Hi there! In this post I’d like to share a bit more of the refining process that lettering involves. Especially when it comes to illustration and making a lettering piece speak beyond its vector lines and anchor points.
Let’s get to it:
Fot this piece I pushed myself to work fast without sacrificing quality. Below are the sketches where I explore composition and style (left) and the rough sketch that has the qualities I was looking for in the previous sketches (right).
One I have a rough sketch, I scan the drawing and bring it into illustrator to start vectorizing.
As you can see in the image below break apart the piece into smaller parts based on the strokes of the tool I’m trying to imitate. In this case I’m trying to give my lettering the dynamism and fluidity of a brush stroke. The red dots help me balance the contrast (thicks and thins) of the strokes while also keep an eye on the overall color of the piece.
Once I foolishly think I’m halfway there, I print the latest version of the vectorized piece and look at it from different angles at different distances. In the image below you can see all the mistakes that I make in the first draft. It’s kinda embarrassing to show this but the fact that you can see what’s wrong with it means that you’re developing an eye for the subtleties (not so subtle in the image below) that a good piece of lettering has. The marks in pencil are reminders of things that I have to fix. At this stage I go back to the computer and work to adjust my handles and anchor points.
After an hour or so, I think of Francois Rappo’s work and ask myself “How long should I work on this curve?” I print what I think has some improvement and begin to tear it apart. With that said, to get good at something (I’m not there yet but I’m still trying) you have to be honest with yourself and be able to destroy the thing you sort of love. I have two printouts of “Saturn Devouring his Son” (Goya’s and Rubens’) for that particular reason. In the sketch below I number the things that I have not fixed yet and go back to the computer.
A few hours later… I show the piece to people for feedback. Don’t be fooled by comments such as “that looks awesome” or “cool man”. Instead, pay attention to people who are able to see the inconsistencies in your work. You don’t have to accept all the comments but make sure, you can live with the decisions you have made in your piece. Remember that lettering is all about editing. With that said, the bottom part of the ‘d’ was bothering me and someone thought it was a bit inconsistent. Fortunately I caught that before his comment but I was glad someone noticed. With this I went back to the computer and made the changes.
After hours of work, in the image below is the final vectorized version.
Here are the vectors for those who are curious.
After all that effort and some happy accidents, I open a beer and add some happy clouds and eventually end up with the image below.
That was fun, and the point of it was to show you that the effects are just the icing on the cake. If you don’t work hard at making the foundations of the lettering piece the best it can be, you’ll end up with a badly polished turd. No one wants to see that, plus it reflects bad on you and your work ethic.
This piece was made as a personal challenge and for Illustration friday.
I hope you enjoy my process and visit my site juakafka for more work and leave some comments.