Found Letterforms



Melissa Nunez / Found Letterform (A)

Clara Too / Found Letterform (T)

Ruby Peven / Found Letterform (R)

Jena McWhirter / Found Letterform (M)

Emily Wang / Found Letterform (E)

Level: ,
Duration: 1 week
Category: , ,
Filed Under: , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Working with one of your initials (first or last name), document at least 25 examples of a single letterform in the environment. Use the basic principles of composition and photography—proper exposure, focus, asymmetry, rule of thirds etc. Combine your best nine images into a 3 × 3 matrix. Each image should be cropped into a 2.5 inch box. Your final set of nine photos should be create a composition that is 7.5 × 7.5 inches, with no gaps between images. Find different type styles including uppercase, lowercase, italics, bold, serif, sans serif, etc. Crop each letterform to create a dynamic composition. Try taking the letterform to just before the point where it is no longer recognizable as a character. (We should be able to tell what letter it is). Consider how the individual compositions work together as a series. Pay attention to color relationships, the individual cropping and the scale of the letters themselves. Think unity and variety: what will unify your nine images (material, size, color, type case etc) and what will provide variety? It’s doubtful you can find 25+ individual letterforms. Photograph words that you can then crop to emphasize a particular letter. Your photos should be high quality—no pixilation or unintended blurriness. Shoot at a high resolution—the final images should be 300dpi at 100% size.

Learning Objectives

This project will sensitize you to the varied styles of letterforms in the built environment and encourage you to examine the distinct characteristics of individual characters. This project will also help refine your photography skills and your continued appreciation for color and composition. Being able to work with images is a critical skill for any designer. These should be original photographs. Do not download images from Flickr or any other image site. If asked, you should be able to tell us where each photo was taken.


Print the final composition on 8.5 × 11 inch page, portrait orientation, Epson paper recommended.


This is a useful way to start the winter quarter since the students (60 sophomores majoring in ID, IxD and VCD) just completed a Color + Composition class in the fall. Rather than get on the computer straight away, we use this assignment as a one week warmup (one critique only). It is a good way to reinforce color and photography principles covered in the previous course. And it is an effective way to begin discussions on closure (gestalt principle) and letterform anatomy. I have run this project with 16 and even 25 images in a grid. Those tend to be busier compositions though. For a one week project, nine images works pretty well.

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