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In a prologue to this design statement, both Jongki and Matt had
decided to undertake Typographic Design in the anticipation of
actually creating our own typeface. To create something unique and
made to our own created rules and specifications; something that
reflects our own style of creativity. Jongki, developing his artistic visual
design portfolio and Matt coming from many years in the printing
industry and looking to understand the theory behind what he was
selling in the commercial world. We both think that Typography is an
important element to graphic and visual design themes and so an
important piece to the puzzle to develop and try to master.
The mystical orient has been a fascination for our group members for very different reasons. Firstly because Jongki is Korean and
so educated in that language Hangul (for South Korea) which was influenced by Chinese glyphs (Hanja) which are part of that
language. This Chinese influence is what drew Matt to also want to explore this idea. His cultivated appreciation of Chinese
culture and of the artwork where imagery and typography are blended to create traditional composition is the emotive reason
for his participation in this endeavour. Variations on English accented Chinese characters can be found on many a sign or menu
throughout Chinatown. This style of accented variation has desensitised us from appreciating similar font styles. To Matt this genre of
typeface is thus bland and stereotypical.
What Jongki already knew and Matt was to discover in researching this project was the interwoven use of Chinese glyphs (into
most Asian cultures within the region). Up until the late 19th and early 20th Century, Chinese was the standard written language for
all formal and historical documentation. In the Early part of
the 20th Century China began to simplify their script; being
there were tens of thousands of original Chinese characters
in use Murrell (2006). During this time, written communications
of other countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam were
refocusing on using a more localised vernacular script. During
the modernisation of China the government understood it was
better to move away from the traditionally used ideogram
style of glyph to a more simplified and universal Hanzi script.
In developing our concept we investigated Jongki’s native
Korean alphabet. The Korean Hangul glyphs are a more san
serif character font, which dates back to the 15th Century
(Gyun 1575CE-1618CE). This style was to be our starting
point since it was the genesis of influence on Jongki and the
initial concept inspiration. The Hangul glyphs would be the
foundation in starting our experimentation process.
Figure 1. An example of Korean Alphabet. - KoreanClass101.com
As we are developing a variation to the English language glyphs we
are able to assign coding on a one to one basis in developing our own
alphabet. This would be a more complex issue if we were to undertake
an actual Asian language; where they have multiple character codes,
which we would not be able to assign to just one glyph as outlined by
Bartminski (2012) in the study of Ethnolinguistics. Effectively we only want
to code 26 glyphs to create a new set of 26 letters plus grammatical
glyphs and numbers. GSUB (2014)
Our first decision was to decide which direction to pursue. Should the
finished typeface resemble a traditional calligraphy styled Ideograms
with flourishes and a more handwritten finish? Or should we keep it a
more cleaner san-serif style, similar to
Figures 2 and 3 shows Jongki’s initial
samplings of a possible outcomes,
inspired by the utilisation of English
characters with a distinctive asian
accenting, requiring only single one
to one coding. The basic character
constructs are primarily the same; the
outward aesthetic has a very Asian
accent, and is still legible for use in English.
Upon reflection we thought this outcome
was too similar to the Chinese stereotypes we
Figure 2. First sampling of glyphs created by Jongki.
Figure 3. First sampling of alphabet created by Jongki.
“From this, both Jongki and Matt then worked on
another sampling of their own to develop this idea
further. The effect that we wanted to achieve was
a more complex glyph than shown in figure 3 that
would still be readable as an English font variation.”
After further discussion, this time with other stakeholders and classmates, it was decided to go down the San-Serif path
and to utilize the clean glyph look of the Korean alphabet while incorporating components of the corresponding
English glyph, to make our Chinese styled typeface.
