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FAST CLASS: Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 1 of 7

Beginning of Typography


FAST CLASS: Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 1 of 7

Beginning of Typography


Lesson Info

Beginning of Typography

welcome to typography. The fundamentals. We've got a lot of ground to cover today, but before we start in the actual content, I wanted to give you an idea why a session like this is important, especially in today's digital world. Um, not too long ago in my life would probably perhaps non existent in some of yours 2030 years ago. Um, graphic designers had a very different job than they have now. And everything was done very, very differently. When I started in this business, there were no computers. Um, you didn't have to do your own typesetting. Things were done in such a way that when I explained to you and show you some of the images they're actually going to see our seemed very archaic to you. Um, the graphic designer really just had to come up with the concept on do these cops with markers and, uh, tracing paper and what not get approval. And once that happened, you actually took the type the type written set type, which didn't look like this yet, but it just looked like type writt...

en type, and you had to actually spect the type and send it to a type shop, which was populated by type setters or typographer that had 10 20 sometimes 30 years Experience setting type. Okay, The way we had to do it was crazy. You actually had to know riel math because if you had a manuscript, if you had, let's say 30 pages of information plus a headline, you had to do such crazy things as Count the characters in a line. Count the lines on a page. Estimate the number of characters on each page multiply that times the number of pages of text. Then you had to decide what typeface you were using. What point size? What, letting How much space that was going to take in each line, how many lines it was going to take and spec it out and sent to a type shop and hope you came pretty close because every time you sent this back and forth, it was really expensive. And if you send it back and forth more than three times, you might get a pink slip it the end of the week. Okay, because it was that critical. Um, what would happened then you would get back paper proofs and they would look something like this. This is actually a marked up typeset proof that was marked up by the great her blue Ballon. Okay, Who was a name, if you're not familiar with, definitely. Look him up because he was absolutely huge in the world of typography and typographic design in the sixties and the seventies and still has a lasting influence today. So that's her blue balance. So because I started working in the studio working on some of his layouts, this was a, um a proof that he would mark up. I know you can't see it very well. The details, but basically, he was changing line breaks. He was changing hyphen nations. In some cases, he was editing outwards to make for a bit better brakes. And he was doing this on proof after proof after proof, okay? And sending it back. So what happened after that? What happened after that is that people like me who, starting in this business, we did what was called mechanicals or paste ups. And this was something that was done with paper proofs with, um, until astray. Shin board in the back. Exacto blades. Um, if I go ahead, you'll see we used T squares. We use triangles. I mean, it was really fun. It was like, Oh, this is something I'm gonna do Arts and crafts for a living. So it was really kind of cool. This is really it's not a funny ad, but it's a dated add because when we first started this, we'd use rubber cement to paint the proofs to pace the proofs to the boards. Then we went to wax on. So this is a waxing machine. It was hot wax. You would slide the proof under you would get a layer of wax on it and then going back to that mechanic, cause this is really the most telling page that shows what you had to dio. You had to take all the elements, the type, the dummy illustrations cut them up on a board and paste them with the T Square exactly the way you wanted them. So this that says, uh, placement on lee. So that was not re alarm. That was a photostat. So I mean, this is not specifically about typography, but the point is, things were done so differently that graphic designers did not have to set your own type you did have to figure out what the right, you know, you still had to decide on a typeface and layout, and you still had to decide on the important things. But you didn't have to decide. A lot of the details here is if you had a set type on a curve, these things were done manually, which in a lot of ways is better than on the computer. Because the computer has such a low resolution, it's hard to really see what you're doing on the computer unless you printed out. So these things were done manually. When we had rules, we had to use a rapid a graph. We had actually do the rules unless you set them, had the typesetter set them. A lot of times I have used a rapid a graph and done box rules over and over more than I can even tell you. So you really it was a very hands on kind of thing. If you had color separations, you set them, sent them out to be separated to the color separator. Then they went to the printer, where a stripper would take care of them, and it wasn't the kind of stripper that took their clothes off. It was the kind of stripper that stripped in the film separations into the film of the rest of the peace. So basically, in those days, and this was a tool, I won't even you'll. You'll get a headache if I tell you what this is. This was used to measure the lines of type, depending upon how much the letting was. I mean, this was something we live by every single day. It was called a haber rules. So, um, you missed out on that. But the thing is, um, these days in the digital world, you are expected to have 1000 years in your head to remember how to do everything. You are required to not only be responsible for the