Introductory Arabic Type Course at AUB

This spring, the elective course “Introduction to Arabic Type Design” at AUB [American University of Beirut] was introduced. It is given part of the Graphic Design program at AUB. Third and fourth year students who were interested in Arabic type and wanted to develop their skills in understanding and drawing Arabic letters, enrolled in the course. The course was an ongoing collaboration between the students and I. I had to evaluate what they could and needed to learn as opposed to what was too advanced for them.

The aim of the course was to teach the students the design and technical skills needed for developing professional Arabic lettering and logotypes as well as the beginning of an Arabic typeface. Students learned to analyze and identify the different Arabic type styles and their classifications.

They were taught the basic skills for creating their own typefaces through the type design process that consists of: 1. Sketching type, 2. Drawing type, 3. Tracing and creating outlines for letters, 4. Spacing the typeface and 5. Generating the font into a workable format.

Sample sentence of the fonts created during the course.

The course was divided into two main parallel approaches to the subject.
The first approach consists of hands-on exercises dealing with advanced Arabic typography and type design skills, including hand drawn lettering and Arabic calligraphy. The second approach consists of learning the computer techniques needed to digitize typefaces and generate basic Arabic fonts through lectures and introductory lessons on font editing applications.

Poster design by Ayman Hassan for one of the design lecture series at AUB. Kufayfar type in use in the poster.
Poster design was supervised by Reza Abedini.

Introductory lettering exercises were given at the start of the course to familiarize the students with drawing Arabic letters and words. Students were asked to create their own Arabic urban lettering and later Arabic logotypes before they embarked on the creation of their first Arabic font.

Below are some sample works of the urban lettering exercise:

‎فايتين بالحيط / Julie El Khoury

‎ضو الضو / Bassel Fatayri

‎شو معقدة / Reem Al Ayoubi

‎شي بقرف / Andrea Tohme

‎متأزّم / Salwa Faour


As for the Arabic Fonts created, below are some brief preview of the sketching and outlined final letters:

SAWA font created by Salwa Faour & Bassel Fatayri:
The font is inspired from contemporary/free-style calligraphy.

KUFUQ font created by Nadia Deghayli & Andrea Tohme:
The font is a revival of the Eastern Kufic calligraphic style found in old Qoranic manuscripts.

JEEM font created by Joelle Haddad:
The font is based on the Naskh Mastari style. It is a type proposal for the Lebanese Army to be used for their badges and signage.

AUB- Faculty of Engineering & Architecture – Graphic Design Department- Spring 2012

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