Contrast Patterns


Cynthia He. Typefaces: Monserrat + Dogma. Character used: V. Types of contrast: Weight + Style

Eli Kahn. Typefaces: Avenir + Roboto. Character used: K. Types of contrast: Weight + Style + Case

Maygha Puri. Typefaces: Roboto. Character used: }. Types of contrast: Weight + Width

Aaron Park. Typefaces: Futura + Garamond. Characters used: : and O. Types of contrast: Weight + Style + Case

Yuna Shin. Typefaces: Avenir + Helvetica + Didot. Characters used: C and J. Types of contrast: Weight + Style + Case + Posture

Level: , ,
Duration: 1 week
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Project Brief

In an 8×8 inch space create a dynamic pattern using a maximum of two different characters. For example: you can create a pattern using only the number 5, or you can combine a 5 with the letter A. Use any character/s, letter, number, punctuation from Adobe Fonts or the recommended list from class (I provide this list). Create the pattern by overlapping, rotating or repeating the character/s. Your pattern must incorporate at least two different forms of typographic contrast: case, weight, width, posture and style. 

A pattern is more than just repeated parts. Use design principles like rhythm and proportion to move beyond just simple rotation and repetition. Consider how the use of contrast between the characters in their respective typefaces can create interesting figure/ground relationships.

Avoid cutting, outlining or distorting the letterforms in ways that disturb their original design. Your character/s do not need to be immediately recognizable within the pattern. Strive for an interesting pattern by working with the specific geometry of each character.

Learning Objectives

  • Explore the various kinds of contrast in typography
  • Examine the differences/similarities in typefaces, and in individual letterforms
  • Explore what makes an effective and interesting pattern


  • One printout of the pattern—black + white OR color
  • PDF uploaded to the course website (Canvas)


A Type Primer by John Kane


This project is for 60 sophomores (majoring in VCD, ID and IxD) in an Introduction to Typography course. The assignment comes during the second week of the quarter, immediately following the Found Letterforms project. We go over type anatomy, the basic forms of contrast between typefaces (not other kinds of contrast like size and color, those are discussed but are not the five ways to tell typefaces apart from one another (ex: width—condensed and extended, style: serif or sans serif, etc). I use this project to get students familiarized with the anatomy of letters and the details that make individual characters and typefaces unique. This assignment encourages them refer back to their Color + Composition class from the previous quarter. 

Class One: A lecture on type anatomy. Class Two: In-class exercise where they make pairings of letters that follow certain kinds of contrast (weight + style for example). Class Three: Critique two distinctly different patterns. Class Four: Project due. It's fast because I have 60 students and lots of cover in ten weeks. The students would benefit from one more critique if you have the time. Additional parameters could involve students exploring various color palettes across the same pattern — black and white only, complementary colors only etc. It's a quick project for studying type anatomy, color, figure ground and form/counter form. 

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