The word bird in french OISEAU is an interesting word as it uses all 5 vowels. Drawing it in Helvetica is a real headache for most students, but enables them to learn the very basics of typography, using guide lines, tracing paper to improve the drawings step after step. This execise is given much earlier during the year and goes to prove how difficult type design is.
Observing the shapes of letters in Helvetica is for a beginner a real nightmare, and more often than not, the results are terrible!!! So after that, I give them a copy of the well drawn word. Using a photocopying machine, black and white gouache and ink, scissors, you name it... they can have fun changing the overall aspect. But before distorting a word, it has to be well drawn to begin with!
Decorating numbers with a grid was the object of the game here. Like in other previous exercises, student had to work with black shapes, keeping in mind what was happening with the white in the background!
Every year after the xmas holliday, I ask all my students from all levels to compete for the best designed new year! In these cases the class period was used for thumbnail sketches. Students are asked to think with a pencil at hand and here they had 4 hours to come up with as many ideas as possible.
How to design a word so that it looks like its meaning? This was the point of this project which could be entitled words as pictures.
Like for the "type-face" project, students were asked here to design Helvetica-robots, meaning that they could use any letters, numbers and signs from that specific font to design these funny looking characters. Like when drawing with shapes, they had to draw and design with these various Helvetica shapes. Like with the layoout project, they also had to combine a visual with a title. They could have fun inventinng any name for their robots. Fun and hard work best qualify the overall course I think.
Obviously the course isn't just about designing in black and white, although the first month or two are mostly limited to these two colors. If one can't design in black and white, how can one expect to design well in color? My goal here was just to show you some of the work done over the years using this very very limited color scheme. Every year ends with a long 5-6 week final project which is usually done in color. Here, before the film "robots" came out, students had to work on illustrating their own version of this character for an animated film; then they had to draw the type for the title which they could invent, and finally they had to present a color illustration of the character in context. This was one solution, which goes to prove that robots can be designed all sorts of ways, not just with Helvetica!
I love cows, so in the same vein as cow parade, students had to play with the concept of creating a new cow. They could invent word puns, be decorative and original. So once again there was an illustration or visual to present with a name or title; both had to work together somehow. ... What better way to end this presentation than by saying "moooooh!"???before concluding, I just want to apologize for not putting anyone's name here, these are beginners' projects who have hopefully gone on to do even better things since! ... so anyway, this is the sort of thing I like to do with my students.