Charles Demuth “5” Inspired Typography – Lettering Design Lesson 2

Demuth 5 Lettering as an ArtformCharles Demuth “5” Inspired Typography, Font Styles & Lettering Design Lesson (Lesson 2)

This is the second lesson in a project on typography and lettering basics. See Lesson 1: Intro to Typography – Lettering Basics Lesson Plan (Lesson 1) This art project is geared toward middle school and high school art (but could be adapted to upper elementary) and is a great lesson to teach design and composition.Intro to Typography Lettering Basics ARt lesson




  • Students will learn about the artist Charles Demuth and the Precisionism art movement.
  • They will learn characteristics of Precisionism and understand how it was influenced by Cubism and Futurism.
  • Students will use design skills to create an original composition using typography and lettering styles.


  1. Review lettering vocabulary, Identify the Parts of a Letter (from lesson 1)
  2. Artist Study: Charles Demuth
    1. Charles Demuth (November 8, 1883 – October 23, 1935) was an American watercolor artist (turned to oils late in his career) who developed a style of painting known as Precisionism.
    2. Precisionism was an American art movement that was influenced by Cubism and Futurism.
      1. View artwork from each of these movements.
      2. Discuss differences and similarities. Cubism’s goal was to represent an image in its basic geometric forms. Futurism embraced modern technology (the technical triumph of man over nature). The Futurists admired speed, technology, youth and violence, the car, the airplane and the industrial city.
    3. Precisionism main themes were industrialization and the modernization of the American landscape. The structures of which were depicted in precise, sharply defined geometrical forms.
    4. Demuth was a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania. He studied and lived some in Paris where he became a part of the Avant Garde art scene. He died at the age 51 of complications from diabetes.
    5. View “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold by Charles Demuth on the Metropolitian Museum of Art Website:
      I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold
      6. Read articleModern Art Monday Presents: I Saw the Figure Five in Gold” (see below in box) to understand how Demuth was inspired to create his piece “I Saw the Figure Five in Gold”.

       Modern Art Monday Presents: I Saw The Figure Five in Gold …

      Between 1924 and 1929 Charles Demuth completed eight abstract portraits as tributes to modern American artists, writer, and performers. Though not a physical likeness, Demuth created this portrait of his friend, William …

Activity: Demuth “5” Inspired Typography – Lettering Design Drawing

Project Objective: Create an original design using each of the 4 types of lettering styles (roman, poster, script & unusual-in Serif & non-serif font types) in a visually interesting composition. Create a focal point using size variation and color contrast. Vary the size and angle of the letters or numbers. Use black and white design in the background.

Materials: 12×18” Tagboard, rulers, examples of font alphabets, colored pencils, sharpies (markers optional)

Here is some “in-progress” student artwork:


  1. Choose 5-7 Letters, Numbers & Characters to draw.
    1. Create the Design on the computer using Word or Pages:
      1. Use Microsoft Word or Mac Pages Program to create your basic composition.
      2. Insert “word art”-the outline only style- individually of 5-7 Letters, Numbers & Characters.
      3. Overlap, twist (rotate), and have the letters go partially off the page to make the composition more interesting.
      4. Save the document to the desktop as “Your Name ART”.
  2. Create AT LEAST 2 thumbnail sketches to work out your composition in your sketchbook. Choose one letter to be your focal point (area of emphasis) through style, size, color and contrast.
  3. Must use each 4 styles of lettering for a different letter or number (there will be 1+ repeated styles depending on how many letters you put in your design).
  4. Tips for design:
    1. Vary the sizes and angles of the letters/numbers.
    2. Overlap some of the letters/numbers.
    3. Have some designs go off the page
    4. Go onto a computer to work out the design.
  5. On a 12×18” sheet of white paper, in pencil draw a 3” square grid. (Or create random diagonal lines- I’m going to do this next time!)3 inch GRID image
  6. Draw your design in pencil.
  7. LETTERS, Numbers & Characters:  will be rendered in color. Use colored pencils/markers for the letters/numbers. Make sure you choose your focal point to be in color and balance the other colors throughout the piece.
  8. BACKGROUND: background will be in black & white-create a positive & negative space reversal patterns in your art. Use Sharpies for the background. Create various patterns in the background to change the values.

Demuth 5 Typography Lettering Styles

If you choose to use any of this lesson (written or photos), please link back to this blog Create Art with ME!

  1. Tara Barnes

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