All About Fonts.

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Before getting into the whopping world of Multimedia, I had absolutely no idea that there were different qualifications when it came to fonts. As any regular citizen that is not quite involved in the tech field, it never even crossed my mind to think that there might be fonts outside of the library we can find in, lets say, Microsoft Word. Nowadays, I have come to the realization that, although I have learned a great deal about this important element of design, there is still a lot of information out there about fonts and typefaces I have yet to discover. Nonetheless, today we will talk about the essential fonts that you should know as a Multimedia apprentice in order to make it out alive in this industry. Let’s start!

First things first… As far as types, there are three that are important to know and understand.

Postscript Fonts:

Before these fonts were created, it was pretty complicated and inconvenient to design anything that needed to have scaled lettering in it. This was because back then, fonts were formats designed for one specific size and style. When they were manipulated, their quality would decrease terribly. Luckily, Adobe stepped in to make our lives easier in the 80’s, when they came up with what we know today as Postscript Fonts. The biggest improvement from the old fonts to this typeface was that Adobe developed this new format to be vector graphics, thus allowing users to exploit the letters to their liking without worrying about loss of quality. In addition, these fonts were rendered for both screen and print jobs.

Truetype Fonts:

Subsequent to Adobe’s genius creation, Apple decided to come out with Postscript’s prodigy child: Truetype Fonts. These consist of different styles of typefaces that are used by monitors to display text. Just as Postscript, they are scalable to all sizes without loosing value. Essentially, there is not a lot of difference between the two formats other than their creators, and perhaps the final usage you give to the fonts. If you are looking for fonts that are easy to read and print, stick with Truetype. If you are going for a more professional look for a printing job, you will want to use Postscript.

Opentype Fonts:

If you ask me, this font is the coolest one of them all due to its versatility. Created cooperatively by both Adobe and Microsoft, it is a format that supports unicode. Unicode is an awesome composition that allows for full editing range on one single typeface. In other words, Opentype can contain more than 60,000 glyphs for an exclusive font, which enables these typefaces to be used in a variety of different languages. As a result, this font are very popular globally.

Now that we know the essentials of fonts, it is also important to understand the “politics” behind them. Unfortunately, in the United States, typefaces are not fully covered under the Copyright Law. However, many graphic designers convert their fonts into vector graphics so as to be able to manipulate them to their liking, and create an “original” work that will keep them out of lawful issues. This being said, fonts can be free and/or licensed as well for commercial usage. When downloading a font, whether it is royalty free or bought out, the vast majority come with licenses that thoroughly explain how they may or may not be used, and all the legal specifications linked to the specific font.

Considering everything, it is critical for a Multimedia Designer to understand the rules and consequences that come with each font that is being used. Although not a lot of people are aware of the laws that protect these formats, there is always lawful risks involving them, being that they too are individual forms of art created by someone that reserves the right to claim for their work.

Setting The Tone

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There are many different kinds of designers out there. Fashion designers, interior, web, digital, and so on. All of these artists, despite working towards a distinctive outcome, use very similar tools to achieve the same. A very prevalent —if not the most important one— mean used by them is what we know as Mood Boards.

Mood Boards are, just as its name plainly states it, a way for designers to convey an idea and present a concept. Tipically, a designer will work with either a creative crew or directly with a client that will vocalize their needs and preferences. Having these, the process of the mood board will set its pace. With this creative method, we have to use a great amount of brainstorming. The idea is to accumulate a wide variety of different images that channel more or less the same approach, to then put them together in coordination so as to identify the desired tone.

Prior to initiating the fun and enhancing process that is creating one of these boards, there are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration. If working for a client, their concerns and ideas should play the main role in the task. Of course, a designer’s job is to use their creativity to attractively achieve an impression for a brand that could otherwise seem boring or dull. Nevertheless, it is important that as designers we pay close attention to our client’s demands, as they are the ones that will conclusively have the final say. On the other hand, if working for oneself, it is crucial that we understand and assemble a clear idea of what ‘mood’ we are trying to display before we start our mood-boarding journey.

TOOLS

Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Before the web facilitated this practice with its various apps and pages for mood board building, these used to be assembled out of magazine scraps, textiles and handwritten and/or drawings set in a tangible piece of paper. Nowadays, we have multiple different tools that are not only for professional designers, but that also anyone with an internet connection can utilize.

