Proper Proportions Class New York with John Downer

Proper Proportions Course

Cost: $485.00

This course will address matters of concern regarding character proportions, stroke weights, curve descriptions, and miscellaneous ratios in type design. To quote the late American type designer, R. Hunter Middleton: “‘Relationship’ is the most important word in type design.”

But, in order for letterforms to perform correctly, they must be spaced correctly. Drawing letters and spacing them are simultaneous activities. The voids between characters must be allowed to play a role in determining character proportions. Secrets of spacing will be laid bare, as Mr. Downer demystifies the process and explains established principles via basic exercises.

Learning, applying, and remembering special hierarchies which pertain to the discipline of type design will help novices avoid countless common mistakes. And, even though makeshift gauges and calipers may be of use, “eyeballing” will ultimately determine correctness of form and arrangement.

This class will meet Saturday, Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

  • Required Materials
  • no. 2 Pencil
  • Eraser
  • 12” ruler
  • Scissors
  • 1” black artists’ tape
  • Clear scotch tape
  • 1 zig memory systems brand calligraphy pen, 2 ended with 2.0 mm and 5.0 mm felt nibs black
  • Pad of 14 x 17 layout paper (or tabloid copier paper)


Course Code: 149962

Instructor(s): Ken Barber

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.