Randy Steward

Forging Hand-crafted Designs



In the desert, the line between life and death is sharp and quick.

THIS IS THE FINAL PIECE! (a lot of process and exploration follows).

This is my trace. I used Faber Castell medium sized Pen to outline, sharpie to fill in the letterforms, and some high quality Bienfang 100% rag tracing marker paper. I use the Faber castell pens on this paper because I've found over the years that this combo has the quickest dry time, so you pretty much don't have to worry at all about smudging something you've already done. This is a technique I've learned through trial and error. My own little secret if you will.

I printed out my text as large as I could for my tracing so that when I scale it down for the image it is super sharp. Consider making thicker lines on your trace. In order to make this, I took my last step, and scanned it in. From there I used photoshop to push stuff into place and adjust some proportions before printing it out. That way I had something as close as to what I want as possible. During the trace stage we want to be tracing, not really making design decisions anymore.

During this step I printed out my image at 20-40% opacity and made it as big as possible on an 8.5 x 11. Then I took my initial type style sketches, selected which one I felt worked best and made a larger more refined drawing.

These are my type system sketches. I've tried out several different options using the layout I had selected.

And this is where it all began. These are my initial layouts. I really wanted to use the light dark line in the background where mountains turn into sky as the proverbial "line" between life and death.



ALRIGHTY Here we go! For my project I have a series of quotes about me ... that I made up ... just for me ... Wow, that sounds pretty lame. Anyway, that's what I'll be "laying out" Because they are worthy of more of a poster type format and less bookish, I have decided to focus on german propaganda posters. Weird choice maybe, but I'm pretty close to german descent, and they did some nifty work that I admire.


1. Randy's work is so cool, he single handedly reversed global warming.

2. Randy's a smart guy. His brain operates at such a high temperature, he can't grow hair on top anymore.

3. Randy is super fun ... aw who am I kidding these are crap. I've gotta come up with some better lines before I jump in.

After studying type layout as recommended by our awesome teacher Jon Contino, starting with illuminated manuscripts. I followed it up with printed works from the 1500's and noticed some really interesting typographic trends. Then straight into art nouveau into war propaganda posters and on.

I particularly fell in love with the work of Ludwig Hohlwein. Beautiful design, illustration, color, use of space everything. I love it. I'm somewhat embarrassed that I didn't know about him sooner.

Layout Research

Following, I will be review a few pieces by Ludwig as well as some german war era posters that I thought had some interesting qualities to them.

Translation (via google translate):

Copy is very centered with the line width even all the way down until the last line.

The first line of text (most important) is larger than all the others which seem fairly equal.

The second "s" in Volksspende, and the "s" in the middle of deutschen. Are non-traditional "s" letterforms. I "think" it is so that he could manipulate the line width. Perhaps someone can chime in with some additional insight?

limited color palette. The bold red is only used for the red heart. Which does a great job of pulling your eye to the mans shoulder and letting you follow that back down to the message.

I love the logo marks. Ludwig's signature and the Hollerbaum logo. They are very interesting details you will see in other pieces.

Translation (via google translate):

Color choice here is interesting as the purple in the foreground and yellow in the back. Typical schooling says the cool color recedes and all that. I think it is used well here though. Purple and yellow are also complimentary.

The colors in this are brighter, but still a limited palette.

The lighting choice creates a bit of a scary feeling like some doom or evil is present. The fact that eyes mostly become black shadowy holes adds to that. Potentially a sign of the times?

Copy again is located near the bottom of the piece, with the top two lines being the largest type size. Obviously the most important information. Movnig down the type gets smaller, but gradually. Perhaps size was used to manipulate line width so they are all the same width.

Different font choice in this one, much more readable. Loving the "M" character and the high midline of the "H" and "E", coupled with the opposite proportion in the "P" and "R". Generally more geometric. Less ... well ... blackletter.

Translation (via google translate):

This is one of my favorites. The bold red flamingo with the strong red line/leg leading you down to a very horizontal "block" of copy.

Again the first line is largest, and most important.

I love the the larger letters were allowed to go behind the leg, while the smaller letters flow around it.

The diagonal line just the the left of the flamingos leg in the last line of copy is a very cool feature to fill out the line width without manipulating type size. Obviously the layout and heirarchy wouldn't have benefitted from the increased type size.

