27 October, 2008

Typography Survival Kit

Typography is essential to an animation student's ability to graduate. How an artist handles his type says a lot about his basic design sense, sensitivity to detail, decision making and clarity of presentation. When an animation student graduates from our school, they are evaluated during a final portfolio/demo reel presentation by a panel of instructors and a select panel of professionals working in the industry. They are judged on about five criteria, and one of them is typography....literally 20 percent of the final score lies in their ability to use typography throughout their presentation. Its a nice test but it catches people off guard, thus the reason for this post. Its meant to help you out.

The hard part, is that animation students only take one or two typography classes while in school and it takes practice and time to really see the nuances of what makes for effective typography. So, they have to play catch up to the designers who work on it on a regular basis, and thus develop a loathing of the craft. Many animation students also find it boring.

Just know that typography can be fun. Take a look at some of the examples on this post. In my classes, I equate typography to "food" where the information presented by the typography is used to educate, help and nurture people.

I intend to write more about the subject for those of you who find the subject overwhelming and boring and will post these lectures on this blog as they are created. I know it'll help people out, and I know I can refer to it in the portfolio classes I teach.

I am an animator, but before this, I was a graphic designer for a few large corporations. It was here that I developed my type skills...and I got real good at it.

Yes I developed fonts, created layouts and websites for large corporations. It was a lot of fun, but nothing beats the feeling you get when you use those design and typography skills in a way that helps you market your OWN work to help you get that job you want, and in most cases this can be a simple business card, or more importantly, a website.

I've seen some recruiters and employers during these review sessions praise a potential graduate for how well their website is designed, in essence, they can tell a lot about a design/animation candidate by how well their site is put together and a large part of it is in their handling of type, which says a lot about their sense of design.

When I teach typography to animation students we talk about the feeling a particular type face represents. We also talk about effective type combinations (contrast), negative space and most importantly, visual hierarchy, which means that to any effective design, a designer must lead the eye by establishing a single focal point, followed by a second and a third.

When I mention this to my classes, they are blown away and surprised primarily because they find that a concept that is so effective and important to also be very simple. I'll write more about this in a later time.

In the meantime, enjoy the VFS kinetic typography presentation that accompanies this post. You will find a treasure trove of information regarding typography in just a few minutes that some of us take years to realize.

As an animator, does it mean that our work is relegated to just animating characters. Nope. It also includes effective animation of typography and design elements. Anyone ever see the opening and closing sequences for your favorite TV shows? Its everywhere

I hope this quick animation helps you. When I saw it, I thought about my students who yearn to improve their design and typography skills, and thought I'd post it for future reference enjoy.