Friday, December 31, 2010

The Illustrated Ampersand

This ampersand illustration is a practice session. I plan to use this effect of rough surface and off registered inks on the next promo poster currently in the works.

This ampersand version is the one I decided to use for a 7.5" x 8" Giclée print on cold press watercolor paper.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cap W for LetterCult AlphaBattle

arlier this year I uploaded some cap letters to Alphabet Playground. As the year progressed I got swamped with commercial work and the cap letter projects had to be put on hold. Now that I have some time available I will be uploading new cap letters to Letter Playground. and AlphaBattle.

The screen shot shows a sketch of the W as a drawing template. The vector lines were imported to Photoshop and filled in several layers. Various 3rd party filters were used to create the surface texture, offset shapes and distortion of the illustration.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Old Dudes Rule

Happy Holidays to everyone out there!

The past few weeks have been rather hectic with many rush deadlines and little free time to experiment with alphabets. Lately I have been thinking about printing a series of 13" x 19" posters. This one is the first and was created for a friend I worked with for many years. His creative mind gets better as the years progress.

This is the quick layout sketch used for the drawing template.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Beginning Phase Of A New Promo Poster

These two photos represent the preliminary sketch process and layout for my next illustrated promo poster.

When discussing the lettering process I often mention the importance of drawing and to do a lot of it. All the sketches on my office wall are basically rough concept studies to learn how elements of the illustration may or may not work together. No fancy or refined sketches in the beginning of a project. Just a lot of quick thoughts and ideas to scribble on paper.

The layout I will use for a drawing template took only a few minutes to sketch. However, I had to sketch all the preliminary studies to create a layout for my intended use. I now have the information I need to begin drawing vector art. As this project progresses I will probably do additional sketching for the complex areas of the illustration.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Last week I was asked to write the word Confidence in a loose hand writing style for use on a large size banner about 6 feet long. To produce this lettering style I first had to understand how to compose the letters in a fluent manner.

I wrote the word a number of times on a small note tablet with pencil and pen. No matter how many years I have been lettering I never have an immediate answer. I go thru a trial and error process and eventually everything falls in place.

After the initial roughs I understood the rhythm and flow of the letters. I grabbed a PITT big brush pen and wrote the word at a larger size on a piece of 11" X 17' layout paper which was scanned and imported into Photoshop. I used the gaussian blur filter to smooth the letter shapes, posterized the image and saved the image as a 40" X 25" 75 dpi B/W bitmap file. The bitmap file was imported into Illustrator as a template to create the vector art.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Healthy Choice Logo

Healthy Choice is a lettering project I was involved with approximately 2 years ago. I worked with a group of designers at Brandimage - Desgrippes & Laga refining their concept sketches including some of my own.

These are some of my rough sketches used to produce a closed in series of logos.

During a late night sketching session I started to think about the combination of sans serif with semi script letter forms. Specifically the e, a and c. By including letters that had a open script style the logo got some personality it lacked in previous attempts.

With a solid sketch I produced the vector version and sent it to the creative director. The logo was accepted and some versions were later produced that enclosed the letters in an oval. The final logo of the product line was the version with no oval enclosure.

Several months after working on the project I saw the product line when I was in the grocery store. I noticed that 2 small changes were made internally by the CD with a curved cross stroke of the cap H and a longer ligature of the lowercase y. Both excellent improvements to the logo.

This was a unique project to work on and one that gave me the chance to design a sans semi script type style for a logo printed on an extensive food packaging line.

Vintage Mechanics of Type Illustration

This morning I had the pleasure of finding a magazine cover that I illustrated back in 1990. This is a 20 year old illustration and it still holds up as a solid design. I used both Illustrator and Freehand at the time to get the effects for the gearing gradations. With all the advances in Illustrator at present day the gradations are no longer a time consuming process to create.

Marie Meier Lettering

This evening I was archiving a bunch of job files from the past year and I noticed some lettering for a Marie Meier project a while ago. This was some of the coolest lettering iI worked on at the beginning of the year. Its always interesting to letter with some tattoo influence for inspiration.

These are the quick sketches. This was one of those projects when I drew the lettering and embellishments freehand in Illustrator. Just winged it. I had a general idea of what I wanted the lettering to look like and used the sketches for a rough template guide.

I drew the lettering for one version on a set of arced guidelines as I needed to produce it for use on apparel.

When drawing the embellishments I started out with smooth curved paths. The paths were offset and I moved the bezier points to change the thickness of the stroke.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fight Back Tee Lettering

Earlier this year I had the pleasure to work with Benjie on some apparel lettering for The Hundreds. A tee with the Fight Back lettering I created is now available in the winter collection at: the online store

Concept sketches for the project.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Can Letter Any Style You Imagine

Several weeks ago I began to think about designing a printed promo poster for clients. Something nice to hang on their office walls. The end result is a Giclée print in 19" X 12" format on cold press paper. The print quality is beautiful on a textured surface. I plan to submit this lettering piece to the Type Directors Club call for entires this December.

