lim jia sheng,

.Advanced Typography


[4]: Perception & Organization


In general:

The way something is regarded/understood/interpreted; what you understand from what you see; what you are manipulated into understanding.

In typography:

The way some text is visually navigated & interpreted by the reader — through contrast, form & organization of the (typographical) content.


Different designers propose different solutions to this problem:

Rudi Ruegg
  • Weight
    • Bold type variants stands out above lighter ones.
    • Rules, spot, squares also provide "heavy areas" for powerful points of visual attraction or emphasis.
  • Form
    • Capital vs lowercase
    • Roman vs italic
    • Condensed vs expanded
  • Structure
    • Monoline serif vs traditional serif
    • Italic vs blackletter
  • Colour
    • A second colour is often """less emphatic""" in values than plain black on white.
    • They drag attention away really effectively (sometimes too much so), & thus we have to give thought to which element(s) to empathize to keep the overall piece not too noisy.
  • Size
  • Space (-ve/+ve)

Types of typographical contrast proposed by Rudi Ruegg, n.d

Figure 1.1.1, Types of typographical contrast proposed by Rudi Ruegg, n.d

Carl Dair
  • [Extends Rudi Ruegg's list]
  • Texture
    • Comes from combining all the previous methods.
    • Refers to the way the lines of type look as a whole from a distance.
    • Depends on both the letterforms themselves & how they're arranged.
  • Direction
    • Vertical vs horizontal (vs anything in between)
    • Turning words/text blocks on their sides can have dramatic effects on layouts.
    • Mixing wide blocks of long lines with tall columns of short line can also create a contrast.

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Figure 1.1.9, Types of typographical contrast proposed by Carl Dair, n.d


The overall look and feel of the elements that make up the typographic composition. Typography itself comes from the Greek words "typos" (form) & "graphis" (writing); meaning to write in accordance to form. The interplay of meaning and form brings a balanced harmony both in terms of function and expression, enabling it to ascend from just "characters" into more of a "bitmap" — something that can be distorted, textured, enlarged, etc.

Good form in typography
  • Visually intriguing
  • Leads the eye from point to point
  • Entertains the mind
  • Memorable

Organization (Gestalt)

Typographic layouts containing individual components/elements is only as good as its overall visual form makes it out to be — Math.min(component.parent.organization.score, component.score).

  • Similarity
  • Proximity
  • Closure
  • Continuation
  • Symmetry

Gestalt principles of grouping, n.d

Figure 1.1.10, Gestalt principles of grouping, n.d


task[2]A: Key Artwork


  • Create some thing that looks like an artwork, but behaves like a logo; an anchor for a personal brand.


I wanted to find some inspiration, as a """key artwork""" was pretty foreign to me. Well I tried just putting "key artwork" into Pinterest, but that returned with literal key artworks, so I had to settle with "wordmarks" & "monograms"


Figure 1.2.1, img


Figure 1.2.2, img


Figure 1.2.3, img


Figure 1.2.4, img

Figure 1.2.5, Few monograms & wordmarks that really stood out (Pinterest is kinda oversaturated with these), 22/9/2021

Besides these though, I was also surprisingly struck by some inspiration while just minding my own business. Here's a photo I took of light being light & making things look nice.

Outside my room, 22/9/2021

Figure 1.2.6, Outside my room, 22/9/2021

Okay it really isn't that impressive looking through the picture, but the way that light contrasted & reflected just hit different. After that, I just knew I needed to do something with light.


For the general idea, I wanted to go with something outside my comfort zone; what better time than now to use something blackletter?

