With this lettering, I started by referencing a script font. Instead of placing the template on the light table, I drew it out freehand because I wanted the letterforms to be more reflective of my own style. I sketched first in pencil, plotting my lines slowly and deliberately. Drawings like this are like meditation. You have to clear out your mind and focus only on the line, and its proximity to the lines surrounding it. I find it quite relaxing actually.
Once the basic forms of the script are in place, I begin to improvise some flourishes coming off of the letters. I don’t really have a strategy for this besides keeping the composition balanced. It’s all about what feels right.
Once I’m satisfied with the pencil sketch, I bring in the ink. I make sure not to draw too heavily with the mechanical pencil, so that the marks are easily erased once I’ve created all of the ink work. Using the micron pen I create my lines with great care, because if you mess up it’s permanent. There is something to be said for the small mistakes and variances that are certain to occur though. I try my hardest not to make them, but when they do happen it’s best to embrace them. The small flaws are what make the piece unique. If I wanted it to be absolutely perfect I would’ve just stuck with the digital font.
Filling the letterforms can be quite fun. The hardest part has been completed and the fear of messing the piece up with some stray ink is much less. There’s something so satisfying about creating fields of pure black. Add a bit of depth I created highlights by hatching parts of the larger fill areas. This keeps things dynamic, instead of just flat black.
The more I create lettering by hand, the more I fall in love with it. It’s the perfect synthesis of my passions for both typography and drawing. Even if in the end I bring the letterforms back into the computer to manipulate further, I savor that period where I’m holding the piece in my hand; shifting the paper to attack it from that perfect angle. The digital process can add something so valuable to a composition, but other times it can hinder the pure creative process. I think I’ll always be seeking that perfect balance between the tangible and the digital.