This project involved a lot of drawing and I filled up one of my studio walls with sketches. I had to figure out how to create a easy to read complex lettering design. My preliminary sketches had too much going on but the basic idea and structure was good.

I scanned the most toned down sketch for template use in Illustrator. Next step was to render a number vector versions as reversed B/W to determine what areas needed to be refined for contrast and legibility.

The major obstacle of this design was the cap L . For nearly a week I tried different shapes with interior fills and nothing worked. I found a visual solution when I looked at the scroll carving of an antique chest in my hallway. I took a photo, sketched some more and got the details I needed.

After finishing the B/W art many color versions were created with Illustrator and Photoshop. Quick screen comps to figure out the color. I wanted a visual that resembled printed matchbook covers from the 1930's. Initially a textured background existed but did not fit in with the overall design. A cutline gradation was produced to pop the lettering off the background and lead to my logo mark in the bottom right corner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Piece for the Handlettering Cite

This is a new piece for the Alex Savakis Handlettering Cite. Afer a few quick studies with a brush pen I scanned one of the practice sheets for templated use. The scan was nothing more than a rough template image and I winged it while drawing in Illustrator.

I had a lot of inspiration today after viewing work of master lettering artists. I'm just touching the surface of what is possible after decades of commercial lettering work. Many thanks to Jane Farr and Julie Wildman for information about seminars with the Chicago Calligraphy Collective including of people to contact and sties to view.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Day Searching for the Ultimate Pen

I have been searching for the ultimate pen for B/W script lettering a long time. Today I found one that is nearly perfect for my handwriting style. The pen is a PITT artist pen with a bold tip. It has the flex of an antique fountain pen that produces a large thick to super fine stroke weight. Previously I tried the PITT big brush pen and I was not able to hold a super fine line with the tip. The PITT bold tip is truly amazing for an affordale writing instrument.

This script sample was produced from 3 quick writing exercises with the PITT bold tip. The version on the right was scanned, imported as a template and refined in Illustrator.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Say It Ain't So

Say It Ain't So is a piece I created for the Handlettering Cite.

The preliminary sketches were drawn with a PITT artist pen big brush, ultra fine Sharpie and pencil. The PITT big brush is an amazing brush pen for fast writing with flex.

I worked on 2 versions of the lettering at the same time as I wanted to try both a simple and complex script. While drawing the embellished version I eventually gave up following the template image and drew the flourish lines freehand. The final touch was to cite Rivers Cuomo who wrote a song with the words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bursh Pen Practice

A morning wrist exercise with a Pental brush pen on a sheet of layout paper. Lot of fun to write with a brush pen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How BOO was created.

BOO was used for e-mail greetings as a low resolution JPG file. This was a quick little wrist exercise that I did while drinking a cup of coffee before my work day started. Since posting BOO I have received some inquiries asking how the lettering was created. FIrst step was sketch some quick rhythm studies in pencil and marker on tissue paper.

One of the sketches was imported to Illustrator as a template. I began to draw the basic letter shapes with the pen tool. The line paths were offset by 9 points to create the letterform outlines.

Next, I shaped the outlines to the desired widths.

After drawing and adjusting the letters and flourishes I imported a screen shot to Photoshop and inverted the color. I blurred the image to soften the letters.

Final step was to apply the Alien Skin Snap Art Impasto filter. I played with a number of settings to get the ghost like appearance and voilà.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sweet Dreams for Now Little One

I wanted to write something beautiful with a pen last night. I had thought about this compostion for a couple weeks prior to lettering the words.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Late Night Rhythm

More loose brush at a very late hour.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Type Boy

TypeBoy was created with a pencil, a hand carved bamboo reed and a stiff bristle brush. I did this one after a long session of tightly controlled letterforms. I'm going to continue playing with loose writing for a while to get back my rhythm.

This is the sketch prior to brush strokes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jimmy D's Lettering Project

Jimmy D's is a recent project and a good example to show lettering variations created in the development of a brand mark. The design team on this project sent me a series of roughs to refine and develop for comp presentation. A variety of comp lettering was produced for presentation.

As the project progressed a new comp was sent over with a request that I fine tune the concept.

In order to fine tune the comp I printed a screen shot of the image and used it for a tissue underlay. I drew new letter shapes with consistent hook serifs on the left and right sides, adjusted vertical angles including wieghts and smoothed out the loop of the cap D. The tissue sketch was scanned and pasted on the screen shot image in Photoshop.

The image was saved as a jpg file and imported to Illustrator for use as a drawing template. With new letters drawn a grouped interior tone shape was added to give the lettering some depth.

The final art of the Jimmy D's lettering is now in use on TV commercials, packaging and at a really cool website.