I found this one type — FF Brokenscript — that I felt fit me, something geometric, but with that added flair & quirk breaking up its monotony. My first few attempts were done spelling out my first two names:

  • Just my name, 22/9/2021


Figure 1.3.2, image-20210922223151652


Figure 1.3.3, image-20210922224720461


Figure 1.3.4, image-20210922225650127

Figure 1.3.5, My first few attempts at getting the hang of this typeface, 22/9/2021

After a lot of repositioning without luck, I tried something different. Instead of the whole name where I thought would look right (however not exceptional apparently), I wrote out my initials & started placing them around. Burnt out of FF Brokenscript though, I tried using something else — Coolvetica Extra Condensed:

Another attempt at a key artwork, 22/9/2021

Figure 1.3.6, Another attempt at a key artwork, 22/9/2021

While design & elegance wise, I really enjoy this, it just didn't seem like it had the "me" feel I was going for — too sterile (coincidentally the same font for the last exercise on "sterile"). With that interlude acting as a palette cleanser, I went back to Brokenscript & played around with the same concept.

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That second one was the one that made me really go... yes. I tried to developed it a little further but ultimately just ended up with this:

Figure 1.3.9, "Monogram" + non-objective element, 22/9/2021

Then, it was taken into blender for a large "powdering of nose".

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Figure 1.3.12, Orthographic variants, 22/9/2021

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Figure 1.3.15, Perspective variants, 22/9/2021

Honestly I couldn't decide between all 4 of em, as they each have characteristics of their own quirks & features. The coolest thing about it though was how they had different paths for extending, which the more the merrier.

However, after a session of class, combining the factors of seeing others' work & feedback, I decided to regroup & start from the basics. Mr Vinod put a lot of emphasis on occupation per key artwork, so I dinked around for another 4 hours to make 6 different alternative career paths their own expression.

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Figure 1.3.23, Sketches for key artwork, round 2, 27/9/2021

Then, through some brain activity, I made a map of occupation to key artwork.

Occupation to key artwork map, 27/9/2021

Figure 1.3.24, Occupation to key artwork map, 27/9/2021

Then, here's a "one more thing":

Progression of a key artwork for audio engineer, 28/9/2021

Figure 1.3.25, Progression of a key artwork for audio engineer, 28/9/2021

It's (vaguely) based on the quarter note rest in scoring, as all 3 of the letters in my initials can be found in it. Do mind that I have absolutely no formal music theory background so take that as you will.


  • 27/9/2021
    • Could work on it a little bit more
    • Direction seems unclear
    • Might be similar to something by st. john's
  • 4/10/2021
    • Good form, however it's a bit hard to tell initially what's going on.


24 hours.

Final key artwork, 4/10/2021

Figure 1.4.1, Final key artwork, 4/10/2021

Occupation — Audio mixing/mastering engineer.

task[2]B: Collateral


  • Conceptualize an event based on the key artwork.
  • Create an animated invite to the event.
  • Create a poster for the event.
  • Create 2-3 pieces of collateral for the event.


I started out with just looking for poster inspiration that landed in the ballpark of what I wanted to do — play around with light, distortion, lines.

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Figure 1.5.5, Various poster inspiration, n.d


After some searching, I jumped right into trying to craft out a poster. At this point I was still pretty blurry about the identity of my "brand" & was hoping that making the poster would define it along the way.

I wanted some refractive visual element & came up with the idea of resonance on a water surface.

Node structure for resonating water material, 4/10/2021

Figure 1.6.1, Node structure for resonating water material, 4/10/2021

First poster attempt, 4/10/2021

Figure 1.6.2, First poster attempt, 4/10/2021

This was a struggle & I noted it in a post-class session with Mr. Vinod. He gave a few suggestions, mainly to start stripping away prominence to the various elements & directing it to the key artwork, & produced this:

First poster attempt, stripped, 4/10/2021

Figure 1.6.3, First poster attempt, stripped, 4/10/2021

I then took that advice & iterated upon the "renewed" poster.

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Figure 1.6.14, Poster iteration, n.d

After the sh*tshow of the poster, I went on to the animation. My approach to this animation was headfirst-kneedeep, keeping a fresh mind & winging it.

A few hacks I used a lot in this project is the Vegas effect to create outlines around rasterized shapes, as well as the 3D Camera Blur effect along with an animated Fractal Noise to create the flowing glow effect around the bright elements.

