Friday, April 29, 2011

My Flat Brush Holder

I finished the first Charles Pearce workshop assignment yesterday. I had no experience using a flat brush prior to the workshop with only one month to figure out how to hold and manipulate a flat brush to paint letters. The major obstacle I encountered was holding the brush while twisting and turning the bristles at a consistent height to the paper surface. With literally thousands of practice attempts with no success at flatbrush lettering I had to think of a solution for my hand to hold and paint with the brush.

A very simple design. However, it took 50 versions of this design to make it simple. It originally started with a chopstick attached to the brush with a rubber band and evolved into the current brush holder shown in the photos. With the device in my hand it is very easy to change the width of the brush stroke by rotating the barrel. Best of all this is very easty on the hand and wrist.

The letters in these examples are not perfect by any means but a significant step ahead of my early workshop attempts to letter with a flat brush. Prior to using the brush holder I was not able to paint a stroke with any control while twisting and turning the barrel. After lettering with the brush holder I began to understand the basics of the flat brush. Perhaps after time and more practice I will no longer need to use the brush holder. For the time being it is definitely something I want to continue lettering with when a flat brush is required.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Roman Caps Study with Charles Pearce

I'm taking a 3 month Roman Caps workshop with Charles Pearce organized by Karen Ness of the CCC. Charles is one of the most well know and respected calligraphers in the world. He is truly amazing. The first weekend of study took place March 26th at the Burnham Fire House. My objective of the course is to learn the structure of Roman Caps and how to use a flat brush. Prior to this workshop I never used a flat brush to create any lettering.

All participants of the workshop have an assignment to letter 3 lines of text with proper proportions and spacing. Definitely the most complex lettering project I have ever experienced. I am not working digitally to create the letters. The tools for this one are a pencil, gouache and a flat brush. The letters require a lot of brush manipulation.

This image courtesy of Karen is my critique with Charles. He was kind enough to explain how to improve my spacing and letter proportions of the first lettering draft. Fortunately there were no fires in Burnham at the time as I borrowed a fire dept. vehicle for the lettering critique.

Over the course of a month I have been at work on my assignment and have lost track of the hours put into it all. I am finally having some success with a flat brush but I've got a long way to go. My studo is now filled with countless sheets of practice letters. Best of all my schnoodle LittleDude is taking a keen interest in Roman Caps. Maybe someday I will teach him to use a flat brush and we can letter together.

I have one week to finish the assignment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Cool Marker Technique

While deleting images from my iMac this morning I found this one. Might be of some interest to show for a dry brush marker technique. I rubbed the tip of a PITT marker in some quick dry varnish sprayed on a piece of cardboard. After a few minutes when the varnish semi cured I got some cool effects. Eventually the varnish cracks off and the marker tip has to be recoated. The varnish will eventually ruin the tip of the marker but its a lot of fun till that happens.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Albanese project

Albanese was a lettering project for a local client at the beginning of 2011. This was a project which required a lot of sketching in a quick time frame to develop a brandmark for a chocolate product.

I often tell people that that drawing skills are essential. When I start a project I do a lot of preliminary studies to learn the letterforms. I am not creating detailed drawings as all the precise draftsmanship happens while drawing in Adobe illustrator. I rarely spend more than a couple minutes per sketch. Basically a lot of quick investigation of what may work for readability.

This series of sketches was done with a PITT marker on sheets of 9" X 12" layout paper. I drew these studies while sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch. Only had a couple hours get some ideas together on paper for a quick presentation with the art director. After all the trial and error studies I picked versions which had some potential for further development, traced them while adding notes for the AD to read. After sacnning the layouts I e-mailed the files for presentation.

These are the images sent to the AD. After he reviewed everything we discussed which versions to develop in Illustrator.

This image shows the vector versions created from the sketches.

After sending the vector art files to the AD I created one more version that had nice flow and contrast. Something extra as another option for the AD.

Overall, this was a very successful project. The images show that drawing is an important part of the lettering process. Sketching is the way to find out in a very quick time frame what will and will not work. Concept sketching also allows the opportunity to show a client what is possible instead of guessing what finished art might be.