The colors black, white, and red are a strange choice in my opinion for a biopark. More dark and less approachable than one might think the colors should portray. Perhaps this is a sign of the times? War isn't pretty y'know.

Translation (via google translate):

I'm going to move into some german war era posters that are NOT by Ludwig.

I notice again a limited color pallete, and an illustration style that is similar to Ludwigs, but not quite as refined.

The largest text is at the top, also in a blackletter style.

Strong centered image and a diagonal created by the fire in the background leads you from the end of the title at the top to the beginning of the copy at the bottom.

Much like Ludwigs work, the copy is mostly concentrated towards the bottom with the first line larger than the rest.

Interesting to note is the many different typfaces in this one. Blackletter, the Bold serif, and the lighter weight serif for the smaller copy.

The "s" in "ist" in the headline at the top is actually similar in form to some of those odder ones I pointed out in the first piece by Ludwig. 

Translation (via google translate):

Again with the blackletter, but with more ornamentation that in the others. Strong visual with the copy located towards the bottom. 

Again with the limited color pallete red white and black.

Translation (via google translate):

This one is very different fromt he others. Again with the justified text at the bottom with the first coupe lines larger and more important. I love the squished togehter letterforms in the middle line though, could be a fun odditity to play with. It will have to look intentional though. I don't want it to look like I'm just a shitty typographer. We'll just have to see. That might be too much to ask.

Large curved headline above the bulding the narrow shaped "s" form is seen in some of the other posters as well.

This is the first time There is type in a circle. and what a lovely wonky use of that circle we have here. The top curved line, just doesn't really even fit!

limited color pallete again


Hey guys so I was browsing through the course Q&A (under the community tab), and stumbled across some gems of information. For me, I've decided to take Jon's advice and trace over various fonts to begin the process of converting them to muscle memory. His recommendations are to trace Garamond, Bodoni, Century Schoolbook, and Helvetica repeatedly. This will train your arm/hand to know the letters intricacies without necessarily knowing them academically ... which doesn't always translate anyway.

So, all that being said, I did my first one today. I set up the layout in Indesign and typed a pangram (series of words that use every letter in the alphabet) in both upper and lower case. Set it to 20% black and printed it out. So today's font is Bodoni.



The quotes revisited ... I could seriously use some help here.

1. They say design is in his DNA. That can't be right. There's no "e" in DNA. Who's "he"? Randy.

2. I hear he wants to be like Snow White someday. Having all the forest critters follow him around singing. That's probably true. Who's "he"? Randy.

3. Don't call him a body builder. He build dreams. Well, not really. But he does lift weight. Who's "he"? Randy.

Nah, those are pretty funny.

I'm going to start with the first one there. So to begin I'm going to break it up into various lines to indicate how it should be read.

They say design is in his DNA.

That can't be right.

There's no "e" in DNA.

I feel like the "Who's 'he'? Randy." tag should be a single unit. Maybe I can come up with a nice wordmark for it.

I also feel like I need a simple word mark like ludwigs signature.

I've run into a bit of a challenge. It has to do with the visual style I've chosen for reference, and the fact that I want the words to sound like they read in my head. There are some very strategic pauses I want to convey ... comedic timing and all that. But when running the text all together in a block like most of the examples, it is difficult to create the emphasis needed. Must play with it more.

I don't actually know what the imagery is going to be just yet, but I feel like it will be integral to the final layout. For the type though. I've only been able to develope two basic systems for creating pauses while maintaining the integrity of the design reference.

1. create space between the second to last, and last lines, (playing with size as well)

2. placing some sort of visual element between the two lines.

Option 2 is found in versions C, D, E, H, I, J, and K. Option 1 is experiemented with in the other versions. 

Observations. The curved headline element at the top doesn't appear to work for me. The tone is conversational and it really needs to lead in to the rest of the copy smoothly, while maintaining some sort of higher presence. So I used scale. The germans seemed to like their boxes of text.

