The Type Code - Design Your own Custom Typeface



12 March 2016


13 March 2016
Sold out


Old School New School

Today we live in a world where the personal gesture is very important. More than ever, custom type adds the prestige and value that outstanding brands enjoy.  Unforgettable brands like House Industries take Custom Type as their core DNA.  It isn't rocket science to see that missing this rare opportunity that the Type Code offers means losing a chance to gain the special kudos that being a Designer of Type brings. This will cost you a lot more than the ticket price for the course. 

The Type Code is a fully immersive two-day weekend course that provides the answers you desperately need so that you can design your own customised typeface from scratch without copying existing fonts.No previous calligraphy or drawing experience is necessary as we will run through everything you need to know and soon you will understand why the DNA blueprint of contemporary Typography isn't digital and never will be. Contemporary Typography embodies the tension between the hand and the machine, and digital natives need to learn the underpinning system of all lettering and typography that is held withing the classic proportions of the hand drawn alphabet. The very DNA roots of contemporary Typography go back to the earliest systems of writing when signs were first adopted to convey meaning. Every typeface that we know and use is a revival of what has gone before it. This experimental hands on day of drawing Type with different tools in our Type Lab that you will go on to digitize as your custom font, will open up this amazing knowledge for you. This is a challenging, experimental, dedicated and highly rewarding process, by which you will gain unprecedented advantages in training your eyes, hands and process to thoroughly understand type. It's the ultimate labour of love for type obsessors. You do not need to have attended any of our prior brush script or copperplate classes to take this course. 

Drawing and correctly refining a whole set of prefabricated letters, which we call the alphabet, is relatively easy with the process that this course provides. We carefully devised a course to help you avoid common mistakes that beginners make when sketching and digitising a visual system of initial letter shapes that work together. Various Type programs such as Font Lab, Python, and Glyphs, enable new Type Codes to be born based on the blueprint DNA guidelines of the Roman Alphabet.  

"Type Code" is a fully immersive weekend typographic retreat in our Abbotsford Convent Type Atelier, which will enable you to understand why the DNA of type is inseparable from "fonts". You will leave the course having drawn by hand your own font and digitised it in Glyph.

At course completion you will have a whole new understanding of Type as Code. You will know why specific letterforms look the way they do (as a result of the tools that created them.)

OSNS Type Library

This weekend Type Retreat provides a unique opportunity for participants to utilise the extensive typographic reference library of school founder Veronica Grow, comprised of many original, rare, out-of-print, and hard to find typography books and specimens from the 1950s and 60s. A typographer's dream. 


Who The Course is For 

Essentially the weekend intensive is for anyone who has always wanted to design their own typeface but doesn't know where to start, or maybe you just love type and want to understand how it actually works? Although working knowledge of bézier drawing tools (ie. the pen tool in Illustrator) as well as some background with either lettering or typography are recommended.  Designers who have already learned to draw type by hand in any of our courses will have a head start, but this is by no means mandatory!  Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is important to just start.

The course is created to enable designers to further their knowledge of typography, and to become more effective and highly valued within the commercial sphere working as designers of identities in branding agencies, publication designers, and in all realms of communication design. A custom typeface is the ultimate addition to any visual identity. Design studios such as A Friend of Mine and Letterbox Type, who craft bespoke typographic solutions for their clients, enjoy a specific cultural and commercial prestige that comes from the individualised typographic solutions they produce for their clients. 

The Process that you take away from this course will definitely expedite the whole process, making it quicker and easier by removing many of the unnecessary time wasting mistakes we make when we try to teach ourselves.

How the Course Rolls

Day One Saturday 
You will work with Veronica Grow to explore a variety of old and new techniques and tools used to create letterforms as a basis for your future experimentation. You will have fun discovering why specific fonts look the way they do thanks to the tools that created them. Understanding the historical and geopolitical influences that shaped so many historical writing systems from the Romans through to 20th Century Signpainting will also influence your future experimentation and open design literacy.  

Day Two Sunday

Participants will be transferring their designs into Glyphs, an accessible tool for serious type design. It's a sleek, user-friendly app that will allow you to get great results through the solid foundation of your unique analogue type design, and ultimately craft the typeface into a cohesive, usable system. 

