Recently I had the opportunity to attend two very interesting classes about lettering and painted script at Workshop Melbourne, held by Annica Lydenberg, aka Dirty Bandits, a San Francisco and Brooklyn based designer, illustrator and sign painter, for whom I have a deep respect and personally adore her work. Getting to meet her has been a great source of inspiration for me.
In this blog post I’ll focus on the first workshop called “Drawing your letters.” It started with a print out of the full alphabet in Helvetica (download your own here), the main goal was to redraw and decorate each letter in a different style to give them an unique personality.
Even if you’re not an artist or a designer, playing with the letters may be a fun way to boost your own creativity and think differently when you need to write something on a greeting card or maybe insert a text in an illustration.
All you need to start is a pencil, an eraser and some reference images as inspiration. Print the entire alphabet on a sheet of paper in capital letters using a basic font, then use tracing paper and place it on top so the printed alphabet can be seen through, this is used as a reference guide for your drawings.
The images below serve as an example of how to have 26 different themes to work on. The most important thing is let your imagination run free and try to express every idea that comes to your mind. Anything is allowed.
The first thing we have to think about is that lettering and fonts are two different crafts. Lettering means just draw the letters, so there is no need to stick to any strict rules, as long as you get a consistent result with the message we want to express.
Once you’ve experimented with the whole alphabet, another useful exercise is to pick a single style, or a couple of styles that can well work together, to write a word or a sentence.
Lettering can materialize in different ways. Often it is used on the shop signs, for posters, for books, for advertising, and especially in logos. In these cases it must be carefully developed and conceived for a specific purpose. Legibility and consistency will therefore be the key features to make effective, communicative lettering.
Now go get creative and have a try by downloading your own sheet of Helvetica letters.