LED bumper “stickers”

Honda's onto something with their new Urban EV Concept Car

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I posted yesterday about Honda's new Urban EV concept car. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized every new car should come with a programable LED display. The car at the Frankfurt auto show had "#UrbanEV" on the screen, but that only scratches the surface. Imagine all of the potential uses...

 

Practical messages...

Practical Messages.
 

Sweet sentiments...

Urban_EV_just_married.png
 

Wishful thinking...

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Of course you are proud of your kid...

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Maybe a little mild humor...

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A gentle reminder not to tailgate...

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I can see a future when every car has an electronic bumper "sticker" that can be changed with an iPhone app. So when your candidate loses unexpectedly, you can change it to "Don't blame me, I voted for the other guy!" Maybe the anti-tailgating reminder can be triggered by a proximity sensor. Want to build a social media following? Maybe you can go with "You're already following me in traffic, why not follow me on Twitter?"

And by the way, I built these quick Photoshop mockups with my new typeface, SbB Drivetrain 209. You can get it for free from Fontstruct if you are interested.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.

Honda Urban EV and Modular Typefaces

I love concepts cars and modular type, so Honda’s Urban EV is right up my alley. 

I grew up going to the Chicago Auto Show and love to see a fun concept car. And the Urban EV is definitely fun. I think it’s interesting to see how car companies are designing electric vehicles, when most of the design constraints from traditional cars — engines, transmissions, gas tanks, etc. — are completely eliminated.

But the thing that really grabbed my attention was the screen and typeface that Honda used on the outside of the car. It includes the name of the car and other details like the charging status. The typeface Honda created for the Urban EV reminds me of an experimental design I created in 2009, Micro 205, but with dots instead of squares.

I took Micro 205 and the Urban EV as a starting point and created an all new typeface on Fontstruct. SbB Drivetrain 209 uses two dots of different sizes to create the alphabet. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. 

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A note about the "209" in the name of SbB Drivetrain 209. When I created Micro 205, I had this idea that I would add numbers to all my Fontstruct designs. Each number would combine the number of block styles used with the cap height in blocks, separated by a zero. Micro used 2 blocks and was 5 blocks high, so it became Micro 205. Another example... SbB Codebreaker with 1 block style and a cap height of 43 blocks would be SbB Codebreaker 1043. I never used the numbering convention after Micro 205, but figured it would be fun to dust off for Drivetrain since Micro 205 was part of the inspiration.

You can download SbB Drivetrain 209 from Fontstruct for free.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.

13/52: Ampersand

5 years ago this week, I released my first commercial typeface.

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Each week for a year, I’m going to be designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the design for week 13.

 

I released a couple of free typefaces in the early days of Sketchbook B. But five years ago, I took a big step and released my first commercial typeface, Powerlane.

Powerlane is a massive typeface family. 20 different fonts. And when you count all of the letters and numbers, foreign characters and special OpenType alternates, the family has more than 8,000 glyphs. 

I’m proud of Powerlane. I spent years designing Powerlane and learning all about the process of finalizing a commercial typeface. And even though I haven’t sold a ton of copies, I have sold copies on five continents —  North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia — which I think is pretty amazing.

I’ve released four other commercial fonts since Powerlane: Valdes Clarendon, Power Grid 2.0, Intermodal and Saluda. You can buy all of them on Creative Market. Powerlane and Valdes Clarendon are available on MyFonts, too. You can check out all of my type designs on my Fonts page.

This week’s shirt features my favorite character from Powerlane — the ampersand from Powerlane Outline. The shirt is available on Threadless in a range of colors.

Also, a quick side note… With the release of the 13th shirt, I’m a quarter of the way through my 52 Shirts project. 39 to go.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.

12/52: Never trust a storm with a friendly name

We personify the things we cannot control.

Each week for a year, I’m going to be designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the design for week 12.

 

As I write this, Hurricane Irma is about to tear through Florida after devastating the Caribbean. I live in South Carolina, and earlier this week, we were in the path of this beast of a hurricane. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Grocery stores rushed to stock enough bread and bottled water. Irma turned west and now, we’ll likely avoid a direct hit.

My 5-year-old son wanted to know why hurricanes have names. I explained that every storm has a letter. And every year, there is a list of names that corresponds to each letter. The names alternate between male and female names. After a particularly damaging storm, that name is retired.*

But I also think that we personify these storms because it’s somewhat comforting to give a friendly, familiar name to something so incredibly terrifying. Irma, Harvey, Katrina, Andrew, Hugo… These were monstrous, deadly destructive storms, but each of them with a friendly, approachable name. We talk about them as though they are our next door neighbor. And it seems to me that the friendlier the name, the more dangerous and unpredictable the storm is.

But I also think that we personify these storms because it’s somewhat comforting to give a friendly, familiar name to something so incredibly terrifying.

So this week's shirt is a reminder that no matter how friendly a storm name sounds, it’s still a dangerous force of nature. You can order “Never trust a storm with a friendly name” from my Threadless store. And stay safe out there.


Bob was retired after the 1991 storm wrecked havoc in New England.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.

SbB Epyx

My new pixel typeface family

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I’ve been working on a project for the last couple weeks over at Fontstruct. SbB Epyx is a series of typefaces based on some sketches for another project that went in a different direction. But I fell in love with the typeface design and started to build it out on Fontstruct.

SbB Epyx is named after my favorite video game company from my Commodore 64 days — Epyx. They created a series of Olympic-style video games, like Summer Games, World Games, Winter Games and California Games. (I won a jet ski with a scratch off game that came with California Games, so I was especially fond of that one. I was in 7th grade.)

The family consists of six typefaces: Bubble, Shadow, Mini Black, Mini Open, Mini Sprites and Sprites XL. They are all constructed using just the pixel brick. That’s kind of my modus operandi over at Fontstruct. I love to use the fewest bricks possible.

All of the designs are intended to compliment each other and are free to download at Fontstruct. You just have to sign up for a free account.

 

SbB Epyx Bubble

SbB Epyx Bubble is a translation of my sketches for a logo. The project when in a different direction, but the typeface design lives on with SbB Epyx.

 

SbB Epyx Shadow

SbB Epyx Shadow was selected as a top pick by the moderators at Fontstruct.

 

SbB Epyx Mini Black

SbB Epyx Mini Black is a intended to be used as an accent for the Bubble and Shadow variants.

 

SbB Epyx Mini Open

SbB Epyx Mini Open is a version of Epyx that is more readable at small sizes.

 

SbB Epyx Mini Sprites

SbB Epyx Mini Sprites are a useful assortment of arrows, objects and patterns than accent the rest of the Epyx family.

 

SbB Epyx Sprites XL

SbB Epyx Sprites XL is a collection of spaceships, planes, boats and more inspired by old video games. Epyx Sprites XL was selected as a Top Pick by the moderators at Fontstruct.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.