Category: Lettering in the environment (Eric’s project)

Lettering in the environment

Colour in the Wild

For my research, I went around campus looking for colourful type/signs that either catches your attention immediately, or blends into the background and go unnoticed. I found the main use of colour was for warning and informational signs, something to be expected when it is more likely to draw the eye to it.

This was an interesting task because signs are utilised by most members of society,  but they are very easily overlooked when overwhelmed with other signs. For example, there was a construction site on campus that had a sign board with many different signs that were all competing with each other. The use of the board isn’t to guide the general public, but its still an insight into how design aids attention to important messages and notices.

Simon says no?

When tasked to explore the university campus looking for use of typography in a 3d environment, I decided my focus would be on caution signs and what they have in common

with each other. It took no time at all to find a sign of interest as they can usually be found everywhere. The first thing I noticed after finding a few signs was the use of the traffic light colouring system as shown in this image on the right. The red signifies a blunt stop sign, it is to act as a harsh message to stop anyone from doing what the message says. Though when we look at the yellow sign we can see that yellow signifies a caution message. It is less brutal than the red text though it gives a warning to the user rather than an order. And finally, green light. showing a message for advice the green light does not give any orders or warnings. It is to provide help if you were to need it.

If we compare this image to the next, we can see some similarities. Maybe not with colour but with the font used. There seems to be a universal style that these signs follow. From what I can gather these signs all use a bold sans serif font like gill sans. This is a very effective font to use as it is extremely easy to read. its legibility couldn’t be better


Primary Colours

This session run by Eric was all about ‘Lettering in the environment’ we had to search for lettering around the campus based on a theme of our choice and take photos of it.

We were given an hour to go around campus and collect photos for our theme. However I hadn’t really thought of a theme at this point and decided to just take photos of almost every piece of lettering that I walked past or could see.

Once I had finished taking photos I then decided to look through them and see if I could pick out a theme from it, which I did! I found that the majority of the photos that I took were primary colours.

As I was laying them out of my document I decided to group all the blue images together then all the red ones in another corner and then all the yellow ones. I chose to lay them out this way so that the colours stand out a lot more and to try show what my theme was.

Lettering and the relationships with the colours surrounding them

Signs around Campus

I decided to focus on the relationships between colour of letters and the background they are presented on for this project, where I found that the majority of lettering is white or black and surrounding by a bold and eye-catching colour. When looking at the majority of signs it is evident that this design choice is made to initially capture the attention of a passer by through a large body of bright colour and then have the lettering as the secondary, despite the text being the core of the sign. I found that this technique is more effective than say, a white sign with red lettering, since there is a larger body of white which does not grab the eye as efficiently as a bold colour.

Textures of lettering

Textures of Lettering Presentation

After wandering around the campus and taking photographs of typography within the department building as well as outside; I found that all of the examples I had taken had a very similar pattern. All of my photos displayed different styles of typography using different textures and techniques, for example the many carvings/engravings on stone and metal grates. Looking at the various font styles and techniques of how information had been conveyed, gave me a further understanding of how information that is conveyed for a purpose has to suit a particular style for what is being displayed.


Raised and Indented Lettering

For my ‘Lettering in the Environment’ project, I decided to photograph the themes of raised and indented typography around campus. I chose this theme as walking through campus I realised how common place such techniques are in many areas such as construction, maintenance and even signage. That became apparent to me firstly from the many maintenance and manhole covers that where present an the pavement and the roads, which I believe were raised cast metal in order for the preservation of the type to be present for longer than a print based design. This technique can also be seen in building signs as the text is raised from the buildings wall however, unlike the sturdy maintenance based items, I believe this was designed with the attention of the reader in mind other than rigidity.

Exploring Patterns in Signs

To begin with I started to take pictures of anything that caught my eye, all the while trying to find a linking factor. When you’re looking for lettering you find out that it is everywhere! Instructions, directions and notices to name a few of the categories. Many of the signs around department and campus were to give instructions regarding social distancing requirements in relation to the pandemic. All of the signs were designed in the same way and so they formed a set and were consistent across the University. 

After collecting the photos I began to sort through them. I noticed that nearly all of them were circles with only a handful being rectangular. Within the circles, I organised the images by colour: white, green, yellow and red. They abided by the universal traffic light system with green meaning go and red meaning stop. Yellow is used to give instructions.

I could extend this way of categorising signs through shape and colour to see the different trends, not only on campus but in road signs too.


Lettering in perspective

For this mini project I decided to focus on the different perspective of letters in the environment. I focused a lot on different angles of the letters and how this made the type even though they where the same look completely different. I took photos from high, low to each of the sides as well as zooming in and out. To really get to understand how the change in perspective happens. Something that I noticed as I focused on the letter B was how the different font, colour, text size and position all allowed for the same letter to look completely different some many times. I was then able to represent my findings on a document displaying how perspective and different varieties that go into the typography change the meaning and visual.