Tag Archives: Matt Burvill

Eleni’s Greek Workshop

Dalton Maag Font Developer, Eleni Beveratou, presented a Greek type design workshop recently at our studio. Eleni is a native Greek speaker and reader, so I decided to attend her workshop to better understand the nature of the Greek alphabet and to help break some of the bad habits many font developers (like myself) have acquired through a lack of understanding. We started out with some basic handwriting exercises where we learnt about the proportions of characters, the correct way to draw them (where to start and finish the stroke) and some of their alternate forms. It was interesting to hear that whilst the alternate forms appear to be very different to each other, they are regarded as equally valid, and equally legible, shapes for use in both handwriting and type design.

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We then learnt the correct pronunciation of the characters (‘Vita’, not ‘Beta’’ for example), and from this we all had a go at transliterating our names. This was surprisingly simple, especially after learning how to build sounds from combinations of letters.

It was clear that we were here to glean a basic understanding of the Greek Language as much as how to draw the correct shapes, so only after raising our hands and having our handwriting marked by our teacher, did we start sketching Greek letters to compliment some of our Latin designs. This came quite easily to everyone after having such an insightful introduction to the alphabet.

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The first thing was to identify the key character of our Latin typeface and how to apply that correctly to the more cursive nature of Greek. As a group we all sat around with our tracing paper and pencils, and once we had an idea of the direction of our Greek typeface, we got busy with the beziers.

DSC02544 DSC02546 DSC02557Taking the sketches into FontLab, we all went through numerous iterations of our characters, with Eleni giving us each lots of pointers on how to achieve the correct proportion and texture for our font with lots of print-outs along the way.

The final stage was a group crit, where we all laid out our designs on the floor and took a step back to view the fruits of our labour. There was lots to learn from everyone’s designs, some ideas to remember, and others to remember to forget.

Overall, I’m confident that we all have a better understanding of the Greek alphabet, the language and some of the typical mistakes to look out for.

 Matt Burvill

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From the Point of View of a Trainee – Matt Burvill

Trainee Matt Burvill gives us his perspective on what it’s like to be a type designer in training at Dalton Maag.

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Matt works on his font

“I’ve been working with fonts for some years now, although not professionally, learning what I can from books and online resources like Typophile. I first got into drawing letters at university, where a logo project prompted me to draw an uppercase alphabet and eventually work this into a font for headline use.

“These early explorations led to more sophisticated self initiated type projects. I released many of these, although they were mostly used for filling up my portfolio to ultimately find employment in the font industry.

“The training has been tough. I have no experience with calligraphy or letter painting, and I already had the worst handwriting in the studio (I suspect). But the experience was rewarding and has really helped me to hone my eye for detail. Although I’ll need much more training to rival the eyes of Ron!

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A sample of Matt’s calligraphy

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Part of Matt’s training was to draw letterforms in ink

“I decided to try to combine what I had learnt from calligraphy with a technical Sans. The original concept was very smooth on the outside in a humanist style with an inside ‘counter’ stroke that could have been drawn with a broard nib pen. The idea sounded really cool, and some of the sketches would have been good for display purposes, but I have since toned down the concept for better legibility. You can still see some of the original influences, but it’s a better, more useful design for the changes we made.

“In the two months I have been working on it, I have taken it from initial concept to a family of upright weights. Along the way, we have learnt about engineering basics and lots of tips on how to draw and design in the most efficient way.

“The most important thing has been how to see. How to look at printouts of text (at small sizes) and make judgements based on this that inform your design. Be it the drawing and sculpting of letterforms or the spacing and kerning of the text.”

Matt’s Font Development: