Typeface design education from Cooper Union
Chinese workshop images 4

Intro to Chinese Type Design and a Collaborative Process using Fontra
with Mark Zhu and Jérémie Hournus

Typographics Conference (in-person) ticket holders can have a 10% discount on this workshop. Write to type@cooper.edu for the promo-code to take advantage of this offer before you pay.

Chinese type design is usually known for having large glyphsets to complete or complex character structures. But what are some methods that Chinese designers employ to tackle these challenges and improve efficiency? In this workshop, participants will learn about the basics of the Chinese script and type design, and work together in a collaborative workflow to create a simple Chinese typeface, using the font-editing platform Fontra. Workshop will include presentation, software demo, and hands-on practice.


Participants are expected to have some basic knowledge of type design and previous experience with another font-editing software like Glyphs or RoboFont. Prior knowledge of the Chinese script or language is not required.

Goals and benefits:

Get a better understanding of the Chinese writing system and how to approach its typeface design.

Participants will:

  • Gain a basic understanding of the Chinese script and type design.
  • Participate in a collaborative workflow, which could potentially be adapted to their own practice.
  • Try out the new font-editing platform Fontra.



  • A short presentation on the Chinese script and basic concepts of Chinese type design, especially the concept of "radicals" which is essential to the design workflow.
  • A demo of Fontra, including basic functions and specific tools for CJK design.
  • Explanation and discussion of the collaborative project: participants will design a simple Chinese typeface collaboratively, each contributing to the creation of assigned variable components and glyphs. The typeface will have 2 weights, a limited and curated glyphset, and a rather simple sans-serif design.


  • Participants will first draw a group of control characters. They will each receive a few characters to draw in contours in Fontra.
  • Then they will create variable components based on the control characters. They will each be assigned one or more components to create.
  • Finally, participants will each be given a list of glyphs to create by using the variable components created by the group.
  • Review and discussion of the design and the process.

Required Materials:

  • Bring your own laptop (Mac or Windows) with internet connection
  • sketching materials for drafting and notes

Wed, June 12, 2024
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)

41 Cooper Square at Cooper Union
East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Price: 275

About Mark Zhu

Mark Zhu photo

Mark Zhu is a typeface designer originally from Hangzhou, China, currently working at Black[Foundry] in Paris, France. He holds a MA in typeface design from the University of Reading, and a post-graduate diploma in typeface design from Ésad d’Amiens. His design work focuses on multi-script type design and typographic issues, especially between Chinese and Latin.

About Jérémie Hournus


Jérémie Hornus is a typeface designer with an engineering profile. He discovered typography at the Scriptorium of Toulouse in 2000 and then obtained a Master of Art in Typeface Design at the University of Reading in 2006. He now shares his time between lettering and programming. With Grégori Vincens, he founded Black[Foundry], a type-foundry that combines design, technology and multi-script. Through its Type+Tech® approach, the company helps major international brands, both on the development of their typographical identity, and on all the complex issues associated with new type technologies.