The prototype style we would pursue:
Figure 4. First sampling of alphabet created by Jongki and Matt
Figure 5. H O P
Rules initial alphabet (lowercase)
This route was a more modern san-serif form, it has the achieved asian accent,
more Chinese than English or Korean with less embellishments and more even
* San-Serif typeface
* The stress or axis is vertical without a hand-scripted slant left or right
* Use a box to contain the character or glyph even in the numbers and
special characters, where possible
* It has acute ending terminals, no brackets, loops swashes, finials, barbs or
bowls as outlined in both Ambrose, Harris (2006) and Pecina and Brezina
(2008) due to the glyphs more square appearance
* Creation of both Majuscules (uppercase) and minuscule (lowercase) the
Cap and x-height are the same height
* Characters do not extend outside the X-height of the mean and
baselines and therefore no ascenders or descenders
* All characters at the meanline height means the Majusules will be Small
As shown in figure 6 the alphabet was broken into similar characters and figure 7
shows the grouping in which we would construct the new glyphs. some letters still
needed to be sub grouped as is ‘r’ and ‘x’ and ‘s’ and ‘z’. This catagoration
would dictate what bars,stems, feet in and out strokes we would use in
combination to use. This becomes evident upon comparing to the final
The finished lettering, we’d expect to look blocked; when laid out on a
page it would be very symmetrical solid and structured rather that flowing
and picturesque nature of hand written calligraphy. The square structutre
of the typeface most letters will be as high as they are wide in bar or stem
length. Even the numbers and special characters will fulfil this requirement
Figure 7. Breakup of construction patterns, Step 1.
Figure 6. Initial breakup of the alphabet construction.
Figures 9, 10 and 11. The development of the Majuscules
Rules subsequent alphabet (uppercase)
The rules as we found would not work for the uppercase letters in the same fashion as with all the
lowercase, otherwise they would look too similar, and without the obvious distinction between
the majuscules and minuscule of height. This resulted in a more liberal approach in having the
uppercase more English in appearance (less Asian accented) in most cases. This is best highlighted
between the i, j, k, l, v and w.
In the final outcome there might appear few glyphs that are actual Chinese glyph components.
We believe this would be inevitable simply from the tens of thousands of actual Chinese glyphs in
existence. In the initial draft sampling there was a construction of partial espousing of two glyphs
components to create a new variation as the hand written sample ‘HOP’ in the process video.
In terms of the usability aspect of our new typeface; so that it could be used as an English typeface
variant. We kept the numbers and grammatical glyphs similar in appearance, but with our accented styling.
Figure 8. The anatomy of glyph ‘A’
Interations of the letter
Figures 12, 13 and 14. From HOP through the evolution and development of specific letters. The lowercase glyphs show the changing of i, j,k, l and r.
This is the final draft of the new Chinese
Alphabet typeface Alphabenese. The use
of the square structure has a distinct block
finish which should be quite readable in a
magazine layout where large paragraphs
are used. The readability will be a little
difficult at first until the practiced eye can
identify the letters
As a child Matt was drawn to the artwork that adorned the Chinese restaurants that
were a regular event. The artwork was mostly images of classical Chinese themed
content, which incorporated Chinese typographical elements. That combination of
artwork is the basis for which we chose to emulate for the production of one of the
two posters needed for this assessment. We felt it best to combine our new stylised
typeface with the traditional Chinese culture to highlight the authenticity of the
Taking this inspiration and researching further Chinese traditional art that
incorporates typographical elements we were encouraged by the Laozi, or
Daodejing a classic Chinese text created around 6th Century BC. Used as a source
of inspiration for poets, artists, painters and calligraphers. Laozi was credited for
being the founder of Taoism as outlined by Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
(2001). This inspirational writing was incorporated throughout the arts and
In the various artwork reviewed it was noted the use of negative space in which
lettering was incorporated to balance and in most cases enhance the ascetic finish
of the composition. Images also found on ‘Espacio Para El Arte’ blog site were even
more simple compositions and we decided this style of composition would work
better with our holistic masterpiece because it would be easier to achieve than an
Examples of typefaces we reviewed were Asian accented English fonts looked
more at home in a Chinese takeaway shop or menu pamphlet as per the
Designbeep website: http://designbeep.com/2012/07/20/33-most-wanted-free-
As to other typefaces, Xin Gothic was of significant influence since it emulated some
of the rules we had outlined that we wanted to emulate. Xin Gothic has even crisp
strokes, diagonal, straight and curved lines, as depicted in the figures 7 and 8.