All of that said, I feel like the last version (M) reads the most like how I want it to read. The first two largest boxes being "They say design" "is in his DNA" followed by. "That can't be right." with the last element even smaller AND seperated by space "There's no "e" in DNA.". I need to work on what the imagery might be since it is so critical to the concept and layout, but I think this one fits the style while maintaining "how" I want the text to read. Very balanced text, the first three lines are equal width. I'm breaking the typical structure with the last line being seperated from the rest of the text, but I really do think it's necessary.

So I've played with it some more. Roughing in shapes and copy to see what happens to it. In version A I feel like I can manipulate the type enough so that the first and second lines are the same height. And I feel like it reads correctly. Version B I think is visually more interesting and more inline with my reference material. I'm not 100% sold that it reads the way I want it to, but it's damn close. I'll sit on this a while. If you have an opinion, let me know!

After a few days of sitting on it, I think layout B is the way to go. The message isn't quite as large, but I think it works better is other ways. The shapes are more interesting (not a circle), The balance is better. It's closer in layout to the reference material. Generally more impactful.

So here are some questions I need to ask myself:

  • What is the overall theme and vibe/tone of your piece?

I would say the overall theme is a bit of a flat self-deprecating conversational humor.

  • What is it describing?

It is describing my humor and what I bring to my design ... my individuality

  • Who does it appeal to?

The design community primarily. As a sort of self-promotional type piece.

  • A list of adjectives/nouns that characterize the type of imagery you found in your research for this theme.

emotional, sad, stoic, a bit uplifting, agressive

  • Do those theme-words match the lettering/font style you've had in mind for your work.

Well, based on the above, I'm starting to think that the propaganda posters as a reference are not necessarily appropriate for the content. However, I could certainly use the imagery to push the humor of it since the references are so image based, it has a large impact on the kind of adjectives that the presented to me. This class is about type layout, not illustration. I should focus on type ... layout. I think it's time for a pivot before I invest too much time in this direction. 


I need to start looking for references that convey the humor while the words read more deadpan ... holy snapples I think I got it. Cartoon title slides. Which totally makes sense having watched bugs bunny, elmer fud, wiley coyote and the gang as much as I did growing up. I even remember watching the first ever mickey mouse. It was silent, and they conveyed conversations with slides of text if I'm not mistaken.

hold on ...

I'll be right back ...

A. I was wrong, there were no slides that indicated what mickey or anyone else was saying. There wasn't much talking, but the viewer got the gist of it. B) These title slides are a perfect reference for what I need to do with my quotes, and also a great reference for me to better take advantage of what this class has to offer.

I actually have two different aesthetics. The first is earlier and really only begins to use the idea that type can communicate what the story is about a bit, but when you get to these later tiles, I realized they are pretty much doing the same exercise we're doing in this class. The text and layouts and imagery are all much more conceptual and relative to the story about to be told, and then applying their signature cartoon aesthetic to it to pull it all together.

So lets revisit those last two questions with this new reference in mind.

  • A list of adjectives/nouns that characterize the type of imagery you found in your research for this theme.

fun, playful, happy, energetic

  • Do those theme-words match the lettering/font style you've had in mind for your work.

Not originally, but yes. It's also a better description of my personality, which is something I'm trying to get across through these pieces.

  • Is it best for me to match that theme or go against it?

I think it is best to match it.

  • Do I want to be ornate or do I want to be minimal?

Ornate, ya'll! Just look at those hilarious references, it just doesn't makes sense to go minimal.

So here are some layouts. I'll actually be pursuing version c (the one on the bottom).

And my type systems work.

Version A

Version B

Version C

The last project is to take everything we've learned thus far about layout and type systems and ad the challenge of working with a photograph. So, I found one my photographs from before I came to New Mexico, which happens to be of New Mexico. And I found a nie quote about deserts that I'm going to overlay.

The quote: 

In the desert, the line between life and death is sharp and quick.

The photo:

What are the elements that can inform your letter style? Sharp angles? Flowy lines? Heavy blocks of color? 

It's very busy in the foreground. Definitely has sharp lines, but still organic in nature. The background is not that busy, and would be a perfect spot for some typography. However, I feel a certain amount of elegance/serenity needs to be present as well.

I think for this image and message a focus on the imagery over the type makes sense. They have to work together though. I don't want the type hidden.

I did the layout exercise, followed by the type systems exercise, and applied those to a photo project. THIS IS THE FINAL PIECE!


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