PROJECT #1: Type Specimen Page Design

Art 125- Groat | Introduction to Computer Graphics

Typographic Specimen Book Page

This project enables the designer to establish a visual hierarchy in an 11×8.5 in. flyer format, while introducing one to the visual characteristics of a particular typeface.  And at the same time, learn the basics of Adobe Photoshop.

Learning Outcomes

Student will be able to:

  1. Establish and use a simple grid to organize and align elements.
  2. Cluster elements to create different typographic densities.
  3. Express the nature of the typeface through an overall patterning.
  4. Adjust leading and tracking.
  5. Compose elements through visual: emphasis, contrast, balance, repetition, alignment and flow.
  6. Create a simple typographical design using Adobe Photoshop


Due Dates

9/11   First Round Thumbnails

9/13   Second Round Thumbnails

9/13   Begin Comprehensive in Adobe Photoshop

9/20    Critique: Full Size comprehensive (digital – posted on your portfolio blog with essay)

Design adjustments made based on critique

9/27    Final Digital Printed and mounted on black foam board


Creative Process

  1. Choose a single style of font within the Old Style, Transitional, Modern, Egyptian or Sans-serif families. (No decorative or display fonts may be used)
  2. Google search the font to view the letter forms of the entire alphabet and all numbers.
  3. Enter into Adobe Photoshop the entire alphabet of the particular font you chose.  Be sure to type both upper and lowercase letters, along with numbers 0-9
  4. Research the history of your chosen font, and copy and paste the history onto a single Photoshop layer.
  5. Research a well-known quote or important statement that is connected with the font, along with the designer of the font and the date it was designed. This quote may be something that you felt was important after researching the font’s history.
  6.  Carefully study the provided/presented design examples. Remember, the actual name of the font and single letter form must be set up in your design as the main focal point in large format.
  7. Complete five to ten thumbnail sketches which investigate possible designs.
  8. Complete three more design variations based on your strongest concept.
  9. Create a final comprehensive within Photoshop.



  1. Must use only one font style within the design.
  2. Design must include the entire alphabet (Upper & Lowercase letter forms and digits 0-9)
  3. Name of the font style must be included within the design as an element. Example, if Century Gothic is used, the name Century Gothic must be included in the design.
  4. History of font must be included within the design as a clustered block that aligns with other important design elements.
  5. Important quote and name of original font designer must be included within the design, along with the date the font was designed.
  6. Design must be organized within a “grid” system.
  7. Design must include dramatic contrasts in scale, in addition to a strong relationship of positive and negative space.
  8. The design must be organized through carefully implementing these visual concepts: Emphasis, Balance, Alignment, Flow, Repetition and Contrast
  1. Various typographical densities must be used in the design.
  2. Letter forms may not be distorted; however the stroke (visual weight) of each letter form can be altered to vary the typographical densities.
  3. Design must be only black and white.
  4. Dimensions must be 8.5” x 11”, horizontal or vertical orientation. Piece must be printed out on glossy paper and mounted on foam core.
  5. Production information must be included along an edge in 8 or 9 point font size.

Production Information and Design Description

Production and design description included in very small point size along the bottom of the final comprehensive.

  • Your name
  • Name of design project
  • Name of Software Used
  • Date

Design Description:

Essay Posted at Top of Blog 

  1. Write a paragraph that specifically describes how each of the concepts below have been implemented in your design.
  2. How is your design organized through implementing the “rule of thirds.”

Emphasis, Balance, Alignment, Flow, Repetition and Contrast


11”x8-1/2”  |   Media: digital  | Grayscale : no color | Printed on Gloss Photo Paper


What’s Required:

  • Mounted final printed comprehensive on black foam board. 2.5 inches all around, 3 inches on the bottom.
  • Thumbnails and final digital comprehensive presented on blog and in class during group critique day.
  • Essay posted on your blog portfolio


Important Design Tips!
1. Base your designs on the “Rule of Thirds”
2. Include one large type element as the area of emphasis or center of attention.
3. Strive to contrast the scale of the elements: really big, medium, small and minute
4. Balance out the single large emphasized letter with the name of the font. The visual flow should move from the center of attention to the second most important element.
5. Align elements in a grid-like pattern 
6. Allow negative (empty) space to flow around clusters of elements.
7. Explore bold and italic font forms.

Questions to ask yourself in the development of your design

  • Do I have focal-point?
  • Have I arranged and aligned the letter forms in a logical manner within a grid?
  • How has visual flow been established?
  • How have I visually balanced my design?
  • What elements have been repeated?
  • Is there enough negative space within the design so it doesn’t appear crowded?
  • Have I varied the scale and size of elements through including small, medium and large letter forms and typographical clusters?
  • Have I varied the visual weight, thickness and value of the letter forms?
  • Have I varied the direction of the letter forms, in terms of horizontal, vertical and even angular?

Components of Design




Design Composed Using the Grid and Rule of Third



Here’s a simple design tip that will enable you to easily come up with four different thumbnail concepts. (remember, you need 3-5)
In each of the four thumbnails, simply place the great big emphasized letter at a different rule of thirds intersection, along with visually balancing it out
with the name of the font in the opposite corner. In these four design scenarios, the letter “A” and “arial” would be larger in scale (and visual weight) compared to the other elements:  upper and lowercase alphabet, 0-9, quote and historical description.


Demonstration on How to Create a Simple

Typographical Specimen Book Page Using Photoshop CC 2015

More Visually Dynamic Design Example














Introduction: Five Classic Typefaces

 Students taking the course covered in this section are introduced to five classic typefaces, each representing a distinct stage in the evolution of type design. Although many were designed centuries ago, these typefaces remain among the most popular and widely used today. Below are listed the names of the five typefaces along with their historical classification and approximate date of design.
Garamond: French Old Style 1617
Baskerville: English Transitional 1757
Bodoni: Italian Modern 1780
Century: American Egyptian 1894
Helvetica: Swiss Contemporary 1957
There is no better way to train the eye to typographic subtleties than by studying the changing forms in typeface design over the centuries and understanding how seemingly minor changes in type design can affect both the character of the typeface and its appearance on the page.
Source: Cooper Union


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