Figures 7 and 8. Xin Gothic composition as created by
Hon Man Hui
Final outcome digital poster:
To keep in theme and having been inspired by Laozi’s style of work artistic composition, it was decided to keep the poster
simple organic and similar to the artwork sited on ‘Espacio Para El Arte’. The image best suited for the poster was a leafy
tree branch, possibly in flower. There would be only the two elements in the artwork. The poster would be highlighted a small
portion of text running down from top to bottom, as in
The Alphabenese, being a solid block type of text will
offset the softer, more delicate image of a branch so
that the text will be the feature of the composition
and that the branch is complimentary in position and
proportion. The canvas of the two posters we will be
producing will be square and not portrait or landscape
in orientation. This is a variation to our sited artworks, the
majority are either portrait or landscape but thought
that it would be true to the design relationship of the
typeface. The background of the digital poster is a soft
cream colour to match a parchment/rice paper feel.
The digital poster has a smooth flat finish and has no
texture, whereas the second poster we are producing
will be linoprint onto a textured card also true to the
traditional Chinese art style is the inclusion of a red seal.
The letters used are JK and DS.
In traditional artwork the seal actual was the key
to deciphering the text. Because there were so
many dialects, or regional differences in the Chinese
Ideograms, a key was included to help identify the
region and give a truer meaning to the writing. In our
case it is two sets of initials similar to an artist’s signature.
Final outcome handmade poster:
Once again, in keeping with the theme of traditional Chinese art, we thought take one element that we saw in nearly every piece
of inspirational artwork sited. This element was the red seal.
As traditional art pieces held seals to depict the author
and region from which the piece came from and by their
very nature became part of the elements within those
We hoped to achieve a similar outcome by carving out
from a lino print tile a seal image utilising our typeface.
Keeping within specification of monochromatic, we will
then use a roller and red ink to hand stamp the seal into
the middle of a square 420mm x 420mm canvass.
The square seal with the square canvass if we can
proportion it all precisely should give us a simple elegant
finish that will display our typeface in all it’s magnificence
and should be comparable to any pieces of similar
theme from Chinese culture.
The image adjacent, shows our representation of what
the finished artwork will look upon completion. What
stands out is that the font does at first look, to be made
of Chinese glyphs. Lowercase “asia”can be seen reading
by English conventions.
At the time of this document the stamp was made and
the difficulty in precision cutting of the mat to carve
the glyph edges and subsequently the wide area
around and in the counters required concentration and
The process to create Alphabenese has been and will continue to be challenging until we hand in our hand made poster. The
amount of research we undertook to understand the use of textual elements within Chinese culture was a very worthwhile
experience and we both learned more about the foundations of the written word within an Asian context. The purpose was to
create an English based typeface using glyphs that would be more recognisable as a chinese typeface.
Jongki had a great initial concept of the idea and as a group we worked well in developing this idea and bringing it into being. We
have a ttf file that is uniquely ours and have plans to use it where possible. In deciding whether we did well and achieved our goal, I
think in showing our families and gauging their reaction and feedback I think we were successful.
During development Jongki told the tutorial group of the night he showed it to his wife and daughter. In respect to their cultural
backgrounds and experiences, both had completely different reactions to the font. Jongki’s wife was not able to read the glyphs
as she was looking at the characters in expectation to see Chinese. On a completely opposite expectation, his daughter saw the
English within the glyphs and was able to read what was written. This typeface works when used in context, without knowing what to
look for it is a modern styled Chinese typeface in appearance.
We think this typeface worked as well as it did because of the use of the square rule. Jongki saw a formal asian dress in the structure
of the lowercase o and uppercase O and Q. The evolution of the lowercase r was the last letter changed, as the documentation will
The Digital poster was another success in simplicity. In researching there were many styles of content to create. The final
composition, using a branch and flower, which has a sot finish which was needed to compliment the hard shape edges of the text.
The composition now compliments each other in balance as well as proportions. The use of textured and parchment coloured
paper was chosen to emulate a rice paper or a traditional piece of art. In the composition we ran the text down the image to
imitate our require inspirations and finally to place both posters on a square canvass. did for the digital poster and expect a similar
effect for the handmade poster.
Thank You from Matt Keliher and Jongki Seo
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