Ali Almasri came to teach us about Arabic type design. Attending his lecture gave us background information about him, but the workshop made us see how he worked and his profession in more detail. He gave a brief lecture about type design and calligraphy. Points I noted were that calligraphy has 2 points, so it gives the thicks and thins of strokes. Type design has 1 point, so there is more flexibility with the design. Another thing he said was that whenever he designs a typeface first, he begins with the ‘bold’ weight, because it tends to create more problems, because of the amount of contrast in it and then from that designing regular or light becomes easier.
Apparently there always needs to be a brief for a typeface. When designing a type, designers start with one word. In latin in would be ‘hamburger’ or ‘handglove’, in Arabic it’s ‘abjad’ or ‘ahowaz’:
^ I created these when he pulled up a page of inspirational book covers with type and suggested that we create a brief for ourselves and practise designing in the “ruq’a” style that was used by the covers. I thought of keeping children’s storybooks in mind as a designed.
^ It was after a while that he came and corrected me. Apparently what I was doing was a common mistake that others were doing as well. I was designing Arabic type, but it was closer to the ‘naskh’ style than the “ruq’a” style. He gave me examples (in pink) to show me the differences. In ruq’a things like the strokes extend below and intersect the base stroke.