Messy but simple project structure, 21/10/2021

Figure 1.6.15, Messy but simple project structure, 21/10/2021

Animation draft, 11/10/2021

Figure 1.6.16, Animation draft, 11/10/2021

Full quality animation draft here.Full quality animation draft here.

The main issue with this draft was "visual communication", as the info was presented in a large chunk with not enough time to absorb. My options were to either split them up or extend time between segments; i chose both, shown in final.

Besides the animation there was also collateral. I knew I wanted to do something weird, & found out while making one of my safe options — the tote bag — that companies make custom MP3 players & give them out at events. It was extremely on-brand for what I was working on so I decided that my 3 collateral items would be — tote bag, mug, & MP3 player.

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Figure 1.6.20, Project views of the simulations, n.d


  • 4/10/2021
    • For the poster, we should try to put everything onto a canvas first, then figure out where we can slot information into it.
    • The water element is cool, it would be nice if I could fit it somewhere.
  • 11/10/2021
    • Poster looks professional, key artwork stands out.
    • Animation doesn't have enough rest time to read the information.


26 hours.

Poster, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.1, Poster, 12/10/2021

Final animation, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.2, Final animation, 12/10/2021

Final animation full quality here.Final animation full quality here.

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Figure 1.7.5, Tote bag, 12/10/2021

Mug, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.6, Mug, 12/10/2021

MP3 player, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.7, MP3 player, 12/10/2021

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Figure 1.7.12, Various glam shots, 12/10/2021

Flatlay, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.13, Flatlay, 12/10/2021

Figure 1.7.14, Everything above, but PDF, 21/20/2021


This was a task more challenging than expected. The idea of developing a brand around a key artwork rather than going the other way around — developing a key artwork from a brand concept — was and still is a pretty foreign concept to me. I feel like this method of going about things is not as intuitive, as the key artwork that facilitates collateral leaves many attributes & properties of the final product undefined — colour palette, auxiliary elements, responsive reaction, etc. Unfortunately, this forced a lot more just-in-time coming up of things, not in the strict sense that there wasn't enough time (although that's kinda true as well), but how one would have to lay the path they walked on as one did the task at hand. In my opinion, starting with the brand & working from there may have been an easier way to grasp the concept of both a key artwork & its subsequent collateral; starting with a story & writing in line with it, instead of crafting a climax & coming up with plot points.

Back from this challenge though, I've definitely still learnt a few important things. Amongst them being the balance of information clarity & visual appeal. Being freed of restrictions meant having an un-ceilinged expectation put in place, becoming easy to pile things on in an effort to increase appeal. However, without room to both breathe & absorb, the effectiveness & therefore subsequently appeal, falls regardless of the arrangement & mixture of design subjects. One other, seemingly miniscule to others but impactful to me thing, is the use of simulated "light"/gradients can help "soften" scenes with harsh lines or contrast. This enables bolder uses of various subjects while reducing perceived jarring-ness, something I've struggled with & overcompensated for in the past.

Overall in the big picture, the main objective I feel like this combined task set out to achieve was to simulate a somewhat realistic scenario of multiphase designing, where we iterate upon works that were iterated upon other works under a brand umbrella. Even though I feel like some of the structuring may be wonky, it still achieved its goal & educated us on the relationship/concept of "key artworks" & subsequent collateral. I know I'll be using this knowledge in the future, perhaps designing key artworks for real.

further reading:

Key Art: Creating a Lasting Impression

Figure 1.8.1, Cover of "Key Art: Creating a Lasting Impression", 28/7/2015

This article talks about how key artworks are applied in movie posters & why it's even important. The article talks about the distinction between art & design, & subsequently how key artworks blur that barrier as it has to be able to both be appealing standing on its own & achieve a purpose. The purposes noted were specifically — be memorable, evoke emotions, deliver a message, & invite contribution. All in all a great read & contains helpful titbits of information that map back to more graphic design-y work.