  • Google: my personal favorite. Google has been helping us out with pretty much everything and anything for a few decades now. To this day, if one has any type of question, one will most likely resolve to ‘googling’ it so as to find an answer, or most likely hundreds of them. For that, Google is a designer’s great friend. Images, examples, ideas, and so on, come in handy when creating a mood board, and this extensive platform will give you infinite options to choose from.
  • Pinterest: this web page has been increasing in general popularity in the last years. For this creative process, it is an encompassing and extremely user-friendly tool that everyone in this industry should take advantage of. It is as simple as typing a word (one that perhaps describes the mood you are looking for) and this page will give you all the photos that have somewhat of a match to the word.
  • Mural: when working with a team, some might say that Mural is a fundamental tool to use. Essentially, this site will allow you and your team to pitch in ideas, write comments and concerns, plug in imagery if needed, and so on. Enabling you to put the brainstorming into action and have all the evidence from it showcasing in your screen all the while.
  • Evernote: for this particular application, some may not agree that it is as important. However, Evernote serves as a great tool for note-taking, specially when working with a client. Although it is true that one can simply use a pen and a piece of paper, when typing ideas the process becomes much quicker, and in this web page one can be sure that all of our info will be on track and well kept for later furthering.
  • Morpholio: last but not least, this is an application that allows anyone to build a mood board from scratch and with pretty much all the flexibility one could ask for. A few paragraphs back, I talked a little about the “old school” mood boards and how they worked. Morpholio works virtually the same way but in a screen.

MOOD-BOARDING: Do’s and Don’ts’

It seems to me that Mood-Boarding is a practice that should not be used only by designers, but instead by anyone that has dreams and aspirations. In my case, I have been doing this ever since I was a little girl (with the old school method, of course). When developing these boards, our creativity bursts out and allows us to think more openly and enter a clear set of ideas that were otherwise hidden or unknown. All in all, whether the intention is personal, professional and/or informal, it is a process that gives us an outlet to well constructed projects.

Don’ts’

  • Do not be immoderately detailed with your board. Having a structure is by all means important, but having too much of it will defeat the whole purpose of the mood board. As the name states it, a board’s solely purposes are to simply embody a mood, not to construct the entire imagine altogether.
  • Do not put imagines that are too literal. This one is one that I have always struggled with, as it is easy to get lost in the process of the whole ‘mood’ impetus. If you are creating a mood board for a hotel lobby, the worst thing you can do is put pictures of an actual lobby with the exact style of furniture your client wants, and a perfect depiction of the type of floors and walls that will be used in the making. This will take away the inspiration of the project and will direct your client to a strict and closed idea of what the same will result in.
  • Do not be inconsistent. Even though it is important to have diversity in a mood board so as to collectively set a tone, it is also essential to stay within a parameter of uniformity with the images, textures and colors that you are incorporating. Why? Because consistency equals balance, and balance not only looks clean and professional, but also gives the green light for creativity and vision to come together and expand smoothly.

Do’s

  • Do go out of your comfort zone. Try out those colors you are unsure of mixing together. Put controversial pictures that might not seem like the perfect match but that exhibit your objective beautifully. Make that drastic change you are scared it might ruin the whole board (do also take a picture of the board before just in case it does indeed ruin it).
  • Do ask for help, opinions or assistance on anything that is making you dubious, or even if you just want a second hand to boost the project. Two minds work better than one, and sometimes it takes a lot more than two to come up with amazing ideas, or to correct work that is already good, but will become great once it is reviewed and reconsidered by outsiders.
  • Do have fun. Despite the fact that Mood-Boarding is essentially just work for some, it is also a way to exploit one’s brain for creative and imaginative activity. If we are dreading the process, it either means that we have chosen the wrong career path, or that the work is so awful that your brain is rejecting the whole thing. When we have fun, we think more openly, our minds are susceptible to innovation and progress, and we generally tend to like the results a lot more.

On the whole, the art and custom of creating Mood Boards is not only fun and enhancing, but also matter-of-factly valuable, constructive and crucial for any creative company and/or freelance artist to utilize.