Word Painting

Juan Osbourne

Juan Osbourne

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 3.28.07 PM


Steve Jobs Portrait

Kamali_MThis assignment is about using the principle of Typographic Color. This principle is essentially making use of the various fonts available within a typeface family to create a lively visual texture on the page. This is true whether your purpose is to make a picture (as it is on this assignment) or rather your purpose is a more traditional use of typography with the emphasis being on ultimate readability. In either case, the choices of various weights, case, spacing, size and horizontally scaled arrangements of letters within a common family will break up the otherwise even grayness of the page. The good typographer makes use of this to create visual variety as well as place emphasis on specific words or phrases. The lack of doing so will result in a flat gray composition. At the other extreme, too much variety without purpose will result in a “ransom note” appearance. Your goal as a typographer is to find the appropriate, useful and visually interesting balance that falls somewhere between these two extremes.


By your arrangement of the available fonts within a typeface family, create a “three-dimensional” looking image.

Create a poster where the topic of your image utilizes words, letters, or reading as the purpose or subject of the poster. There are a variety of techniques or steps that you might take to complete this assignment. In each of these, the most successful version all make use of the variety of value, lightness—darkness, that results from a through investigation of the principle of typographic color. The less successful ones simply fill in shapes with words—the result of this approach is much less dynamic.

So, make thorough use of kerning, tracking, leading, size, weight, typeface choice as the primary means to create “shading”. By copy and pasting words and phrases so they overlap one another you can push this illusion of depth even farther.

The actual subject of your poster is also up to you but should be related somehow to the idea of reading, words, dialogue, etc. This connection might be very literal, for example creating a poster on the subject of visiting your local library (Imagination) or learning to read. On the other hand, the connection might be more indirect. An example of this might be a poster advertising a concert by a musician who is known for his thought-provoking lyrics (Tim Buckley) or an advertisement which seeks to promote a product’s uniqueness through metaphor. Odwalla) The words and phrases that you use are up to you, but should all relate to the overall concept of the piece. These make up the “details” of the illustration, that when observed closely, are possible to read and extend the message of the poster.




  • Minimal size for reference photo image is 8 x 8
  • Don’t fill in background, only main subject

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