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I want to take the course, but what if I’ve never designed a typeface?

Take an introductory course in typeface design, or open a font editor and begin. Come back to us when you’ve got the start of your first typeface!

Is the 14-week program right for me?

It’s important that you’ve already started designing a typeface. That gives you the experience of ideating, using a font editor, drawing letters, and trying to turn those individual glyphs into a cohesive typeface. The course will draw on those experiences and push you to further structure your process and expand your perpective.

The typeface you bring with you to the program doesn’t have to be fully formed or in a finished state when you apply, though. If you’re curious how much you should have completed, scroll down to, “How far along does my typeface have to be to apply to the program?”.

Our students come from different backgrounds and countries. We’ve had recent graduates, parents, educators, working typeface designers, web and graphic designers, and participants from other type design programs. The thing they all share is a desire and commitment to learn more about typeface design, whether their intent is to apply that to their current job as a typographer, to become a professional typeface designer, or simply for the love of learning.

Finally, since all sessions are conducted in English, you should be comfortable conversing in English.

What will I need?

First, you’ll need the beginning of a typeface. This could be an upper- and lowercase character set, or a complete weight with an italic. We expect everyone to be at different starting points on their type design journey. The structure of the program is flexible enough to allow content to be tailored to the needs of the students we have at the time.

You’ll also need the following:

  • A decent internet connection.
  • A computer with a microphone and webcam.
  • A font editor, preferably Glyphs.
  • A layout program (like Affinity Publisher or InDesign).
What style of typeface can I start with?

Text, display, connected script, experimental, sans serif, serif — bring whatever you’re excited to work on.

How far along does my typeface have to be to apply to the program?

The typeface you bring to the program is your starting point. We don’t expect you to show up with a finished piece of work, but you should be past the ideation phase and have a strong direction in place. At a minimum, you’ll have a single weight in progress with a basic character set. The definition of “basic character set” depends on the style of font, but it is something like most of the lowercase and some uppercase, or just the uppercase if the font is intended for all-caps settings. If you have more than that, that’s fine too.

What are you looking for in the application?

The goal of the application is to help us get to know you and your work. We aren’t looking for a particular proficiency or credentials; we’re trying to assess whether the program and you are a good fit. Essentially, do your learning goals match what the program is offering? Can we help you?

Can I apply with more than one typeface?

Yes! You may show more than one font in your application but only if you're interested in working on those font during the program. If you’re application is selected, we’ll help you choose which one to work on.

What is interpolation? What are masters?

It’s like magic, but for typefaces. Seriously though … When applied to typefaces, interpolation is a mathematical means of creating intermediate instances from two or more sets of data. “Data,” in this case, refers to a weight or style of a typeface.

For example, imagine you’ve drawn a thin and bold weight of a typeface and plan to create regular and medium weights too. Instead of drawing the regular and medium by hand, you could use the data you already have (the thin and bold) and let the computer automagically figure out the drawings for the regular and medium. The automagic part is interpolation.

The thin and bold in this case are called masters. They represent the two weights that the other weights (or “instances,” in interpolation land) are based on. To interpolate, a typeface must have at least two masters drawn — but it can have more than two masters, as well. Creating new weights is a very typical use of interpolation, but it can also be used for width, slant, or more imaginative axes.

Are you going to cover variable fonts?

Planning a font family and learning how to interpolate — both topics covered in the program — are primary foundations for making variable fonts. So although we won’t formally discuss variable fonts, we will learn these foundations, and you’ll be many steps closer to creating a variable font by the end of the program.

What scripts or writing systems will students study?

Right now, we’re focused on the Latin script to get the program off the ground. Our goal for future editions is to expand to include workshops or extensions of specific writing systems. For now, though, we’ll stick to Latin.

How much time am I expected to work outside of the program?

To take full advantage of the program, working outside the scheduled instruction times is paramount and happens almost entirely outside of class. We recommend committing a minimum of six hours per week to work outside of class and that might include readings. Every student will come to the program with their own set of responsibilities, work speed, and course expectations however the old adage is true: the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.

How many students will be in my group?

Because the feedback sessions are an integral component of the program, the max capacity is 14 students.

Do I have to use Glyphs for the course? Can I use another font editor?

All demonstrations using a font editor will be conducted in Glyphs. However, if you’re already comfortable using a particular font editor, we don’t necessarily recommend switching just for Practica.

Many demonstrations involve universal concepts (like drawing or spacing) that will easily translate from one font editor to the next. Learning how to set up a font file for interpolation, however, is a slightly different story. While the concepts surrounding interpolation will apply across editors, the actual file set up varies.

If you are flexible enough to apply what was shown in Glyphs to your own editor, or you are already familiar with how interpolation works in your font editor, then you should not have a problem. We have had students in the past attend who did not use Glyphs as their font editor. If you are interested in trying Glyphs, you can opt to use the 6-month student license that comes free with the course.

When is the next edition of Practica?

We’re making some changes to the program and won’t run the 14-week version again until January 2023. The plan is to extend Practica somewhat and run it just once a year (once a school year, that is).

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