligraphy and lettering next week.