Visual Communication, the Letter Portrait

Typography Portrait, PART ONE- The LETTER PORTRAIT: (from “Design for Communication” by Elizabeth Resnick)

Assignment Brief: Your assignment is to create a “Typography Portrait” in Photoshop. A Typography Portrait is a portrait that uses only typographic characters for its pallette.

Use letters (which might be thought to represent sounds) to illustrate your face, thinking about how your design reflects you as a designer and as a person. Think about identity and study your face and its characteristics. Examine the different letters and fonts to determine what will represent you best.

Objectives: Create an awareness of the design possibilities of typography.

Resources: Here are copies of the pictures taken in class of each student. Download yours and save them to your PROJECT folder. There is a chance you may need to rotate your picture in Photoshop after you download it. Sorry about the blurry pictures, I was sick the day I took the pictures and my hands were shaking!

Graphic Design, Green 2nd Period
Graphic Design, White 1st Period

1. Select one of the two photographs to be the basis for your LETTER PORTRAIT.
2. Open the picture in Photoshop. Resize or Trim you picture as needed.

3. Create a New Layer and fill the background of this layer with WHITE (You can also use BLACK, if you are inclined to do your portrait in reverse or a COLOR, if you are attempting a portrait that includes the elements of Typography and Color.) Double-Click on the words LAYER 1 in the Layer Panel and change the name of your layer to BACKGROUND. Set this Layer above your photograph.
4. Use the EYEBALL icon to TURN OFF the BACKGROUND layer. You will be turning on and off the BACKGROUND Layer as you go to see the progress of your typography portrait.
5. Create a new layer, above your BACKGROUND layer and begin “drawing” your portrait. You will use your photograph layer as your guideline. Add Letters of any size, shape, font or case to begin creating an outline of the features of your face. To do this, click on the TEXT button and select a font and a letter that matches part of your picture, use CTRL-T to rotate or size the letter properly to fit into your portrait. DO NOT DISTORT YOUR LETTERS!
6. If you need to use a number of letters overlapping, such as for hair, etc., check out this tutorial:

7. When creating your portrait, please do not use any symbols or punctuation marks, just letters (or maybe numbers.) Do not put in sentences or words, save those for the "Sentence Portrait", coming soon.
8. If anyone wishes to try to create a NEGATIVE SPACE portrait, where the letters are used to fill in the background of their picture, leaving white space to represent the face, this would be highly encouraged and very cool. (See the third portrait below!)


Grading: This assignment will be worth a total of 150 points:

  • 75 points for proper inclusion of a typographic forms to create the portrait.
  • 75 points, based upon Mr. B.'s whims, regarding the overall look, creativity and artistic merit of the final product.