Layered Type Portrait

Make a complex layered portrait that consists only of type. Understand how to use typography as texture and image.

Document Set-up:

  • Build in Illustrator for print.
  • Must fit on Tabloid paper (11×17) but size is up to you.
  • Save to Semester 1/Assignments/Type Portrait.


  • Choose someone you know to interview and photograph for the typography portrait. You may choose yourself, a teacher, family member, friend.
  • Complete the interview sheet (feel free to add questions as needed), and find a photograph. 
  • Open the photograph in Photoshop, crop, convert to greyscale and posterize (using somewhere between 6 and 10 levels). Place it in Illustrator as a Photo.


  • Crop it in Photoshop, place it in Illustrator and do a greyscale Image Trace in Illustrator.
  • Start looking at the values in your picture. Start with the lighter values and build up the image out of typography, putting each shape (and/or value) on its own layer.
  • Use the pen tool to outline an area, in combination with the type area tool. Change font, font size, leading, and paragraph justification as necessary. Use words from the interview. (type as texture)
  • Some ideas/suggestions:
    • In the DARKEST and LARGEST areas, use single words and play with type sizes, making them significantly larger for empasis.
    • Use type on a line (with curved lines) to create a sense of movement and energy in the piece
    • Use envelop distort to create bold type that fits into certain areas.
    • Add white type to areas you really want to “pop”
    • Choose one quote from the interview and integrate it into the background of your composition


  • Save as AI LayerTypePortrait_initials
  • Print, do not scale on appropriately sized media. Name on the back.
  • Save as a PDF (x1/A). Make sure the photo layer is turned off for the final pdf.

Samples from past years:

rachelpalin rebeccastancliffe abbiglitman


11 thoughts on “Layered Type Portrait

  1. Pingback: B| 2.10.14 | Monday | cteDesign
  2. Pingback: A| 2.11.14 | Tuesday | cteDesign
  3. Pingback: B| 2.12.14 | Wednesday | cteDesign
  4. Pingback: A| 2.13.14 | Thursday | cteDesign
  5. Pingback: B| 2.14.14 | Friday | cteDesign
  6. Pingback: A| 2.17.14 | Monday | cteDesign
  7. Pingback: B| 2.18.14 | Tuesday | cteDesign
  8. Pingback: A | 2.19.14 | Wednesday | cteDesign
  9. Pingback: B | 2.20.14 | Thursday | cteDesign
  10. Pingback: A | 2.21.14 | Friday | cteDesign
  11. Pingback: A | 3.5.14 | Wednesday | cteDesign

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s