Expressive Words

‘Expressive words’ indicate intentionally designed words that show their meanings through the typefaces, motion, transform, distortion, etc. In this posting, I’m going to show some examples that I made.

Following is my initial idea sketch:

And I transferred those ideas to illustrator files.



Being a cat’s outline, the letters had better be sans-serif. Also, the typeface has to have round C and wide T to describe a cat’s eyes. On this basis, I found four possible fonts:

I chose Helvetica Neue and transformed it in different ways:

And this is the final design for the word, CAT:

I used bold style so that it looks more like a cartoon.



I think the word ‘Lamp’ arouses somewhat classic and book-reminding mood. Furthermore, I want bold style typefaces to express the brightness on the letters. So the fonts that match the criteria are like below:

Using the font, Copperplate, I tried several designs:

I also made another version to avoid the problem that those three designs could be read as ‘LIMP’:


I looked for the typefaces that have a closed ‘e’ which more looks like an eye, and also a curly ‘y’ which could seem like a mouth. And here are what I’ve found:

As American typewriter was the closest one that I was looking for, I decided to use it but needed to modify its y’s shape to make the word more like a face. And this is the final work:



To make an expressive word, ear, like my sketch, the typeface should be a script font.  Followings are the candidates:

At first, I tried to make the expressive font with only one typeface, though the script As are all too curved to express a face. So I combined sans-serif A, the font of which is Geneva, with Snell Roundhand’s E and R. Moreover, to make those ears stick out, I changed the font colour of A to light grey.

I actually worked on ‘Umbrella’ as well, but it didn’t look good. I tried to make its ‘r’ look like an umbrella, and gave variable effects such as spread ink, water drops or stagnant water, though it didn’t give me the exact impression I intended.

The left one looks a bit spooky. Its ‘r’ seems like a sickle rather than an umbrella and I expected the running ink looked like wet paper though it’s more like blood. The left work’s ‘r’ doesn’t still look like a proper umbrella.


Making those expressive words was a fun job, and it was a good chance to think about the impression of each font deeply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *