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Typographic Stencils as a Creative and Didactic Tool

The design of a typeface is a complex process, but it follows a logic that can be formalized by constructive elements, such as the module, that can respond to an appearance based on the strokes created with a tool or in standardized geometric shapes. A selection of these elements can be established by a series of actions such as repetition, deletion, substitution, rotation, inversion, and overlap that allow us to create each of the characters using pre-selected forms. This constructive logic has been applied for centuries in the teachings of calligraphic writing, creating patterns and ornaments, and in the standardization of the letter by typography. Some of these formalizations were made in the first decades of the twentieth century in the midst of avant-garde movements through modular typefaces with the technical restrictions that this entails. A historical journey through these approaches to ornamental and experimental typography has led us to propose an update to these typographical systems through various stencils that would maintain the analog and creative spirit with which they were originally designed, but with a simpler use than the handling of other lead types, such as: stencil Super Tipo Veloz, based on a spanish modular typeface created in 1942 by Joan Trochut for the José Iranzo foundry; stencil Fregio Mecano, based on an Italian typeface created in the decade of the 1920s and marketed by the Nebiolo foundry; and stencil Figuras Geométricas, based on diverse typefaces whose modules as the Futura Schmuck from the Bauer foundry or Elementare Schmuckformen from the Stempel AG foundry. These stencils are excellent tools that can be used to understand the construction of the letter allowing multiple combinations and variations through the drawing in a playful and simple way.


Roberto Gamonal Arroyo

Printer Familia Plómez

Robert Gamonal is a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. Gamonal merged his passion for journalism and design and became a writer who also participates in congresses, conferences, and presentations. Gamonal conducts research in areas related to typography and design. Gamonal is a member of both Unos Tipos Duros and Familia Plómez. Since 2012, Gamonal has focused on the didactic potentialities of composition and artisanal printing in the teaching of typography and graphic design. Most recently, Gamonal has been exploring the combination of artisanal and digital techniques in a typographic stencil project.