Monday, November 5, 2012

Lettering for Get Out The Vote

I was fortunate to create this lettering for Yosi Sergent and the Get Out The Vote project.
Be sure to check out more at:

A portion of the preliminary sketch used as a template layer for the finished lettering.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No more freebees

My thought about requests from people who expect lettering for free.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dog in a Fight color comps

Preliminary color comp versions of the wall poster with off registration colors and scratchy surface texture. 

It's Not Size of the Dog in a Fight

Bold freehand lettering with plenty of contrasting shapes.  This piece was very complicated to finish with almost a year of reworking the composition. Though the lettering looks random, it took many pencil sketches to figure out placement of the words.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Social Brand Logo Development

Earlier this year I worked on a logo project for My Social Brand.

What made this a challenging logo to produce was the client request that each word be surrounded by interlocking talk bubbles. After a concept sketch was selected for vector I did some additional sketching to figure out  the rough shape and position of the individual letters. The sketch was imported to Illustrator to use as a reference guide. I had to make numerous adjustments during the vector drawing process as the logo was going to used for repro from small to large sizes. I quite often view the logo in reverse to avoid any odd contrast.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ellis Brown

Ellis Brown was script logo project with retro influence. I looked at some 50's and 60's style lettering for reference and  drew a series of roughs for presentation. This was one of those "need it yesterday" commercial lettering projects with not much time to produce the sketches or vector lettering.

The client selected the bottom version with the request that both words be centered. A quick Photoshop modification was  applied to the  selected rough on the bottom right.

The modified sketch image was used as a template in Illustrator. The template was only a starting point to provide reference for the basic shape of the letters. 

Tejas Logo Development

Tejas is a recent lettering project. A good example of sketching and contrast development.  In my younger days I learned from a master designer that one of the key elements of lettering is black and white contrast. To this day I often work in reverse with white letters on a black background. I use this method to fine tune the overall contrast by closing gaps.

The client sent me a rough draft of Texas which had some problems. The contrast was off balance with thicks of the e, a and s which overpowered the vertical weight of the j and a. There was nothing unique in the cap T or j.  

The only way to properly develop Tejas was to spend time rough sketching. Sketching is the ultimate skill to find answers for what may  or may not work. After some time with pencil and paper I  developed the circled version which definitely had some potential for vector lettering. The client select 2 versions to refine in vector format.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Pencils from the Archives

The Black Seeds logo was another commercial project requiring tight pencils. The objective was to begin with the original logo and refine the lettering. This was not a project with freedom to stray from the original design. The client sent the original logo and a rough layout to use as a starting point.

A series of tight pencils was produced and the client selected the version to develop as a finished vector logo.

The Black Seeds logo was drawn in vector and printed as an insert for the Dust and Dirt CD.

Tight Pencil Layouts

While archiving some files I found pencil layouts from a commercial project. This was for bottled water with emphasis on the word NOTHING.

Unlike preliminary sketches for a personal gestural lettering piece, commercial projects start with loose thumbnails that sometimes evolve into very tight pencil renderings. When drawing a tight layout with mechanical pencil and marker I use tissue overlays that are scanned as a multiple layer Photoshop image. The layers get flattened and posterized for presentation.

Lettering Sketch for Word Far Away

This is the original sketch for the World Far Away composition. I was thinking about deadlines with commercial lettering. My garden has no deadlines to deal with.

I rough sketched the composition and refined the lettering on a overlay. The overlay was scanned and used as a template. The background image was painted in Photoshop and changed a number of times with modified layers as I wanted the word "deadlines" to overlap the garden path.

Besides the garden composition changing the lettering changed as well. The finished lettering is similar to the overlay with many refinements. As with most of my gestural script I constantly change and reshape letters while working. If I was doing this on canvas the process would be the same.

Commercial Lettering Example

I occasionally get e-mail inquiries from people who want to be lettering artists. I often mention in my reply that sketching is the way to find answers. Nothing happens magically. There is no computer software package that  spits out automatic thumbnail drawings. It all happens with a pencil and paper.

The following images are good examples  of what commercial lettering is. This project was for the redesign of the Black Label logo which involved preliminary sketching and vector lettering comps with many tweaks all due under a very short deadline schedule. No type fonts were used to create the lettering. Everything was drawn by hand in both pencil and vector formats. While this project was happening I also dealt with several other deadlines using the same sketch, draw and refine process. Sketching is always the starting point of any commercial lettering project. 

Preliminary sketches sent the client.

A mix of the vector comp lettering with alternate caps, letter shapes and embellishments.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A World Far Away From Deadlines

Gardens have nothing to do with deadlines.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Non Lettering Project

I have not posted new lettering on this blog in a long time. Early in the year I decided to work on a garden project with a waterfall, stream and pond. Eventually this area of the garden will be filled with blooming flowers.It may be several months from now before I post any new lettering as I am going to be in the garden when not involved with commercial projects. It's good thing to spend time away from the computer on activities that benefit the mind, body and soul.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


This is a little practice piece I did with a Pilot Plumex fountain pen. I have been practicing while recovering from hand surgery last week.

Before my practice session tonight I altered the pen nib to a shape that can easily float on the paper surface with little preassure. Instead of a pointed nib I sanding the tip to an angle shape. I then burnished the sharp edge by rubbing the nib on a flat piece of aluminum until it was smooth and did not tear the paper fibers. After several attempts with the fountain pen I had a composition to scan and recreate as vector lettering. The pen now writes like a Speedball nib.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broke My Paw

This is the first time I have lettered since breaking a metacarpal bone in my hand this past week. I'll be getting this fixed in a couple days and plan to be lettering full time in a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Open Your Mind

I had this though earlier today. As a result I am finally beginning to understand how to hold the pen and turn the nib while lettering. Such a simple thing that has eluded me for decades. I know the structure of this lettering is crude but the technique is spot on with something I have been pursuing for countless years.

No Photoshop retouching or redrawing in vector format with this one. Just movement of my hand, pen and nib in a brief moment.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Time to drink some Coffee

Another quick practice study with a Condor fountain pen. When I attempt this style with a Speedball C4 nib I end up tearing the paper with the nib or getting a stray stroke. I may have have too heavy of a hand for Speedball nibs. With the Condor fountain pen I can push into the surface of the paper or barley touch the surface

It Takes Mucho Practice

Finally had some free time to play with a Condor fountain pen again. My goal was to create a lettering script for print production within 1 hour. I wrote on top of a quick pencil sketch with the fountain pen. No time for creating vector lines with this practice study.

The lettering was scanned, imported to Photoshop, blurred slightly to reduce some of the stray pen marks and drop out the pencil lines. The levels were adjusted to hold a textured edge. Had this been for an actual print project the file resolution would have been adjusted for higher dpi to create a streamlined vector path.