I thought I'd post this pseudo-step-by-step for a few reasons:
- since I recieved a rather nice telephone call from a fellow Letterville resident this past week inquiring about how I go about something like this (I won't mention who it was, because I'm not sure how appropriate that is, but I am always happy to know that there are real people here)...
- since I am too "quiet" on this board (as I am in real life for those that know me) and feel like I should contribute more...
- since I beleive in this thing we call "Letterheads", where sharing information and techniques can only push us all farther in our journeys...
- since I've had a few "wobbly pops" on this fine Saturday afternoon...
- and since I'm procrastinating on a project I should really be working on...
Ok, so now that you know that I may not be quite in the "right" state of mind, basically the question was "How did you come up with the lettering?" for the Harrietsville Olympics banner that I posted on the portfolio page a few days ago.
The answer is as complex as you wish it to be. I've always been "into computers", but one thing has always been consistent with me: I have always viewed a computer as only a tool to achieve what I want. I don't see it as some magical device that can read my mind and deliver what I expect. I beleieve that when you have a blank page in front of you - you alone are in control of every single facet of what happens. Never let the computer dictate what your layout looks like, unless it pays really, really well. heh heh
I've seen people that can look at a "real world" tool such as a router or a belt sander and instantly see all the possibilities of what that tool can achieve, where all I see is a few limited uses such as running an edge off a substrate or smoothing a radius on a corner. I envy that, but in any case, I seem to see the possibilities of things in the "cyber-world" much easier than the real-world tools.
I also seem to been blessed with (as I prefer to see it) with a good "visual memory". When I see something in Signcraft, A Magazine About Letterheads, or when taking a stroll through the grocery store that strikes my eye, I try to analyze what the particular element is, and what it is doing in the context that it has been used. I can then use the same "techniques" that the "big boys & girls" do for solving a similar problem in my own work. I'm not naive enough to believe that I'm at the level of work I see in those instances, but I am very determined that one day I will be.
Having qualified all of that, I will now proceed, based on the principal that it is all about writing down and sharing what you know, even if 90% of the people knew the technique - there are still 10% still being introduced to a new concept. Get the hint? Write it down! Lots of us have no clue about many other areas in the sign business. cough cough <me!> I learn a lot just from lurking here. $50 a year to support the things that support you? That's nothing compared to what I get out of the deal.
Here's a breakdown of what I sometimes do when I want to rid myself of a "generic computer layout":
I've "gotten into trouble" before - layout wise, doing this, but I feel that I am getting better every time I do it at seeing how the letter structures and how the rythmns relate in a given layout. I've always tried to design something on the computer as I would if I were hand lettering it. That may not make perfect sense to people who have never hand-lettered, but it means that you work "on-the-fly" to correct things in the layout that are extremely hard to define unless you haved worked with the elements on a truly intimate level.
I beleive I ran across an article by Gary Anderson called "The Anatomy of the Scroll" or something similarly titled in an old Signs of the Times (maybe) that gave me a footing for some of the scroll work.
I wanted these letters to have "scalloped" tops and bottoms. I've done this before, where I took one perfectly digitized "scallop" and duplicated it for each letter and then altered the original vectors to fit the template exactly. I found that this mentality takes too much time, and it also takes away from the mindset of what we are trying to achieve - it still looks too "computer perfect". So this time I just added some nodes and altered them at will. It's still a little "stiff" compared to if I had done them "on-the-fly" with a quill, but just a little bit less so.
Here's a detail of the pointed main strokes... Do those things have an official name? I know the obscure term "cyma", but what the hell are those things called - anyone? The main "point" I want to make about these are that I drew one point and duplicated and welded it over and over again for all the letters. With a little bit of adjustment to the size, rotation and placement - it works well. The other thing I should mention is that it is a good idea to zoom way in and change the very tip of the point to a very small radius corner. That way, if you put an outline on it, you won't end up with an extremely wayward contour.
I also used the same sort of technique with the cartoons. I'm not among the world's best at cartooning, probably not even the best within a three block radius. Sometimes I do ok, but for the most part, I need a solid reference for what I want to do. Especially if I don't want to spend too much time on artwork. For these cartoons, I imported a few different pieces of clip art from the CorelDraw cds and then combined them into rough layouts. The cow's head and body were two different pieces of clip art that I merged together and then traced over top of on a blank piece of paper. I used the same technique that I used for the lettering. I printed them out in wireframe mode, and then traced over them with a sharpie marker - trying to work in a more suitable and consistent composition. I left the pig's head and stance pretty much as it was, but changed the body to suit the situation I was after.
While I'm at it... for those that don't seem to see the difference, let me assure you that the art of hand lettering is more than a bunch of "old farts" in love with the process of lettering. If no one else can't, I for one can see the differences between what I know and what I try to do... Some of these guys can accomplish the feel that I'm after in five minutes that it takes me an hour to "approximate".
I hope this technique is of some help or inspiration to others. It may or may not be revolutionary, but I thought I'd throw it out there. ...and for anyone that's paying attention... the lesson we've all learned here is that if you want me to "spill my guts"... buying me some good Canadian beer will in fact work quite well. I hope to take make a landing on Mars this summer... heh heh See ya there! (I really hope that doesn't reinforce any stereotypes...) ... sort of
-------------------- Bob Darnell London, Ontario, Canada
Very nice Bob. I really appreciate the effort but forth in these types of posts. If you decide to procrastinate on another project and down a few more "wobbly pops”, I’d be happy to read “that” resulting post as well.
-------------------- Bob Gilliland InKnowVative Communications Harrisburg PA, USA
"The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself." Benjamin Franklin Posts: 642 | From: Harrisburg, PA, USA | Registered: Nov 1998
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Thanks for taking the time to put this together Bob. I often wonder how some people get their work so unique. Now I have a little more insight. Need to work on my node editing skills a bit. Especially in CorelDraw! Thanks again!
-------------------- Amy Brown Life Skills 101 Private Address Posts: 3502 | From: Lake Helen, FL, USA | Registered: Feb 2001
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Thanks for the answer Timi! I was looking for it.
Bob, A while back, my father (AlZanetti) had an article published in Signcraft called The Anatomy of an Alphabet. In fact, I have the original artwork on my living room wall. It details out all of the little parts of a letter and what they are called. I'll find the mag and if you don't have it, I'll make you a copy.