type specimen poster

March 11, 2014

GILL SANS Type Specimen Poster :: Thumbnail Sketches

So I was able to complete 20 of the assigned 24 poster thumbnails. I thought I had run out of ideas by the 4th one, but somehow I kept going, but  As anyone who has done any reading on the origins and application of the Gill Sans typeface and its creator Eric Gill knows, most of my designs relate directly to both the typeface in its various usages and/or the typographer and his curious background.

Where the typeface compositions relied heavily on the font design itself, I tried to use the most unique characters of the set, in particular the  quirky “serifs” of the lowercase “g” and lowercase “a”, and the ultra clean lines of the uppercase “G” and lowercase “i”, and “l” (pages 1 and 2).

In other thumbnails, I alluded to the usage of Gill Sans as the typeface of Britain and British infrastructure; the map of England, letterforms inside squares as reminiscent of the BBC logo (page 1 thumbnails),  the reversible arrows that are part of the British National Railways signage, the forced perspective railroad tracks (page 2 thumbnails), the signage arrow, and railroad tracks and tunnel (page 3 thumbnails).

Finally, I took a few frames to refer to Eric Gill the man, one who had a more than questionable personal life. “Pervert”, the Hound of St. Dominick (he was reportedly pretty horrible with his dog) (page 1), “sTraNgE” (page 2), Man vs. Art , and “deviant” (page 3), all call in to question the actions of a great designer who matched his talent with his notoriety.

poster specimen thumbnails p1 of 3(PDF)

poster specimen thumbnails p2 of 3(PDF)

poster specimen thumbnails p2 of 3(PDF)

March 19, 2014


Here are the first drafts of my selected typeface poster, in 2 color combinations. Honestly, while going through the Pantone swatch list, there were a dozen I could have picked from, and that would have been just to match the “gold” color of the torch flame and some text. While looking at my hound, I was reminded of old Toulouse-Latrec posters, especially in the shape of the flames. I decided to go ahead and outline some of the elements, 1928, “SANS” and the torch to run with that cartoonish stylization of the shapes and letterforms. I’d like to go in and clip some text into the flames in a slightly varied shade of the gold, perhaps to give them a flickering appearance. After struggling with InDesign to get the copy I created to flow properly inside the flame shape, I think I’m going to work it out in Illustrator and try to import the finished element into the InDesign document. Well see how that goes in the next draft.

Gill Sans Hound_04(Analagous Color) PDF

Gill Sans Hound_03(Complimentary Color) PDF

Below are an assortment of other color combos that appealed to me, which I fell into after initially starting with a British Racing Green background and red flame, 1928 and SANS and thinking perhaps that was too predictable….

March 21, 2014


Second draft of specimen poster. I’ve added the inscribed lines of the original Hound of St. Dominic Drawing by Eric Gill. I’m using gold 3 pt. lines to hold their place, then replacing with threaded text, using key phrases from my research text. I’ve also added text to the flame image, which I will replace with a proper clipping path in illustrator and import (hopefully!) as well as larger letterforms to make more of a “text cloud” inside the flame path, with the letters randomly placed, sized and rotated rather than in paragraph form. Still experimenting with the reduced opacity background text, but I’m thinking that letting it bleed off the edges of the page will help it look more like a subtle background pattern, though I’ll still need to play with tracking, kerning and leading.

Also need to go into my PDF settings to see why my PDFs are opening so dark!

Gill Sans Hound_06



March 24, 2014


So after some feedback from my professor, I’ve gone in a new direction with the type specimen poster. As far as the new composition, I’ve tried to better address a more graphic treatment of the type specimens used. I have to admit I hit a wall after the last draft, and was having a hard time coming up with modifications that I could really get behind. The Greek vase idea was the concept that seemed to be sticking, but I was concerned about making an already static composition turn completely frozen. There was nothing else to do but sleep on it for a bit.

With a fresh start I decided to go big with the dog. The reason for including the dog anyway, besides the fact that the image was the printers’ mark for Gill’s typographers’ Guild, was the fact of Gill’s alleged bestiality with his household pet. By cropping the dog across its face I took away its identity as man’s best friend, leaving only the body of the beast. The flames, however, break the color block in an attempt to be freed from the captive borders.

