Saturday, 6 October 2012

Alphabet Soup – Studio Brief 1

Alphabet Soup – Studio Brief 1

The word I was given to produce a series of 10 letters was ‘compact’. To me this means something, small, dense and accurate but to gain a better knowledge of the word and its meaning I looked into its dictionary definition:



1.                  Joined or packed together; closely and firmly united; dense; solid.
2.                  Arranged within a relatively small space.
3.                  Designed to be small in size and economical in operation.
4.                  Solidly or firmly built.
5.                  Expressed concisely; pithy; terse, not diffuse.

I also looked into another very similar word to give me a greater variety and a greater scope for ideas.



1.                  Reduce in volume, area, length or scope; shortened.
2.                  Made denser.
3.                  Thickened.
4.                  Narrow in proportion to its height.

With these words and their meanings in mind I produced a mind map, bringing all of the ideas and possibilities together.

The red and yellow/brown highlighted areas are the key words/phrases that influenced my ideas. The red areas are the elements that I believe to be fundamental in producing something that represents ‘compact’. The yellow/brown areas are elements that are not fundamental yet are important to the definition of ‘compact’.

Once I had chosen the ideas I wanted to explore I decided on the letters I wanted to produce. Initially I chose A, D, H, K, P, Q, R, S, W and Z. When I began to produce the letter forms, however, some became difficult to compact in the format I was using. To combat this I added E and X and removed Q and S.

Through the investigation into ‘compact’ I did some research into existing ‘compact’ fonts and typefaces. This proved more difficult than I had previously thought as there are not a huge amount of very compact fonts and typefaces. The examples I found came under the fundamental elements of compact that I identified during my investigation into its meaning.

These examples can be found in my DESIGN CONTEXT blog, here;                  Alphabet Soup – Visual Research

To create my typeface I started by getting all the letters printed out in both Arial and Helvetica. I then used these letters as the basis for my typeface. I used the letter A to test each of my ideas out. I manipulated and changed the letter’s shape and form, shrinking, thickening, simplifying it to make it appear ‘compact’.

Once I had settled on an idea I started to produce each letter in the same style. Some letters took several stages to get to the ‘compact’ level I wanted them to be at. The Z when flattened did not work so had to be equalled out and adjusted so that it worked in series with the other letters. With my letter forms I wanted to keep them simple, solid and thick, so they were roughly based around squares cutting away areas to form the letters. I also produced them very geometrically to give them a denser feel, adding to the ‘compact’ quality I was aiming for. The curved letters, with the exception of the R did not work as well as the letters compiled of all straight lines, as I could not be as accurate or as crisp drawing free-hand.

Once all 10 letters had been completed I wanted to redraw them on graph paper. The reason I chose do to this was to give them a solid structure and keep them very geometrical. Each letter required minimal changing so that it worked on the graph paper and so that they all worked in a series. To finish off the typeface I filled in the letter forms in black pen to create a denser feel to them. With this done, I believe the letters represent the word ‘compact’ very well as they are created from element I thought were fundamental to the meaning of the word. In the group crit my X was identified as one of the top five letter withing our group to represent it's associated word the best.

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