Workshop Introduction to typeface design



Introduction to typeface design

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 4 to 7 December 2017

A workshop of the First Regional Conference on OCR and Natural Language Processing (ONA2017)

Content:This workshop will take participants through the initial stages of developing a digital font with an emphasis on practical exercises. Activities will include experimenting with writing tools, thinking about the different functions of type, developing a personal brief and getting a clear direction for your typeface, digitizing and drawing letterforms with software, plenty of group critique, individual help and developing the skills to critically assess and improve your design.

No type design experience necessary. The last day the workshop will present the experience and ideas of designers who are Cambodian or who work in Cambodia on typography and its use in design.

Participants: Open to anybody (maximum 15 participants) from any country. Participants will be selected among applicants. Experience using computers required, but no previous experience on doing typeface design necessary. Priority will be given to designers or design students, and particularly to Cambodian professional designers.

Cost:                Free enrollment and tuition (no support for travel or accommodation)

Aim:                To give participants a practical understanding of the type design process from initial sketches to digitizing and refining their typefaces.

Schedule:         4 to 8 December 2017

                        5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (Monday to Thursday)

Output:           Each student will start designing a digital font and prepare A4 specimens of the designs.


   No previous type design experience is necessary.

   Students should bring pencils, pens and notepads, laptops with font editing software (a free demonstration version of Glyphs is available).

   The workshop will be taught in English with Khmer language support.

   The training will be in English, with translation to Khmer when needed

Application form

I you wish to apply to participate, please fill the form in this link:


Workshop Timetable

Day 1

-  ‘Finish me off’ exercise. Students are given four incomplete printed letters and have to complete them using clues from the parts present.

-  Starting to create shapes using different writing tools to experiment with letterforms. Sketching and reviewing initial ideas for a typeface design, including Latin and Khmer.

-  Milestone 1: scan drawings ready for digitization.

            Day 2

-  Getting started in FontLab/Glyphs software.

-  Digitizing and drawing your first letter outlines, learning about consistency, alignments, stroke modulation.

-  Milestone 2: print your first letters and pin up for group critique. Does it match your intended application? How does it look? Do the Latin and Khmer work together? Talk about your design choices.

            Day 3

-  Expanding the character set (Latin and/or Khmer) using real words to proof.

-  Tricks for when you get stuck. Sketching, testing different options. Special focus on difficult letters (e.g. s, g).

-  Methods for spacing and kerning.

            Day 4

-  Further work on typeface with individual support.

-  Try at least three different forms of the lowercase /g/ and/or Khmer .

-  Milestone 3: design and print out final specimens and pin up for group presentations and discussion.




Instructor:          Ben Mitchell (

with support from Mark Frömberg ( and Natalie Rauch (, and Tep Sovichet.


Ben Mitchell is a freelance type designer based in Brighton, UK.

He studied his masters in typeface design at the University of Reading, graduating with distinction in 2012. His research and dissertation traced the evolution of the Burmese alphabet from its Brahmi roots in inscriptions, palm-leaf manuscripts and traditional folding books, through its initial casting in metal type in 1776, to its modern-day form. This research culminated in the completion of a font family supporting Burmese, Thai and Latin.

He is continuing to develop his specialization in the scripts of Southeast Asia, a region Ben has been visiting for almost 20 years. He spends most of his time these days designing fonts for Thai, Lao, Burmese and Khmer, and regularly makes research trips to Southeast Asia to study typography, lettering and handwriting, which help inform his professional practice. 

Ben aims to base his design work on firm foundations, by discussing languages, palaeography and current typographic conventions with academics, designers, software engineers and publishers who work with Southeast Asian writing systems. He also studies Southeast Asia's manuscript tradition, by consulting archives at the British Library, the Royal Asiatic Society, and the Siam Society among others.

Ben has worked on text, display and user interface (UI) fonts, script extensions, retail and custom designs, and has consulted on existing non-Latin typefaces. Clients include Adobe, Brody Associates, Monotype, Miles Newlyn, Rosetta Type Foundry and Tiro Typeworks.

Alongside the development of new type families, Ben teaches type design workshops in the UK and in Thailand (including on the CommDe course at Chulalongkorn University), and enjoys talking about type at conferences.


Mark Frömberg is a native Berlin-based (type) designer and illustrator. In 2014 he received a master in TypeMedia at the Royal Academy of Arts in Den Haag, Netherlands. Before that, he made his BA in Communications Design at the University of Applied Sciences (Berlin 2012) where he focused on type and illustration which never happened to detach since. Working as an independent designer since 2008, he likes to combine systematical structure with unpredictable moments. Usually, he disguises complexity behind a clear decency with a strong, saucy wink, augmenting the outcome with lots of layers to discover over time.


Natalie Rauch's deepest passion lies with letters and typography. After studying Graphic Design at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (BA) and spending a semester in Finland, this letter love affair led her to do the Masters in Type Design at the University of Reading (UK) in 2014. Since then she is working as a Freelancer and have worked on corporate design projects and several type design projects.