TypeCooker is a simple exercise generator for those interested in type design and lettering. It chooses randomly from lists of carefully picked parameters, in varying degrees of difficulty (more or fewer parameters) and complexity. The task is then to draw letters that incorporate as many of the parameters as possible.

For example:

  • Ascender: Shorter Than Normal
  • Stems: Slightly Concave
  • Descender: Longer Than Normal
  • Construction: Capitals
  • Width: Very Wide
  • Weight: Extra Bold
  • Contrast: Amount Some
  • Application: Smooth Offset Printing
  • Stroke: Endings Rounded, No Serif
  • Contrast Type: Translation

In the process all sorts of questions pop up: “What is normal contrast then?”, “is this bold enough?” Almost always a starting point for an interesting discussion.

The recipes are not much more than randomly chosen words. But they demand an objective approach to drawing. Conflicting requirements are possible, so observing that a particular requirement is difficult to solve is a valuable disovery for a student.

TypeCooker is very flexible and can be used in different ways. It is suited for workshops and structured classes. But it works evenly well for individual practice.

TypeCooker is much indebted to the classes, ideas and writings by Gerrit Noordzij. He identified contrast flavor, contrast amount, weight, proportion and so on. The TypeCooker parameter list adds a few more.

The first version of TypeCooker must have been around 2004, possibly a python script running on a private server. It went through several iterations, with new, or rephrased requirements. Currently it exists as a RoboFont extension and a dedicated website.

In 2013 Nina Stössinger wrote about her drawing experiments with TypeCooker on typographica.org

There is a Flickr group with TypeCooker results

This is an Instagram tag for TypeCooker results


As an educational tool, TypeCooker is free and will always be free. But please don’t make branded products for sale with the TypeCooker name. If you do a TypeCooker workshop, please link back to the original site TypeCooker.com and share the results.

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All rights reserved. ©2020 LettError Type / Erik van Blokland