This blog entry contains way more detail than you ever really wanted to know about my work on the above design. It’s for a wedding shower that my friend Jessica is hosting for another friend of ours Damien and his wife Marybeth. Damien writes the excellent local alternative transportation resource L.A. StreetsBlog. I contribute articles there now and then, too.
The version above really just exists on the internet… something I guess I should get used to, but it is still pretty new to me. I am used to actually holding a final printed copy of things… I usually keep 5-10 copies for my piles portfolios.
The wonderful background and border were designed by Colleen Corcoran, a skilled graphic designer I met through the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition‘s committee working to bring a ciclovia to Los Angeles. A ciclovia is a kind of recurring street festival where we set aside streets for bicycles and pedestrians - if you’re not familiar with it, I recommend this short film. I think Colleen’s design does a nice job of feeling both old fashioned and contemporary.
I am still very 20th century with my art and design work. I do everything by hand on paper… I don’t even really like to scan it… because sometimes the scan will pick up artifacts or will appear to alter the color or contrast slightly. Below is what the scan of my drawing looked like. It would have been possible to circulate this… but I felt that, as a black and white image it might not really pop out of a black and white email. So I asked Colleen to help me out. I honestly don’t even know a straightforward way to manipulate the background color. (I guess I could xerox it onto color paper, then scan it… but that seems like a lot of work for something that should take a few seconds for someone who knows what they’re doing.)
And here are a few blurry cell phone photos to show you some of my process. Pay close attention so that you, too, can spend inordinate amounts of time filling in crooked hand lettering The Linton Way.
It all started with a quick sketch in my sketchbook:
In this case I just did one sketch and decided that it was a promising enough composition (though I ended up leaving off the messenger bag that the stork wears in the sketch.) Often I will do a dozen or more sketch ideas, then sometimes end up drawing something completely different for the final design.
From there, I roughed the design in in pencil. For this one I actually didn’t use any guides – no ruler and no compass. I just roughly put in lines that appeared to be more or less parallel to the edge of the paper. I did a rough measurement making a mark on a piece of paper to get a rough square. I penciled in lettering and rough guidelines, then I inked in the outlines of the lettering. I used an Itoya finepoint system .2 pen – which had been on sale the last time I went to the art store, which was out of the gray rapidograph pens that I like best for this sort of design work.
Here’s what it looked like after I had inked in the outlines of the lettering:
I then erase the pencil guidelines, and I begin the painstaking process of filling in the blacks of the lettering. For this I use the same pen as I used for the outline… which means it takes a while… but it’s a kind of meditative thing. Also, it’s a chance for me to refine and rework the lettering (which I can only do if I am using the same pen – otherwise the contour wouldn’t be consistent.) Often I will bulk letters up a bit a this step, and close excess s p a c e between them.
In the image above, you can see that I’ve filled in the outer parts of the lettering, and left some white in the middle. I sometimes do this and come back in with a thicker pen or a brush… but often I just use that same pen to keep filling in.
After penciling in the image of the bicycling stork, I begin inking it in. I usually put down a single line, then go over it to make it thicker. On the above image you can see the difference between the thicker finished line on the top of the baby’s head, compared to the initial line on the bottom of the stork’s neck.
I keep inking the lines thicker and thicker until they get interesting (unlike this excessively long blog entry)
Then I inked in more of the lettering on the bottom of the flier. Note that I keep a piece of scrap paper under my hand to prevent me from rubbing, sweating on or smearing the image. It functions similar to a mahl stick.
Then I drew the border square.
At that point, the drawing work… and I handed it off to be scanned and manipulated electronically… which is something I hope to learn how to do someday… so I can make different kinds of mistakes! One day perhaps I can document my process in a more interesting way… perhaps more like this cool stop-animation video that my friend Federico did.