Typography / Kerning Exercise
After I explain the syllabus in the first class period, I have students dive right into a kerning exercise. While the Adobe Software in general and type designs in particular have become so much better over the years, it seems that new students don't really see the micro adjustments that are necessary (or possible) with kerning. So, I have them kern one word using Trajan – by hand! After they layout their letters on their desk, they glue their results in the middle of a horizontal sheet of paper. Depending on the confidence of the student, the hand's on part of this exercise can take any where from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. After evaluating their results, they move to the computer and they choose a different word to kern using Illustrator. They are able to see and kern much better after working by-hand first.
After we discuss their digital results, I like to show this video (see below) which discusses the origin and current meaning of Trajan (movies). While the video seems light, it's the perfect transition into a more serious discussion about the way that the meaning of typefaces can change over time.