Lettering

owlstation_lettering-practice_2017

I’ve started reading ‘Pen Lettering’ by calligrapher Ann Camp with a view to improving my understanding of letter forms and (hopefully) upping my skills when it comes to wielding them.

Through my various stints of creative education and now working as a freelance designer, I’ve picked up basic knowledge and skills for lettering and typography. I can comfortably choose typefaces and lay out text in a pleasing way, but often when I attempt to hand-draw letters, I can come unstuck. So I decide it was time for a booster.

The first few pages of Ann Camp’s 1958 introduction to lettering were illuminating. She explains concepts such as the spacing between letters, teaching that this should not be worked out mechanically because of their varying shapes. For example, letters made of upright strokes should have more spacing between them than letters made of curved strokes, which should sit closer together. The aim being to keep the white spacing between letters optically proportionate at all times.  Whilst I have always aimed for good spacing in my designs, I have never really learned about the theory or logic behind it.

owlstation_lettering-practice_ann-camp_2017

…After the first few pages, she introduces some exercises, and that’s when things got HARD! I had to re-read her task explanation at least 5 times and apply a tonne of brainpower before I could properly get to work. In steps reminiscent of the ‘How to Draw an Owl’ meme (see below), she asks you to essentially rule out lines and copy the skeleton alphabet.

owl-meme

I’ve persevered. So far just practicing the lower case, the next step is upper case and then using both cases to form some words. The skeleton alphabet helps beginners to understand the basic form and characteristics of letters, before moving on to more complex stuff.

A sneaky peak ahead has shown me that the next exercise involves double bound pencils and what looks like first steps of calligraphy, so i’m keen to get there. I find it can be difficult to keep up self initiated challenges such as this one, where the results aren’t always instantaneous or glamorous. But I’ll stick with it for now and see where it takes me!

Drawlutions

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January always feels like a good time of year to think about where you are now and where you’re headed. To dust off the cobwebs, consider lessons learned in the previous year and psych oneself up for some self improvement. I’ve been thinking about how this applies to my illustration for 2016 and what my ‘Drawlutions’ should be (yeah I went there). So here’s the list. I could have gone way beyond eight but for now these feel the most important to me to carry through the year.

1. Get Conceptual
I’d like to create more conceptual pieces. Really consider how I could fulfil a brief and look for unusual and interesting ways to do so.

2. Use Colour
I’d like to be more experimental with colour in my work. I often shy away from it, feeling scared of getting it wrong. The time has come to experiment!

3. Skill Up
There are so many online courses out there, I want to get involved and increase my skill set. There are typography lessons to be learned, use of composition and light to name a few. I’m always attracted to the Skillshare site…

4. Create Portfolio Pieces
My personal projects can get benched and neglected when client work takes priority. Meaning lots of illustration ideas I have aren’t seen through to their final conclusion. I want to add more to my portfolio this year with both client and personal work.

5. Set Up Shop
I see so many lovely prints and products sold by illustrators who have organised, sexy shops. I want to join the online shop gang! Or at least explore the idea of selling work, cool items to share with the world, things I’d actually want to buy myself. I feel like i’ve got a LOT to learn here.

6. Keep Drawing
I’ve been pretty on it lately with sketching which I’m chuffed about and definitely feel like my drawing is improving. I want to keep that up this year and get along to more life classes.

7. Artist Studies
I found this really helpful last year. Looking at artists I admire, examining their style, having a go myself to see what I learn. Mixed results but definitely useful.

8. Texture Play
Layering up marks, messing about in photoshop, this is something I’ve started to do. I’d like to keep it going and try to find my style.

I’ve kicked off experiments here with a young kayaker paddling away from 2015, more experiments soon! If you have any Drawlutions of your own I’d love to hear about them and how you plan to carry them out. Happy New Year!