In keeping with the theme of a Grecian Urn, I did like the idea of framing the top and bottom of the image, but I decided not to go for a traditional repetitive border. This is where the letterform became a modified decorative frieze, and I chose the far ends of the spectrum, Gill Sans Ultrabold and Gill Sans light italic for this purpose. I decided to crop the letters top and bottom, but also split them so that the bottom half was as the top of the poster and the top half on the bottom, to further the theme of deviance, by deviation from the norm, where we don’t see things in the natural order we expect to see them.

As far as color, I wanted to be purposeful, and therefore chose British Racing Green and the red of the original Hound of St. Dominic flames, along with gold, as my color choices, but I do feel they are a bit jarring in this composition. In the next pass I will experiment with some less saturated versions of these color choices, and other possible combinations.

Hound of St. Dominic_07

Here are some color variants:  the British Racing Green treated to a lighter tint, and the Flame red treated to a darker shade, all in trying to achieve less contrast and get the colors to pop in a less jarring fashion. I actually had pushed the de-saturation even further, with some nice combinations, as well as treating the white to the warmer parchment color I had lifted from the original St. Dominic print, but then I’d be getting into four colors and outside the parameters of the project. As it is, I hope I’m ok with two colors, and both black and white!

Hound of St. Dominic_08(PDF)


March 27, 2014

GILL SANS TYPE SPECIMEN POSTER :: 4th Draft – After Feedback

So below are a couple of alternates after getting feedback from Ferranto and classmates today. The things everyone seemed to find most problematic were the Large “S” in “Sans” along the bottom row…having it cropped on top as well as bottom left us visually wanting for the rest of that top curve. I had already tried it in front of the green field and it just didn’t look right so my ideas were to try two alternates as seen below; all caps with the top line ending just below the green field, and all lowercase more or less nesting along the x-height of the “Gill”. Personally I think the caps are better…the lowercase leaves the white space above wanting, and the use of caps and Light Italic is a nice foil to the  Ultrabold of the “Gill”.

The other issue was with the descriptive text running vertically 90 degrees to the green field. I thought it wasn’t actually bad for having been an afterthought (one of design’s dirty words!), but it was a little strange to suddenly have it interrupted by the text flame clipping mask as one continued to scan across the image. I solved it by mimicking the idea I used with the “Gill Sans” top and bottom border text; I took four key phrases and bled them halfway into the green field by coloring them white. I feel the larger treatment is more in proportion (left image) than the smaller type (right image) and I’m still uncertain about this solution, but at this point I think I have to walk away for a bit and see how I feel about it when I come back.

Finally, I also rotated the flame text to be horizontal…it’s actually amazing how much more flow and energy it has now.

Click to see changes larger:


Hound of St. Dominic_10(PDF)


April 1, 2014


So I had what I thought was sort of a “Eureka” moment; in actuality it’s hard to say because I feel like I’ve been staring at this poster for so damn long. The white lettering, while a decent idea, just wasn’t quite doing it for me, between the split lettering and white space between the large Gill Sans top and bottom, something just felt missing. So I started playing around with positioning and color of the text lines and I came up with something I think is a little better; I suppose the final critique will decide.

Rather than cut into the green field with white text as a negative border, I made the lettering become a positive border by extending it out from the green field into the white area. I then chose to separately color key words in the type to create a little contrast and break up the sameness of the border. Here are the results, which I’m printing on glossy rather than matte paper as the green seemed to be more green and the black is really black on glossy. When I printed the final on letter sized matte photo and glossy photo paper, the two greens actually appeared to be different hues, with the matte coming out slightly more blue, no matter what angle I held it to daylight. Interesting. Anyway, here it is:


Hound of St. Dominic_10

Gill Sans Hound – Green: Pantone 349 U @ 70% Red: Pantone P 49-16 U Black: C=50% M=50% Y=50% K=100%

Hound of St. Dominic_10 (PDF)





One thought on “type specimen poster

  1. Pingback: TYPE SPECIMEN POSTER Final… | kathink

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