Well, it's been more than six months since my last blog post. There are quite a few factors for this: 1. I've been furiously creating blog posts for my job at the Foundry Art Centre. This has been rewarding but, at the end of the day, I'm blogged out. Nonetheless, I'm super happy to be getting back in the blog game today for my own website.
2. I haven't had anything to write about? I'm busy with the usual things: work, freelance, hanging out with loved ones. That's been my routine for the past year or so and it's been good. But stay tuned for a hiccup in the habit - I've got some cool things on the horizon planned.
So let's get down to it. I make lettering every single day. I'm either creating one piece a day in my sketchbook or I'm at least working at a finished piece in my free time. This is the most rewarding part of the day to me; once my pen hits the paper I am just in my happy place. Across The Spine is my latest series of lettering pieces. There's only one criteria for each piece: the entire quote must use the spine of my sketchbook in the composition. It's a simple compositional change but it has proved so rewarding to me. The spine acts as part of the quote. It can either separate two statements or tones within a quote/lyrics or unite lettering to create unique spacing and flow. To push the process further, I often will use different colors on each of the pages to further emphasize breaks in the sentence or to bring attention to certain words. I am having so much fun with this method and am constantly jotting down ideas for different quotes I want to letter. Take a look at my feed, yo:
Jacob and I are re-watching The Office again, for the the umpteenth time. That is a show that will always be funny to me. I laugh as hard as I did the first time while I'm watching it the 17th time. Whichever show or album or musical I am entrenched in will always show up within my art. The Office is my muse at this moment and it supplies me with an endless amount of humorous lettering projects. I'm going to walk through my #acrossthespine process for you to see and I encourage you to try this really easy method to loosen up your lettering & spice up your sketchbook.
Quote Choice & Pencil Sketch
My suggestion is to start with a quote that is one sentence long. I begin my lettering in the upper left hand corner and I use the edges of my sketchbook to cut off pieces of my lettering. I think it looks so much more interesting than trying to fit every descender and ascender within the confines of the paper. Your eye will fill in the rest of the letter.
Draw your lettering lightly with a pencil. I erase A LOT in this step. And often I will write out the entire quote, then go through and erase one word at a time, redrawing each letter to fill the space more evenly. Extend the descenders and ascenders of your h's, g's, k's, etc. to help the eye flow from word to word. Take your time in this step, because the next steps are a bit more permanent.
I got this journal from a gift store in the Czech Republic so I'm not able to relay any paper quality because it wasn't on the label; I would guess that the paper is around 60 or 70lb, as my pen marks rarely bleed through unless I'm pressing very hard.
This step you can change along the way. I picked out these colors because Kelly Kapoor would've made a great Pink Lady. It's a sassy & bold combination and Kelly Kapoor fills out those adjectives well.
Sakura Gelly Roll pens are. my. jam. Don't waste your time on other brands of gel pens because these are the superior option. My collection grows every week because each time I stop at Michael's I pick up at least one white, one Gellyroll Moonlight, and then one color I'm just grooving on that day. Moonlight Gellyrolls are excellent not only on dark papers, but also for layering color. The black and white pens are regular Gellyrolls and the pink pen is a Gellyroll Moonlight.
Fill In The Blanks
Don't rush through this step because Gelly Roll pens are like butter and will sometimes glide right into your letter if you don't control your hand. Trace carefully around your pencil marks, taking special care in any v-shaped areas, like where the curves meet the straight lines of letters. I don't concern myself with making sure every bit of paper is covered in ink - when little bits of paper come through it lends a texture that is hard to create in, say, digital art. Because you could totally do this lettering in Illustrator but it's more interesting by hand!
Erase Your Pencil Marks
Erasing around Gelly Rolls and Moonlight Gelly Rolls is easy-peasy. But should you decide to use the Metallic pens (which I also encourage - they're gorgeous!) - I suggest you erase all your marks, leaving a light outline of your pencil marks, before you touch the Metallic pen to paper. Eraser takes off the sheen and shimmer from the Metallic pen marks and you will need to go over all your pen marks again to get the shimmer back. I have found no issues like this with any Gelly Roll aside from Metallic. Metallic pens also make excellent accent colors.
Apply First Accent Color
Now that your background color is complete, it's time to embellish your quote with the other pens you selected at the beginning. There are lots of different accent methods and I'll point out some of the examples in this piece. One of my first steps for accents is picking out the words that were either emphasized in the original quote by the speaker or are keywords in the meaning of the quote (generally in the more profound choices, like from songs or speakers). For Kelly, it was "hot" and "cupcake." I added deeper block shadows to these words so they stand out the most.
On "few", I slowly created a black outline which gave the word a white stripe accent and did the opposite for "people". I put an offset line shadow on "I am" and a direct line shadow on "eating a". Each accent choice was intentional to group certain words and make others stand out. I added little sprinkled-shaped lines around "hot" and "I am" to match the theme of the quote and to give the piece a bit more visual interest.
I wish I could give more direction or advice about this step in particular, but this is where you can get most creative. Practicing your outlining and embellishing is the only way to determine what works and what doesn't. And if you apply some ink and it just isn't what you are imagining, apply some of your background color over the misplaced lines. If it's a Moonlight Gellyroll, just a couple layers of ink will hide any mistakes. It's a pretty forgiving media if you give it a chance.
Apply Other Accent Colors
You can go color-crazy, if you wish - an option I have often chosen. But I wanted to keep this one pretty simple. I added more sprinkle shapes with a white Gelly Roll around cupcake and added dots that dissipate from the upper left, downward. If you're working on white paper, feel free to use the white Gelly Roll as a corrector, as well; draw over lines and fill out shapes that got a little junked up in previous steps.
It's hard to know just when to stop but I knew that if I added any more marks, it would look WAY more busy than it turned out. I wanted it to be a little busy because it's a simple quote. If it were a longer quote, I'd put in more detail through the first accent color and the lettering shapes themselves than by adding more shapes and texture.