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Spring 2024 ︎︎︎Purchase College, SUNY ︎︎︎ (DES3440) Typographic Investigations

Unicode Spelunking

Video made from the prompt “a person spelunking into a large cavern with glowing purple crystals. The cavern should be colorful with bisexual lighting. The person is scared but hopeful.” on RunwayML


For this project we’ll take a bit of a deeper dive into the technological substrate of digital typography; Unicode. You’ll be asked to look at an area of Unicode and create glyphs and applications with them. 

Areas of Unicode


  • Understand the digital substrate of typography.
  • Understand variable type on an experiential level
  • Deepen understanding of Glyphs/FontForge


  • A report on your unicode space. This presentation should include:
    • History on what writing system, language, or method of communication it is related to.
    • How it is written (ie typeset, incised into clay, a pen, etc.)
    • Writing or other samples of it in use
  • Outlines for at least 20 characters in an area of Unicode of your choice
  • A .PDF showing all Unicode characters
  • 3 Applications

Final Deliverables

  • A final PowerPoint or similar file with your report
  • An .OTF font of all characters (I will create this, you must submit an .OTF or .TTF with your characters)
  • 3 applications printed or ready to exhibit for class.
  • 3 applications related digital versions (.PDF, .MP4, etc)

Applications should be at absolute minimum 24in. X 36in. posters. As we’ve seen with previous assignments, I am willing to accept different ideas here. If this is the case for you be ready to discuss your idea and be prepared to make it more ambitious.

Grading Rubric

  • 40% ︎︎︎ Unicode Characters (Execution)
  • 30% ︎︎︎ Applications (Relative Strength & Creativity)
  • 30% ︎︎︎ Applications (Execution)

No Shuriken Mode Challenges

  • Work together with someone in the class to flesh out  a larger Unicode block
  • Create characters that are related from multiple Unicode blocks (only one will make it to the communal font). For example you could do Phoenician (historically related to latin characters) or different forms of historical Chinese characters.

Relevant Dates

    • 03/05/2023 ︎︎︎ Introduction, unicode area assignment, in-class research time

    • For HW research your given Unicode area, prepare a presentation about it (see above).

    • 03/12/2024 ︎︎︎ Research presentations, Initial check-in

    • 03/19/2024 ︎︎︎ Check-in 

    • 04/02/2024 ︎︎︎ Check-in

    • 04/16/2024 ︎︎︎ Final Critique & Writing Assignment

    • 04/23/2024 ︎︎︎ Writing Review

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