35th Tipo Brda workshop

35th Tipo Brda workshop


16th – 20th September

Designing digital alphabets inspired by Slovenian lettering from the turn of the 20th century, exploring the relation between upper and lower case.

35th Tipo Brda, a summer type design workshop in Slovenia is this year inspired by the art nouveau lettering (Secesija in slovenian). Alphabets designed 100 years ago were often based on natural forms and organic shapes using mainly uppercase letters. We will analise reference samples from an archive of public lettering and printed ephemeras compiled by Slovenian type designer Alja Herlah, and use uppercase letters as inspiration to create digital lowercase letters.

The lowercase comes from the uppercase alphabet. Yet it makes up the great majority of what we read, and contains most of the information of the visual dna of a typeface. We will explore the relationship between the two cases, from historical to visual and technical aspects. The intensive workshop is suitable for beginners or advanced designers, students or professionals. Each of the participants is going to have an opportunity to design their own typeface with quality feedback from the mentors.

This year the guest mentor is Riccardo De Franceschi. Riccardo De Franceschi is a Milanese typeface designer based in London. His love for lettershapes brought him to England, where he studied at the Department of Typography at the University of Reading. He has been making typefaces for design studio Dalton Maag since 2012. He has a special interest for vernacular lettering and display typefaces used in ephemeral materials and the public space.

Type designer Alja Herlah is going to support Riccardo on mentoring the workshop. After the graduation Alja developed strong interest for designing non-Latin scripts as font developer in Atlas Font Foundry, Berlin. She has broadened her skills working as font developer in Dalton Maag, London. Currently she works as Teaching Assistant at Academy of Fine Arts and Design.

Daily routine

Day 1


  • Intro to the workshop
  • Basic history of the Latin alphabet, covering the origins of upper and lower case
  • Basics of type classification (Noordzij theory)
  • Type cooker exercise, base level
  • Basic parameters of letter design, with particular attention to relation between upper and lower case (horizontal proportions and width; weight, contrast and terminals; vertical proportions and center; etc)


  • Bespoke type cooker exercise: sketch lowercase derived from uppercase for common styles (old style, humanist sans, modern, grotesque)
  • Intro to the references folder (pictures of public lettering + printed ephemeras including the work of Maksim Gaspari) and discussion on preferences 

Day 2


  • Analysis of selected complete alphabets
  • Each student chooses one uppercase sample from the archive 
  • Sketching of the lowercase for the uppercase sample selected


  • Basics of Glyphs App (or FontLab) and digital drawing principles
  • Digital drawing of a couple uppercase reference characters + Individual reviews

Day 3


  • Sketching the lowercase shapes with the uppercase selected reference


  • Digital drawing of lowercase alphabet
  • Individual reviews

Day 4

  • Digital drawing of lowercase alphabet
  • Individual and group reviews
  • First work on the specimen

Day 5

  • Digital drawing of lowercase alphabet + individual reviews
  • Group reviews (on specimen)
  • Finalisation of the font files
  • Finalisation of the specimen


The workshop is located in a small karst village Pliskovica. Held in a beautifully renovated Karst house wtih a barn and a big, enclosed yard. You can indulge in the scent of lavender which provides relaxation and a pleasant working atmosphere with a big summer garden. Participants are going to share few rooms and bathrooms, there is also possibility of camping in a case of the nice weather.

Tools Needed

Bring your favourite drawing tools (fineliners, markers, pencils, pens, white-out, a sketchbook, …). A laptop computer is required, we prefer the application Glyphs or FontLab. However, if you work with any other font editor this is not an obstacle. The workshop crew will provide transparent paper and other stationery.

Workshop fee

300€ (280€ students and Tipo Brda members) It includes accommodation for 5 days, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The price also includes annual Tipo Brda membership (professionals: 20 €, students: 10 €) for all the participants. In case of cancellation we keep 20 % administrative costs.

Application process

Send your application to tipo.brda@gmail.com – deadline: 28 Jun 2019
We will get in touch with all the participants to inform you with additional details. If you have any questions, just give us a shout.
Looking forward to meet you at our workshop.