advanced photoshop

Convey a message with typography

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Tips & Tutorials, by Rebecca Greig

Discover pro tips for conveying a message with typography

Convey a message with typography

It can be incredibly difficult to convey a message through type, but there are a number of tips and techniques that can help you achieve your goals. “It’s important to establish the message and attitude the design is supposed to communicate before any design has begun,” says Bryan Patrick Todd. “Sometimes a serious message needs the lettering to help lighten the mood, so from there you might want to seek out a typeface that has a little more character or softness to it, rather than something rigid and sharp. The same goes for the colours and tones. Does it need to feel warm and familiar, or distant and cool? It’s a fun process when considering all of these options.”

Nicolas Monin-Baroille likes to get playful with his text. “Most of the time I try to stay true to the characteristics of the font and build my way around it,” he says. “I always want to make sure the work feels smooth and fluid and the typography is not an unnecessary element. I like using simple phrases, and I try to go for unusual styles when using a particular word – sometimes even the opposite. I might use the word ‘wood’ and display it as stone or marble, for example. I want to give my viewers the freedom of building their own story and letting their idea of the image flow.”

high res pretty lights 1

Dado Queiroz tends to allow the forms to lead in his type work. “The conveyed textual message plays an important role, like in any design piece, but I usually prefer to have the forms intrinsic to the arrangement of letters of a particular message lead the way,” he explains. “A lot of my decisions come from there, such as to overlap or not, use lower or upper case, how thick the letters should be and so on. For example, a word set in lower case has many ascenders and descenders, so is great for swooshing and overlapping. High or low contrast, thick or thin, script or not, heavy on effects or more stripped down – everything needs to be considered in parallel.”

Steven Wilson often creates typography with a specific use in mind, for instance, the name of a band or the headline of an article. As such, he tends to be very direct in his interpretation, conveying something that comes to mind quickly, but executed in an aesthetically interesting way. “The electronic music act Pretty Lights uses a lot of extravagantly coloured lighting in his stage shows, so that’s what I tried to base my type design around for his poster,” he tells us.“I illustrated the typography to look as though it was dramatically lit like on a stage. I try not to separate the words and imagery in my mind and treat the type work as though it is an image in itself.”