Contour Drawing

Contour_Drawing.jpg with Cyrus Highsmith

In typography, the importance of “negative” space is clearly acknowledged. With this in mind, Cyrus Highsmith has participants explore contour drawing as an entry point to learning about type design. This workshop takes the class through a number of useful contour drawing exercises and ends with a lecture and discussion about the role of negative space in letter drawing, typography, and type education.

“Negative” space is a fundamental element of visual art. Some understand it instinctively but for others, it can be a difficult concept to grasp. Contour drawing exercises are a classic way of teaching and strengthening a student’s understanding of the importance of figure-ground relationships to composition. This naturally carries over to typography as an effective way to improve one’s design skills.

About Cyrus Highsmith

Contour Drawing

Cyrus Highsmith joined the Font Bureau in 1997. As Senior Designer, he concentrates on development of new typefaces. A faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design department of graphic design since 2000, he teaches letter drawing. He also leads workshops and is a frequent lecturer across the United States, Mexico, and Europe.

Highsmith is known for his original approach to drawing letterforms. His designs have been specified for diverse platforms including Rolling Stone,, and the Ford Motor Company. He has also created custom typefaces for clients including The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, La Prensa Gráfica, ESPN, Men’s Health, and El Universal.

In addition to being a type designer, Highsmith is an illustrator and author. In 2012, Font Bureau published his first book, Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals, about which Matthew Carter wrote “There is nothing you need to understand about using type that’s not in this book.”

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