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Art comics Design Drawings graphic design

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 22: Comic Book Lettering, DC Edition

Alright. This is the DC comics edition. As I was looking these over, I thought what’s the purpose of comics lettering?

My theory is comic book cover lettering needs to “anchor” the cover. It will be the one piece of comic book graphic design that remains the same issue after issue.

The cover art will change, but the title lettering (typically) stays consistent. Comic covers are displayed cover out on spinner racks (R.I.P.) and comic book stores. Good title lettering should immediately reveal who the hero(s) are and what type of adventure you’re in for.

Let’s take a closer look.

Tales of the Teen Titans #63, 1986

Before they were a hit cartoon, The Teen Titans were a superhero group with an ongoing series. Think the mini version of the Justice League.

DC kept their wordmark recognizable for this special Tales of the Teen Titans series by keeping the same font from their 80’s title The New Teen Titans. They did switch the color from red to blue. But it remains a font that coveys strength of the team as a group.

All Star Squadron #28, 1983

The whack Justice League deserves it’s due. It follows a common trend of comic book title lettering, using red and 3D block letters. But it works in three pieces of contrast as well.

  1. ALL is flat and lifted forward with the a white star behind it.
  2. STAR is the largest of the font sizes and has the thickest stroke around the letters.
  3. SQUADRON is slightly smaller and has a star inside the A. Also, the stroke thins out.
Batman The 10 Cent Adventure, 2002

There’s hundreds of variations of Batman covering lettering. The lettering for the one-off, 10 cent adventure has tall, blood red, san-serif font. The design foreshadows the story of Bruce Wayne being framed for murder.

Starman #13, 1989

One of the cheesiest superheros of all time. Has the name your friend’s little brother would think up on the playground. The lettering follows a similar trend. Red, 3D block letters. Tight kearning. And replacing a letter with a shape. In this case, a star for the A.

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Art comics Design Drawings graphic design

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 21: Comic Book Lettering, Marvel Edition

This post was inspired by web designer Regan Ray‘s Marvel Superhero Lettering blog post (h/t Austin Kleon). It had me wondering, what awesome lettering was in my long box?

These are well executed examples of lettering. But it’s the feelings they evoke about the characters that makes them special.

Let’s take a closer look.

X-Men Grand Design #1, 2017

For Ed Piskor’s Grand Design, you can see the 90s influence of the X-Men cartoon show. Even though it’s paper, you can almost see the volt of electricity flowing through the letters.

Hawkeye #6, 1988

With Hawkeye’s lettering you get the feeling that this is a hero who’s all about one thing: hitting the target.

Excalibur #3, 1988

The British X-men? Probably too many swords on this one. But it does express a royal, knights of the round table feel.

Fantastic Four #356, 1991

Slapstick. Zany. Funny. Heroic.

The Fantastic Four lettering captures all the energy of what makes the Fantastic Four adventures so well, fantastic!

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Art comics Commonplace Book Design Drawings Thinkers

Cartoonists and Copywork

Ivan Brunetti offers up the cartoonist’s version of copywork in his masterclass book – Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

Homework Assignment 8 reads:

To the absolute best of your ability, create an exact replica of your favorite page. Do not trace. Any deviation from the original should be unintentional on you part; ineptitude and sloppiness are charmless when deliberate.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti then urges his students to pay close attention to each element of their comics page:

Pay close attention to what you are copying. Think about the artist’s decisions regarding page layout, panel compositions, design, characterization, dialogue, gesture, captions, balloons, word placement, sound effects, line, shape, texture, etc. Hopefully you will gain some appreciation of their working and thinking process… and the difficulty of creating a comics page.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti practiced this version of copywork in his own career.

He took on the Nancy strip for a time. The pressure from the syndicate to copy Ernie Bushmiller‘s style precisely, further developed his cartooning technique.

I can tell exactly the time period in my work when I was doing these-the syndicate were such nitpickers about me copying Bushmiller’s style exactly that my approach to cartooning got much more precise as a result. I went from doing strips just to amuse myself, without a grand plan, to focusing on formal aspects of cartooning much more: where to place a word balloon, the composition of every panel, and the flow of panels.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Brunetti enjoyed the project while in the learning phase, but admitted it was an unpleasant way to work:

When you’re copying someone else’s style exactly, you can theorize about it, and actually break it down into a set of rules. So they way I was working by imitating him had almost nothing to do with the way he was working…I also realized that working this way was totally unpleasant, because there are very strict parameters you have to follow, rather than discovering the rules that work. The project was fun while I was discovering all of the rules; I would notice that he would never put certain kind of marks next to one another because they’d look wrong. I became very aware of every penstroke, where he used a ruler, where it was freehand. He had an intuitive sense of what looked good, so for me it was trying to codify this into a set of rules, which made me realize the importance of the consistency of your cartooning vocabulary.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Could Brunetti’s copywork exercise translate into other disciplines as well?

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer you could recreate your favorite logos, stroke by stroke, in illustrator?

Or if you’re a programmer, instead of cutting and pasting, you typed out lines of code, line by line, character by character?

With thought and imagination, copywork exercises can be applied to every discipline.

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Drawings Thinkers

Tips to be a better problem solver with 3Blue1Brown

I wish it weren’t true.

But as a kid, I hated math.

I was that stereotypical third grader who scoffed at his times tables and said, “When will we ever use this when we grow up?”

My theory on why many kids have a poor attitude towards mathematics is that we’re subconsciously taught to avoid problems. Whereas Mathematics is all about embracing problems.

Math wants you to make friends with problems. Spend time with problems, not run from them.

Problems are there to be solved!

True enough, the Altitude-on-Hypotenuse Theorum has yet to be an agenda item on any of my zoom calls. But the skill of problem solving still punches the clock everyday.

