Introduction to Typeface Design skillshare originals badge

Alonzo Felix, Designer

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
16 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Why Design Type?

      Intro to Typeface Design Unit 1.pdf
    • 3. What is a Typeface?

    • 4. Type Anatomy 101

    • 5. Overview of Typographic Classification Systems

    • 6. Text Type and Display Type

    • 7. Influence from Writing Systems

    • 8. The Design Space

    • 9. Families and Superfamilies

    • 10. Overshoots

    • 11. Grouping

    • 12. Relationships

    • 13. Spacing Type

    • 14. Critiquing Type

    • 15. Class Wrap-Up

    • 16. Explore Design on Skillshare

11 students are watching this class

About This Class

Type is all around us. On the streets, on the web, in our homes and offices, and in our pockets. As the foundation of both web and print design, it's almost an understatement to say that typefaces play an important role in modern communications.


Typefaces, and more specifically letters, are the basic unit facilitating human communication. We'll take a closer look at letters themselves, how they came to be the way they are, and how new typefaces are created. 

Typefaces are a vital part of a designer’s toolkit, yet the scope of creating a full type system–the volume of letters, numerals, punctuation, and symbols–has often intimidated young designers. Have you thought about where typefaces come from? Are you curious about how typefaces are designed? This one is for you. 

I've dedicated a significant part of my career to learning more about creating and working with type and I'm happy to help you discover the power of working with type in greater detail.

This class is an accessible, paced, and exciting introduction to the world of typeface design. Each unit builds on the next, carefully introducing principles, examples, and project steps that empower you in both a conceptual understanding of type and real-world type skills.


What You'll Learn

You'll learn some of the fundamentals of the typeface design process that will help you better articulate the nuances of type, strengthening your on-the-job vocabulary and creative toolset.

Curious beginners will feel at home in this class. Designers, writers, editors, and anyone working with words will benefit most, but the class is open to all with a serious interest in hands-on type skills. Note: background knowledge in typeface design is useful but not necessary.

The class is divided into a series of progressive units.

  • Introduction to Type Design. Learn how and why we still need more typefaces, what a typeface is, and what distinguishes typefaces from fonts, lettering, and calligraphy. You'll be able to articulate those distinctions.
  • Type Anatomy and Classification. Learn how to identify the unique parts of letterforms, how to distinguish between text and display types, classify typefaces, enhance readability, and about the influence of calligraphy on styles of type. You'll be able to better group and classify type and understand theories of letterform contrast.
  • The Design Space. Learn how to think through practical type design considerations like width, weight, and proportion in a holistic way and about the concepts of “families” and “superfamilies”.  You'll be able to think through finding a conceptual idea for a new typeface, matching possibilities to your goals.
  • Drafting a Typeface. Learn how to approach drafting a typeface. We'll look at three important aspects of creating a typeface: overshoots, grouping, and relationships. You'll be able to draw forms that feel optically correct and group letters in a logical way to aid your process.
  • Other Considerations. Learn how to approach more advanced topics, particularly spacing letterforms and critiquing them. You'll be able to establish typographic rhythm, balance positive and negative space, and apply an iterative process to creating your typeface design.


What You'll Make

In this class you will manually design a display alphabet of A through Z. Lowercase forms are required, and uppercase forms are strongly encouraged. Numerals and punctuation are strictly optional. While the class will focus on drawing typefaces on paper, you are encouraged to experiment in Adobe Illustrator if you prefer. You’ll leave this class with a better understanding of both the theory and process behind how typefaces are made and skills to approach designing your own new typeface. It will be challenging and fun!

  • Deliverable. You'll design a typeface for the letters A through Z.
  • Brief. You'll start off by learning the anatomy and classification of typefaces. You'll create a draft of your typeface then add typographic rhythm and balance.
  • Collaboration. As you go through the class, update your project to share your progress with your fellow students. Ask your peers for their perspective on your typeface. Give each other critical feedback.
  • Specs. By the end of this class you will produce your very own typeface.

Class Supplies

Pencil (or markers/pens), eraser, and paper are required for this class. Paper can be any size, but generally the larger the better. You'll want to be as comfortable as possible while drawing with plenty of room to experiment. Tracing paper is a great choice of substrate for drawing since you can easily consolidate your best drawings onto a few sheets. It's also a good idea to have a straight edge for drawing guidelines for your letters. Again, use of a vector drafting tool (e.g. Illustrator) is an option.