03. Reflection: Fictional Characters and Constraint Systems

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I first heard “fictional characters” or why my brain did not process the word fictional in there, but this project was definitely not what I was expecting. And then to learn it would be collaborative as well, just really made me cringe after the not-so-great group projects I have been a part of this semester. All in all though, I think this was a successful project and a successful collaboration between my partner and me.

I was first tasked with coming up with the preliminary work for the fictional letter. This meant coming up with what could possibly be the 27th letter of the alphabet. A letter which, although fictional, could blend in with the rest of the letters and with the type classification that I was assigned: Modern. Modern typefaces are known for their vertical axis, contrast between strokes, and their thin and straight serifs. I opted to focus on Didot in particular because it was a typeface that I have never directly worked with.

Initially I was drawn to the idea of creating a truly functional fictional letter. The idea of letter frequency interested in me. TH HE AN RE ER IN ON AT ND ST ES EN OF TE ED OR TI HI AS TO are the most common pairs of letters and so I focused on those quite a bit in my sketches.

Sketch_series 1 Sketch_series 2

After the initial sketches, it was time to digitize a few:

Digitized letter sketches-01

After this stage it was time for the collaboration part. I had to hand off all of files to my partner, Juan, who was then required to complete my vision of the fictional letter form. While I had been working on the fictional letter form, Juan had been working on a separate project that he was handing over to me called constraint systems. The goal of this project was to create modular letterforms to visually express an assigned noun and adjective. Juan’s were “destruction” and “graceful” respectively. After receiving his sketches (a few are shown below) I was responsible for bringing his vision to life. One quick side note, I did change Juan’s modular form from a square to a circle because I felt it would be easier to convey “graceful” with.

new doc 47_1 new doc 46_1

Here are our finished pieces.

new doc 49_1 new doc 44_1



All in all this was a very enjoyable project. With the fictional letter form, it was most difficult to throw out the letters I already knew existed to create something never seen before. Yet this letter also had to follow the style of both the Modern classification and Didot. It was really hard to not just throw two letters together and call it a day. It was a very deliberate process with lots of tweeking. When I learned what the second project was, I was a little scared by the idea of creating a whole word, two whole words, two really loooong words, with all these little modular forms, but the work went by relatively quickly and with ease. I was also a bit nervous when I saw all these complex modular systems go up for critique, but I believe Juan’s ideas for graceful- expressing movement, rhythm, and a fluidity with curves- really helped that piece stick out among the more geometric, squared-off work of our peers.

Juan and I worked well together. We handed off complete files with numerous ideas and a clear idea of our visions and there was a steady stream of communication throughout the process. I also know that we were both pleased with the work each other did, we both felt the other was successful with completing the tasks, and were both pleased at the positive feedback we received during critiques.  So again, all in all, a very enjoyable project.

Additionally, I feel as though these type of projects are beneficial to learning to work with another person in the design process. As I mentioned in my critique, I currently work with a fellow student, and OFTEN we are asked to work out and resize each other’s work. It is sometimes hard to go into another person’s art and/or files and start playing around with them, but ultimately the goal is to keep their vision and intents in tact while accomplishing a goal or directive set by our boss, or in this particular project, a teacher. These sort of projects also help to teach communication, timeliness, and even organization.



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