Customizing Type with Draplin: Creating Wordmarks That Work

Aaron Draplin, Designer and Founder, Draplin Design Company

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14 Videos (1h 33m)
    • Introduction

      2:44
    • Junkin' for References

      4:47
    • Kerning and Tracking

      9:40
    • Playing with Shapes

      7:06
    • Chopping and Extending Letterforms Pt. 1

      7:48
    • Chopping and Extending Letterforms Pt. 2

      7:30
    • Custom Type Sketching

      9:07
    • Digitizing Sketches Pt. 1

      9:28
    • Digitizing Sketches Pt. 2

      8:31
    • Preparing for Print

      11:43
    • Bonus Lesson! Adding Texture to Type

      5:04
    • Bonus Lesson! Rebuilding Script

      7:36
    • Conclusion

      1:15
    • What's Next?

      0:37

About This Class

Join design icon Aaron Draplin as he shares tried and true techniques for customizing type – an essential skill for graphic designers of all levels. In this 90-minute class, you'll follow along as Draplin digs for antique typographic references and then creates several type treatments of his own to design merchandise for Portland, his beloved hometown. The lessons cover:

  • Discovering reference material
  • Kerning - owning the space between characters
  • Customizing letterforms
  • Sketching type from scratch
  • Prepping a file for print (and even finding a good promotional item vendor to work with!)
  • PLUS bonus segments on adding texture and rebuilding typefaces from scratch

Draplin teaches you to avoid "default" typeface settings and to take ownership of your design by managing the forms, in-between spaces, and relationships of the letters you're working with. Once you master customizing type, you'll have a powerful skill in your design toolkit for every branding, logo, and visual styling project that comes your way.

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Aaron Draplin

Designer and Founder, Draplin Design Company

Bred from the loins of the proud Midwest, this little fucker was squeezed out in Detroit, in the year 1973 to the proud parents of Jim and Lauren Draplin. Growing up on a steady stream of Legos, Star Wars, family trips, little sisters, summer beach fun, stitches, fall foliage, drawing, skateboarding and snowboarding, at 19 he moved west to Bend, Oregon to hit jumps "Out West." His career started with a snowboard graphic for Solid snowboards and took off like wildfire soon after. Everything from lettering cafe signs to drawing up logos to thinking up local advertising campaigns were manhandled under the ruse of the newly formed-and gigantically reckless-Draplindustries Design Co.

After five winters out west, the kid sobered up and headed back to Minneapolis to finish up a high-falutin' design degree at the prestigious and painfully expensive Minneapolis College of Art and Design. During this time he polished up his design skills, learned how to weld and how to develop a photo in nasty chemicals. These were the salad days. He fell back in love with a strong Midwest that he once tried so hard to leave.

In April 2000, much to the chagrin of his proud "Midwestern Roots," he accepted an ill-fated art director position with SNOWBOARDER magazine. He moved it all down to Shithole, Southern California-alongside some hot, caustic beach-and wrangled some 23 issues of the mag. He won "Art Director of the Year" for Primedia 2000, beating out such titles as Gun Dog, Cat Fancy and Teen. No other awards were bestowed in this period, and like he gives a rat's ass.

Thankfully, in April 2002, the Cinco Design Office of Portland, Oregon called up and offered a Senior Designer gig which he instantly accepted. He moved it all North to the land of rain and gloom and rolled up the sleeves to work on the Gravis, Helly Hansen and Nixon accounts.

The Draplin Design Co. finally stepped out on its own four hairy feet in the fall of 2004. Some four year later, he's proud to report that he's managed to "keep everything out of the red." He rolls up his sleeves for Coal Headwear, the Union Binding Company, Snowboard Magazine, Field Notes memo books, Ride Snowboards, Forum Snowboards, Grenade Gloves, Chunklet Magazine, Cobra Dogs, Absinthe Films, NemoDesign, Gnu Snowboards, RVL7 Apparel, Burton Snowboards, K2 Snowboards, Bonfire Snowboarding Apparel, South American Snow Sessions, as well as all sorts of one-off logos, t-shirt graphics and what not.

He owes it all to his parents, seriously.