Four Letter Words
Expressive type
Design within a square




To develop a clean and clever design using a four letter word. By using design elements such as positive / negative, figure / ground, line / shape manipulation, and balance, you will design a four letter word within a rectangle or square. (you may use a triangle or circle if your idea favors that shape, must be instructor approved) Utilize all that you have learned thus far.


Graph paper
Sketch Pad
Sharpie markers (for sketching)
Illustration Board (hot or cold pressed) (10x 15 inches if using a rectangle shape, 15 x 15 if using a square shape)
Micron Pens
India Ink
Measuring tools
Exacto Knife


First, choose a four letter word. If you need help there is a link above listing thousands of four letter words. I would pick more than one word. You will find that you may change your word throughout the design process. Start with a rectangle or square. Start to sketch ideas. Consider the negative space as much as the positive space. Is your word the figure or the ground (black or white). The most successful projects are when the figure and ground both play a significant role within the design. What design elements can you try and use to move the viewers eye throughout? Stagger (wave motion), Diagonal, scattered, stagnant (grid). What type of shapes support the word, geometric, organic? Consider conceptual thinking. How can you suggest the word in other ways? Can you incorporate an object within the word if you choose a noun? Can you incorporate a movement if you choose a verb? Is there certain type that represents your word? Can you suggest a word without an image possibly giving letters a persona or action? Can you incorporate a second related four letter word in the negative space? Work, rework, sketch, rework, develop, think, sketch, create, think, work, draw, ask questions, ponder. commit. In other words, several small decisions develop a successful clever design. Constantly tweak your design. Move change, consider several options.


-Canvas size (illustration board): 10 x 15, or 13 x 13 inches
-Image size: 7 x 12, or 10 x 10 inches (you may change dimensions if your design calls for a longer size, must have my approval)
-Must use a four letter word (pg-13 please)

-Only black and white (the ground or field will be part of the design)
-Must use Micron Pens and India Ink for final presentation
-The word must be legible (not clear, but eventually legible).
-Do not outline the original rectangle or square. The negative shape will interact with the border.
-I may add more to the list during class


-Are you following the concept of the project?
- Does your word / image conceptually stimulate the viewer?
- Neatness, precision, Intelligent and crafty use of the medium (no distractions from craftsmanship errors)
-Originality, problem solving, innovation
Composition (overall design)
Does your work visually stimulate the viewer?
-Does the project seem complete, developed/evolved, and well executed?



Below are images intended to influence the design process. Please note: The works below do not represent the project's specifications.


This example is similar to the project's specifications. Notice how the designer creates an implied border.
Also, notice how letters share the same borders.