design. You have to set the type. You have to do your own color separations. Do your own way. You're not separating your retouching. I mean, you're responsible for just about everything. Okay. The problem is for most designers, most designers don't have the adequate training to feel confident and comfortable working with typography the way they might, um, just doing overall design. So whether you're a student, whether you're a professional, whether you're in advance, creative director, Whatever it is, I can tell you, I've taught thousands of people, and in my classes I get people from students to creative directors who admit, and to me and to everyone, you know, I'm very successful what I do. But I'm not confident with my typography. Um ah, Lot of graphic designers are self taught, which means you really have to learn it on the fly. You have to learn it from people you're working with. But then there was awful lot of designers who have degrees in design. That in itself doesn't prepare you for typography and the way we're going to be approaching it today. Okay? Because even if you've taken type classes, type classes or very often in universities and colleges taught by designers who like type who designers who were told, okay, you have to teach the type class Okay, I have a little bit different background. I'm a typography specialist who also does design, So I know type from the inside and out as a type user in a type maker. Okay, so I also know enough about today's current software and technology to be able to show you how you can best use your technology to achieve extremely professional results with your type. Now, the professional results are not a result of knowing the technology. The professional results are knowing the aesthetics and the skill to make the decisions and have very acute observations and then knowing how to use the software to achieve that. Okay, so something like this, what we're doing today, Um, what we're doing right now and what we're going to be doing in the next session is not just for graphic designers these days. It's for anyone who has the need or opportunity to be using type and what they're doing. Okay, so that's not only graphic designers, it could be illustrators who know they have to know how to use type a little bit for some of their pieces. It could be photographers that every once in a while need to put or use type and really don't have any of the training and don't have the confidence you can have the best illustration or the best photograph in the world. And if you used some crappy type inappropriately styled and set, it's going to downgrade the level of what you're doing. Um, it's also today's world. Not many people left in the print world. There's so many people who are Web designers who are motion graphics designers who are doing e books who were doing any other media other than print on. All of those require an understanding of good typography, and many of those people have tremendous skills in Web design. Some are programmers but have very little background in design and typography. The other person that this would be good for is even an admin or somebody in a company where all of a sudden they're not. They don't have an in house art department. They might have a poster, have an invitation. And they say here, Why don't you put this together? You know, and they whether they're in word or whether they learn in design, they still don't have any skills or understanding. And sometimes you see the actual worst pieces coming out from that, and nobody wants that. Okay, so the advantage to what we're gonna be learning and discussing today is it can make everyone's work better. Whether you're a student, whether you're a professional, whether you're thinking of changing careers whether you just want to finesse your portfolio, because here's the other thing. These days, employers will very many perspective, employers will say in a job offer typography skills required. Okay, you could have a kick ass portfolio. And if you don't, if you have dumb quotes if you have something that shouldn't be in there and there's somebody else with an equally good portfolio but they're type is better, you're gonna lose that opportunity. So it's really critical that I'm very, very passionately dedicated to helping to educate anyone who fits under any of those categories and others toe have a better understanding of typography to give you more confidence. And basically what I like to say is what I'm trying to teach you is to learn how to see, to learn how to see differently than you do right now.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Typography Fundamentals with Ilene Strizver

SUBSCRIBE TO CREATOR PASS and cue up this class and other FAST CLASS classes anytime.


  • Select the best typefaces for your design
  • Work efficiently with OpenType
  • Think and approach projects like a type designer
  • Identify and remedy common type crimes


Typography is an essential element of design: it should communicate your message effectively, and with purpose. Yet, even professional graphic designers can lack the “eye” and deeper understanding of type aesthetics.

In Typography Fundamentals, author, educator, and expert Ilene Strizver teaches you how to take full advantage of the power of type. You’ll learn not only the fundamentals of typographic design, but also how to “see” type through new eyes - all to make more sophisticated type choices that will open doors and set your work apart.

With your enrollment in Ilene’s class, you’ll also receive access to a webinar hosted by renowned designer Gerard Huerta.

Check out Ilene’s related course, Advanced Typography: Fine Tuning & Finessing.


This class is designed for creative professionals of all levels working with type, whether you are brand new, or just want to build on your existing knowledge and fill in the gaps. In-house design teams, web developers, motion graphic designers, recent graduates, freelancers and illustrators working with type: don’t miss your chance to learn from one of the most respected educators in the field.