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An original typeface by Railey Collins





Execution Sketching










Regular Pathing Cont. Alternate Pathing Cont.

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I was given the opportunity to create an original typeface consisting of 26 majuscule and 26 minuscule characters along with numerals and at least 6 punctuation. The typeface needed to specifically represent its intended purpose while also demonstrating adequate use of proportion and figure ground relationship. And so I give you Gatsby.


I began brainstorming by deciding where I wanted to use my typeface. I knew I wanted to base it off of literature. I messed around with other ideas such as theme parks or a circus but those seemed too whimsical so I stuck with literature. I started by narrowing movements in literature including the Victorian and Romantic Eras. The 1920s also attracted me but I continued looking at aspects of the Romantic Era.

Although there were many details of the Romantic period that I thought would translate well into a typeface, I was drawn to high contrasting stroke widths which I thought best represented the 1920s. Ultimately I decided to design a typeface reflecting the elegance and energy of the Roaring Twenties, depicted in Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby.


My typeface would be used not only for book covers of the novel but also other publications and advertisements depicting the grandeur of the 1920s. I wanted it to be used strictly for display text. The high contrast that I wanted to incorporate on the characters would be read best when presented at a larger scale.

I wanted to elongate the x-height to give the characters a more grand appearance, especially when set in all majuscules. Overall I feel the contrasting stroke widths, elongated characters and other decisions adequately represent the elegance, energy and sophistication that is characteristic of Gatsby’s 1920s lifestyle.


Taking my initial sketches I continued to draw characters based on the standard I had created including a heavy stroke width on the left and hairline strokes to make up the rest of the character. I decided that slab serifs were simple enough add the perfect amount of balance to the hairline strokes without detracting from the contrast of the heavy portions. I also found that ball terminals added a simple quirk that resembled the Gatsby style, making the characters sophisticated but fun.

Most of the characters were easily constructed. I used the same pieces over and over to create unity. I studied other various typefaces to understand the proportions between different characters’ set widths.


The punctuation was simple. The ampersand was fun to design. The question marks gave me the most trouble but I finally created one that related with the other characters without looking too elongated. I made the period, coma, and quotation marks for the italicized version slightly larger to compensate for the lack of contrast in the other characters.


I had problems with some of the characters, especially the W, S, and G. I wanted the W to have the same angle as the V but then I also wanted it to relate with the M. I had to decide between two designs. The W that matched the M was too playful but the more elegant M that was a duplication of the V was either too wide, or too top heavy. Eventually I ended up altering the angel of the W to keep the elegance without being too narrow at the bottom.

After I had the characters fully refined I traced them all onto tracing paper so that I could place them into words to better gage the proportions and relationships between each of the characters.


The G and the S just needed some reworking until I created characters that were sophisticated enough to resemble the concept and relate with the other characters. With the S I ended up creating a completely new character toward the end.

The next step in translating the characters digitally was to draw enlarged versions with precise detail. This process took several hours but thanks to Harry Potter and Robert Pattinson I was able to draw all of the characters in a matter of hours. The transparent vellum that the characters were drawn on allowed me to place them on top of each other and align their set widths and x-heights perfectly.


The numerals had to be created with a whole new set of rules. Some numerals relate to specific characters and not necessarily each other. For example the 9 and 6 have different cap heights because they are the same character turned upside down, and the 5 and the 4 have crossbars that meet on different lines for balance purposes. The italic numerals were completely reconstructed to have less contrast and more movement.


Next I scanned the drawings and pathed them in Illustrator to create digital versions of each character.

The numerals and punctuation were last. The numerals were difficult because they could not completely adhere to the proportions that I had already set up without looking deformed. In the end the numerals relate well with the letters but their cross bars fall on varying lines and their set-widths are not completely consistent. Aesthetically, however they fit in with the rest of the characters.


The majuscule W and G have crossbars that meet on the same line. Other than these two the rest of the crossbars fall just below the cap height. There are two sizes for the ball terminals, both shown in the C.


The minuscule b,d, p and q are all the same shape. All of the curves, except for the o, are based off of the same path. The descender height is the same as the ascender height.


I encountered some issues with scaling once I had all of the characters pathed but after days of perfecting each character I then created an alternate version of the face. The alternate version was tricky and required more attention but it allows for variety within the family.

The Alternate characters are lighter because of the emptiness of the thicker stroke width. The visual effect these characters have when placed with the regular version is similar to pairing a bold text with a thin version.


The alternate characters are much more delicate and don’t stand out quite as much as the regular characters. The lighter contrast will be good for information of lesser importance.


Like the majuscules, the Alternate minuscule characters are light and less bold. These characters have all of the sophistication of the 1920s without the noise.


After I finished editing the alternate characters I was feeling ambitious and decided to add an italicized version. I redrew and re-pathed each of the minuscule characters and slanted the majuscules to match the angle of the new miniscules.

The italicized version adds a softer more playful diversity to the family that can be useful for sub-headers and to create hierarchy among larger amounts of texts.


The italicized majuscule characters have some movement adding energy to the face while also differentiating from the regular version without loosing the high contrast.


The italicized minuscule characters have an energy of their own. They add a quirky variety to the face with a script feel but continue to correlate with the rest of the face with the slab serifs and ball terminals.


When one thinks of the 1920s prohibition and speakeasies are definitely themes that come to mind. The term “egg� represents someone from East Egg, or high society.

This iconic piece of artwork was an obvious starting point for a book cover design.

F. Sco tt Fi tzge ral d 35

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday was a leading figure during the Jazz Age. Her songs and vocals greatly influenced Jazz and Pop for generations.

The Great Gatsby has inspired many forms of media, especially film. This image is from the upcoming movie starring based on the novel starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.


Monday March 26 at 6pm Sands Point Preserve 127 Middle Neck Road

Sands Point, New York 11050

The Great Gatsby represented the music and energy of the Jazz Age. Even today, The Roaring Twenties are still a celebrated theme for various events and parties.

Daisy Buchanan is, other than Jay Gatsby himself, the most notable character in the novel and even one of the more recognized characters in literature as a whole.

F. Scott Fitzgerald 39

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life�


Created by Railey Collins


an original typeface by Railey Collins


an original typeface by Railey Collins