Specific applications for individual font creations will be discussed and explored to enable suitable design processes and approaches to testing the appropriateness of font creations. 

 Participants will learn how to "group" and "categorize" letterforms according to individual character traits so they can better refine and standardize their typeface's system and treat letters consistently throughout the font. 

Participants will learn how to set "Control Characters" to resolve stroke width, x-height, axis and other physical characteristics to continue fleshing out a few other characters with new design challenges. Making correct decisions and fixing issues at this early stage of the process will prevent problems or mistakes from being amplified through the development of the rest of the font. 

Participants will also learn how to combine characters into words and adjust the system to make it work, as well as fine tune and figure out how to combine various traits of square, round, and diagonal letterforms, to build a roadmap for creating the whole typeface. 

As students progress, and make letter-by-letter comparisons, they will discover that each font's individual system provides its own formula and rationale for how and when specific design guidelines should be followed. Applying these observations forms a basis for understanding the idiosyncrasies and principles of any typeface's system, because letterforms do not occur in isolation. Letterers and type designers have compared and learned from the convention of our writing system for thousands of years. Digital technology's ability to quickly scale and overlap letterforms makes the job easier and quicker so that today's type designers can quickly see what works and what does not work.


What you will Take Away

Participants will be forced to break away from comfortable drawing habits and explore new ones. 

You will discover helpful sketching techniques as well as core principles of Type Design, such as spacing, kerning, character proportions, stroke weights, curve descriptions, and miscellaneous relationships in type design and testing letter combinations. 

You will understand why specific fonts look the way they do thanks to the tools that created them. 

You will understand the historical and geopolitical influences that shaped various writing systems, which will influence future experimentation and extend your design literacy.   

You will be able to design custom Type for Branding projects. Knowing how to create custom type is key to adding value for specific branding projects as brand recognition centres on unique typography more than ever.

You will Understand the historical and geopolitical influences that shaped various writing systems which will influence future experimentation and extend your design literacy.   

You will be able to design custom Type for Branding projects. Knowing how to create custom type is key to adding value for specific branding projects as brand recognition centres on unique typography more than ever. 


Bruno Herfst

Bruno Herfst is from Holland teaches Type Design at OSNS where he is much loved by our students. He works across various media for a diverse range of clients ranging from those in the cultural field to commercial companies. He designs stuff, builds tools for designers that treat typefaces as computer data and loves solving design problems with new bits of software. He creates software programs that build book covers.  He is also a book designer (which means that he understands how type works), and OSNS is excited to bring his typographic and digital expertise to Typotek, as well as his teaching skills. He is an excellent teacher who can distil complex ideas into simple and effective language, and he is also easy-going and very approachable. 

Veronica Grow

Founder of OSNS, Veronica has taught Slow Typography at Parsons New School for Design and studied typography at the Cooper Union in New York. She has worked for Global Trend Forecaster: London’s The Future Lab as Typographic consultant for Monotype (the world’s largest Type Foundry), and has written about Typography and Design Education for Desktop Magazine and other mainstream media. The School was featured at NGV’s Melbourne Now in 2013. She consults regularly for various broadcasters, such ABC TV and ABC Radio on the subject of typography and was recently featured in The Age discussing the relevance of handwriting.


What you will need 
Students will need to work on their own laptop, running Mac OS 10.6 or higher; and a free introductory license to "Glyph" font design software. 

  • five hb pencils 
  • eraser
  • a professional grade pencil sharpener
  • ruler
  • black felt tip markers of all different sizes from fine liner to super fat Sharpie
  • A3 pad of tracing paper
  • paper 11" × 17"
  • laptop, running Mac OS 10.6 or higher
  • Adobe Illustrator


Day One: Saturday 10 - 5pm Drawing Techniques tools techniques and history Day Two: Sunday 10 - 5 pm Digitisation and Refinement


$425.00 early bird, pay by 1 March

$450.00 general bird if you pay later than 1 March

Link through to eventbrite here if you wish to book a spot !