And the strategies for solving a math problem, can also be applied to any real world problem.

Grant Sanderson’s 7 tips for solving hard problems are below.

My real-world application take is in italics.

Hopefully at the end, you’ll hate math less.

  1. Use the defining features of the setup
    • What are the rules of the game your playing? What are the inherent limitations?
  2. Give things (meaningful) names
    • Naming things helps your mind organize ideas and outline solutions.
  3. Leverage Symmetry
    • Identify what is similar. Are there any patterns? Have we seen this before in a previous problem?
  4. Try describing one object two different ways
    • This reminds me of a practice the economist Tyler Cowen has. To improve his understanding of an argument, he’ll write out the point of view of the argument he opposes. Try the opposite of whatever strategy your using.
  5. Draw a picture
    • Drawing, like writing is a form of thinking. As maker Adam Savage has stated: Drawing is your brain transferring your idea, your knowledge, your intentions, from the electrical storm cloud at its center, through the synapses and nerve endings, through the pencil in your hand, through your fingers, until it is captured in the permanence of the page, in physical space. It is, I have come to appreciate, a fundamental act of creation.Doodle. Stickfigure. Sketch. Create a visual form of the problem.
  6. Ask a simpler version of the problem
    • What’s the smallest part of the problem we can solve first?
  7. Read a lot, and think about problems a lot.
    • A great excuse to buy more books.

To learn more about 3Blue1Brown, and Grant Sanderson‘s work, or if you want to hate math less, check out David Perell‘s interview with Grant:

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Art comics Commonplace Book Drawings writer's inspiration

Seth’s storytelling advice to Noah Van Sciver. And you too, if you’d like…

Write about losers and loners. Don’t get dragged down that road of trying to resist your natural inclinations.

Seth

Noah Van Sciver has a YouTube channel.

Yeah!

The prolific cartoonist generously shares his works in progress, conversations with colleagues, and on occasion, words of encouragement.

A few days ago he read a letter of storytelling advice from fellow cartoonist, Seth.

Warning!

The letter contradicts most storytelling advice you’ve heard.

Keep drawing y’all.

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing Lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.3 Architectural Hand-Lettering


Handwriting, penmanship, this is all drawing. Hand-lettering can be another artistic tool to add to your kit.

Matthew Frederick shares 6 architectural hand-lettering principals to follow:

1. Honor legibility and consistency above all else.

2. Use guide lines (actual or imagined) to ensure uniformity.

3. Emphasize the beginning and end of all strokes, and overlap them slightly where they meet – just as in drawing lines.

4. Give your horizontal strokes a slight upward tilt. If they slope downward, your letters will look tired.

5. Give curved strokes a balloon-like fullness.

6. Give careful attention to the amount of white space between letters. An E, for example, will need more space when following an I than when coming after an S or T.

Matthew Frederick

This week, for fun, find ways to practice your architectural hand-lettering.

Write a thank-you note.

Write a love letter.

Write a haiku.

Then mail it out it to your lover, mother, or bestie.

Be sure to practice your hand-lettering on the to and from address on the envelope as well.

You’ll get some practice in, and they will receive a special gift.

Source: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick, pg 22

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amreading Commonplace Book Drawings interviews writer's inspiration

Gabriel García Márquez on how drawing led to writing.

INTERVIEWER

How did you start writing?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of being a writer, though I never in fact wrote anything. If there was a pamphlet to be written or a letter of petition, I was the one to do it because I was supposedly the writer. When I entered college I happened to have a very good literary background in general, considerably above the average of my friends. At the university in Bogotá, I started making new friends and acquaintances, who introduced me to contemporary writers. One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, “As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. . . .” When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories. They are totally intellectual short stories because I was writing them on the basis of my literary experience and had not yet found the link between literature and life. The stories were published in the literary supplement of the newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá and they did have a certain success at the time—probably because nobody in Colombia was writing intellectual short stories. What was being written then was mostly about life in the countryside and social life. When I wrote my first short stories I was told they had Joycean influences.

Of course, Gabriel García Márquez’s writer’s origin story begins with drawing cartoons.

What is it about drawing that fuels other creative pursuits?

From: The Paris Review Issue 82, Winter 1981

Interview by: Peter Stone

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.2


Every drawing you undertake has a hierarchy. There are the general elements. And there are the fine details.

Matthew Frederick recommends laying out the entire drawing to start.

How?

By making use of:

Light guide lines.

Geometric alignments.

Visual gut-checks.

These techniques will help ensure the proportions and placement of shapes are accurate.

After that hit the details. But don’t over indulge in one place:

When you achieve some success at this schematic level, move to the next level of detail. If you find yourself focusing on details in a specific area of the drawing, indulge briefly, then move to other areas of the drawing.

Matthew Frederick
Let the light guide lines be your guide.

From: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

By: Matthew Frederick

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.1


It all begins with the line.

Different lines have different purposes. But remember – begin and end your line with emphasis.

Be bold!

Have the lines overlap where they meet.

Be bold!

Don’t “Feather and Fuzz”.

Be bold!

Start and end your line in one stroke. To build confidence, Matthew Frederick suggests drawing a light guide line before drawing the final line.

From: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

By: Matthew Frederick

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics Drawings

Four Panel Friday: J.R.R.Tolkien’s drawings of Entrances to the Elvenking’s halls



Ok. These aren’t exactly comic panels.

But the more I go through old books during this time spent at home, the more I discover “four panels” in other parts of literature.

Tolkien’s perspective and line variation are impressive. He incorporates straight lines, diagonal and curved lines, stipples, blacked out inks.

The man was non-stop.

From: The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

By: Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull