1.1 Design Plan: 2 Engineers Try to Draw
Nov 1, 2023

Our goal for this font is first and foremost to serve our client, WPI’s Society of Medieval Arts and Sciences. They’re looking for a font to use on promotional posters that’s fantasy-themed and avoids the archetype of traditional “cut-from-stone” medieval lettering.

Right after the meeting with our client, we shared our initial thoughts and ideas, both of us gravitating towards the inspiration of the “solidified mana.” While the crystallized feel of mana stuck out to us, it was difficult to convey it fully without compromising the medieval look of the font. As a result, we decided to augment the heavy-weighted letters and sharp serifs common in medieval fonts with crystal growths, sparkles, and highlights. These embellishments have an iconic non-coded meaning, since the crystals are meant to literally represent the solidified mana, and the sparkles demonstrate how shiny it is, while the letter forms are more of a coded message, a cultural product meant to remind viewers of other medieval fonts (Barthes).

We were also focused on the legibility of the font at farther distances, as the font will be used in promotional posters and flyers that will be viewed by many from far away. We had to strike a balance between detailing the letters to appear more ‘crystallized’ while still maintaining the silhouettes of the letters themselves. This is achieved by keeping the embellishments small, and accenting identifiable parts of each letter as opposed to placing them in locations that would interfere with the core shape of the letter.

Our first draft of the font is hand-drawn with digital ink as we’re still figuring out the best way to capture SMAS in a font, but we're planning on creating our final font digitally using vector graphics, so that our product is clean and carries ethos for our client. Here is a sample of the first draft of our font in development:

While not initially intended, the hand-drawn letters create a playful, casual feel which may or may not be beneficial to SMAS’ use of the font. Depending on the reception, we may try and emulate this feel in the digital rendition of our font.

Download the first draft of our font here.


Barthes, Roland. “Rhetoric of the Image.” Image—Music—Text. Translated by Stephen Heath. Hill & Wang, 1977, pp. 32-51.