Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 110 Typography I
Project 1: Type Specimen Poster

Instructor: Paul Young


To develop conceptual thinking skills. To communicate ideas visually and verbally. To explore typography styles. To explore the grid as a system of visual organization.

Secondary objectives

To utilize Illustrator as a layout and production tool.


Design a type specimen poster for Adobe's Type Foundry. The final poster will be 24x36 inches, printed on an inkjet plotter and then framed. The poster must "sell" the typeface to potential users, highlighting the history and/or purpose of the typeface.

Required elements for the poster:

  • must include the entire alphabet of the typeface (caps and lowercase)
  • alternate weights, numerals and symbols can be used at your discretion
  • a paragraph about the typeface and/or designer written by you to "sell" the typeface to potential users
  • the Adobe logo (download)
  • your design credit: "Design: Jane Smith" in 10pt Helvetica

Claim the typeface of your choice using this sign-up sheet:

Note: Parkland has purchased the entire Adobe Font Folio which contains over 2,300 professionally designed fonts for students to use. These high quality fonts from the Adobe Type Library are in OpenType format (OTF). You may preview these fonts by browsing Fontspring's Adobe library or downloading the Font Folio Specimen PDF. Please be selective about the number of fonts you turn on as fonts take up memory and adding too many fonts could potentially slow down the system.


1. Select Your Typeface: Review the typefaces listed above and "claim" yours by adding your name by your typeface of choice on the assignment sign-up sheet. Only one person may sign up for each typeface, so sign up as soon as you decide.

2. Research: Create a Pinterest board titled "GDS 110 Project 1: Type Specimen Poster" (see example). Search online for 10+ samples of type specimen sheets or anything else that inspires you for this project. Pin each example to your new Pinterest board. With each pin, note the designer (if known) and why you chose it as inspiration. Link the URL of your board to your personal Process Page for grading. Share your research by re-pinning your best pins to the group project board (follow to receive an invite). Also print select research samples for your Process Book.

3. Copywriting: Research your typeface's history as well as the typeface designer (tip: start with book Typography which is in Parkland Library's reference section). Write a paragraph about your typeface and its designer that you will use as copy on your poster. The copy should provide information about the typeface and fit with your design concept to help "sell" the typeface. Print a draft of your text and have the Writing Lab review your work. Revise your draft as needed, then email your draft to me at Be sure to give yourself ample time to make revisions and corrections.

4. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook (journal) begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan (scale/crop in Photoshop: no wider than 1000 pixels), increase the contrast (see tutorial) and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page for critique. Also print your sketches for your Process Book.

5. Proof: Based on the critique of the above, use Adobe Illustrator to translate your sketch into a digital file. Publish a low-res PDF (instructions) linked from your Process Page for critique. Also print a high-quality color proof on 11x17 paper for your Process Book (reduced to fit printable area).

6. Final critique: Based on the critique of the above, revise your design (if needed), then print a final proof on 11x17 paper for critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Also publish a high-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page.

7. Grading: Based on the critique above, refine your design (if needed). Submit two copies of your final proof with your name on the back for grading. One proof will be returned to you after grading. File the graded proof in your Process Book for individual review along with all the preliminary work you did for the project (research, sketches, preliminary proofs, final proofs). Also submit a high-res PDF (instructions) via Cobra's dropbox. You will not receive full credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.

8. Portfolio presentation: If you are happy with the results of this project, consider including it in your portfolio. If necessary, continue to make refinements until you are 100% satisfied with the project. Be sure to save all your files for future editing.

9. Extra Credit: Submit your project into next year's student show by printing an art gallery quality proof and mounting it on foam board. Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (1000px tall, no larger than 200K) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 9/14/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young