Learning the subtleties of Helvetica and Garamond used to be a pain—but a sleek new app has made the process easier
Dong Yoon Park has figured out a way to use the iPad as a better teaching tool than the widely used, yet archaic textbook. An MFA design and technology student at Parsons The New School for Design, Park created a tablet application, Typography Insight (now available on iTunes), that is designed to help beginners learn the subtleties of fonts.
Students in introductory typography classes are asked to memorize and understand the forms of classic fonts such as Garamond, Baskerville, Bodoni, Century, and Helvetica. While some typophiles might recognize that Century is a tad curvier than Helvetica, gaining a deep understanding of the differing fonts (i.e. enough to survive being quizzed on them) takes hours of staring at letters. "As a beginner, it is difficult to see the subtle differences," Park explains on his website. "This is especially true in traditional media such as paper text book, where the typeface in question is presented in linear, small sizes."
As a design student, Park found it difficult to learn letters. To train his eyes to recognize the spacing and curvature of varied typefaces, Park would not only manually recreate fonts, illustrating large black letters on white paper, but also hang images of letters upside-down to focus just on the shape. These tactics helped, but they were labor-intensive, and Park admits he still didn't do too well on his quizzes.