I’ve been working on my letterforms.
At first, I was interested in calligraphy and scripts. Scrolling, embellishments… mmmm. I’ve enrolled in a couple classes on Skillshare, which have been really educational (and cost-effective), but to make good script work, you really need a deep form foundation and a light touch that only comes with practice. My abilities are short of my taste at the moment, so everything I make is still squarely in that ugly ducking learning stage. I’m still working on it, though.
That said, I also really like looser, less-confined letters — letterforms that aren’t perfect, words that are expressive and rough in their execution but solid in their construction. Plus, my letter vocabulary is shallow at the moment (you wouldn’t believe how many ways there are to make an “E”) and a more casual style allows a wider exploration on my part. And that feeds into a project I’ve been wanting to do for a while.
If you’ve ever had to name a child — or heck, a pet — you understand the pressures involved. We’re really happy with Ellie’s name, and I wanted to a) celebrate it and b) have it hanging around to help her learn how to spell it and write it some day.
Step One was some really loose sketching, working out where each letter would fall, as well as how to work with the too-empty and too-full space that inevitably occurs when forcing words close together. Plus, I didn’t want one name to get more emphasis than another.
I used simple tracing paper and a pencil. I can’t stress how helpful the tracing paper was — it is my new favorite tool, and I’ll be utilizing it more from now on.
Step Two was refinement. One area was a big trouble spot: the “b” and “e” in Elizabeth. Their forms are heavy on the bottom with little on top, which was a challenge when you’re trying to fill the upper bubble of a heart, and I kept running out of room trying to make them fit. Dropping the bowl of the “b” below the (loose) baseline allowed some flexibility and filled some space above “mes”. Some of the dozen sketches I did, as well as the final sketch.
Step Three was painting. I had a pretty refined sketch that I basically traced on a light table. I got a hoity-toity brush from the art store a couple weeks ago and it is NICE. It’s thin lines aren’t quite as thin as I was hoping, but I can admit that might be user-error as I learn how to use the thing. I hope it lasts me a long time.
This was a fun exercise and one I’d like to do again. I really enjoyed working with these letterforms and learned a lot about how the shapes can work together to fill a space.