Typographic Patterns


Jonathan Elder. Concept.

Jonathan Elder. Refined sketch of 1st concept.

Jonathan Elder. Refined sketch of 2nd concept.

Jonathan Elder. A pattern of 1st concept.

Jonathan Elder. A pattern of 2nd concept.

Level: , ,
Duration: 4 weeks
Category: ,
Filed Under: , , , , , , , , , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Inspired by Susan Merritt's letter-mark project, I had repurposed it to suit both design and non-design majors. This project introduces students to Adobe Illustrator, demonstrate sketching as a fundamental part of a design process that combines both analog and digital techniques, and enhance their presentation skills. Here, they were to create a typographic letter-mark using their initials in black and white and use it to create a typographic pattern. The following limitations include:

  • The mark must contain characters form only the approved font families listed: Adobe Caslon, Baskerville, Bodoni URW, Clarendon, Gill Sans, Helvetica, and Futura PT. They may use italic, bold, or any other weights. They were not permitted to use other font families, nor mix font families within their mark.
  • The two letterforms must work together as a unit and must feel like a finished unified mark. They can be rotated, sliced, and altered, but NOT distorted (no font squishing).
  • The sketch phase must be completed by hand on paper first, and the final work should be created on Adobe illustrator last.  
  • You must use the letter mark to make a pattern, and the pattern must fit in the artboard.

Learning Objectives

The students were to:

  1. Demonstrate their comprehension of plotting vector points
  2. Obtain a basic ability to use Illustrator’s toolbox including pen tool and selection tools, pathfinder tool, layers, artboards, color, grids, etc.
  3. Examine the characteristic shape and structure of the 2 letters to determine how they can be integrated into a unified whole to create a mark in each letter is integral to the other – it demands attention to the details of the letterform including stroke, weight, style, form, figure-foreground, and contrast.
  4. Appreciate the fundamentals of typography.
  5. Differentiate the file formats, specifically Ai, EPS, and PDF.
  6. Create 2 black and white vectors.


  1. One Adobe Illustrator file containing 2 artboards, 2 black vectors.
  2. One PDF file documenting your process in this order (combine jpeg and pdfs to one PDF file):
    • Full alphabet sketches
    • 15 thumbnail sketches on hybrid letter-mark
    • Two 6”x6” refined sketches, inked with black marker & micron pens.
    • Two vectored concepts, side by side
    • One comprehensive / pick out 1 strong vector.
    • One patterned artboard using the vector.



NOT recommended as a high-school project due to its tedious process. Graphic design and non-majors were intrigued by the subject matter, while those who were not fond of it appreciated the topic and did well in the process. After introducing this project for a couple of semesters, students began to come up with interesting results.

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